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Accountability and Healing

In a recent session I worked with a young man who was in denial about the sexual abuse of his sister. We talked about the language of accountability. He was heavily in denial and struggled to accept himself and give an honest account of his behavior to his parents. The following week, during a tour with a prospective family looking to place their son at Oxbow, this young man was asked to join the group and speak to the mother and grandmother of the prospective student. The only rule for the group was that in order for the young man to attend he had to answer their questions openly and honestly. After several questions to the other boys in the group the grandmother, looking at this young man said, “You look like a really nice boy. Why are you here?” There was a long pause and you could visibly see that he was thinking about his response. Time seemed to stand still and there was a tension in the room that could be felt. Eventually this young man took a deep break and responded with tears running down his face, “I’m here because I abused my sister.” You could see that this grandmother was taken back by his degree of honesty and accountability to a total stranger. The grandma responded by saying, “Thank you for being honest. It seems like you are in the right place to get the help you need.” As I sat there and reflected upon what had just happened I noticed that the tension was gone from the room and this young man appeared to stand a little taller and looked as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. From then on this young man has not struggled to be accountable for his actions and has begun to make great progress clinically. –  Todd

Todd Spaulding is the Clinical Director for Oxbow Academy. You can contact him at [email protected]