Lost in Electronica

Lost in Electronica

Today's Media Culture is Leaving Boys at a Loss for Words

By Adam Cox

July/August 2006

A therapist's first steps can make an indelible imprint on his or her sense of calling, shaping the career to follow. My own first steps included counseling "troubled" boys in several rural Pennsylvania high schools. Most of the boys had grown up in harsh circumstances; their case histories were litanies of abuse, neglect, and conflict. Nonetheless, most viewed counseling as a form of punishment, perhaps slightly worse than detention.

Fueled by enthusiasm, some prior success teaching art to impoverished inner-city kids, an academic education in psychology, and a few supervised clinical experiences, I felt ready to go. I imagined myself teaching tough, sullen kids to open up--the long-suppressed wordsof their pain gushing forth, as they "got real" with me and began their journey toward self-discovery and healing.

Early each morning that cold winter, I'd toss sandbags into the back of my pickup and wind my way up ice-slicked roads past the corrugated mountains, slate quarries, and swift river waters that flowed through Mauch Chunk and Lehighton. As the sun rose, the snow fell against the treeless, shale mountainsides. This austere, stark, yet ultimately beautiful landscape foreshadowed the kids I'd come to know. These boys seemed to long for the hills--a place where life was more visceral and action oriented than the pastel-hued guidance office where we met, ostensibly to discuss their lives and feelings. Many came to school decked out in camouflage and boots,…

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