long distance relationship Therapy, LDR, Skype

Achieving Success in A LDR (Long Distance Relationship)

long distance relationship Therapy, LDR, Skype

Young man in Long Distance Relationship

It is estimated that 14 million Americans identify themselves in long distance relationships known as a LDR. Online dating apps are quickly becoming the most common way that relationships start.  People fall in love online and though it may not be practical, they desire  to make things work.  Many of these people have had a hard time meeting someone that lives close to them, so they do not want to let go of the chance for something more permanent.  They usually start texting, talking and Facetiming each other, and start to arrange their schedules to see each as often as possible.  The average time people get together is 1.5 times a month.

Tips For LDR’S

Before you part, have a plan of when you will get together again.  I remember when I first met my partner who I have now been with for 14 1/2 years, we had this amazing long weekend together.  It was clear to me that there was something very special here.  As the time came closer to us parting, I realized that in order to continue that I needed to know when I was going to see him next.  We made plans, and it gave me a sense that we were both committed to the next time together.  This began to to create a safe container for our new  relationship.

Remember the purpose of the second weekend is to determine if there will be a third weekend.  Though you may feel like you have  met the one, and you want it to be forever,  the only thing you really know after the first weekend is that you want more time together.  If you ask anymore from each other, you put huge pressure on each of you and the relationship itself.

Come to an agreement on how you will keep in touch while apart.  At first you will probably want to communicate several times a day or more!  Seriously, though it is important that you understand each other’s rhythms and discuss them.  This will avoid fits of insecurity, miscommunication and hurt.  For every issue in a relationship there will be the high desire person and the low desire person.   for contact, as they will be different.  If you do not get clear about this, one of you will invariably be upset.

Stay on A Schedule of when you can meet.

More Tips For LDR’S

 

 

  1. Look forward to the “upsets”, they really make the relationship stronger.
  2. Do not deal with conflict by email or text.
  3. Call time outs when you need them.  It is okay to not process something immediately.
  4. One of the most wonderful aspects of LDR’s are that it prolongs the honeymoon stage.  Enjoy it. It is okay to not have a honeymoon every time.
  5. Ask and communicate your needs clearly, Do not expect that your partner can read your mind.

 

Common Issues in Relationships

Broken Trust:  An Affair

Anger In A Relationship

 

 

 

shame, hurt, depression,Therapy

The Shame That Holds us Hostage

Shame Begins In Childhood

Where does shame begin?  It begins in childhood, the first time we are told that there is something wrong with us.  Who do we look to as a child to mirror ourselves? We turn to our parents.  They are the experts, we need love, admiration, attachment, acknowlegement, acceptance and positive attention.

This is the child who was told he was bad and punished by being sent to his room by himself.  If he were told that he made a mistake, rather then he is a mistake, he/she would grow up with a sense, that he/she/they are FINE, their actions are not.  Love should never be conditional, love for our children is unconditional, their actions may upset us.  He/She/They may have consequences but they are clearly  set in advance. For example, ” If you cross the street without an adult, you will need to stay at home for a day”.

Attachment

The first sense of attachment begins in our mother’s womb.  We can feel the excitement that a mother has awaiting our birth.  We can also feel the upset that a mother feels.  If our mother does not want us, we know.  If we are adopted, due to know fault of anyone, most children know that they were not wanted by their birth mother.

When we are  born, the first person we make contact with is our mother.  A mother holds us with love in her eyes.  We feel her love, it flows through our whole body, we have heard her voice all through her pregnancy, we hear and see her and experience her love as we stare into her eyes for the first time.

Then we are passed to our father, who we see for the first time.  We may know his voice. As he  looks at us, eyes full of wonder,  excitement, warmth and love.  We begin to attach.

We begin our journey of attaching to our parents.

What if that doesn’t happen?  The child knows and feels abandoned.  This experience stays the brain for the rest of our lives.

Attention

We need lots’  of attention, we need to be fed, bathed, held, comforted and admired.  This is a full time for our parents.  They give us lots of attention and love.  It is impossible for a parent to accomplish; it becomes more important to give our children positive attention when we can.

Acknowledgement, Acceptance and Admiration

As we grow up we look to our parents to continue to love us.  We need our parent’s acceptance to know that we are all right.  Admiration allows us to continue to grow, explore and feel special.

What if we get an angry parent who yells at us and points our deficiencies.  We feel shame.  What if we are not admired and acknowledged?  We feel that there is something wrong with us and we feel shame.

What if we don’t get acknowledged, we feel abandoned and we feel ashamed.

 

 

Shame Causes Depression

Shame Causes Anxiety

Anger masks Shame

 

 

 

 

 

 

anger management therapy counseling, LGBTQ, marriage

Anger, rage and The Therapist

Anger is a normal human emotion.  Anger, mostly occurs when the events externally or internally are beyond our control.  When I  experience powerlessness in the face of a any situation and I cannot control the situation, it is normal to feel anger, despair, hopelessness or fear.  When I direct the anger towards another being,  that is when I cross the line.  What most people do not know is that anger/rage are in direct proportion to how much pain that individual is in.

Therapist and The Angry Client

These are my tenets as the therapist:

anger management therapy counseling, LGBTQ, marriage

Anger That Hurts Everyone

  1. First, and foremost:  commit to treat my client with compassion and respect at all times.
  2. Remember this anger is always multi-generational, one cannot be enraged unless they have learned the behavior from someone else, usually a parent.
  3. I will not take their anger personally.
  4. I will expand my ability to be present with the individual in front of me.
  5. I will not shame a client for their behavior.
  6. I will remember that I am a guide, not a leader.  My client’s brain knows what it needs to heal, and I will use the tools I have as a therapist to guide the process.
  7. I do not believe in anger management.  I believe a human being needs to heal from there own pain.  However once a client enters my door, they need to be willing to take responsibility for their actions.
  8. If it is possible and appropriate, (when there is no fear of retaliation)  I  meet with  the receivers  of the anger, I will do my best to create a safe space.  I do this for the benefit of all involved.  My client needs to experience the full impact of his behavior without defending himself.  The partner needs to express  the hurt, the pain, and the anger without fearing my client’s defensive behaviors.

Disclaimer:  I cannot do this perfectly.  I will make mistakes.  When that happens, I will  make things right between me and my client.

Anger Permanently Affects the Other

The writer and therapist John Bradshaw says “stick and stones may break my bones, but words last forever”.  Unfortunately, the truth is that when a child experiences the anger and/or rage of a parent, they have no tools to protect themselves, and most of the time they actually believe they deserve the energy directed their way. The more anger that a person has had directed at them, the more they internalize it.  Their internal critic becomes as mean and as nasty as the parent that yelled at them.  Some cower from anger, their body being on high alert, (hyper vigilant), others respond with equal anger and rage.

Anger Therapy

media, televison, internet , addiction

Recovery From Addiction To Electronic Media

Symptoms of Electronic Media Addiction

media, televison, video addiction, internet

My Television is my Best Friend

Do You:

1)  consistently spend more time than you plan watching television or electronic media?

2)  Do you feel that you do not have enough time to take care of the important things in your life such as chores, personal health and fitness, business or relationships but still find plenty of time for television or computer games?

3)  “graze” on electronic media during the day and/or find yourself spending hours binging on television, internet, computer games at night?

4)   plan to use electronic media to further your businesses goals, dreams or visions and then find yourself distracted by other things, such as news, shopping or even porn?

5)  feel closer to characters to characters on TV then to friends or partners and then wonder why you feel so alone?

6)  tend to neglect healthy intellectual stimulation so that you can focus on passive electronic media?

7) find  creative endeavors  impeded by your focus on electronic media?

8) find that electronic media, such as video games, television and internet are the main source of relaxation?  Is it your primary source of recreation?

9)   experience disconnection from your body and neglect your health, rest, sleep, exercise, good nutrition etc. because of your daily media usage?

10)   disconnect from the natural world, by not fulfilling the need to experience all of our senses?

Some people can moderate their Consumption, Some have no control!

Electronic Media is present anywhere that you can either access cable and/or internet.  Television I has been a way of life for many generations.  Americans have great love for their TV programs and TV is still #1 when it comes to media consumption.

Of course, with the “World Wide Web”, there was an explosion of media to  entertain, educate, and distract.  With the invention of the smart phone, all of the above were now available in our pockets. I remember seeing the first iPhone in 2007, I was in the subway and I saw a man hunched on his knees playing with it.  I asked him “do you love it?”  He said “I’m in love with it”.  The onset of social media was a huge boost to consumption of media.  Many People spend a large portion of their daily life on Facebook.  I think we are a culture that has fallen in love with our smart phones.

Some people can moderate their usage at will,  but  some there is  no control.  We may have tried to cut down and were not successful, or we were able to cut back for a short time, but would break our commitments to ourselves or others. I have known people who stop television completely for a year, but one hour, (like one drink, or one cigarette) sends them back to where they were before or worse.

Media Consumption is both Normalized and Encouraged

Smoking, though legal, has a big warning on each pack:  CAUTION: CIGARETTE SMOKING MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.

Alcohol, though acceptable, has many warnings that include actual jail time.

There are no warnings other than age appropriateness that come with media.  One never sees a warning:  Too much viewing of television can be dangerous to your health.  Caution:  more than two hours a day of playing video games can change the way your brain functions.  Caution:  Too many forms of internet communication may affect your ability to communicate face to face with anyone.    And finally and maybe most sadly:  The excessive use of pornography may greatly inhibit your ability to be intimate with your partner.  Instead we are bombarded with messages that encourage us to to consume more and more and more.  In other countries, such as China, they are making strides to deal with media addiction.  In the United States we have not even begun to address the situation.

How to I change my Media Habits?

  1.  For a week, change nothing,  keep a log of how much time you spend on media.  This may seem easy but I suggest that you expect it to be very uncomfortable.
  2. Set a goal that includes cutting back a minimal amount of time per day.  For example if you average 4 hours a day of television, cut it back to 3 1/2 hours.  I strongly suggest that you the  timer on your smartphone, to measure usage.  If you cut back only 15 minutes a day, praise yourself anyway.
  3. Find at least one activity that would give you satisfaction if accomplished.  This can be some kind of interactive play with someone else.
  4. Find a buddy, someone who you can lean on to help you make progress and meet your goals.
  5. Educate yourself about the effects of electronic media.  How much time does it take away from family, friends, creative endeavors.
  6. Consider seeing a therapist who is specializes in this behavior.  Consider therapy that includes a neuropsychology, such as Brainspotting
sex, porn addiction, cheating

Treating The Sex Addict and Their Family

I have been working with Sex Addicts and love addiction (more on Love Addiction in a different article) in my practice since 1990.  I have found that they are actually two very different manifestations of the same illness.  Many health professionals  use the word illness because the disease model has been a very effective model for dealing addictions of all kinds.  The addict is responsible for their behavior, but they are not responsible for the circumstances that led to creating an addict.

In almost every case I have treated, their has been addiction in the family  (Not coincidentally, there has almost always been addiction in the partner’s family also).   I have found over and over again, that when compulsive sexual behavior is not looked through the lens of disease,  the addict and the family around them consider it to be a lack of willpower or a moral deficiency.  This adds to the shame of the addict, which adds to the spiral of relapse. No sex-addict on their own has enough willpower to stop.

Sex addiction has many faces: there are solo acts which include compulsive  masturbation, sometimes 2 or more times a day.  Clients have reported that  remember masturbating to orgasm long before they ejaculated.  I had one client that remembers starting this behavior when he was 5 years old.  When coupled with the internet in the ’90s, it exponentially increased the access and pleasure. Many people who would not have become addicts  became addicts because of the availability, privacy and intensity of the high.

Many Sex Addicts involve themselves in compulsive behavior that involves other people.  These include but are not limited to the following behaviors:  massage parlors, strip clubs, sex clubs, adult bookstores.  Anonymous sex takes place in bathrooms, parks, bars, adult bookstores and many others.

A smaller percentage of  sex addicts graduate to risky behaviors such as unprotected sex.  Others will graduate to illegal behaviors such as:  exhibitionism, voyeurism and sex with minors.

Twelve Step Program:  The First Line of Defense

Whether the Sex Addict considers themselves to be a religious person, an agnostic or an atheist, 12 step programs provide instant relief and infinite possibilities of recovery.  Sex Addiction whether with another or by oneself leads to a sense of isolation.  The overwhelming number of sex addicts are not happy or satisfied after they have orgasmed.  There is this empty feeling which is often followed with shame and guilt.  Going to meetings with people who understand sex addiction.  Being in a single place with people who can identify with their behaviors immediately diminishes isolation.  To be around people who  offer support: phone calls, texts, emails or meetings for coffee or meals is foreign to the addict.  Addicts are used to being shunned or being called weak.  In this room they are lauded with courage for just showing up.

The steps can be called the 12 steps to freedom, the twelve steps to joy and happiness beyond the sex addicts wildest dreams.  “From shame to Grace” is the motto of Sex Addicts Anonymous.  Many people come in and out of the doors of sexual recovery, but most have gained a true sense of who they are and who they could be if they choose to stay sober from this life threatening illness.

Couples Therapy

In my years of working with sex addicts, I found the most effective way to do therapy  or counseling is to work with both the sex addict and their partner. In my training to be a therapist, I was taught that clients should have individual counselors and couples counselors.  This became problematic for many reasons.  One of my professors said that every time you add another therapist, you add another family member. There are very few professionals in any given region that deal with this specific issue.  When one is not familiar with working with sex addicts and their partners, it is easy for the therapists to be a cross-purpose with each other.

In my own practice, I discovered that working with both partners, both individually and together supplied the support that the couple needed to reach the other side of this crisis/betrayal.  Most all partners, rightly so, react with fits of anger, lots of tears and moments of despair.  But afterwards they are left alone.  Partners rarely get the support they need.  The sex addict goes off to their meetings, make friends, get constant support and the partners are left alone to suffer in silence.  Who do they turn to:  their families, who very well may blame them for the problem.  What friends can they turn to? Who can they trust?  Even worse, if their partner get helps, many are afraid their feelings or reaction will cause their partner to go back to old behavior.

For the addict it is very important fo them to understand the deep consequences of their behavior.  I provide a safe place for the truth to be expressed.

Treatment for Sex Addiction

12 Step Programs for Partners of Sex Addicts

Most partners, rightfully so, think the problem is with the addict.  Even so, instant support comes from a group of people who understand what it is like to be related to a Sex Addict.  It is a safe place to anonymously, without fear, disclose their Painful Experience.

COSA-12 step program for Partners or Family of Sex Addicts

 

Other 12 step programs:

Sex Addicts Anonymous

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous

Sexual Compulsive Anonymous

 

polyamory, bisexuality, counseling, therapy

Why Polyamory?

In order to be Poly one has opened  themselves to love, intimacy and sex with more than one person.  This opens a new level of joy that may not be available with monogamy.    Most of us were taught, in one way or another, (Television, movies, family role models) that one person “should” be able to meet all of our needs.  It often is very painful to realize that this myth, most of the time, is not true.  We begin to add friends or we search for community for needs.

polyamory, bisexuality, counseling, therapy, communication ,

Polyamory is More Than Two

Configurations of Poly Configurations

A Poly relationship includes  many different configurations that imply more than one intimate partner.  For example one might have a primary relationship a partner, married or unmarried, and one or both of the individuals might have a secondary partner.  Sometimes the relationship is a Throuple, where three people have an equal relationship with each other and live together.

Sexual Orientation?

Those who choose Poly relationships often experience it as a sexual orientation and ask themselves:  am I Poly?  They ask this question the same way that one might ask oneself:  am I gay, straight or bisexual?  Poly relationships include all sexual orientations.  One partner might be heterosexual, the other might bisexual or all might be gay or lesbian.

When someone identifies as  Poly, they have come to this realization. They look to more than one person to satisfy their needs.  However, as opposed to a monogamous relationship, Poly individuals intentionally search for those that want or need the same  experiences.  By definition Poly relationships  are an intentional way to find intimate partners who actively fulfill their needs.

Individuals who are poly often, learn,  that they need to develop extraordinary communication skills to make each relationship extraordinary.  In their book “More Than Two” Franklin Veaux and Eve Rikert use the analogy of tending a garden.  “Your Garden will thrive, or not, based on the time and skill that goes into watering, weeding, fertilizing and selecting and placing your plants” in the right amount of sunshine and shade.  Each person  learns to communicate as effectively  as they can and commit to learning and changing everyday.

http://www.goldengatecounseling.com/polyamory/

Gay Couples Therapy

We have a special commitment to gay couples. It is a miracle that there are so many successful gay relationships  in the light of ongoing oppression.  And, this is the most exciting time in history, as state after state is recognizing gay marriage.

Acknowledging That You Have An Addiction May Be The Best Thing That Ever Happens To You

Ashamed of our addictions, we hide them, we “fool” people, first we fool ourselves, and we lead a double, sometimes triple life. As Americans the chances are that we are addicted to something. There are so many choices, ones that we think about, such as drugs, alcohol, sex, food, smoking and gambling. Then there are those that are more prevalent and acceptable: Nielsen Ratings estimates that the average American watches 34 hours of television a week, almost 5 hours a day. If not watching television this time is often spent on playing video games. That is five hours a day taken away from a life full of meaning and purpose. A Time away from a productive, satisfying life. Time away from building relationships and community.

One way of dealing with addiction is to stop and try to control it on our own. This certainly makes life better, but unfortunately we usually replace one compulsion or addiction for another.

The second way is to call for help, see an addiction therapist or attend a 12 step meeting. Taking this step opens a life with unlimited possibilities. The potential to begin a rich, productive, full life filled with other people and community begins immediately. After a short time, people become grateful that they have an addiction, because their life has changed. They are no longer alone, they realize that many people suffer from the same problems and, in community, they build compassion for themselves and understanding of others.

With professional help they discover who they were meant to be on this planet. They free themselves from the bonds of compulsion, and learn that they really can reach goals and achieve dreams. The amount of time and energy spent with each compulsion becomes the time and energy that is put in fulfilling dreams, nurturing families, building deeper relationships with our partners, our spouses and our friends.

As a therapist I know that those who admit their compulsions and the painful effects of them grow several times faster than the person who claims only anxiety and depression. Desperation to change one’s life due to the pain we cause ourselves and others, leads us quickly to changes that would take years under other circumstances. If we are not forced to change, we probably will walk a life that never changes. At the very least our lives are boring. Often they are self-destructive.

When we seek help for an addiction, we are saying “I Want Life.”

My next article will describe an addict’s life and the road to freedom.

Brainspotting, Trauma, Anxiety and Depression

Brainspotting – The Gentle Way To Heal From Painful Events And Addiction

Brainspotting, Trauma, Anxiety and Depression

David Grand, Developer of Brainspotting

David Grand discovered that by simply following the gaze of the eye, one is able to access painful memories and feeling states. When you are able to focus on a visual spot that coincides with a particular problem or upset, the brain will automatically begin to process and release the unwanted energy. This process is as simple as it sounds, and yet it is very powerful. As the therapist, my role is only to follow you and your process wherever it will lead us. I do not know where we are going but I am there to protect you on your journey. Of course before we can start the journey I need to gain your trust and become attuned with your goals and desires.

This process is affective with dealing with anxiety, depression, abuse and trauma. It can also be effective when you are unable to make a decision.

Often it has been thought that a person heals from their past by re-experiencing it, sometimes known as exposure therapy. Resourced Brainspotting, believes that the body can process from a very low state of agitation. In other words the calmer the body, the easier it remembers and releases the effects of painful experiences. The client also quickly learns that they can use these methods at home, to calm themselves in difficult day to day situations.

What is my personal experience with Brainspotting?

I have experienced many different paradigms of therapy in my life. All of them have been effective in supporting my own healing process. Brainspotting has played a unique role in allowing me freedom in my life. In a very short time it allowed me to process through trauma that I had been holding my whole life. It helped me handle situations in my life that used to seem impossible.

What is my experience of Brainspotting with my clients?

My clients are able to access their own rate of healing and are able to focus very quickly on what they want to heal. They decide at what intensity they are able to deal with a particular issue. Since there is no right way to heal, the client nor the therapist feel pressure to do it right. If the two of us hang out together, change will happen.

One of the most exciting aspects of this work, is that you do not need to remember the past, your body tells you the story, and then the brain automatically begins to heal the past.

Having been trained and experiencing the benefits of Brainspotting, I am passionate about sharing this experience with others. When someone comes to therapy for the first session, they are confused, anxious and scared. Taking the first step towards healing is courageous.

Anxiety and Depression – Best Ways to Treat Both

Most of the causes of anxiety and depression are stored in the body. We may not remember events that happened in our lives, but our bodies remember everything. Our bodies store experiences that happened in the womb. Our frame of mind as an adult can stem back to what experiences our mothers were having when they were pregnant.

Most of us had parents who did “the best that they could”. My work as a therapist is not to blame parents but help my client’s bodies let go of the effects of what happened during home life, school life and often religious life.

What makes us human is our brain’s ability to discern, reason and grow. It also hinders our ability to let go of things that have happened. Our brains protect us from anything that may harm us. Human experiences can be so painful that the brain wants to protect us from the sensations in our bodies. Unfortunately these experiences are stored. When an animal is at risk, it does what it needs to survive, but then it is able to shake off the experience, even if it is life-threatening. It then gets up and moves on as if nothing has happened. Humans do not have this ability. We do not automatically shake off our experiences.

Recently a form of therapy called Brainspotting, developed by David Grand allows the therapist to help the client shake off past body memories. What is even more important is that it teaches people to shake off their own negative experiences as they occur. Therapy is only as useful as what you can take with you out of the office and use on your own once you leave the room.

Most of us are conditioned to be afraid of our bodies. Sensations and emotions are foreign to us as they were to our parents before us. Seldom do we learn at home or in school how to manage and be with the experiences that we are having. Worst case scenario is we are told not to have the feelings or experiences that we are having. We shouldn’t feel this way. At best we are told that what we experience is normal; almost never are we told how to experience our experience.

Depression often comes from learning to suppress and oppress our feelings. Anxiety comes from being overwhelmed by our experiences. Brainspotting teaches us how to do both: let our feelings out and survive the experiences we have had and are having. Any techniques that teach us how to be with who we are, what we feel and how we experience things helps us alleviate depression and anxiety.

When a client comes to see me, I ask them what experiences are happening in their body that most distresses them. We then measure the intensity of the experience. Then I find where a client feels the most calm. From the place of calmness a person can release the intense experiences of distress. I then teach them to do this on their own.