Couples Counseling for Pornography Addictions
Couples often come into therapy for 'communication problems'. As a therapist for the last decade, I have found that this means many things - depression, anxiety, affairs, pornography use, among other issues. Outside of Utah County, pornography use seems to be more acceptable, or at least, less talked about as an issue. Is use in other locations less, or merely seen differently? When I speak with couples, this is something that is very painful and difficult to understand and overcome. There is a tremendous amount of shame associated with use. As we work in counseling to overcome the addictive cycle, the spouse who is using has to learn to attach to their partner instead pornography. This attachment is key to recove...
My Spouse Cheated on Me – Betrayal Trauma
My spouse cheated on me – what do I do now? If you are asking this question you are probably going through a gauntlet of emotions, thoughts and questions. Many couples come to my office seeking help to make sense of and hopefully heal from infidelity. There is a process that most couples go through - common experiences that I can share here. Usually, during the process of the disclosure (or discovery) of an affair, the spouse who was cheated on feels something many have called ‘betrayal trauma.’ I often share with couples in this situation a metaphor. Imagine, I tell her, that you are driving in a truck in a convoy through a war zone. Out of nowhere a rocket blasts your truck after being shot from a nearby building. It throws you out of the truck and into the dirt. After almost being killed in this situation, many would develop PTSD – or acute trauma. They would come home from the war zone and start the process of healing – perhaps with family or friends or trained professionals. They ...
Couples Counseling for Pornography
Effective pornography treatment often includes family members. As I have worked with hundreds of individuals struggling with pornography use over the years, I have found that those who have loving, supportive family members often have better outcomes. For example, couples therapy is often a good place for you to learn how to connect with others instead of checking out or numbing through pornography use. This is a difficult thing to do because your spouse is someone who has the power to reject you in a way that can really hurt. It is hard to be vulnerable in these circumstances because of this fear of being hurt or rejected. It is also difficult because you are also working to heal the pain your spouse feels because of your pornography use.
One thing that you need is someone to be a ‘real’ person to you. Pornography is a fantasy world where there are no consequences and where other people’s emotions don’t matter. This is why couples therapy is so important – your spouse becomes more ...
Do I Need Medication? – A Common Question from Clients
I am often asked the question, “Do I need medication?” As a counselor in Utah County, I work with couples, families, individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, pornography use, drug and alcohol use and other issues – all of which might need medication at some point. As a counselor, I am not trained to prescribe medication or do medication management, however, I often collaborate with practioners (i.e., MD’s, nurse practioners) who are. Together we are able to help many individuals overcome anxiety or depression. Talk therapy (couples counseling or individual therapy) and medication are often a good combination to combat the issues that bring most people into therapy.
My colleagues who prescribe medications often tell me how medications act like crutches. They aren’t meant for long term use or to be a ‘fix-all’, but rather, they are meant to give support so that an individual can gain strength. Once strong enough, the crutches are discarded and the individual moves on under thei...
Depression Is Not a Bad Word
Depression often comes with a stigma – some believe it’s all in your head or that all you have to do is ‘get over it’. Research and my experience as a therapist (and human!) disagree with these beliefs. Depression isn’t a choice. If it were, those suffering from it wouldn’t be depressed any longer. Understanding how depression is something that takes deliberate effort to combat and often professional help from a counselor is the first step towards happiness.
Depression is different than sadness that might occur in different situations. These situations, along with accompanying depression, come and go. Sadness isn’t something to fear or avoid. In fact, letting ourselves experience sadness helps us to live a full life. People often put themselves in an impossible situation when they try to avoid feeling sad because they think that sadness is bad and that they are bad for feeling it. This sentiment often resounds in religious settings where some would believe that the...
Understanding my Spouses Pornography Use
Pornography use often leaves the user feeling empty and shameful. To deal with this shame of using in the first place, they might actually use pornography again to numb themselves. This vicious cycle is played out within minutes of each other or within days, even weeks of each other.
I am often asked by spouses of pornography users one simple and somewhat complex question, “Why can’t they just stop using?” They tell me that they know that their spouse see’s how it hurts them and how it is ruining their lives and relationships. After a husband talks about his remorse about using pornography, a wife will often follow up with, “Then just stop it”. It isn’t this simple, however. Studies have shown the impact that pornography use has on an individual’s brain chemistry. Some would say that the brain and the person become hijacked – causing them to act in ways that they wouldn’t normally act. This is the same phenomenon that would cause a grandson to steal his grandmothers weddin...
A Word on Faith Crisis Counseling
As a therapist in Provo Utah, I often work with clients in a faith crisis. They come to me wanting to leave their religion or try to understand what they have been taught through a different lens. One thing I work with them on, inevitably, is letting go of some of the culture (real or perceived) that can accompany religion – the culture of pressure to be perfect or to at least appear so. Working with them to understand how to hold on to what they believe while letting go of certain surface level cultural aspects of living in an area which is highly religiously homogeneous. This can be a difficult task given the pressure to conform and follow.
My suggestions to individuals in these circumstances is to do the following: Differentiate between your religions doctrine and the culture. Most people see these as different. Understanding the difference will help you embrace what you believe and let go of what can be damaging.
The Secret of Pornography
Secrets fuel addiction. As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, addictions, such as pornography addictions, are a shame based experience. This means that when someone uses pornography they feel as if they are a bad person, rather than feeling that they are a good person despite making a mistake. When someone feels shame, they often compartmentalize what they have done – they hid it and separate it from who they think they really are, or, think that that mistake totally defines who they really are.
This is where secrets come into play. Over time, a man (or woman – I’ve worked with both in therapy for pornography issues) who has been using pornography and feeling shame because of it will gather many secrets. He won’t want to tell anyone what he is doing, or won’t want to tell them all that he is doing. He might only present the best parts of himself or just tell enough about his mistakes to others to appease them or to feel like he is being open. But, in fact, he...
Problems with Teenagers
Family therapy is an effective way to deal with problems regarding adolescents, parenting, addiction, depression, anxiety and much more. When a mother and father bring in their 15-year-old son because he is drinking, using drugs, has a bad attitude, is failing out of school and is involved in risky behavior – I ask the parents to participate in counseling with him to be a part of the solution. The relationship between mom and dad, the relationship between mom and son and the relationship between dad and son matter in regard to this young man’s healthy life style choices. As a therapist of adolescents for over a decade now, I have found that more often than not, when success happens for adolescents in therapy it is accompanied with a mom and dad who are involved and willing.
Most adolescents don’t want to do counseling. They often make excuses and say that they don’t want to follow the rules and that f their parents loved them that they wouldn’t give them a curfew. The ironic thing i...
Effective Couples Counseing
Couples counseling, if done right, is ‘husband friendly’. Most couples come into therapy because the wife seeks help, sets up an appointment and convinces her husband to go with her. He often feels as if he is forced into the session and as if he is the bad guy. He might think that the therapist is going to be on his wife’s side and that together, his wife and the therapist, are going to tell him what he needs to change.
Effective couples counseling couldn’t be further from this scenario. In couple’s therapy, a therapist will see the problem as something the husband and wife can fight together. The problem isn’t the wife and it’s not the husband – it’s the way that they have been going about their relationship....