All posts in Couples Counseling

STDs CAN BLOW YOUR MIND

STdsIs there a correlation between the rise of “hookup” sites like tinder and the increase in STDs? How do you ask your new partner about their sexual health? Or, are we just a more hyper-sexualized society that just throws caution to the wind when it comes to protecting ourselves? Well, I’m not quite sure which is the right answer. However, we can take a look at a smaller sample size in the state of California, more specifically the county of Los Angeles for some possible answers.

Current studies are indicating that theses stds, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have consistently been the highest infections in California. This a real concern! It is also a difficult conversation to have or bring up with your partner. Now I’m not going to dedicate this space to exploring our sexual health, rather, it is the psychological effect that contracting an STD has on a person that I want to address in this blog.

Have you considered what happens to a person when they learn that they have an STD? What I have witnessed take place with many clients is that suddenly their emotional state of mind becomes unstable, their anxiety rises, and eventually depression follows. Simply put, the dominoes begin to fall. Rarely, do I get the client when they are newly diagnosed, rather, they have already been battling the depression, anxiety, and accompanying stress for quite some time.

In reality, when people receive their diagnosis, life is never the same again. This is extremely difficult to wrap their heads around. Many times, this revelation of a sexually transmitted disease literally brings to light previously undetected, repressed, or eschewed mental illnesses.

On the opposite spectrum, my experience with some teenagers and some adults has been a interesting choice to pursue extreme sexual activity with the knowledge that they are suffering from the effects of their mental illness related to their contracted STDs. Remember, depression can cause isolation, break off connections and make one feel like they are the proverbial “island.” The psychological impact of contracting an STD is far greater than what you think, so please think and educate yourself, partner, friends, and your family. To help, their are a number of good studies written here that I suggest you read, so click HERE

 

 

 

 

 

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Trauma Equals Violence?

Police OfficersI was cruising thru Hulu a few nights ago and clicked on the CNN app, a video of a South Carolina high school incident grabbed my attention. I was drawn to it. To my shock and utter amazement, I witnessed  a police officer forcefully attempt to remove a female student from her desk, but in the process violently turned the desk over on top of her. He then proceeded to pull her out and continued beating her. This was all taking place as her classmates were watching (I’m guessing stunned, yet, some with their iphones catching it for posterity). What I also found distressing was that the principle and the student’s teacher were watching from the sideline this incident taking place.

Compounding this horrendous and violent situation, the officer was white and the female student was black. The nature of how this started and escalated to this violent degree is really incomprehensible. However, CNN was helpful enough to replay it nine (9) times for me in a matter of two (2) minutes. I think the media is so savvy at fueling our emotions and raising our anxiety, I could feel my anxiety really increasing to a point that I had  to click away.

My point is that for an officer of the law to act in a manner that is so violent, atrocious, and really inhumane with very little provocation is unnerving. As a clinician, I immediately recognized an underlying mental health illness at play (of course, after I had calmed down). As this story gained national attention, it was revealed that this particular officer had two (2) previous violent incidents similar to this one. He was summarily put on leave and days later he has now been fired from the police force. I hope he gets help.

Trauma is not just confined to our brave and courageous men and women of the military, it is anyone who has suffered sexual or physical abuse, been in a serious accident, or life threatening situation. It is estimated that eight (8) million americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Many law enforcement officers suffer in silence with PTSD, as they are the front lines of protecting and upholding the peace. They witness and experience horrible things in our society that impact them dramatically. This is not an excuse for bad behavior, however, it does warrant better understanding of what goes on..

 

Do you want to know more, read on HERE

 

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Sex Works for Both

sexualissuesSex in marriage who wants it more? This is always a point of conflict in every couples counseling sessions that I hold. It is always fascinating for me to discover that the person with the least desire for sex controls the frequency of intimacy in the relationship. Think about your own relationship, which one of you is more sexual, do you see the correlation?

Sex is critical to closeness, emotional stability, and physical satisfaction. If you think that you cannot find some common ground or are you unwilling to compromise, the prospects aren’t good. Both men and women, who continually feel unsatisfied in the bedroom, eventually seek out others who will fulfill their needs. Sadly, this is reflective in the divorce ever increasing divorce rate.

I really believe we need to be realistic with our expectations for sex. If you are the one who is highly sexual, that’s fine and good, if not, ok too. However, sex is a gift and you have to do it for each other!

There is a great TEDx talk inside here 

 

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Bigger is Better?

Jump for Joy

Jump for Joy

Here is a a little riddle for you, what do Chris Jenner (not referencing the media circus of the family), the Duggars (despite the recent scandal), and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have going on that other families don’t? I’m thinking, I’m thinking, okay…. that’s right each have large families, huh? Yes, it’s true if you want to be a happy parent(s) a large family needs to be in the cards.

Think you can’t do it, oh yes you can! When I was a young husband contemplating with my young wife the prospect of having children, I remember thinking, how can we afford to have children especially more than one? Another pressing concern was when was the right time to start having these little “sleep robbers.” Well, I sought the answers from wise fathers. First, they said, “You can never really afford children, but, if you wait till you think you can you’ll be retired and alone. Second, There is never a “right time to have children and when you’re there on the day they burst into this world, you’ll know what I mean.”

I joke with people who are surprised at the amount of children I have (6) that the odds are in my favor that at least one of them will take care of me when I’m old. It’s tough, I won’t candy coat it. We had four children under the age of five at one point. I changed diapers for a decade (that is 10 years for those of you who are numerically challenged like me). Then there were the 2 a.m. feedings and having to be at work by 6 a.m.. The lack of sleep for both of us was daunting. Our last was a premie (1 lb) arriving four (4) months early then spending 100 agonizing days in the NICU. My incredible wife drove 99/100 days for 3.5 hours round trip each day to be at that NICU with our baby. That was eight years ago, wow time flies and our little girl has blossomed, but not without a lot of health challenges of her own (forgive for being so personal).

There are many joys as well. Seeing them pull together, become independent, make good choices, they have stayed away from the pitfalls of drugs, alcohol, and porn addiction through much instruction, love, and attention. It take tremendous effort, time, sacrifice of your hobbies, time with the guys, and can be so draining, however the results produce happy parents and happy children.

Don’t believe for a second that I haven’t stumbled, tripped, fallen down, and been overwhelmed by the responsibility many times just trying to be a father of a large family. Thankfully, my wife has been our anchor, the stabilizing force through it all. She has taught me so very much! Still, if you are considering a large family, take heart, you can do it and the joy will be immeasurable!

See what science says about large families HERE

 

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Moody? Check your stats!

Bipolar womanMillions suffer in silence knowing there is something wrong, still millions more suffer with the same symptoms, however, they don’t realize that they are in reality manic depressive. The statistics are alarming, very personal, and dramatically increasing. Are you affected by this mood disorder? Does someone in your family present with symptoms of a mood disorder? Does your neighbor, or roommate, maybe partner? Look around, it’s closer than you think.

I find that many of my clients really struggle hearing that they have a mood disorder. It really comes as a surprise at first, however, as we discuss the symptoms they begin to put the intricate missing pieces of their lives together. With time their doubts and fears turn to relief and understanding. To finally have some answers to their behavior, to make some sense of their patterns of erratic outbursts, their attraction to dangerous people, situations, and addictive habits can be illuminating and exhausting. So to is coming to grips with why the multitude of projects often are started with the energy of a Walmart crowd on Thanksgiving Day, yet still remain unfinished…

If this is you or someone you know, there is hope. There is also effective treatments and therapy. Be warned that the daily path to healing is part highway, at times partially dirt road, some days it is cobblestone, and on particularly hard days it’s like walking on burning coals.

I want you to be educated about the “Ups and Downs” of this disorder. Finally, I want to personally thank one of our regular readers who personally reached out and shared this link.

What to know the stats, click HERE

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Life is Short, Don’t have an Affair!

large_noelweddingWith the recent hacking of the secretive “Let me cheat on my spouse without her knowing” website aka “Ashley Madison,” a national fallout has begun in millions of relationships. I heard that divorce lawyers expect this to be terrific for their business, sadly, this will also keep therapists, psychiatrists, clergy, social workers busy, as well. Many relationships, quite possibly many already in trouble, will be destroyed by the revelation that their spouse has been unfaithful. This will tear both hearts and families apart.

Infidelity is extremely difficult to work through once uncovered because of the betrayal, deep pain, the loss of trust, and terrible deception that led to the revelation. Naturally, the majority will witness the tragic end of their relationship, but, a few will navigate through these treacherous minefields and become stronger as a couple. However, be forewarned, the journey is painfully long, bitter at times, full of guilt for the one who has cheated, and doubt and mistrust play on the mind of the loyal one who stays despite the affair.

What is truly fascinating is the mental state of the person caught cheating who is then then faced with having to take accountability for their reckless behavior and apologize. Maybe you were caught? Maybe you are facing the prospect of deciding to stay or leave the unfaithful spouse? Are you asking yourself, “Can I make it through this?”  What is for certain is that there are no easy solutions. There are some very rough times ahead for millions of couples faced with this Ashley Madison Fallout. I think it’s better to say, “Life is short, so don’t have an affair!

Interested in the psychology of a cheater, read HERE 

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Who’s Better Than Me?

bookclub_narcissist1-tmagArticleWhat do  Kim Kardashian, Madonna, Oprah, Matthew McConaughey, and Kanye West all have in common? Well, besides all being celebrities, wealthy, influential, and pleasant on the eyes, what else? Yes, the world revolves around them…warmer. Ok, they all suffer from, or, rather enjoy the effects of narcissistic personality disorder. Surprised?  Yes, you have watched them on the red carpet, their movies, TV shows, videos, listened to their music, and peaked at their selfies, right? They are captivating and we pay a lot of attention to them which serves to fuel their narcissistic behavior.

We often excuse their behavior as just them being celebrities. Maybe we even secretly want to be them (you know who you are). Of course, we would never be in a relationship with someone that is so self serving that our needs don’t matter to them? Certainly not even consider having a marriage and children with a person with this kind of personality, no not me! Um, well, what happens if I did/do, I mean have? Now what do I do?

“To Stay or Not To Stay?” that becomes the difficult question especially if you think that you are suffocating in this type of a relationship. What about the children? Do you think that maybe your husband or boyfriend has it? Interestingly, studies indicate that 8% of males are narcissistic. Maybe  you suspect your wife, or, girlfriend might be a narcissist?  Well, just 5% of females demonstrate this personality disorder, thankfully! So really the question becomes multiple questions. Can and how do I heal from a separation or divorce from a narcissist? How do I comfort and heal my children? But first, you must define what a narcissist is…

To learn if you are living with one click HERE   

 

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Behind Closed Doors

1440478758015I guess that I’m a different type of therapist for my clients. It seems that many prefer to concentrate exclusively on the psychological elements of why their client’s are unable to experience intimacy with their partner(s). Of course, a psychological component is a part of it, however, what I have discovered is that many practitioners tend to dismiss or overlook the physiological elements that are typically at the heart of intimacy issues for both genders. Maybe its my pharmacological training, or, my capacity to just really listen to my clients narrative that clues me in to the real source of frustration and dissatisfaction with their relationship that reveals the physiological obstacles.

You see, when Viagra hit the market “men rejoiced and women ran”. Nursing homes became “Club Med” and many reported that their relationships were reinvigorated, more meaningful, playful, and many couples reported feeling more connected. Frequently, the conversation turned to the inevitable question, “What about a Viagra for women?” At the time their was only the hope that one day there would be a pill that could deliver the same enjoyment for women that men would be taking advantage of for decades. Well, now it appears the wait is over for females everywhere!

Enter a new wonder pill called Addyi (pronounced ‘add-ee’) that interestingly acts on the woman’s brain. Naturally, men and women operate differently, right? Of course, there is concern among the medical community that because this does not increase blood flow to the genitals (keeping this PG) as Viagra does, they are unsure of the physiological and psychological ramifications of this medication. As with any new medication, you have to make an informed decision by deciding if the perceived benefits to your relationship, self esteem etc..outweigh the potential unknown risks to your health?   Is it effective? Will women lose their self-control in their relationship(s)?

Do you want to know more? Read HERE

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Never Give In, Wait…What?

couple fightingWhy is it so hard to say you’re sorry? Well, for starters, we all want to feel that we’re right about whatever was said that made the other person upset, right? However, we need to remember that we are all flawed and imperfect human beings. All too often we only see those flaws and imperfections quite clearly in others and we like to bring it to their attention so they can improve. Do we forget that we make mistakes too? I cannot tell you how many relationships become negatively impacted by the insensitive words and actions from the ones they care most about. Consider for a moment the energy that is put forth in trying to minimize or justify poor behavior in an effort to avoid apologizing for our part in the problem. Now, think about what impact an apology can have on the “receiver” and ourselves? Release the guilt and unchain yourself from the bitterness, anger, and exhaustion that the “blame game” needs to survive. So how do you say you’re sorry, deal with the regrets, and make life easier on yourself?

You want to know how, read HERE 

 

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Death Becomes Her?

coping-with-death-and-griefGrief is such a singular, personal, and yet, a solitary experience for many of us who experience it. How do we deal with losing someone close to us? How is that void filled, or can it be? At some point, reality will set in and we will need to move on with our lives. So, how do we? First, I believe that we need to realize that the process of grieving is different for everyone. Some will move on more quickly than another and that is okay because there is no specific time frame. Secondly, there are steps that one must go thru to truly heal in order to be able to pick up the pieces of their life, deal with their loss, heal, and begin living a meaningful life again. Third, there is an emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual impact that can seriously drain one’s capacity to move on.  How will you cope with a personal loss?

For some help read HERE

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