Doing the Laundry


Doing the Laundry

I don’t know about you, but laundry has always been an interesting dilemma for my family and me. Growing up in a family of 12 we had a bag and crate system to help get the clothes to the washroom and then back to our closets. My mom’s biggest chore in our home was to wash the laundry. Besides the bags and crates we also had the famous “sock bucket” where all the socks ended up needing to be sorted or left partnerless . . . probably to this day.

Now, with my family of five, we oftentimes deal with the laundry couch where all the clean clothes wait to be folded. I have learned that it is easy to have the washer and dryer do their job but sometimes finding the time to fold and store is a personal challenge. Many times, we have to run the clothes to the bedroom or even put them back in the dryer if guests are coming over—until we can better deal with them.

You are probably wondering why I am talking about laundry on a therapy blog or why I am sharing about my struggle with laundry. The reason is because I think our feelings are very similar laundry. See, everyone has laundry and as humans we also have feelings. In fact, we have a lot of feelings.

Just like laundry—we have our darks, whites, colors, and delicates. And just like laundry, we all have to constantly do something with them. This can be tricky, especially when dealing with gentle fabrics, hard stains, or even when too many have piled up, and it becomes overwhelming to where we have to take our laundry to a dry cleaner. As a therapist, I have noticed that learning to do emotional laundry is an essential skill for individuals and families.

Take a moment and think about how you learned to do your emotional laundry. I fear that in a lot of homes we treat our feelings and emotions like laundry. In many families, mom takes care of the laundry for everyone—separating, washing, drying, sorting, folding, and storing which is quite the task. That has to be exhausting. Think about your current family—who does the emotional laundry in your home? Do you and your partner work together? Is this a task that you discuss or does one partner always feel burdened with this important detail? It is my belief that a strong and healthy practice is that everyone learn to be responsible for doing their own wash while also pitching in to help the entire family get through laundry day.

As parents, we have the awesome responsibility and opportunity to help our children learn to sort through their feelings and deal with them on a regular basis so they don’t become overwhelming. Oftentimes the 2 hardest tasks for anyone to learn are to identify different feelings and know where they belong. It is important that we treat delicate feelings different than others and understand that the process of dealing with them is special and important. Helping children name strong and vulnerable feelings helps them to normalize their experience and know that they are not alone. It also gives them permission to accept their feelings and parents the opportunity to let them know how they can best deal with some strong emotions.

As intimate partners we have the great opportunity to “lighten each other’s load”. Although each partner should ultimately be responsible for their own feelings we also depend on each other to take care of and care for each other’s emotional needs. Part of being a human is to experience a wide range of feelings and emotions during different times in our life. The best part of being in an intimate relationship is that we get to have help during those times. Sometimes all we need to know is that we have a helping hand when folding an endless pile of mismatched socks.


Take the chance today to help your family with their daily laundry. Maybe you validate your child’s softer feelings today or you take some extra time noticing the wrinkles and the stains on your partner’s favorite shirt. Maybe you just notice the beautiful threads and textures of all the different feelings and emotions we get to experience and just accept them as part of our great human experience without defining them as good or bad, right or wrong, but just different and unique. Try to not let your emotional laundry pile up and become unbearable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance when it does appear to be too much, that is what family, friends, and therapists are for after all.

Call today to schedule and appointment with Jeremy at 801.272.3420

Excitement vs. Anxiety


Rollercoaster RideWhen looking at this picture, what happens to you? What story do you tell yourself? Do you find yourself imagining the death that awaits you or do you find yourself looking forward to the adventure that is within reach?

As a child, and let’s be honest I still today, enjoy what I would call a healthy fear of heights. I remember being terrified of the idea of strapping into a roller coaster that would then shoot me to my death. As a child my family rode the Star Wars ride at Disney Land and was so disturbed by the prospect that I was permitted to sit and watch them as they participated in the experience.

Now, a confession. I HATE missing out! I remember my family leaving the ride and laughing and talking about how cool it was and I had nothing to contribute. I stood on the sidelines. I was so bothered.

A few months later, I found myself again at a theme park. This time it was Lagoon and my enemy was the Fire Dragon Colossus! A huge drop that went immediately into two huge loops at top speed! My anxiety was through the roof and I was convinced that one of those loops would kill me if I happened to survive that first fall!
I stood there watching my family discuss who was going to forgo the experience so that I would not be left outside alone and something changed within me. Seemingly out of nowhere I announced! Come on guys! Let’s go! I ran onto the ride and low and behold was given the front seat on the roller coaster. My family’s excitement was infectious and pretty soon I was telling myself that this was going to be awesome and that I was so lucky to get the front seat! (My brother was jealous of my place and I admit that helped).

I rode that roller coaster 6 times that day. My anxiety did not change. Every time I stood in front of that (to me) monster roller coaster I felt the same tightening in my chest, swelling in my throat and nausea in my stomach but it was now accompanied by a new story. One that told me I was going to have a story to tell and an experience to remember. An adventure was born and I am proud to say that my wife has yet to go to a theme park with me without throwing up! I love rollercoaster’s and the anxiety that comes with me! They are my happy place. My adventure beat my anxiety. It is still there but now I am in charge!

So often we miss out on life’s experiences as a result of anxieties and fears that are well warranted. They are there to protect us and to keep us safe. At times however, those anxieties can forget their place and begin making our decisions for us. When this happens, it may take the care and help of a professional to help us to get on the rollercoaster and show us how to ensure our safety.

Anxiety is complex and invasive. Just jumping on a ride will probably not beat these feelings. However, there are techniques and processes, support and validations that can help you to take your life back from the debilitating reality that is anxiety! We would love to meet with you and help you to start living again on your terms. Let’s put you back in the front seat of your monster coaster!

Call today to schedule and appointment with Chris at 801.272.3420

What WE want to be


Max De Pree an American Business man who died in August of 2017 was known to have said,

“We cannot become who we want to be by remaining what we are.”

Stronger Family relationships Becoming is a process of forward progression. Often times however, couples define their relationship by the hurts of the past (but she said… or how could he if…). Those hurts DO matter and they need to be validated and understood so as to not allow them to be repeated in the future and yet they need not define the marriage. When couples begin to use statements like, we are it interrupts the ability to become something better.

Couples are only limited by what they believe they can become together. That belief may need some tender persuasion, as it may have been lost in the quagmire of hurt and mistrust. In some instances one partner bears, seemingly alone, the hopes of something better. Don’t walk alone. Let us walk with you until you and your partner can lift together and choose what the marriage will become.

When we believe in what we can become, we change who we have been and together, we define what we will be.

Christopher D. Adams

Call today to schedule and appointment with Chris at 801.272.3420

How to Become a Savvy Therapy Customer


Therapy Tips and SuggestionsPeople come to us therapists with all kinds of problems, and it’s our privilege to help them with those difficulties. We are trained with skills to help clients with these problems, but we are still human beings and that means we aren’t perfect. Sometimes out of a misplaced sense of loyalty, clients may not always get the most out of the therapy.

Several lines of research have demonstrated that the most helpful thing in therapy is a strong relationship with your therapist. That doesn’t mean you’ll always like what he or she says, or that therapy will always be a pleasant experience. But it does mean that you need to trust each other and have genuine respect and affection for each other.

We work for you

When that isn’t there, therapy is not going to be very beneficial.  If after a few sessions, you find you just aren’t jelling with your therapist, it is perfectly appropriate to request a referral to another therapist or seek one yourself. We work for you, and if we aren’t able to be effective with you, we do not expect you to continue seeing us. In fact, it is not ethical for us to continue treatment if we don’t believe we are being effective, but sometimes that is easier for you to tell than for us.

You can change the plan

As therapists, we develop a customized treatment plan for you based on your individual circumstances and what you have asked us to help you with. However, sometimes things will come up during the week that may change that. If we are proceeding with our pre-existing plan, but you have something that you think is more urgent or important, please feel free to interrupt and let us know what is going on so that we can make sure you get the most benefit from the session.

You can say no

Sometimes you might be uncomfortable or uncertain about certain things we might try in session. We use empirically validated treatment models and techniques as we work with you, but sometimes they aren’t always a good fit. You can always stop and ask why we are doing something, or tell us to try something different. There is always a different way, and we always want to know if something makes you uncomfortable. Our training does not always make us aware of all your possible triggers or negative experiences.

Summing up

As therapists, we love what we do, and we love helping people resolve their problems and live happier lives. The therapeutic relationship is very important, and hopefully this blog post has given you some ideas about how to make the best of that relationship with your therapist.

A therapeutic relationship is most important
Feel free to interrupt
Ask us questions
You can always say no

Jeff Bennion, ALMFT

Call today to schedule and appointment with Jeff at 801.272.3420

Can I Be Happy?


Can I Be Happy?In a lecture on vulnerability, Brene Brown discusses our tendency to be afraid of experiencing joy in our lives. She said, “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding. I have never come across an emotion or affect [in my research] that is as difficult to feel as joy. Joy is probably the most vulnerable feeling or emotion that we experience. We are afraid to soften into it or lean fully into it because we are waiting… for the other the other shoe to drop” (clip from The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection and Courage).

In my experience as a clinician, I have seen this within myself and my clients. I truly believe that one of the biggest risks for mental health problems is when we refuse to find happiness in our present realities and relationships. Many of us often spend more time with our own fantasies than we do with the people who we claim to be the most important to us. We start to live our lives with what I like to call the “if/then factor.” We say to ourselves, “If I had more money, then I will be happy” or “If I had a different partner or a different relationship, then I could be happy.” We can do this for years never truly experiencing what it means to be happy or find joy in our lives. We long for the day when we can truly have joy. Then we compare our lives to those around us making assumptions that our “friends” have the happiness we seek. What many of us seem to forget in those moments is that our “friends” are most likely doing the same things to us in return. Many of us can’t see this because of our natural struggle as human beings to see the good in our present circumstances, whilst at the same time requiring little effort for us and others to see good in the lives of those around us.

Whether it’s waiting for the time when we can get married to the perfect person… or when we can have our first child… or when we can get our first house… or find our perfect career… the years start to pass by and the things that really matter to us in the end becomes neglected. The problem is that those things which bring us the most joy are often the things we are afraid of the most. Unfortunately, the relationships that we fear the most are the ones we come home to every day.

My challenge to those seeking joy in their lives is to start today with accepting the lot you have been given and chosen in life. Stay out of fantasy! Put down your cell phone or Ipad for the night and spend time with those you care about the most. Enjoy your time with them without thinking about your worries or fears of what’s to come your way. Don’t fret… I’m sure your worries and concerns will be there tomorrow when you wake up😉

Call today to schedule and appointment with Kyle at 801.272.3420

Letter to Sponsee: Same, Religion, and Addiction


Dear Sponsee,

Thanks for the article from Psychology Today titled “Religious Conflict Makes Porn Bad for Relationships”

Willoughby’s comments after the article pretty much deflate any take-away from the research that it is religion that is causing the emotional issues – other than a specific anxiety about disclosure of porn-use.   He also claims a literature consensus of mild negative effects of porn (and, btw, that research holds true regardless of one’s religiosity and also doesn’t include the more important spiritually negative effects).

Here are my own thoughts on this:

  1. I (and any decent addiction recovery program will agree) that shame not only contributes to ongoing use of porn, but to several emotional and socially-isolating issues.   The first thing Satan tells Adam and Eve after they transgressed was to hide.   The first thing Sexaholics Anonymous asks people to do is tell their story! As you know – that cuts the shame.
  2. Shame is the reason for high recidivism among pedophiles -because they isolate themselves because of their shame and then keep finding themselves repeating the problem. I can imagine it is not easy for one to say to even a therapist – “hey – I molested the neighbors daughter last night.” Is the answer to this to tell society that we are all just to uptight about sexually molesting children? The slippery slope of secular reasoning tells us: Yes! And there is now even scientific journal articles that have theorized that it is the shame around sexual abuse that causes the problems in children, not the sexual relationship between the adult and child….a sad argument I predicted many years ago given the logical conclusions of the secular arguments on homosexuality.
  3. If there is going to be a cultural push – it shouldn’t be to give permission to pornography – which is typically misogynistic and violent and gives unrealistic views of sexuality and is shown repeatedly to be harmful. Rather it should be to reduce the shame around the fact that we are sexual creatures with normal curiosities and proclivities…so that, for example, adults are speaking to their children early and comfortably about their changing bodies and interests and hormones, and religious and non-religious people alike don’t over-react based on their own sexual shame, etc.
  4. Yes, religion lowers the point at which someone begins to feel guilt. This can be a good thing (particularly when it doesn’t turn to shame) for the following reasons:   I have been to a number of recovery meetings throughout the country, and believe me, there are addicts who are far far away from being associated with any religion. They didn’t have any culturally derived restraints on their sexual behavior.   Rather, they simply saw that their life had become totally unmanageable because of lust – and that they were not only harming others, but that they could easily find themselves dead if they continue to do what they were doing (do we find ourselves dead? =)).   Thank goodness that the potential for “addiction” troubles the religious person early in the process – and they often then feel compelled to seek help early – and not after they spread disease and pain and suffering to themselves and countless others.   For example, I might have been considered “too uptight” about drugs and alcohol because of my religions teachings on the “word of wisdom”….so unlike many in my extended family, including my grandpa – I never became an alcoholic….I simply stayed away from mood altering substances altogether…GREAT! I don’t think I could have handled it – some can – but I don’t think I am one of them.
  5. Also, the tension caused by a heightened conscience is what brings people to a relationship with God once they see they need him. The earlier that one feels this need for a higher power the better.   There is an unmeasurable joy in this that the secularists and researchers do not account for.
  6. We now have decades of data to show that models that promote “smart” or “moderate” drinking of alcohol have, as seen in retrospect, killed many many true alcoholics. Perhaps it was useful in some shame reduction for some people, but there are some that simply need to come to terms with their powerlessness. AA works for the true alcoholic while nothing else does.
  7. Having said the above, Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a talk not long ago saying, essentially, that we should back off on using the term addiction – I believe he said this because of its shame connotations…I believe he spoke with terminology from his perspective on various levels of use… I agree with him.
  8. There are strong politics around the secular push that makes many behavioral issues – such gambling and over-eating – OK to be termed addictions – but not sex. For example, I have a friend at UCLA, Dr. Rory Reid,* who led the team about 7-10 years to determine whether sex addiction should be added to the DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual for psychiatry). It has all the behavioral and brain chemistry indicators of any addiction….BUT there was a (very) strong feminist coalition that insisted it not be termed addiction because of the legal implications that could result in rapists, for example, getting lighter sentencing from judges. (Of course if one believes that judges should just rule on law that isn’t a problem, but we know they don’t always do that anymore).
  9. In other words (from earlier in #8), it is not the facts that count in the practical and political outcomes of behavioral science. Also be very aware, as I have learned through the graduate school of hard knocks – that there are very (very) strong resentments out there for religion – it is the anathema of secularism – which is in itself a very powerfully experienced religion.   Issues around sex and sexuality, because it is a powerful river that religion seeks to bank and cool for society’s sake, are always the target of secularisms desire to pooh-pooh religion as over-reactive and out-of-style.   Yet the debauchery of drug addiction didn’t start in the streets with homelessness and child-neglect. It started with people like Harvard’s Dr. Timothy Leary extolling the virtues and creative enhancements of psychedelics.   For some – maybe that works – but it hasn’t worked for America in general and for thousands of Americans in tragic particular.
  10. The term addiction and the concept of powerless can be billed as shaming, yes, but the 12 steps are simply a powerful tools for the answers to being HUMANS not simply for addicted humans. You and I know the principles work – because of the peace and joy they have brought to our lives and so many we have guided through this.   When we admit that we are not totally in control, and follow a simple daily program, we can begin to let God do his amazing work and we get our lives back.  So I often tell guys who have “unwanted sexual compulsivity” – “look you may or many not be addicted – but do the program and look at it in terms of a step-by-step template for finding our higher power while in this difficult human condition.

* (BTW Rory (my friend from UCLA) gave me the tests etc (having to do with sex addiction) eight years ago when I personally felt I had a problem. He formally diagnosed me as NOT ANYWHERE NEAR what the literature would call an addict – yet for me, the principles of Sexaholics Anonymous – and understanding my compulsivity as an addiction – have been very powerful for a lot more reasons than regulating what was a very occasional compulsivity for unwanted sexual behavior – for example, my guilt over viewing pg-13 or R rated images. These kinds of images would be NOT be considered porn by the world’s standards – Yet I am grateful for the “religiosity” of my religions standards which helped me find my higher power through the 12 steps before I did some things I would really regret…. now there is a comfort and balance around sexuality AND I feel close to my higher power).


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The Bachelorette says that going to therapy was the best decision she made that entire year


Open discussions about mental health do not usually happen on television, let alone reality television. A few weeks ago, during week 2 of the Bachelorette, Rachel and Peter made history by discussing their own experiences with relationship therapy. (Click here to watch clip.)

On their first date, Rachel asks Peter a question she says that she gets a lot: “You’re so great, how are you still single?” Peter explains that after his last relationship ended, he saw a relationship therapist. He adds, “[Therapy] has helped me a lot. It has helped me now be more calm in my thoughts.”

Rachel seemed to be quite excited by this concept! She added her own experience with therapy after her last long relationship ended. Rachel explained that she felt that there was something that she wasn’t getting with herself. “So I went to a therapist. It was the best decision that I made that entire year, and again, it prepared me to realize what I want from myself, and what wasn’t working for me,” she says.

While reality television dating isn’t on the horizon for most, it is common for young adults to not know what they are looking for in a relationship! A therapist can assist that person to discover tools for better communication, thoughtful preparations for challenges, setting realistic expectations, and so much more.

The stigma surrounding mental health seems to have gotten better over the last few years, however it is important to note that not all who go to therapy have a mental illness. In a recent blog post, Kyle M. Reid, LMFT wrote, “People who go to counseling are those with the courage and capacity to seek and consider input in helping them function more happily and effectively in their every day lives. Getting help is not a weakness.”

Rachel and Peter are two people that are educated, attractive, and well-spoken; the idea that they would frequently be asked the annoying “why are you still single” question makes sense. Too often the true answer is “there are things that I need to work on with myself.” We applaud both of these individuals for the courage they showed to discuss this topic on national television.

If you are questioning if you should see a therapist, most offer a free consultation. Here at Connections Counseling Services, our therapists are happy to talk to you to discuss any questions you may have. Click here to read our blog on choosing the right therapist for you.

The 12 Steps and Trauma


The 12 Steps are utilized by SA, AA, and other groups as guiding principles outlining how to recover from compulsive and addictive behaviors and restore manageability to one’s life.

By Joseph Houck

“Uncover. Discard. Discover. Heal”. This is a pattern we learn in 12 step work.   It sounds simple, right? After all, shouldn’t the 12 Steps help me do this? And shouldn’t it be as simple as described in this formula? But what is soon found when working the steps (and being involved in other healing activities), is that more problems and pain seem to arise. Most people seem perplexed that sobriety can suffer or even get worse when they first start the work of healing and recovery.

What most people forget is that the process of healing and recovery is a MAJOR undertaking because this is an addiction. Recovery requires a great deal of consistency over time.

Addiction is caused when a person stuffs their pain and trauma deep within themselves. Deep hurts that are stuffed and not dealt with directly, (usually because of age or inexperience), callous over and walls are built around the pain and hurt so that the person doesn’t have to regularly deal with the pain.

Trauma wants release and healing, but many soothe stuffed trauma with addictive behavior. Not dealing with the pain deepens the addiction.   Dealing with the pain leads to healing.

It is while working the 12 Steps that people start to see what’s truly going on deep within. We start to uncover the wounds and start to see them for what they are. But when these pains are uncovered they are overwhelming! And triggering! And traumatizing! It’s almost as if the pain is even more powerful when it is dug up then when it was put there.

This can lead to relapse after relapse for months or years because someone who is addicted hasn’t yet learned how to deal with these strong emotions or pain. After all, we’ve thought we can do it on our own for so long! The 12 Steps allow a person to deal with these strong emotions in healthy ways. With the help of others and especially our Higher Power, we learn that we can trust – that we can successfully work through difficult emotions in the safety of being loved and valued.

This initial phase of healing is painful and it does hurt—but it does end. I have dealt with many people, including myself, who have done the difficult work of trauma healing. What I’ve found is that when the pain comes up it arises like a volcanic eruption – as anger, rage, resentment and frustration. If these feelings are dealt with healthily over a large period of time by consistently using healing tools (especially the 12 Steps) these feelings give way to serenity, peace, and joy.

Yes, the road to recovery and healing does hurt initially but the hurt and pain subsides and what replaces it is serenity, peace, and JOY.

Now that’s something that is well worth any effort.

The author Joseph Houck loves helping people heal and is progressing in his education to become a therapist. Having dealt with trauma healing for several years he has an intrinsic and deeply personal view of the serenity, peace, and joy that comes with healing. He can be reached by email at