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“I’m Struggling to Overcome My Pornography Addiction, How Do I Know If I Need a Higher Level of Treatment?”

 

by Kyle M. Reid, LMFT

Pornography Addiction Treatment

Working on overcoming an addiction to pornography can be a difficult and shameful experience. However, we often side on doing what is absolutely necessary but not required in treating our addictions.

Unfortunately, denial is one of the primary symptoms of any addict. Any addict wants to believe that they don’t “need” a counselor…or go to a SA group… or tell anyone about their issue. Every addict wants to believe that they can do this on their own. Sadly, this is a lie all addicts can themselves to avoid looking at the truth of their situation. As long as this lie is fed, the addiction isn’t going anywhere. The behavior might stop but it will most likely transfer to other addictions or problems.

In the end, recovery from a sex addiction isn’t really about the sex at all… or the food…. or the drugs…. It’s about learning to live with those things about ourselves that we fear the most to be true. It’s about facing the fear of connecting with others and trusting that others are not going to tell us that we just aren’t good enough…… When it comes down to it, addiction really is just an intimacy problem. The struggle to connect and bond with others. An addict always wants more but within the confines of what they can control. All addicts struggle to embrace accountability and vulnerability. So to answer the question…. It depends.

Not every addict “needs” a counselor, but if you find yourself asking this question to yourself and looking for evidence to support the “I will only do what is absolutely necessary” mentality, then you probably already know the answer to that question. What do you have to lose? The reality is an addict won’t change until they are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to overcome and change. Including…getting the necessary treatment.

 

Call today to schedule and appointment with Kyle at 801.272.3420

Moana – Is There a Monster Inside of You?

 

By Jeremy Bailey, LAMFT

In Disney’s “Moana”, Moana is the daughter of the chief who was chosen by the ocean to find Maui and return the heart of Te Fiti. On her journey to return the heart she has to face the angry, fiery, lava monster; Te Kā. It is later discovered that Te Ka was actually just a part of Te Fiti. I think we all have different parts of us that need to be heard and understood, but too often we spend our time labeling the scary and unacceptable parts as “bad” instead of listening to what they have to say.

If we didn’t know that Te Kā was just the protector of Te Fiti’s heart we might make the mistake of seeing her as the villain in this movie. She was furiously seeking to be healed and have her heart restored to her. Her pain was so big that it was frightening to everyone around her and people thought they had to fight against her to find a resolution.

It wasn’t until Moana could see her for what she was that she could soothe her and calm her by returning her heart to her and allowing for her to heal. If it wasn’t for Moana’s journey of accepting the part of herself that she had been suppressing for so much time I don’t think she would have seen Te Kā’s plea for healing and wholeness.

My favorite scene in the movie is Moana approaching the giant, terrifying, living volcano monster and singing:

“I have crossed the horizon to find you
I know your name
They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are
I know who you are”

Moana’s journey is an excellent representation of what therapy can be like. I love those moments of acceptance of self and others as awareness is made, love conquers fears, and individuals, couples, and families take greater risks of being more congruent and whole.

Do you have a monster inside of you? Inside of your marriage, family, or other relationships? How does it make you feel? What do you want to do when it rears its head?

May I invite you to try something new next time it shows up? Take a pause and just notice it. Give it a name. Cross the horizon and appreciate what the monster is doing for you. Maybe your monster is protecting you from something—from being hurt or being lonely or scared? Maybe the monster is trapped by some rigid belief about life or about how things “should” be. Maybe the monster has forgotten why she showed up in the first place and just needs to know that it is safe to go home.

Whatever the case may be, try to see your monster as just another part of everything that makes you, you and love it just as much as the other parts of you that are easier to love. Instead of feeling hatred and anger, look at your monster more like your protector and defender and soothe it by giving your whole heart to your whole self.

Call today to schedule and appointment with Jeremy at 801.272.3420

The Bachelor

 

By Jeff Bennion, ALMFT

The Bacheloris one of the most popular reality TV shows out there. It is tremendously popular, especially among women because it plays into many of their fantasies about love, desire and relationships: to be romanced, to be object of attention and desire, to be seen as beautiful, to be pursued by a handsome and successful man, to have a beautiful wedding. Recently, there was a great deal of outrage when the latest bachelor, Arie Ludendyk, unceremoniously dumped the woman he gave the rose to on the show’s finale, Becca Kufrin, and instead got engaged to the runner up, Lauren Burnham. There was so much anger, one state representative proposed legislation proposing to bar Mr. Ludendyk from entering his home state of Minnesota.

When I heard the news, however, I wasn’t surprised. I’m frankly surprised that any of these relationships last, because this is about the worst possible way to enter into a marriage (or any long term, committed relationship). Putting twenty people together and having someone choose which of these is the best doesn’t build a foundation for a stable and mutually trusting relationship, in fact it encourages the opposite, as it encourages the Bachelor to always be on the lookout for someone better than the woman he is currently with. (Reverse the genders, if you would like, with the equally harmful Bachelorette show.) When a relationship is built on that foundation, how can that idea suddenly be turned off? Why, after the beautiful couple say “I do” should that constant lookout for someone undefinably better suddenly and magically get turned off? And how often do people watching the show decide that they “deserve” to have a relationship like the one depicted on this show, and become discontented  when they compare their relationship to the slickly and expensively produced ones portrayed on this TV show?

We hear about Darwin’s natural selection and think that species ruthlessly compete until all of them go extinct except one. In capitalism, we think that companies ruthlessly compete until one becomes overwhelmingly dominant. The Bachelor takes this idea to the dating world. The problem is, in each of these situations (biology, business, and relationships) that idea is wrong. Species do all they can to avoidp directly competing with each other. They try to find unique niches where they are best adapted to thrive, and they leave other niches where other species can attempt to do the same. Businesses will try to change their offerings in contrast to their competition in order to provide a feature that is uniquely compelling to a certain segment of the market. And in relationships, people don’t all line up on a stage and hope they get picked. At least not if they hope to be happy in a relationship. Successfully partnered people have determined their unique abilities and gifts and then found someone who appreciates their unique and individualized value as a person.

Relationships cannot be determined, and much less formed, through multiple choice. Each relationship is a yes or no, true or false question. If no, move on to the next one, with valuable lessons learned about yourself. If yes, then go deeper and take it to the next level of intimacy risking ever-deeper growth, self-examination and self-disclosure. In that process, you build something beautiful together.

There is an anonymous quote titled “The Marriage Box” that reads,

Most people get married believing a myth that marriage is beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for; Companionship, intimacy, friendship, etc… The truth is, that marriage at the start is an empty box, you must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage, love is in people, and people put love in marriage. There is no romance in marriage, you have to infuse it into your marriage. A couple must learn the art, and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising, of keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.

That’s why, when I watch the Bachelor, I see twenty-one beautifully wrapped yet empty boxes. Nothing on that program shows people how to put anything of long term value into their marriage (relationship) boxes. By that omission, it tells a very dangerous lie that it’s the appeal of the box that matters the most, not what you put in it. I cannot think of a more damaging idea to bring into a long term relationship and hope that it can last.

Call today to schedule and appointment with Jeff at 801.272.3420

Marriage Mythbusters: Mindreading

 

By Jeff Bennion, LMFT

Very often, what we think we should have gets in the way of what we do have. Couples will come into my office complaining about what they don’t have, and it blinds them to what they have and what they can have. Marriage can be a wonderful experience, leading to growth and happiness for each partner as well as their children, but it is often made more difficult by unrealistic and even harmful myths that are propagated by society and the media. Much of our time in therapy is spent “busting” these marriage myths.

Just like the popular TV Show “Mythbusters” that takes a look at various widely believed stories and puts them to the test, in this series of blog posts I thought we’d examine some popular but unhealthy marriage myths, and replace them with a more helpful and realistic idea.

One that I hear frequently in session is when the sentence starts with, “He/she should know that I…”  It is wonderful to have someone who gets us, and the popular idea of the “soulmate” is someone who knows you so well, he or she can read your mind. The first one up on the docket is the idea that your spouse, your “soulmate” should know what you’re thinking and feeling at every moment.

Soul Mates

If you have this belief, it is important to ask yourself where you got this idea, and how it may be harming your relationship, and preventing you from truly enjoying the person you are with. While it might be nice to have someone so in tune with our every thought, a more valuable skill in a partner is someone who will listen to you supportively and help you to express yourself.

In reality, more important than knowing what someone else is helping your spouse know that his or her feelings are safe and welcome, and one of the best ways to help your partner with that is to ask open questions. Open questions are questions that invite the person to reflect, to do deeper, and they also express that the questioner is really interested in what the person is thinking or feeling.

Here are some examples of open questions that would be good to ask, and some examples of some questions NOT to ask. Bad questions are ones that are accusatory, and aren’t really about getting an answer.

Open questions Closed questions
  • You seem a little down today. I’d like to hear more about what you might be feeling.
  • Why are you always so grumpy?
  • Tell about some of your favorite experiences you’ve had eating dinner.
  • Why can’t you ever get it through your head that I hate Italian food?
  • How can I better support you in your career?
  • When are you going to get around to finally applying for that promotion?
  • Is there some kind of physical expression of affection that might help you feel loved in this moment?
  • Why won’t you have sex with me more often?

Of course, sincerity counts too. If the open questions are just a way to manipulate your partner into doing something you already want

Letting go of our unrealistic  and unhealthy idea of our spouse as a mind reader, and replacing that idea with a willingness to be open and communicate can lead to a big improvement. No one is perfect, but with love and support, it can really make life better. As someone once said, “everyone comes with baggage. Find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack.

veryone-comes-with-baggage-find-someone-who-loves-you-enough-to-help-you-unpack

Call today to schedule and appointment with Jeff at 801.272.3420

Doing the Laundry

 

Doing the Laundry

By Jeremy Bailey, LAMFT

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.

strengthening-your-marriage

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 RideBy Christopher D. Adams, AMFT

When 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

 

By Christopher D. Adams, AMFT

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 SuggestionsBy Jeff Bennion, ALMFT

People 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?by Kyle M. Reid, LMFT

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