WHAT IS SEX ADDICTION?
Sex addiction is defined as any sexually-related, compulsive behavior that has a negative effect and causes disruption in one's life or the lives of others. Like with alcohol or drugs, sex addiction fits the classic, four-component model of what comprises and addiction:
Compulsivity - the loss of control over a behavior.
An addict continues in the behavior or relationship despite repeated attempts to stop.
Continuation despite negative consequences;
Preoccupation or obsession;
Tolerance - more of the same behavior, or an escalation of progressive behaviors, is required to get the same "high".
These compulsive behaviors may include: compulsive masturbation, pornography, Internet sex (cyber sex), and prostitution, anonymous sex, visiting adult bookstores, exhibitionism, voyeurism, indecent phone calls, child molestation, incest, rape and violence. Even the healthiest forms of human sexual expression can turn into self-defeating behaviors.
Sex addiction is a compulsive, uncontrollable need. It is not a moral failing, a failing of willpower, an abnormally high sex drive, an alternative lifestyle, or fun. It is a cycle of denial, shame, risky behavior (on many levels), and pain, usually resulting from sexual abuse or neglect in childhood.
Sex addiction can occur in both males and females and is similar to an alcohol or drug addiction in that it controls the addict rather than the other way around.
CAN A SEX ADDICT RECOVER?
There is hope for the sexual addict. Treatment and new therapies are available that can rebuild the thought processes of the sex addict and redirect their lives toward a loving, fulfilling, and intimate relationship.
HOW DOES THE SPOUSE OR PARTNER OF A SEX ADDICT HEAL?
The spouse or partner of a sex addict is called a co-sex addict (COSA). The COSA will most likely have their own relationship issues, which are what attracted them to the addict in the first place. Many are needy and vulnerable. Usually, they are suffering from love addiction and/or avoidance, depression, and co-dependence. The COSA needs to be healed of his/her own issues whether or not the sex addict partner will seek treatment for their problems.
One thing that all persons involved with a sex addict must know is that the sex addicts' behavior is not their fault. Addiction is a progressive disease that began in childhood. Left untreated, it will always escalate. There is hope for the spouse/partner/family of a sex addict as well as for the addicts themselves.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN OF A SEX ADDICT?
Children of adult sex addicts have poor role models. They suffer from their own form of neglect. As the parent(s) of these children seek help, they will be able to offer correct information to their children, as well as to model a healthy relationship. Children of sex addicts should become part of the treatment process so they know that what they have witnessed is not "normal".
WHAT IS ACTING OUT?
Acting out is the term given to the behavior of the sex addict to meet his/her addiction needs regardless of knowing whether it is right or wrong and regardless of promises made not to do it again. The addict uses these behaviors as a coping mechanism for dealing with life. Eventually, their denial of what they are doing may become so strong that they actually believe whatever lies they are telling themselves about their actions. They cannot fathom that anyone else can see through these lies or that their behavior is outside of their own values.
WHAT IS INTERNET OR CYBERSEX?
The Internet has made it very easy to obtain pornography and act out with other sex addicts. It is easy, at first, to hide this side of addiction. Eventually, there is no way to explain the time spent on the computer pursuing the needed "fix", or the money spent to enter more explicit sites, or the injuries that occur from masturbation ... sometimes many times a day.
IS LOVE ADDICTION THE SAME AS SEX ADDICTION?
Real love is not an addictive behavior. The relationship between the love addict and the sex addict will often go hand-in-hand. Both are expressing needs that were not met in early childhood. While the sex addict has no tools to sustain a relationship or to be intimate, the love addict is obsessive about keeping the relationship alive at all costs.
The love addict feels insecurity and low self-esteem, which is the basis for the attachment to a relationship. Love addiction is not love, it is not romance, and it is not healthy. It is a reliance on someone, other than self, to meet psychological needs. The love addict needs someone else to calm their fears. Love addicts often will confuse intensity with intimacy. They do not trust, and they have an intense need for control, especially in a relationship.
WHAT IS A LOVE AVOIDANT?
The love avoidant will have at least three characteristics that combine to result in avoiding intimacy:
The love avoidant evades intensity within a relationship by creating intensity in activities (usually addictions) outside the relationship.
The love avoidant avoids being "known" in the relationship in order to protect themselves from engulfment and control by the other person.
The love avoidant avoids intimate contact with their partners, using a variety of processes called "distancing techniques".
A love avoidant fears intimacy because they believe that they will be drained, engulfed, and controlled by it. The love avoidant also fears abandonment.
A love avoidant has the same two fears that a love addict has; intimacy and abandonment. The difference is that love addicts have a strong fear of abandonment and an unconscious fear of intimacy, which causes them unconsciously to pick someone who can't be intimate. A love avoidant has a strong fear of intimacy because relationship intimacy feels very draining and overwhelming. They avoid intimacy by focusing outside of the relationship in an addictive way.
WHAT IS RECOVERING COUPLES COUNSELING?
Couples in recovery from sexual addiction have many issues to deal with. The addict may feel shame or feel passivity, where as the betrayed partner may be feeling pain, anger, and distrust. Couples may have problems that have built up over the course of years and the pain and resentment is causing an avoidance of intimacy. There is hope for couples facing recovery from sexual addiction. The relationship can be healed, restored, and re-built to an even better level than before. Each partner in the relationship must take responsibility and make the commitment to work on issues both separately and together. Couples can learn to better understand their problems and begin the repair process.
Education and working through healthy intimacy and healthy sexuality can lead couples to create a new life that can be both fulfilling and enjoyable.
WHAT IS HEALTHY SEXUALITY?
Healthy sexuality involves feeling positively about our sexuality. Healthy sexuality is positive and enriches our lives. It allows us to enjoy and control our sexual and reproductive behavior without guilt, fear, shame, or disease. Sexual expression is a form of communication through which we give and receive pleasure and emotion. It has a wide range of possibilities - from sharing activities, feelings, thoughts, warm touches or hugs, to physical intimacy. It is expressed both individually and in relationships throughout life.
WHAT IS INTIMACY?
In relationship, healthy intimacy is the process of revealing yourself to the other person involved. Normally, we want to know and share ourselves with each other, yet in unhealthy relationships, we spend most of our time and energy keeping our true selves from each other. We want intimacy but choose to keep secrets. Being intimate means opening up to the other person.
HOW DO YOU HEAL FROM INFIDELITY IN A RELATIONSHIP?
Infidelity is one of the most painful experiences in a relationship, whether your partner has come clean, or you have, somehow, found out. It can shatter even the strongest relationship. Feelings of betrayal, guilt, and anger can be overwhelming. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, one-quarter of married couples have suffered from infidelity.
How do you let go of the past? How do you justify or understand why your partner felt the need to cheat on you? Can you ever trust again? Knowing where to start is often the most difficult thing. With the support of family, friends, a good therapist, and each other, it is possible for a couple to put the cloud of infidelity behind them, and in some cases, emerge as a stronger unit.
For others, an affair is too heavy a burden for a relationship to bear, and parting ways may be the only answer. Before a fighting couple heads for the door, however, there are steps that can be taken that might help the relationship to get on the path to healing.
WHAT IS CO-DEPENDENCE?
Co-dependency is when a person has a strong desire to control people around them, including their partner, children, friends, and/or co-workers. Co-dependents believe they are somehow more capable than others, and routinely offer others direction or suggestions regarding how to live their lives or on tasks to complete. They feel compassion for people who may be hurting and feel they should be the one to help them. Co-dependent people give of their time, emotions, finances, and other resources. They have a very difficult time saying "No" to any request made of them.
A co-dependent person allows others to affect them. The co-dependent person may make decisions based on what other people think or want them to do. They may think that they are helping other people out of compassion, when in reality they are doing it because they want to be loved or get approval. A co-dependent person feels hurt or angry when they don't get the same amount of help, love, or appreciation that they have given to others when they were in need. A co-dependent person may have difficulty understanding that they are actually hurting themselves by creating a dependent relationship, instead of providing, for themselves, the things they need.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM CO-DEPENDENT ?
Do you find yourself making decisions based on other people's opinions?
Is it important to you that people like you and want to be your friend?
Do you have a strong desire to help others, but deep down you know you do it so that they will like or love you?
Do you seem to notice everyone else's problems and have a need to tell them what you think they should do to solve them?
Do you feel anxious, angry, or upset when people don't do things you want them to do, or in the way that you want them to do them?
Do your find yourself in relationships where you do all of the giving and the other person does all of the taking?
Do you find yourself taking on more and more responsibilities and people while you are neglecting yourself or your family?
WHAT ARE HEALTHY BOUNDARIES?
In relationship, the line between partners is easily identifiable. They are independent beings, yet they are close enough to be connected and to have an impact on each other's life. In healthy relationships, boundaries are flexible and promote intimacy and create safety.
Understand that developing healthier boundaries (as with any change in life) is a process, not an event. It will take time and practice. There are no quick fixes. However, healthy boundaries will lead to improved self-esteem and increased intimacy in your relationships. Learning to set healthy boundaries can feel very uncomfortable and scary, which is why it is best to work through this issue with a therapist.
CHARACTERISTICS OF HEALTHY BOUNDARIES?
You can say no or yes, and you are okay when others say no to you.
You have a strong sense of identity. You respect yourself.
You expect reciprocity in a relationship - you share responsibility and power.
You know when the problem is yours and when it belongs to someone else.
You share personal information gradually in a mutually sharing/trusting relationship.
You know your own wants, needs, and feelings. You communicate them clearly in your relationships.
You are committed to, and responsible for, exploring and nurturing your full potential.
You are responsible for your own happiness and fulfillment. You allow others to be responsible for their own happiness and fulfillment.
You value your opinions and feelings as much as others.
You know your limits. You allow others to define their limits.
You are able to ask for help when you need it.
You don't compromise your values or integrity to avoid rejection.
WHAT IS FAMILY OF ORIGIN?
How you became who you are today has a lot to do with how you grew up. Family of Origin is the term used for working through all the abuse, neglect, unhealthy boundaries, dysfunctional relationships, and any other issues that were taught by your family while growing up.
As an example, if you grew up in a family watching father abuse mother, you may have learned to think that this is normal behavior ... that is it something men do and women tolerate. This thought becomes part of your value and belief system. You may learn to think that it was okay that father was not responsible for his behavior, and didn't have to pay any consequences - and that if father was unhappy, it was mother's fault because she accepted the blame. You didn't learn healthy boundaries. Later, because of those beliefs, you may end up being the victim and/or abuser in your own relationship. Without addressing and resolving unhealthy issues that you have learned from your family, this problem will continue, and be repeated generation after generation.
Therapy can help process "faulty thinking" and help to re-learn the healthy way allowing you to grow and move forward with courage, hope, and new possibilities.
WHAT IS PRE-MARITAL COUNSELING?
Pre-marital counseling prepares you for your new life together as a married couple. Instead of focusing on the wedding, a one-day event in your life, pre-marital counseling prepares you for what marriage is all the est of the days that come after the wedding. This is one of the most wise investments you can make as you prepare for your life together because it will prepare you for a life-long relationship. The other benefit of pre-marital counseling is that you may qualify for a $50 discount on your marriage license.
Young Lee is a certified PREPARE/ENRICH counselor and utilizes this program. PREPARE/ENRICH is a customized couple's assessment, completed online, that identifies a couple's strengths and growth areas. Based on a couple's assessment results, feedback sessions are provided to discuss and understand the results as you work through the real life issues that you may be experiencing in your relationship now, and anticipate what may happen in your marriage. I will help couples improve their relationship skills in areas such as:
Exploring strength and growth areas
Strengthening communication skills
Identifying and managing major stresses
Resolving conflict using the "Ten Step Model"
Developing a more balanced relationship
Exploring Family of Origin issues
Discussing financial planning and budgeting
Establishing personal, couple, and family goals
Understanding and appreciating personality differences
WHY SHOULD WE HAVE MARRIAGE COUNSELING?
When one of you, or as a couple you, realize that a situation in your marriage is becoming worse and doesn't ever seem to get any better, something needs to happen in order to change that situation. You need to assess the situation and find out what the problem is. You must find a way to discuss the problem(s) with each other to resolve it/them. If you find that your situation is getting worse and you cannot bring it to a resolution alone, you need to get some help from a marriage counselor.
Marital counseling is an effective way to confront marital problems. Couples counseling helps partners to understand and resolve conflicts and improve all areas of their relationship. Often, one or both of you, will be unable to know what the problem is. Marriage counseling gives both of you an opportunity to find out the existing problems, and to find a solution to deal with them. It may require one or both partners to change. Both partners will learn the skills and correct tools to use when communicating wants and needs. Both will learn how to relate to each other in a healthy and loving way. A new relationship can be created that will be fulfilling and enjoyable for both partners.
Couples counseling may be long- or short-term depending on the types and severity of the relationship issues that a couple is facing.
WHY SHOULD WE HAVE DIVORCE/REMARRIAGE COUNSELING?
No couple expects to get divorced when they decide to get married. Yet, divorce happens. Divorce is more than a court order terminating a marriage. It is a life transition. Emotional divorces can be extremely difficult and painful, especially if there are children involved. Partners must learn to cope with the extreme range of mixed feelings, learn how to let go of their spouse, and how to move forward in their new life. Recovering from a divorce is a journey. It takes time and work. However, with the right counseling, a successful and meaningful new life CAN be created. Our goal is to help you to use divorce as a stepping stone to growth and renewal.
Remarriage after divorce can be wonderfully healing, but it can also bring back the problems and pain of the first marriage all over again. Approximately 75% of divorced people remarry. Unfortunately, remarriage after divorce is statistically more likely to fail than a first marriage. If marriage reoccurs within two years of either partner's divorce, the failure rate rises to 85%.
Many people enter into remarriage (and blended families) with the same expectations with which they entered their first marriage. Remarriage with a ready made family may bring expectations that everyone will get along quickly and will integrate well. The reality may be quite different.
Remarried couples can bring greater self-knowledge and maturity to the new union. Couples may be much happier than in their first marriage. The difference may lie with the help of a good counselor who can help partners prepare for the challenging dynamics of remarriage.
WHAT IS SELF-ESTEEM?
Self-esteem is YOUR appraisal of your own worth. High self-esteem means that you have a good opinion of yourself, and low self-esteem means you have a bad opinion of yourself.
Low self-esteem results from a poor self-image. Your self-image is based on how you see yourself. Low self-esteem feeds your negative thinking and makes you believe negative comments that others have said about you. This can cause you to lose confidence.
High self-esteem is just the opposite. If you have a high level of self-esteem you will be confident, happy, highly motivated, and have the right attitude to succeed.
Self-esteem is very important and is a cornerstone of a positive attitude towards living. It affects how you think, act, and how you relate to other people. With high self-esteem, you have the potential to be successful. With low self-esteem, you are likely to give up easily rather than face the challenges. It affects your happiness and well-being.
WHAT IS CONFLICT RESOLUTION?
Conflict is a natural, vital part of life. Although it may sound negative, it is not necessarily a bad thing. As long as it is resolved effectively, it can lead to personal and professional growth.
In many cases, effective conflict resolution skills can make the difference between positive and negative outcomes. When conflict is understood, it can become and opportunity to learn and create. When conflict is not handled effectively, the results can be damaging.
Conflict resolution teaches better, more helpful, and healthy ways to deal with conflict or disagreement. The tools for healthy conflict resolution can be learned and practiced. Listening and hearing what another person has to say is the beginning of the process. There are processes the conflicted may go through that will resolve a conflict yet keep a relationship intact.
WHAT IS EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION?
Effective communication is the basis for any relationship including marriage or partnership, parent and child, co-workers, and friends. Communication is the way we give and get information. It is the way that we relate to each other our feelings, our thoughts, our ideas, our desires, our pleasures, and our displeasure.
Effective communication allows us to share these personal feelings with another in appropriate ways. Effective communication begins with active listening. In order to improve communication in relationships, both parties involved need to be open and honest about how they feel, and about their expectations. Conflict is unavoidable in relationship. However, good communication can help build a stronger relationship and an enjoyable life.
WHAT IS ANGER MANAGEMENT?
Anger comes when you feel the need to clearly communicate that your personal boundaries have been violated. Anger is a normal human emotion and it can be felt even when others don't see it. Anger is defined as an intent to preserve personal self-worth, needs, and convictions.
Is anger good or bad? Balance is found when anger is linked to a reasonable issue and is communicated in a proper manner. This requires delicate sifting through the options of anger management. When anger reaches unhealthy proportions, has no outlet, or is repressed, it can quickly become aggressive and dangerous behavior. Anger Management Counseling teaches the tools to feel anger and deal with it appropriately.
WHAT IS DEPRESSION AND HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M DEPRESSED?
Depression is not just a temporary mood, and it is not a sign of personal weakness. Depression is a medical condition with a variety of symptoms. People who are depressed cannot "snap out of it", and get better. Without treatment, symptoms affect your daily life and can last for months or years. Everyone may feel sad occasionally, but the sadness that is depression affects your interest in your life, or family, or activities in your life.
You may not be able to sleep, or you may sleep all of the time. You may feel restless or have unexplained anxiety. You may even feel suicidal. There are many ways with which to treat depression and there are many levels of depression. If you are feeling hopeless, feeling unworthy, or having problems concentrating or making decisions, it would be wise to seek a professionals help in this ever increasing disorder.
Some symptoms of feeling depressed are:
Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
Constant fatigue or loss of energy
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
Appetite increase and weight gain or loss of appetite and weight loss
Thoughts of death or suicide (or a suicide attempt or plan)
WHAT IS A "SHOPAHOLIC" OR COMPULSIVE SPENDER?
Compulsive spending is simply a different acting out behavior. It is not only for the female gender. A compulsive shopper will spend money they don't have on things that they don't need in an effort to feel better about themselves. Shopping can be an addiction like drinking, gambling, sex, or any other unhealthy, need-based activity. A compulsive shopper can rationalize any purchase and often spend themselves into high debt. They shop as a result of being angry, or scared, or disappointed.