The Meadows Blog

Finding out that your committed partner has sexually betrayed you is like: getting your heart ripped out, stomped on, thrown through a glass window, spit on, and perhaps lastly, smothered with gasoline and set on fire. Then, your partner asks you to forgive him or her; and you don't think you could ever be more furious and disgusted.

This is a common experience for the Partners of Sexual Addicts that I work with on a weekly basis at The Meadows. The stories and behaviors may be different but the underlying foundation of the damage is always Betrayal. Emotional, Physical, Sexual, and Financial betrayal is devastating and gut-wrenchingly painful for a partner who had dreams and hopes of having a healthy and committed relationship. Those dreams are now shattered and the Partner is left with the questions of "Why wasn't I enough?", "How could they do this to me?"; and "Where do I go from here?"

Sexual Addiction stems from a deep rooted intimacy and attachment disorder that often starts within childhood, teenage, or young adult years. Many of the patients I work with at The Meadows have been engaging in some type of dysfunctional, sexual fantasies, thoughts, and/or behaviors since they could remember, far before ever meeting their current partner or spouse. Sexual Addiction thrives off of Shame. Often times the addict's shame, due to their behaviors and lies, will be deflected or projected onto the partner and they are the ones that have to carry it.

Because sexuality and being sexual is so important and integral in intimate coupleships, when that is destroyed or taken outside the primary relationship, the partner has no choice but to take it personally and look at it as an attack on themselves and who they are or are not. Many spouses that I speak with will say to me, "Why wasn't I attractive enough, sexual enough, loved enough to keep him/her with me?" My message to them is: "If there is one thing I want you to learn this week, it is that this had nothing to do with what you have or have not done".

So if the partner did not cause the addiction and is not an addict themselves then why be a part of the patient's treatment and come to Family Week? I often hear from partners: "He is the sick one! He gets to go and get help and leave me here at home with the chaos and damage that he created! And now he is asking me to drop everything and come to Arizona for a week to help him?" My reply is: "Come here for YOU."

Within the Family Week program, partners are given resources and tools to start to stand on solid ground. Family Week is NOT about reconciliation, fixing the problem or hearing an excuse about why the patient acted out. The week long program is designed around boundary setting and healthy communication that allow the partner to be heard and protected.

Being betrayed will undoubtedly, for most partners, contribute to feelings of shame and worthlessness that creates a deep, dark wound within them. The Meadows and Pia Mellody define Trauma as "Anything less than nurturing". Sexual betrayal would obviously fit into this category based on the definition and many partners experience symptoms of trauma such as hypervigilance, despair, flashbacks and nightmares, among other experiences. The shame and trauma need to be addressed for the partner to start to heal that wound. Even if the partner decides to move on from that relationship he or she will continue to be plagued in life and through other relationships if not addressed.

Through my work at The Meadows, I have seen amazing growth and strength in men and women who thought that they could have never dug themselves out of the dark hole that sexual addiction created. Recovery work, for both the addict and partner, instills hope, perseverance, and self-worth that they thought they had lost. The Meadows Workshops such as Partners of Sex Addicts, Survivors, and Women's Intimacy Issues are great resources to help partners to gain awareness, understanding, and tools to help themselves and their families.

Lauren Bierman is a Family Counselor at the Meadows working with the Sex Addiction population. She is a Licensed Associate Counselor and has been trained through Patrick Carnes and IITAP's Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) program. Her passion is working with Partners of Sex Addicts in their own healing process and helping them find hope after sexual betrayal.

Published in Blog

John Bradshaw, one of the most influential writers on emotional healing in the twentieth century and a Senior Fellow at The Meadows Wickenburg, will be featured on HoustonPBS on August 19 at 9:00 p.m. and August 25 at 5:00 p.m. 

The title of the program is "Bradshaw on Bradshaw: An InnerVIEWS Special." Television host, Ernie Manouse, sits down with Bradshaw to discuss his life and work, from the dysfunctional family to the wounded inner child.

For more information regarding this program, visit http://www.houstonpbs.org/schedule/.

Bradshaw is a world-famous educator, counselor, motivational speaker, television personality, author and one of the leading figures in the fields of addiction, recovery, family systems and the concept of toxic shame. Bradshaw has had a long and productive association with The Meadows; giving insights to staff, patients, speaking at alumni retreats and lecturing to mental health professionals at our workshops and seminars. Mr. Bradshaw's work has influenced the treatment programs at The Meadows and Mellody House.

Selected by his peers as one of the 100 most influential writers on emotional health in the 20th Century, Bradshaw has literally changed the lives of millions of people around the globe through his best-selling books and sold-out workshops and seminars. Over the years, Bradshaw has written several New York Times bestselling books, including, Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child, Creating Love and Healing the Shame That Binds You. In 2009 Bradshaw was nominated for The Pulitzer Prize for Reclaiming Virtue.

The Meadows is an industry leader in treating trauma and addiction through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about The Meadows' work with trauma and addiction contact an intake coordinator at (866) 856-1279 or visit www.themeadows.com.

For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in one of their three inpatient centers and 25,000 attendees in national workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows, with 24 hour nursing and on-site physicians and psychiatrists, is a Level 1 Sub-Acute Agency that is accredited by the Joint Commission.

Published in Blog
Sunday, 11 August 2013 20:00

What is EFT?

By: Joyce Willis, MC, LPC

This article will introduce the EFT therapy technique. In this article, you will learn what EFT is and how it is used at The Meadows to enhance therapy.

EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique. Emotional Freedom Technique is basically acupuncture without needles! EFT uses light tapping with your fingertips on designated points on your face and body. Tapping is combined with stating an identified problem/issue followed by an affirmation phrase. Tapping can balance energy meridians in our body that were disrupted through trauma. Trauma, as defined at The Meadows, is anything that was/is less than nurturing. Trauma can range from neglect and abandonment to emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Using EFT helps to balance the energy system and to relieve psychological stress and pain. Balancing energy allows the body and mind to heal. EFT is safe and easy to apply to a myriad of issues we may struggle with. The benefit of EFT is that it can create lasting changes in thinking and lead to a more balanced and positive life. EFT is easy to learn and can be done with a therapist or by yourself

Why do we offer EFT at The Meadows? EFT is an adjunct therapy that helps with the many reasons that people come to The Meadows. Past trauma, putting alcohol or drugs into your body, engaging in high intensity issues such as gambling or sexual addiction reverses the positive flow of energy in your body. When we experience these issues in our life, it is like we have put the battery into our body in the wrong way. Using EFT tapping re-sets the battery and puts the battery in the right way. Tapping can change the biochemistry of the body. The result of continued tapping on trauma and addiction issues is emotional freedom!

In dealing with trauma, addictions, and intensity issues, it is recommended that EFT is used with a therapist who has been trained in EFT. In fact, it is strongly recommended that EFT is first practiced with an EFT trained therapist before doing EFT by yourself. At The Meadows, we utilize therapist-assisted EFT to help patients with specific issues. Therapists trained in EFT will take patients through the "Tell the Story" technique in order to lead patients through issues they need to work on. The "Tell the Story" technique helps patients work through carried emotions that have caused a disruption in the body's energy system. The EFT trained therapist will work with patients on specific events and tap through intense events and issues.

By working on the specific events and tapping through intense events and issues, patients will be able to balance themselves in the Core Issues. Patients will begin to realize their inherent worth. Patients will develop more functional boundaries. Patients will begin to understand the reality of their humanity and realize they are human and perfectly imperfect. Patients will show a better understanding of their needs and wants and learn to be interdependent. Patients will learn how to balance themselves, so they can live in moderation in all areas of their life.

 

Emotional Freedom Technique

 

How does someone use EFT on themselves? If we have an issue that does not require therapy, we can tap on ourselves to bring about emotional freedom from that issue. I will take you through a sample EFT exercise. First, let's look at the tapping points of EFT in the diagram above.

Before we go through the sample exercise, let's look at the sequence of tapping. In order to balance our energy, there is a recommended sequence for tapping. Here is the recommended sequence:

  • Karate chop
  • Top of head
  • Eyebrow
  • Side of Eye
  • Under Eye
  • Under Nose
  • Chin
  • Collarbone
  • Under arm
  • Then repeat as you continue tapping the issue away...

Now, we are ready to go through a sample exercise. EFT requires going through a sequence of steps. These are:

  1. Choose the target issue you want to work on.

  2. Rate the intensity of the issues on a scale of 0 - 10, with 10 being the highest.

  3. Choose a reminder statement. The reminder statement is the statement that states what you have an intense emotion (anger, fear, pain...) about. At the end of the statement, add the affirmation: "I still deeply and completely accept myself."

  4. Say this statement 2 times while doing the karate chop (tapping on the side of the hand point).

  5. Tap on the other points 5-10 times lightly, starting at the top of your head, using the reminder phrase and checking for any discomfort.

  6. Rate your intensity level (the 0 - 10 scale) and note any change.

  7. Repeat steps 4 - 6 until the discomfort is down to a 0 - 1 rating.

  8. When you have successfully taken your discomfort to a 0 -1, you have successfully relieved your intense emotion (anger, fear, pain...) around this issue.

For instance, if your issue is your worry about money, your reminder statement might be: "Even though I feel anxious about money," with the added affirmation, "I still deeply and completely accept myself." When you are ready to begin the tapping, you would recite the entire phrase, "Even though I feel anxious about money, I still deeply and completely accept myself." Then, take yourself through the above steps. As you are tapping on each of the points, you can shorten the phrase, so you are not saying the entire phrase for each tapping point. For instance, when you tap on your eyebrow, you can simply say: "anxious," then moving to the side of your eye, you can say, "money." As you move through the remainder of the tapping points, you can incorporate the rest of the reminder statement; under eye, "deeply and completely," under nose; "accept myself." You can continue tapping this way, with shorter phrases that make up the complete reminder statement, until you move your discomfort down to 0 or 1. Then, you might want to go through one more round with the complete reminder statement and re-rate your discomfort to insure you truly are at 0 or 1 with your discomfort around the issue.

Tapping can be done on ourselves with any emotion, any block or belief that we no longer want to hold onto. We can tap when we are angry at a loved one; "Even though, I am angry that ____ yelled at me, I still deeply and completely accept myself." We can tap when we have had a bad day; "Even though, I have had a bad day, I still deeply and completely accept myself." We can tap for leaving our pet while we go on extended vacation; "Even though I feel guilt for leaving Fido while I go on vacation, I still deeply and completely accept myself." You have probably noticed that the affirmation stays the same no matter what the reminder statement is. This is important to disrupt the carried emotions and re-charge our body's energy into a positive direction and to restore the naturally recurring flow of the human body.

EFT is a great technique to use for self-care and to help balance yourself.  For people suffering with trauma and addictions, balancing with EFT can help; although the memory may stay, the emotional charge will be gone. For every day issues, we can resolve the issue and move on to be more balanced throughout the day. EFT leads to positive changes in thinking and a more balanced life.

Resources:

The EFT Manual by Gary Craig

www.eft-for-transformation.com  On this website, you might want to check out information about The Personal Peace Procedure and further information about Gary Craig, the founder of EFT.

www.emofree.com

Joyce Willis is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is currently a therapist at The Meadows. She earned her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Akron. After teaching for several years, Joyce earned a Master's degree in counseling from the University of Phoenix. She has been in the counseling profession since 1996 and in that time has worked extensively in the addictions field. Her specialties include treatment for addictions, bereavement, trauma, depression and anxiety. Joyce has a special interest in mindfulness and helping people connect their emotional, spiritual, mindful and physiological selves with compassion and respect.

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 24 July 2013 20:00

The Internet and Our Children’s Safety

By: Cole Adams, LCSW, CSAT

I can remember back to the first time I saw pornography. I was walking home from school in the first grade and found a single page from Playboy. I took the page home and hid it in the bathroom. I felt so much shame about having it, but at the same time was compelled to keep it so that I could look at it again.

This week my children graduated from kindergarten and the term first grade was mentioned. I was immediately reminded of my experience that day walking home from school and a huge knot formed in my stomach. My children are entering the age when I was first exposed to pornography.

No parent that I know wants to think that their child might view porn. Current research shows us that the average age of exposure to porn is now eight years old. Prior to the Internet, the average age of exposure to porn was age 11-13. The ease and access of the Internet and digital media has created a tremendous problem for our society and our children.

Recently a dad, whom I respect very much, came to me because he was very concerned on what to do with his five-year-old son. That morning, he walked into his living room and found his son watching hardcore pornography. Apparently, his son had learned to use the remote and was trying to watch Scooby Doo. At that time on his cable company's pay-per-view was a hardcore porn film titled "Scooby Doo: A XXX Parody (Video 2011)". His son had clicked this title looking to watch "Scooby Doo and the Gang" and was traumatized for life. That child will never forget the images he saw that day. I still remember the images that I saw at age six. This father called the cable company and they walked him through setting up parental controls on his cable box. They would not discuss the absurdity of the porn that they had on their network. This type of event is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what our children are possibly exposed to on a daily basis.

Children today are being exposed to porn that is much more graphic and damaging to their mental health than in previous generations. The problem that we are facing has been labeled as a tsunami by Patrick Carnes, a leader in the field of sexual addiction research. Children have access to smart phones, satellite, cable, iPads, computers, and many other forms of instant free access to pornography. Many times these forms of media and communication are totally unfiltered and unmonitored. Not only is viewing pornography a possible option for our children, but interactivity and exhibitionism are common. It is now possible to download apps that will allow you to find and interact with someone who wants to act out sexually near you. This app will tell you what type of sexual experience this person wants to experience and how many feet/miles they are away from you. Kids are currently sexting nude pictures of themselves and others via their smart phones. Kids are under the false impression that there is anonymity and safety on the Internet. It could not be further from the truth. Once pictures and information are out on the web, it is virtually impossible to have it completely removed.

What can we do to help our kids? We cannot protect our kids from the world. I believe that our kids are going to see pornography. I also believe that we can do our best as parents to protect our kids as much as possible in our own home. For instance, I believe that every device at home should be filtered and monitored. Cable/Satellite should be password protected and set at an appropriate age limit for your kids. For all forms of Internet access, there should be software that is placed on all computers, laptops, iPhones, iPads, etc.  This software should serve two purposes. First, it should serve as a blocker. A blocker will do its best to block all sites that are adult related. Software companies have improved dramatically over the years, but they are not fool proof, porn sites are introduced daily and it is difficult for the blockers to keep up. Second, the software should monitor all activity that is done on each device including all sites that are visited and all searches made and provide a report to us, the parents. On iPads and smart phones, this same software should be installed and the ability to download apps should be controlled by a password that only the parent can administer. There are multiple software companies that have such products. The one that I would suggest is www.covenanteyes.com.  Covenant Eyes is compatible with PC, Macs, iPhones, and iPads. If you have children or young adults, I would highly recommend taking time to research the software that suits your family best. I would also suggest that all forms of Internet access be kept in common areas of the house, not in the child's room. If you determine to allow Internet access in their room, I would also suggest that all electronics are left in the main area of the house at bed time and that it is understood that either parent has complete access to their phones, computers, and other devices.

To some this may seem like an invasion of privacy, but anything that is put out on the Internet is no longer private. As a practitioner working in the field of sex addiction, I see daily the catastrophic impact that pornography and sexual acting out have on individuals and families. I am happy for my children to have a hand written journal of their own, that I promise to never read, but if they feel the need to put something out into the world via the Internet, I have access too.

Cole Adams is the Owner of Bluffview Counseling www.bluffviewcounseling.com. Cole is psychotherapist, a licensed social worker (LCSW), and a certified sexual addiction therapist (CSAT). Bluffview Counseling specializes in working with individuals who struggle with sex addiction and pornography addiction, the partners who have been affected, and the couples that want to heal. We also specialize in working with individuals who struggle with chemical dependency, love addiction, sex and love addiction, and codependency.

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 23 July 2013 20:00

“Can a horse feel love?”

A question posed by a group member during an Equine Therapy session.

By: Ann M. Taylor, Equine Specialist at The Meadows

We hear all sorts of questions at Equine; some of them make you stop and think. Either you simply don’t know the answer or because you want to be sure that you’re giving the most accurate information. This question however never required a second thought.

"Of course they can!"

The first time we had the privilege of working with RC was eye opening. As I led him out of the stall I was told by a fellow Equine staff that "RC really loves deeply". Looking at him I tried to see what she saw. In the breeze way stood this older, rough looking horse that seemed to me to have seen his best days and none of them were this year, or the year before. Branded on his left rear quarter a large letter R and on the right a large letter C. Hence the name "RC".

RC has a disease called Cushing's that affects his pituitary gland. A symptom of Cushing's is that he can't shed his winter coat. So, being summer, he was sporting a body clip. It was similar to something you may see after your youngest gets hold of dads beard trimmer. His eyes looked dead tired and I was not even sure he would make it down the hill to the round pen.

He sighed heavy as we walked down the hill and he managed three breaks before we were at the round pen gate. He eased his way through the gate and closing it behind him I was genuinely concerned that RC may not be the horse for the job. Although the activity was pretty easy for a horse I doubted that he had enough life in him to really be effective during a session.

The group arrived and checked in. The whole time RC stood with his nose against the fence dozing in the shade occasionally his tail would toss to one side or the other. He reminded me of an old weathered frame of a house gently blowing back and forth in the soft breeze, and I wondered if he may decide to just collapse under his own weight right there.

When the group was ready we opened the round pen gate and they went inside. Lazy eyes opened and considered the group from across the pen. Idle brown ears now perked up and watched the group with intent. He turned to face them completely and there was LIFE! What was a geriatric case of a horse shifted into a curiously intent and animated creature. He rubbed up against the members of the group and took time to explore each person.

The entire session his eyes only asked one question "What do you need?". He stood closely behind a group member in strong silent support as they shared around a difficult topic. He pressed his head gently into another Participant who struggled with intimacy. I watched this horse decide what each person needed and then be that for them. There was no doubt that RC LOVED the people in that group, and every group for the rest of the week. Over and over we were amazed at how he could identify just exactly what someone needed in the moment.

When the group would end RC would watch them leave through the gate. That big brown head would drop back down and there was that old house frame blowing in the wind again. At the end of the first day there were smiles, laughter, Ah Ha moments and some tears. It was a good day. When everyone was gone I slipped the halter over his graying muzzle and scratched his neck. Once again I was worried that the walk up the hill to the barn might be too much for him. Opening the gate I could hear his old hips pop as he moved that heavy frame out of the round pen.

Suddenly there was an unexpected tension on the rope. Spinning around, I found myself staring at RC's rump as HE led ME up the hill! I could have skied behind him! That was the best laugh of the week.

So can a horse love? I don't think there is anyone better who can teach us about love than an old brown horse.

Special thanks to Philly and Cindy at Remuda Equine for your willingness to share the gifts that you call horses.

Published in Blog

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