The Meadows Blog

By Amy Sohler, MPA, MA, LMHC, CDP, MHP

One of the most painful consequences of sex addiction (or, for that matter, any addiction) is that addicts who remain active in their disease create that which they fear most – isolation and loneliness. Unlike alcohol and substance abuse, though, sex addiction is especially complicated because the goal isn’t abstinence. The goal isn’t to abstain from human contact, but to embrace healthy sexuality and intimacy. Another issue that further fuels the complexity of such an addiction is the morality and stigma attached to sexuality.

I often ask my clients at Gentle Path at The Meadows what they’d like to see written in their obituary. Not a single one has ever told me, “I want my obituary to say I was a sex addict.”

Published in Sexual Addiction

Dr. Patrick Carnes, the pioneer researcher whose work helped establish the concept of compulsive sexual behavior as an addiction, presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to renowned lecturer and bestselling author John Bradshaw at the second annual International Sex & Love Addiction Conference. The three-day conference focused on the changing architecture of addictive desire, trauma, and attachment.

Bradshaw, who is a Senior Fellow at The Meadows, is a New York Times bestselling author and has been featured in numerous PBS specials. For more than 25 years, Bradshaw has helped transform our understanding of the family and has been a dominant figure in the field of addiction and recovery. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for his book RECLAIMING VIRTUE. His latest book entitled Post Romantic Stress Disorder was recently released by Health Communications, Inc.

“The three-day conference brought together the cutting edge and great advancements in this field; a pleasure to sit in the presentations to see how far we've come and the vision for the future,” said Bradshaw.

Co-sponsored by The Meadows, a Wickenburg Arizona-based treatment center focusing on trauma and addiction, this key industry event drew more than 300 clinicians and therapists who explored the many facets of Sex & Love Addiction, one of the most pertinent clinical and counseling issues facing addiction and mental health professionals.

Prominent speakers included Conference Chair Dr. Patrick Carnes, founder of Gentle Path at The Meadows; Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, the pioneer researcher whose work has helped establish the concept of compulsive sexual behavior as an addiction; and Dr. Claudia Black, renowned addictions, codependency, and family systems expert who is also a Senior Fellow at The Meadows and has spent more than a decade in an advisory role there.

Conference attendee Dr. Jon Caldwell, chief of psychiatry at The Meadows who specializes in the treatment of adults with relational trauma histories and addictive behaviors, found the conference inspiring, enlightening, and meaningful. “This international conference features some of the most knowledgeable and respected thought leaders of our day in the fields of trauma, attachment, and sex/love addiction. Additionally, their experience and wisdom is being augmented by a new generation of passionate leaders and remarkable scientific advances. It has been a historic conference that will have great meaning and utility for the people we serve!”

Published in Events and Training

Dr. Patrick Carnes, the pioneer researcher whose work helped establish the concept of compulsive sexual behavior as an addiction, presented a Research Award to Dr. Bessel van der Kolk at the second annual International Sex & Love Addiction Conference. The three-day conference focused on the changing architecture of addictive desire, trauma, and attachment.

Clinical consultant and Senior Fellow at The Meadows (www.themeadows.com), Dr. van der Kolk accepted the Research Award from the American Foundation for Addiction Research for his research as a clinical psychiatrist known internationally for his contributions in the areas of post-traumatic stress and related phenomenon since the 1970s. His book Psychological Trauma was the first integrative text on the subject.

Co-sponsored by The Meadows, a Wickenburg, Arizona-based treatment center focusing on trauma and addiction, this key industry event drew more than 300 clinicians and therapists who explored the many facets of Sex & Love Addiction, one of the most pertinent clinical and counseling issues facing addiction and mental health professionals.

Dr. Patrick Carnes was pleased to fill the role of Conference Chair. “All of The Meadows staff who took part in this year’s industry event – from our senior fellows to our chief of psychiatry – continually incorporate the latest research into our incomparable treatment programs that have made us the most trusted name in treating trauma and addiction.”

Prominent speakers included John Bradshaw, Senior Fellow at The Meadows who accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award; Conference Chair Dr. Patrick Carnes, founder of Gentle Path at The Meadows (www.gentlepathmeadows.com); and Dr. Claudia Black, renowned addictions, codependency, and family systems expert who is also a Senior Fellow at The Meadows and has spent more than a decade in an advisory role there.

Conference attendee Dr. Jon Caldwell, chief of psychiatry at The Meadows who specializes in the treatment of adults with relational trauma histories and addictive behaviors, found the conference inspiring, enlightening, and meaningful. “This international conference features some of the most knowledgeable and respected thought leaders of our day in the fields of trauma, attachment, and sex/love addiction. Additionally, their experience and wisdom is being augmented by a new generation of passionate leaders and remarkable scientific advances. It has been a historic conference that will have great meaning and utility for the people we serve!”

To learn more about The Meadows’ work with trauma and addiction contact us at (800) 244-4949 or visit our Contact page.

About The American Foundation for Addiction Research: The American Foundation for Addiction Research (AFAR) was founded in 1998 by Dr. Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in sexual addiction who has made innovations in sexual compulsivity, trauma, and outcome measures through scientific research, treatment and education.

Published in Sexual Addiction

Jean Collins-Stuckert, Director of Workshops at The Meadows, was featured on BlogTalkRadio’s program “Sex Help with Carol the Coach” with host Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW, CSAT, PCC, on October 27, 2014.

The program can be accessed using the audio player at the bottom of this page or by visiting this link.

Collins-Stuckert discussed “Journey of a Woman's Heart: Finding True Intimacy,” The Meadows’ workshop created for women who want to explore unhealthy sexual patterns. Collins-Stuckert said the five-day workshop was developed with the input of The Meadows Senior Fellows Alex Katehakis, Claudia Black and Pia Mellody.

Collins-Stuckert discussed the differences in treatment between male and female patients as well as how The Meadows addresses sexual shame in women and why it is often so difficult for women to seek help for sexual disorders.

While research by Dr. Patrick Carnes, The Meadows Senior Fellow, indicates nearly 20% of those seeking help for sex addiction are female, women continue to be underrepresented in health and addiction studies and many individuals assume sex addiction is only for men.

A main focus of the workshop is to help women who want to explore unhealthy sexual patterns and behaviors that deeply impact their ability to connect relationally in healthy ways, Collins-Stuckert said. Whether the issues involved are past or present trauma, cultural messages or negative beliefs, all can serve as roadblocks to true intimacy.

As Director of Workshop, Collins-Stuckert oversees and facilitates the ten unique workshops offered by The Meadows, including their signature Survivors Workshop. She states that workshops can jump-start recovery for those who have just begun a recovery process. They can also provide an extra boost for those who have been on a recovery path and may have hit a plateau or want to deepen their experience. Workshops are a source of renewal for anyone who has undergone treatment. Participants work on sensitive issues in a concentrated format, allowing insight into unhealthy patterns and an opportunity to practice new relational skills within a safe environment.

Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW, PCC, CSAT, is currently in private practice in Indianapolis, IN. She speaks nationally on mental health issues and is featured in several local magazines. In addition, she is featured in regular television segments focusing on life skills to improve one’s potential.

 

Check Out Self Help Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Sex Help with Carol the Coach on BlogTalkRadio
Published in Sexual Addiction

By Heidi Kinsella, MA, LMHCA, NCC, ASAT
Family Counselor, Gentle Path at The Meadows

You just found out your husband has been unfaithful in numerous ways and has been acting out for years. You want to know everything—you have a NEED to know everything. However, he has entered sex addiction treatment and now you learn that you will have to wait until the therapeutic disclosure to find out the extent of his acting out behavior. You say, “What the heck is a therapeutic disclosure, and why do I need to wait to find out what my husband has done? I have the RIGHT to know, and I NEED to know… NOW!!”

As a therapist, I specialize in working with partners of sex addicts, and have heard this sentiment from more partners than I can count. It’s confusing and scary for an individual to discover that her husband is a sex addict. It’s also hard to understand why she needs to wait to find out what behaviors he has been doing.

So, what is a therapeutic disclosure?

A therapeutic disclosure is a planned disclosure in the office of a therapist where an addict provides information to his partner regarding all of his sexual behaviors from the time he has known his partner until the present time. Normally the disclosure is facilitated in an office where both the addict and his partner are present, along with both of their therapists.

The disclosure provides an overview of the addict’s behavior. Disclosure is done without going into details that would not add to the overall scope of the acting out behavior, and would only serve to cause additional pain and be potentially triggering to his partner. It is important for each member of the couple to have their therapist present to insure the support and safety for both people.

Why the wait? Why can’t I know now? I deserve to know now!!!

Dr. Patrick Carnes states that addicts need a minimum of 90 days of sobriety to allow their brains to reset and start to heal prior to disclosure. My experience in working with couples in the early stages of treatment is that it often takes longer than 90 days to prepare them for disclosure. During this time, both members of the couple need to be seeing their individual therapist, and ideally, are also in separate therapy groups.

In order for the disclosure to go as well as possible, the addict needs to get to a point in his recovery where he is no longer justifying or denying his actions; he is no longer shifting blame and creating the type of “crazy making” that makes his partner doubt her sanity. The addict should also be at a point where he is beginning to have empathy for his wife. Lastly, enough time needs to be allowed so that the addict has an understanding of his acting out behaviors, and sometimes this takes a little while for the memories to come back while in group with other addicts.

For the partner, this time is also critical. She should take this time to receive help in addressing the trauma of discovery, which is shocking and can take a toll on her physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. This is also the time to develop a list of questions she needs to have answered.

Partners often ask, “Why can’t I just ask the questions myself? He is MY husband! I have a right to ask the questions when I want to ask him!” I understand this sentiment as I felt the same way when I discovered my husband’s sexual acting out. I found myself waking him up in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. I figured if I couldn’t sleep then he shouldn’t either! I would ask a question about what he did and then demand an answer. He would wake up groggy and answer the question because he felt like he owed me that much. Upon hearing the answer to my question, I would get angrier and would ask a follow-up, demanding more details. He would then answer the follow-up question because I demanded it. This interrogation would go on and on until my mind was full of details of my husband having sex with other women. Every answer he gave me provided another image that I couldn’t get out of my obsessive mind. I would think about these images of him with other women when I was trying to sleep, when I was trying to work, and throughout my day. I became exhausted, overwhelmed, and it started to affect my health, my ability to work, and my ability to be a parent.

This scenario is common; I have heard similar stories from many partners I work with. It is one of the reasons why we ask our partners to hold off and not ask questions about her husband’s acting out behaviors. At Gentle Path at the Meadows, we ask our patients not to answer detailed questions and to ask their partners to wait for the answers until formal disclosure. In the formal disclosure process, the partner will find out everything she needs to know to make an informed decision about the relationship, without the nitty-gritty details that will most likely haunt her.

We believe in disclosure, but we want it to be safe and therapeutic for both the addict and the partner. If you are a partner of a sex addict, there are recourses and support for you. Dr. Stephanie Carnes’ book, Mending a Shattered Heart or Dr. Claudia Blacks’ book, Deceived: Facing Sexual Betrayals. Lies and Secrets are two great resources. Also, The Meadows offers a workshop for partners that can be found out at http://www.themeadows.com/workshops/healing-intimate-treason-for-partners-of-sex-addiction based on Dr. Claudia Black’s workbook called, Healing Intimate Treason.

Contact Us Today

Every journey begins with one step. To learn more about Gentle Path at The Meadows, or if you have an immediate need, please contact us at 855-333-6076 or go to www.gentlepathmeadows.com.

Published in Sexual Addiction

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