Marie Woods, LMFT, CSAT
Primary Counselor, Gentle Path at The Meadows
The recent movie premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey has caused quite the media stir, and I think we can all agree that it’s got a lot of people talking. In many ways, it has provided a valuable opportunity to reflect on where we each stand in regards to relational intimacy. As a therapist specializing in sex addiction, I hear my patients talk about sexual development, sexual trauma, relationships and compulsive behavior on a daily basis. The current media stir provides an ideal platform to elicit authentic, open, honest, and sometimes difficult discussions about sex-related topics, including relationships.
For sex addicts, skewed messages about sex and relationships have often been imprinted in their brains from a very early age. Many sex addicts had either too much or too little sex education during their developmental years. It was either explicitly stated or implied that talking about sex was unacceptable, so such individuals may have internalized messages like “sex is bad” or “sex is secret.” This lack of meaningful dialogue on this important subject is one of the biggest barriers to authentic intimacy.
For many individuals, therapy is the first time they’ve ever truly discussed the concept of intimacy and what defines healthy sexuality. Unfortunately, many individuals completely separate sex from intimacy. They don’t understand that true intimacy is developed through meaningful emotional interactions that enhance and enrich sexuality. In the case of sex addiction, such conversations and questions often means working through deep pain and confronting the consequences of maladaptive behavior that has gone on for far too long.
Even though our culture is full of sexual messages, it does not provide accurate sexual education. It fails to highlight the importance of emotional intimacy as it relates to sexuality. It does not underscore the value of human connection that is at the very root of sex and intimacy.
The cultural impact of Fifty Shades of Grey opens the door for discussions and opinions about the relationship between sexuality and emotional intimacy. We should be grateful for such growth opportunities despite our opinions on the subject. Such discussion allows us to dig deep into our core and evaluate our thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs – and stand firmly in our sense of self. What happens in this process is that we truly come to know ourselves and have more meaningful relationships with others. With these insights and understandings, each of our lives grows richer, and we are stronger as a collective community when we are practicing this kind of authenticity in relationships with others.
Every journey begins with a single step. Through an array of time-tested modalities, we’ll give you the tools to develop healthy relationships. You’ll have these tools with you for the rest of your life. We want to see you and your loved ones prosper and thrive. For more information on sex addiction, contact us here or call an Intake Coordinator at 800-244-4949.
Whether you've read Fifty Shades of Grey or not, the fact remains there is a lot of buzz around the series. Women can’t seem to get enough of Christian Grey, but the question is, why? When you take a step back, you see a story about two people with their own insecurities and lack of self-worth begin a relationship with unhealthy expectations.
There have been arguments about why Christian Grey should be in jail or why Ana is a weak female - although I would argue Ana is strong in her own right. Ana, like many women, gets into a relationship with Christian under the pretense of saving him. But why is it Ana’s responsibility to save him?
In reality, it is not Ana’s responsibility to “save” him because Christian is the only one who can do that for himself. In the real world, many women expecting a “happy ending” are left feeling emotionally numb, shame, and struggle with a negative body image.
Please take a moment to read the whole "Fifty Shades of Grey" article and share with your friends and family.
At The Meadows, Arizona, our rehabilitation facility provides a safe, confidential and healing environment for sexual addiction treatment. Our expert treatment staff helps each client look at the core issues that caused the addiction to heal the underlying cause of the addiction.
Our reputation is unmatched in the treatment of sexual disorders, and our positive client outcomes shape our legacy. To learn more about The Meadows’ state-of-the-art Sexual Addiction Program, contact an Intake Coordinator at 800-244-4949.
By Amy Sohler, MPA, MA, LMHC, CDP, MHP
Although it may be clinically hard to diagnose, sex addiction may affect up to three to seven percent of the population. Unfortunately, there is more of a stigma attached to sexually “acting out” than there is with the symptoms of other addictions. Many clinicians don’t have a well-defined criterion to diagnose the condition. Complicating matters even further is that sex addiction is often maintained and protected by a shield of dishonesty.
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.”
By Heidi Kinsella, MA, LMHCA, NCC, ASAT
Family Counselor, Gentle Path at The Meadows
When I came to work as a therapist at Gentle Path at The Meadows, I quickly discovered that this treatment center was special and provided patients with a different kind of experience than anything I had previously known. Dr. Patrick Carnes is a world-renowned authority on sex addiction and treatment and the primary architect of the Gentle Path at The Meadows program. He believes that we need to diagnosis and treat all addictive disorders, as well as mood and personality disorders. Dr. Carnes’ methodology is integrated with The Meadows Model, to address sex addiction and trauma concurrently. This approach is groundbreaking and provides patients with comprehensive care that gives them the opportunity to have quality, long-term sobriety and a happy, productive life.
When I was nine years old, my mom got sober then became a drug and alcohol counselor. It was the mid-70s, and the chemical dependency field was just developing. The common belief at that time was that the addiction must be treated before any other issues could be addressed; this belief continues and is a paradigm that many treatment centers still use.
I remember hearing stories from my mom, or her friends who worked in the field at the time, that their patients were often engaging in sexual activities in the bushes. The counselors would simply tell them to stop without reasoning that there may be another addiction that needed to be considered. This was a time before research showed that the same chemicals that light up the pleasure center in the brain, when using drugs or alcohol, do the same thing for process addictions, like sex, gambling, shopping, work, and eating. The counselors had no way of knowing that their patients may have been getting high in a different way, right there in treatment.
As I work with the patients at Gentle Path at The Meadows, I think to myself, “I wish this kind of treatment would have been available when I got sober in 1989.” Our patients do rigorous work creating a timeline depicting their addictions and mood disorders. They also participate in The Meadows’ signature Survivors Week to identify trauma that may have influenced their need to numb their feelings through maladaptive behaviors that eventually led to addiction.
I know for me, recovery has been like a game of “whack a mole!” I addressed my chemical addiction, but developed love addiction as I reached out to men to fill that hole inside. That addiction led me through a string of unhealthy relationships, including marrying a sex addict where I acted out with rage and experienced high levels of depression and anxiety. Even though, I was sober from my alcoholism, my life became very unmanageable, and I didn’t understand why. I was working the steps; I had the sponsor, a home group, and services positions. I was doing everything I was told to do. What I didn’t realize was that my brain was still living in active addiction because I had only addressed one of my many issues.
Eventually, the pain led me to reach out and find a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, who helped me address my trauma, depression, anxiety, codependency, love addiction and my maladaptive response to living with a sex addict. I often wonder if I had the chance to look at my childhood traumas along with my other issues early on in recovery, if I would have made different choices and avoided a lot of the chaos and pain in my early years of sobriety. I look at our patients and think, “Wow, they so fortunate to receive this level of care!” Brain science in the addiction field has come a long way, and Gentle Path at the Meadows is on the cutting-edge. However, we must not stop here—there is more work to be done and research is currently being conducted. Dr. Carnes has established the American Foundation for Addiction Research to continue this important work which will benefit our patients at Gentle Path. You can find out more information on this foundation at www.addictionresearch.com.
If you are struggling with any addiction, or multiple forms of addiction, depression, PTSD, or anxiety, we can help. Recovery is possible! You don’t have to live this way anymore. 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.