Conflict and COVID-19

Conflict and COVID-19 - The Bubble System 

Conflict and COVID-19 - The Bubble System 

 

Conflict and covid-19 seem to go hand-in-hand in our mental health practice. 

Something that is a pattern is the conflict surrounding people’s COVID-19 “bubbles” (and how to manage those boundaries). Many a session, I have spent speaking with couple’s, families, and individuals about negotiating boundaries around COVID-19 and how to do so appropriately. 

The biggest challenge has seemed to be various people's understanding of what is okay and what is not okay around COVID safety. As well as people’s understanding of what being in “their bubble” means. 

As we are aware people have different standards surrounding what feels safe with COVID. Some people prefer masks 100% of the time, some people are okay without masks if people are socially distant, some people will interact with others not in their households without masks, and some do not wish to interact with any outside of their household unless it is utilizing technology. 

Many have begun to utilize this idea of “the bubble” which includes people that you may have less restrictions with while you are around one another. This can include people outside someone's household, feeling okay being inside their home, and wearing or not wearing a mask. 

 

“The Bubble” 

The biggest issue is the bubble and consent. This is when people who share a bubble are feeling unclear or have different expectations of what is okay for them within their bubbles. This can look like one piece of the bubble believing that another is taking unnecessary risks or not providing adequate communication surrounding the decisions they are making. 

As a result of these decisions parts of the bubble are in conflict because there is a disagreement between the levels of risk they are engaging in and therefore creating that much risk for the “bubble system.” 

Because COVID is so easily transmitted, the actions you take pose a risk to others around you who you may have less restrictions with. This can be particularly challenging for people who are at higher risk from dying from COVID or around those who have a higher chance of dying from COVID. 

In therapy, we have spent many conversations discussing consent, communication,  and boundaries. 

 

How to Navigate This

This issue really comes down to communication and consent. If you are choosing to be in someone’s bubble you have to be able to agree on what is reasonable and feasible for your group. 

If you are not willing to engage in the rules or disregard them, it takes trust out of the “bubble system". This may mean that you have to create a different bubble or be willing to engage in communication with those for you to be able to come to agreements. 

In relationships, trust and respect are vital to the success of the relationship. If you find yourself being dishonest, omitting, or not able to have conversations with one another… THIS IS A PROBLEM.  

Breaking consent or boundaries in a relationship is also problematic! If you are doing something without the knowledge of someone else and creating a higher level of risk for them without their knowledge… that is a consent issue… and that is a pretty big deal. 

I have had many clients talk about it “not being a big deal” and invalidating one another’s experiences.. Also not helpful! In these sessions, if we are not able to have the conversations and people are not willing to change boundaries or behaviors, I recommend dis-engtangling their bubble. 

The most important thing is to keep everyone safe, healthy, and happy. We need to respect that we all may have differences as to how that may look and if it is so different than we are no longer comfortable… then we make different decisions around how to move forward. 

If you do not think it is a big deal, that is your prerogative. HOWEVER, your actions have an impact on those around you… so it's important to be mindful that no one can control you. 

Yet others have the right to set boundaries as they see fit around their comfort. And if you do not like it, you may consider shifting your behaviors. Yet, if you are unwilling to do that, then you have to come towards a radical acceptance of this current outcome for the time being. 

If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do


Grief and COVID

Grief During Quarantining and COVID

Grief During Quarantining and COVID

 

During the last 10 months something that has been clearer in my clinical practice is grief and the intersection of COVID-19.  During this pandemic there are varying levels of grief that my clients are experiencing as a result of COVID-19. 

 

What is Grief?

Grief is the experience of loss, usually associated with death. But we can experience it in a variety of different ways. Grief is typically experienced as high levels of emotional suffering and struggle. Following a loss (extreme sadness, depression, anxiety, fear, guilt, etc.).

Although, less talked about grief also comes with physical symptoms such as sleep difficulties, eating difficulties, changing in weight, fatigue, nauseous, aches and pains.

There are a variety of different processes of grief. One of the most well known is Kubler-Ross’ 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance).

Although a foundational in the concept of grieving, it does not necessarily mean that it is a step by step process (as described) or that everyone will engage in every stage. Also, these 5 stages were identified after researching the Holocaust (a genocide). 

 

Types of Grief

Grief is not a one size fits all way to grief or one type of grief. Below are a list of different types of grief that people can experience: 

  • Anticipatory grief 
  • Complicated grief
  • Traumatic grief
  • Ambiguous loss
  • Delayed grief
  • Secondary Loss

There may be several various types of grief, these are the ones I see most clearly in my practice. 

 

Grief and COVID

Frief is a complicated and broad topic. The amount of grief experienced collectively in our families, communities, country, and world is unique as a result of this pandemic. 

COVID-19 has struck our world in massive proportions resulting in high levels of loss be it human life, jobs, access to friends and family, change in cultural norms, etc. 

 

Death

Obviously, the death of people as a result of contracting COVID-19 is a horrendous experience for anyone and would be considered “traumatic grief.” 

Many of my clients who have experienced the loss of someone to COVID-19 have had a difficult time. Many of my clients were not able to be with their loved one when they were hospitalized and then died. They were not able to hold celebrations or services for their loved ones. They were not able to access the support of others because of quarantine. Being isolated and not able to be with the loved one has been extremely difficult. 

If the death was of a person who was not someone you are close to, you may be experiencing “secondary” or “vicarious” grief which is the loss of someone you knew. But may not have as significant daily impact. Although it might not have been your spouse, your parent, your child, OR your best friend, does not minimize the grief you may be experiencing. 

 

Life in Quarantine

Life in Quarantine has created its own version of loss for our communities. People are social creatures and require connection so being in quarantine for as long as we have is not something healthy for us. Life in Quarantine has resulted in social isolation and connection via technology. People’s worlds have been turned upside down and have created high levels of struggle for many. 

As a therapist, I am seeing higher levels of depression, trauma, and anxiety across the board. Clients are finding it hard to manage their symptoms because their is a lack of resources and connection. Isolation has become easier, self care has become more difficulty, and conflict is on the rise. People are stuck in the same environment 24/7. 

People are needing to do everything from one space and as the weather gets colder. Options dwindle for being able to engage in some level of safe connection with others outside their household.

This dramatic change in the way we live our day to day lives is causing grief, a loss for life pre-covid. 

 

Loss of Job and Resources

Businesses are struggling or shutting down. Thousands of people are losing their jobs. Resources are becoming more expensive as a way for some businesses to stay afloat. More and more continues to changes as COVID continues to be a predominant issue in our life. 

The above stated losses are hard enough, add in the loss of jobs people have been experiencing, loss of financial stability and resources. And the ability to feel certainty is creating high levels of grief and stress culturally. 

 

How do we Cope with Grief

On a variety of levels we are all struggling with grief right now. The best that we can do is try to facilitate support, connection, validation, love.

Ask for help or offering help to those we love and our communities. Noticing the privileges we have and areas that we can help those around us and our communities can be an important part of collective healing. Make no mistake, COVID-19 is a global trauma and in order to heal and survive this we need to work together to collectively grief, support, and heal. 

If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do.


PTSD for Nurses and Doctors

Systemic Impact of Coronavirus - PTSD for Nurses and Doctors

Systemic Impact of Coronavirus - PTSD for Nurses and Doctors

 

Covid-19 has wreaked havoc in our medical system. And the systemic effect of PTSD for nurses and doctors is being overlooked. 

In addition to the “normal” exposure of trauma that first responders “sign up for,”. We must consider that since the pandemic began, first responders have witnessed more loss, fear, and / or vicarious trauma than they have ever prepared for in their training. 

For those of you who live with and love doctors, nurses, CNAs, mental health workers, military, firefighters, EMS workers, etc. We thank you for being here to gather information on how to support the ones you love.   

 

What does Trauma Look Like for First Responders: 

I work with many people in the medical field (as do my colleagues) who are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the things I focus on in my practice is trauma - and it is really clear to me that this population is undergoing trauma.

  • lack of self care
  • hypervigilance (on edge, jumpy)
  • irritable
  • constantly tired
  • perseverating or not being able to let something go 
  • depression
  • anger
  • responses that appear more intense (something is mild and it is seen as highly stressful)
  • not engaging in taking care of basic needs
  • sleep issues (too much or too little)

 

The Trauma of Treating in the Age of COVID-19

Some of my clients do not see their families due to safety concerns. Some have watched patients dying and needing to sit with them as their families are not able to be with them, being inundated with cases without support, resources, and enough gear. 

One of the biggest struggles I have heard from my clients is the level of uncertainty experienced when this pandemic hit. 

Various medical professionals were scared of transmitting the illness and having more suffer the same fate of many. Seeing the lack of resources (beds, PPE, equipment, and information) lead to high levels of uncertainty and fear resulting in many medical professionals experiencing high levels of trauma.

As the statistics reduced in New York and Connecticut, and its surrounding areas, many first responders finally began to feel the up tick in stress.

When someone is going through trauma and in survival mode, it can be VERY difficult to be able to notice the level of stress. This pandemic and the impact on the medical field is an example of this because it is a chronic trauma. 

 

How Can We All Help?

As we begin to see the numbers climbing again, I imagine our medical field will be re-traumatized. If you are a medical professional, first responder, or love someone who is here are some ways to consider supporting them:

  • Allow time to vent
  • Complete acts of service for the first responders (bringing them food or something to drink, running errands, etc)
  • Meditate 
  • Reduce stimulation at home
  • Focus on basic needs such as sleep, eating, and hydration
  • Hold compassion for the first responders
  • Focus on recharging and building a set of tools and resources to help
  • Try to be flexible and adaptive to allow your love one to check in with themselves and their needs
  • Ask for what you need and/or how you can support them
  • Do not bombard them with lots of information, try to slow things down 
  • Take care of yourselves!

These skills are important for everyone because if you are a first responder and experiencing trauma these tips will be useful for you. For those of you who support first responders, you are at risk of “vicarious” trauma or “secondary” trauma from hearing stories or experiences from your loved one. 

Please make sure you take care of yourself, knowing your limits, and communicating. Many client are seeking our support at LCAT to help learn ways to cope through this time. 

If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do


Why Am I Depressed?

Why Am I Depressed?

Why Am I Depressed?

 

If you have been asking yourself “why am I depressed?” you should know that with all of the curveballs 2020 has thrown at us, you are definitely not alone! 

When you ask yourself “why am I depressed?”, that is a strong sign that it is time to seek professional help from a therapist. Luckily, telehealth therapy during COVID19 has made access to counseling easier for individuals who need it. 

Don’t blame yourself if you are feeling depressed: you are not lazy, you are not a failure, and there is nothing “broken” about you that can’t be rebuilt. Let’s take a look at some reasons why you might be feeling depressed. 

 

The Pandemic

The pandemic has been a trigger for many circumstances that can cause depression. 

  • Isolation: if you are unable to see anyone in your social circle or family because they do not live with you, this quarantine will have been especially difficult. Feeling isolated from those you love can increase feelings of depression, and can make you feel far away from any support systems you had in place. 
  • The death toll: the COVID19 virus has resulted in a huge loss of life, and it is a sobering and depressing thought. Grief, fear, pessimism and rage may be some of the feelings you are experiencing around the sheer numbers of those affected by the virus. 
  • The nature of the news cycle: while it is important to stay informed, the news cycle can wreak havoc on your mental health. The constant changes, the bombardment of bad news and zero focus on positive stories can paint a bleak picture and make you feel hopeless. 
  • Losing your job: many businesses large and small have had to furlough their workforce or lay them off, or they’ve gone out of business entirely. If you have lost your job, you aren’t just losing income, you are potentially losing security, opportunities, plans and feel like your ability to survive and provide is at risk. You may also feel unimportant if you were laid off and other staff weren’t, or like your sense of self is pretty shaky when you aren’t working. 
  • Losing a loved one: grief is a natural response to the death of a loved one, and the circumstances around deaths by any cause during the pandemic have made it difficult to have closure. The inability to mourn with loved ones or pay respects at funerals or the inability to hold your loved one’s hand as they pass can be difficult to process. 
  • Cancelling plans: if you had a wedding, event or special trip that was meaningful it can be devastating to cancel plans. Non refundable deposits or constant rescheduling can make you feel stressed and depressed.Why Am I Depressed?

 

Physical Factors 

If you have been ill it can be a trigger for depression, either physically or due to having a new, foreign relationship with your body and its limitations. 

If you have gained or lost weight you may be feeling depressed based on how you perceive yourself and how your body has changed in quarantine. 

There are hormonal and neurochemical factors that can trigger depression in some individuals. These factors can be controlled with medication and therapy, so it is important to seek help if you are feeling off. 

 

World Events

On top of the immediate effects of the pandemic, there have been many world events that may make you feel depressed. 

  • Racial injustice: feeling like your life doesn’t have value because of the color of your skin or feeling helpless to change the injustices of the world. Viewing disturbing footage of violence, protests and riots, wanting to attend protests but can’t for health reasons. Feeling guilty about past or present actions.  
  • The election: no matter which party you plan to vote for, the constant rhetoric and worries about trying to get your vote counted and in on time can be overwhelming. Feeling like the world hangs in the balance if your candidate does or does not get elected or re-elected, or even just having arguments with family about politics can leave you feeling isolated, frustrated and sad. 
  • International tensions: China, Russia, Iran, sanctions, threats, Armenia, the explosions in Beirut, the mass shooting in Canada, the violence happening in Nigeria- the world has been a very busy place and it is easy to feel helpless. Why Am I Depressed?

 

What Should I Do?

It can be tempting to try to battle depression on your own and without outside intervention, however you deserve to have guidance and support! 

If you are feeling depressed to the point of suicidal, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can put you in touch with someone immediately by calling 1-800-273-8255, or go to your nearest hospital emergency room. 

If you are feeling depressed and you are not in immediate danger, book an appointment with a therapist. They can assess you and help you create a plan to tackle depression, and can refer you to other mental health professionals if needed. Finding a therapist is more convenient and accessible than ever as most are offering telehealth options. You can even find a therapist outside of your own state! 

By asking yourself “why am I depressed?” you have already taken an important first step, so take some time to care for yourself and open up to a loved one and a professional. 

If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

Call us at 203-733-9600 and press 0 to leave a message, or make an appointment.


Post Election Stress and Using Compassionate Communication

Post Election Stress and Using Compassionate Communication 

 

If you haven’t read part 1 of our post election stress series, please click here

Post election stress is here to stay as we transition administrations. 

In the meantime, we will give you our specific examples on how to communicate during this time. 

 

Use Compassionate and Non Violent Communication

If you work with me or others at our practice, you have probably heard about Non-Violent (or Compassionate) Communication (NVC). If you have not, look it up! 

Great resources on ways to learn to communicate differently and in a way that our culture has not done a great job developing. Marshall Rosenberg wrote books on it and there is a website

The premise of NVC is to be able to communicate more compassionately, kindly, and effectively. 

This is recommended in being able to take accountability for our role, acknowledge our feelings, be respectful, and set boundaries or make requests. 

So the “I feel ______________ when (insert experience or concern of behavior) and am wondering if you would be willing to ______________ (needs, boundary or request).” 

post election stress

Using NVC focuses on using “I statements” to reduce blame, acknowledge our role, and build ways to understand through identifying our own needs. 

This helps us communicate with those around us and be able to slow conversations down through engaging in validation and reflective listening. 

Again, this is NOT about agreeing with someone, it is about being able to sit in discomfort and still hear another person.

Does this mean that if someone is sharing something harmful and is continuing to cause harm that I keep having the conversation or the relationship? NO. 

If you are in a conversation and you are doing suggestions from Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog, and there is a lack of respect, kindness, or compassion - you have a clear right to set a boundary using NVC and remove yourself, if necessary. 

There are times where we do everything we can to facilitate and engage appropriately and it is just not okay for us to continue. This is where you can request space, time, or boundaries around the conversation. 

 

Real Examples of How You Can Apply This:

Some of my clients have set boundaries around not speaking about politics. 

Some have a system in place where they say a code word when things become heated and take 20-30 minutes to de-escalate alone and then return and try to continue the conversation and then rinse and repeat until they get through it. 

Some of my clients set timers and engage in an activity called “active listening” where one person speaks, the other listens, when the speaker is done they validate through reflecting back what the speaker said, then the speaker identifies if they felt heard, then if they do they reverse roles, and if they don't, then they clarify what they were missing. 

Some of my clients have chosen to stop having relationships indefinitely or for a set amount of time (space) from the relationship. Some have ended relationships completely. 

Whatever you decide to do, I think it is important that you are responding rather than reacting. Responding is thoughtful, conscious choices vs reacting which is acting abruptly or without conscious thought. I usually encourage people to engage in these tips before making such a decision, unless there is an issue of safety or abuse or significant harm being done. 

Unsurprisingly, I also recommend engaging in therapy if that feels right for you, as a way to figure out what you might need so that your decision is indeed coming from a responsive vs. reactive place.

If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

Call us at 203-733-9600 and press 0 to leave a message, or make an appointment.


Guide to Surviving Conversations in 2020 Post Election Anxiety

Guide to Surviving Conversations in 2020 Post Election Anxiety

 

The 2020 post election anxiety has contributed to an incredibly stressful time for many of us. 

As we gear up for the holiday season during COVID, I thought it pertinent to write about ways to communicate about post election anxiety with various individuals around many important topics.

Most of my sessions the last week or two (minimum) have focused predominantly on the election:

  • whether that was the stress of the outcome
  • human rights concerns 
  • communication on different perspectives and opinions with those around them
  • fear of police brutality
  • fear of civil war or violence within communities
  • issues surrounding boundaries. 

Although I could write a whole post about the election itself and the various observations I have, I imagine that it would be more helpful to hear tricks and tips to navigate this rather than to hear me “rant.” 

 

Check yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Most of all, it is important to remember to check your privilege. 

What do I mean by that? 

Well, the more privilege you have, the more difficult it may be for you to relate to someone who has a different privilege status (i.e a different set of barriers). 

For instance if you are a white, cisgender, middle class, heterosexual woman, you have a different level of privilege compared to someone who is a multiracial, transgender man who lives pay check to pay check. 

I share this because for people of various communities, there were significant policy and human rights issues on the line. 

So if you are coming from different privilege spaces it's important for you to notice if safety was on the ballot for you this year. 

Safety can look like the right to marry, the right to walk on the street, financial security, health care, rights over your body, etc. 

There are many examples, and these are just BRIEF examples of what that might look like.

I share this because so many of my clients have shared either struggling to understand some levels of reactivity from certain people in their lives or the lack of understanding and compassion. 

One of the main issues I have seen are clients feeling like people are not understanding the level of safety and harm that can be done with specific policies. 

So please be aware that recognizing your privilege in conversations is important

 

Take a Deep Breath… Slow Down!

In heated conversations it is important to to take a deep breath and I tell many of my clients “slow the F*** down.” 

I say this because when we are not breathing, we are literally unable to hear or speak in a way that is effective or productive. 

Our body literally starts to go into survival mode which depending on our lived experience can throw us into what I like to call a “trauma tornado” or get you a “ticket on the trauma train” which is my silly way of saying a “trauma spiral.” 

Breathing is so important. So just breathe. Post Election Anxiety

Slow down. 

Take a breathe (inhale) for 1….2….3….4. 

And hold it for 1….2….3….4. 

Then exhale breath for 1….2….3….4. 

Then hold for 1….2….3….4. 

If you practice this daily, it will help you have more control over your body and breath, and thus, it will allow you to engage in the moment in diaphragmatic breathing. 

In my experience (personally and professionally), when we do not do this we lose our ability to remain in the conversation and be within our integrity. 

 

Seek to Understand Rather than Be Understood

This one is a little bit complicated and nuanced as the first one was. 

Seek to understand means to ask questions and use curiosity. 

If you are in a curious space, you are able to be in a space of learning which puts your brain in a different focus and allows you to try to understand (not agree) with whomever you are speaking with. 

When we seek to understand, people can feel less defensive or critical.

When people are in a defensive or critical position we are leaning into an argument style of communication or what will likely be an ineffective conversation. 

When we seek to understand, we seek to collaborate with who we are working with, rather than convincing someone. 

So often in therapy, I watch people act as if I am the judge and they are in front of me and each other to convince the other that they are right. 

When we are focused on being right rather than understanding no one “wins.” And again if we are focused on “being right” or “winning” the argument that is not about connection or compassion that is about disconnection, shame, and/or rejection. Also, if we are focused on winning or only being understood… that is not usually helpful or productive.

Validation. It's a buzz word in our culture and in therapy. And this is a BIG part of seeking to understand rather than be understood. Validation is about hearing the other person NOT AGREEING. 

Let’s say that again for those in the back…

Validation is about hearing and understanding someone's perspective. NOT AGREEING.

So validating someone’s perspective is not agreeing with their point of view. At.All. It is about showing the person that you were listening and not just in your head thinking about a response (Guilty! I have done that… not my best strategy!). Validation is reflecting back to someone what they said in order to show that you are listening… or seeking to understand them.

The reason these things are important is because it allows the conversation the best opportunity and chance to not end in an explosion.

If you are still with us and want to learn more, stay tuned for our Friday download about how to communicate when you have post election stress.

If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

Call us at 203-733-9600 and press 0 to leave a message, or make an appointment.


Love Addiction

How to Know if You Have a Love Addiction

How to Know if You Have a Love Addiction

 

We all love the thrill of a new relationship; however, if that is the feeling you cling to for the entirety of every relationship only to have it end in heartbreak, it is likely that you have a love addiction.

A love addiction can be sabotaging your relationships and ultimately your happiness within relationships. It is also tricky to recognize because relationships are so romanticized in the media: if you’re not madly, passionately in love all the time and for years on end,  the relationship is a failure. 

The reality is, relationships ebb and flow and while some do not make it past the honeymoon phase anyway, truly healthy relationships are built on trust, companionship, shared values and of course some attraction

 

What is Love Addiction?

A love addiction is the chronic, obsessive pursuit of romantic love. Healthy relationships don’t stay in the “honeymoon” phase forever, so if you are constantly chasing that feeling from relationship to relationship you may have a love addiction. 

It consists of behaviors that end up affecting you and your partner negatively, and can mean you have a tough time letting go of the fantasy of a relationship when the reality sets in. 

 

Is Love Addiction Real?

Love addiction is not a recognized disorder by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). However, the DSM-5 lists 11 criteria for substance addictions that can be applied to understanding and treating a process addiction or negative behavior pattern like love addiction. 

To be diagnosed with a substance addiction, you only need to have two of the eleven criteria. Not all of them apply to love addiction, so here are the top three that indicate there may be an addictive element in play:

  • An ongoing (6+ months) preoccupation/ obsession with romantic fantasies and new relationships
  • No self control over romantic fantasies and new relationships
  • Negative consequences from these out of control fantasies

So while not technically recognized as an “addiction” in the DSM-5, it is a pattern of behavior that can be harmful and hurtful and prevent you from enjoying fulfilling, healthy relationships. This is why it is always worth seeking help to overcome love addiction. 

 

What’s So Wrong About Being Romantic?

Romance is an exciting and essential element of courtship and attraction. There is even a physiological explanation for those butterflies you feel when around your new crush!

A neurochemical rush floods your system when your new partner is in sight (or in mind) and when you touch. The evolutionary necessity of this is to provide a temporary fierce attraction while two humans build a real relationship, getting to know each other and build a foundation of trust and intimacy. Ideally once the honeymoon phase ceases, this foundation is set and the relationship can progress. 

The difficulty arises when you associate those rushes/butterflies and romance with the substance of a relationship, or the idea of being in a relationship. Once they fade, you’re either no longer interested or you feel like the relationship is failing when it is naturally progressing in many ways. 

Failing to move beyond seeking that rush can leave you lonely, heartbroken, and stuck in a pattern where you don’t open up for real intimacy and connection because you’re always chasing the rush of romance. 

This of course doesn’t mean long term relationships should be devoid of romance! It merely means that the definition and spontaneity of it may shift. Sharing common values, learning and acting upon each other’s love languages, making your partner feel appreciated and special are all romantic and I definitely encourage romance! You can’t put on delicious whipped frosting without a cake first, and if you’re always chasing frosting you’ll be left hungry! 

 

Signs of Love Addiction

So, what are some of the signs of a love addiction?

  • Confusing sexual and romantic intensity with true intimacy
  • Skipping out on commitments, friends and family for your relationships
  • A wandering eye that seeks new, exciting relationships while you’re still in a monogamous relationship
  • Feeling alone, desperate and unworthy when not in a relationship
  • Defining yourself by your relationships
  • Always changing yourself to keep partners/fear of being dumped if you’re yourself
  • Relying on romantic/sexual intensity to escape your problems/find comfort

Love Addiction

 

Love Addiction and Codependency 

If you’re familiar with codependency, a lot of these signs may seem vaguely familiar. In fact, it could be argued that while not all codependents are love addicts, all love addicts are codependent. 

Codependency is in simplest terms the inability to decipher where you and the person you are codependent with ends. 

You may do everything in their best interest, even at expense of your own needs and wants. 

You may find it difficult to establish healthy boundaries in the relationship for fear of rejection or loneliness. 

It can create a one sided dynamic in a relationship (this can include family and friends), and can create a pattern of dysfunction where both sides of the relationship play a fixed role: one person could be a martyr who needs the validation of caring for someone else, perhaps the other is an enabler of these behaviors etc. 

 

Can I Change? 

Love addiction is a compulsion that can be tamed, though it is important to recognize what seemingly normal comments and behaviors are actually love addiction rearing its head. 

The truth is, the pattern is the issue, not the people you date. Sure, they weren’t perfect, however you must focus on yourself and your behaviors in order to end the cycle of heartbreaking short term romances in exchange for meaningful connections and intimacy. 

Working with a therapist is essential for establishing new patterns and behaviors that are healthy and constructive. Well meaning friends will try to give advice and can be a good shoulder to cry on, though they are biased and will likely agree with all of your assessments of the situation as a sign of support. 

A therapist is a non partial party who knows that the larger goal is more important: ending your love addiction and creating relationship patterns that are healthy and fulfilling. 

If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

Call us at 203-733-9600 and press 0 to leave a message, or make an appointment.


I hate my body

I Hate My Body

I Hate My Body

 

Have you ever said I hate my body

If you have, I have a question on how many companies profit from you hating yourself. Not to say that is negative. I hate my body

Just wondering if you are aware that any I hate my body statements may be fueled by the messages you consume on a daily basis! 

I hate to break it to you, yet our political, media, justice and even educational systems are often corrupted by money and / or power. Power dynamics are literally everywhere. 

Notice them. Notice who benefits by you saying “I hate my body.”

Body image is perceived as important, especially in Western Capitalistic cultures (Botta, 2003). 

Numerous studies have associated body image with sexual satisfaction (Lowery, 2005; Yamamiya et al, 2006; Sanchez, 2007; Weaver & Byers, 2007).  The way you perceive your body has something to do with the way you experience pleasure.

If you are hating your body all the time, I wonder how that affects your sexuality? 

If your sex life is less than adequate, let’s turn your focus around! 

Instead of focusing on how much you hate the body… let’s try something else. 

 

Show your body love by: 

    • Radical self care to ensuring that I meditate
    • Slowing my brain down by writing
    • Exercise and meal choices
    • Watching a sunrise or sunset

 

Practical ways:

  • Touch your throat and feel your hands
  • Tap on your heart chakra (the same latitude as the heart, yet in the center)
  • Massage the base of your skull, at your hairline
  • Explore the types of pleasure on a part of the body that isn’t sexualized
  • Breathe in through your nose
  • Breathe out through your mouth
  • Putting bare feet on the dirt or grass
  • Laying in clean sheets without clothing on
  • Replace I hate my body with I love my body
  • Look at yourself in the mirror and smile daily
  • Pull on your earlobes
  • Exploring your face with your hands and fingertips
  • Open your mouth and relax your jaw 
  • Notice if your shoulders are tense and relax them

 

Get our pleasure practice eguide if you want to understand how to love your body more and integrate it with your pleasure! 

If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

Call us at 203-733-9600 and press 0 to leave a message, or make an appointment.


High Functioning Anxiety

All Your Questions About High Functioning Anxiety

All Your Questions About High Functioning Anxiety

 

Did you know that high functioning anxiety isn’t officially a diagnosable condition? This is because it can be so subtle, and yet not as debilitating as anxiety disorders. As such, there is very little research on the subject compared to general anxiety disorders.

High functioning anxiety is also different from diagnosed anxiety disorders because there is very little acute biological response. Their palms aren’t getting sweaty, no significant increase in heart rate, no dizziness, and yet the chronic stress can definitely make a physical impact through lack of sleep and overworking. 

High functioning anxiety refers to the fact that people with this condition usually appear outwardly successful, calm or put together, though inside they are suffering. They are “functioning” at a “high level” despite how they feel inside.

 

What Does It Look Like?

To someone on the outside, people with high functioning anxiety are hyper successful, driven and organized. They may be perceived as being stoic or unemotional, even cold, or abrupt. On the flipside, they can be very outgoing and passionate about what they do. 

When people have diagnosed anxiety disorders, they are frozen by fear. This is the more typical media representation of anxiety. People who can’t leave their homes because they are so afraid, or break down and have panic attacks when triggered, or who even need medication in order to cope with day to day life. 

The high achievement, organization and attention to detail with the elusive high functioning anxiety makes it hard to see that anything is wrong at all. In fact, the high functioning anxiety sufferer may appear to be thriving. 

 

What Does It Feel Like?

For the person dealing with high functioning anxiety, it’s a different story. On the inside, they feel a constant churning of anxiety, usually related to feelings of perfectionism, overthinking and need for approval. 

  • Fear of failure
  • Need to be liked
  • Need for approval
  • Rumination, racing thoughts
  • Obsession over the most minor details
  • Unwilling to be vulnerable, a fear of vulnerability
  • Fear of seeming stupid or uneducated
  • Inability to enjoy the present moment
  • Insomnia

 

What Causes Anxiety?

Even with diagnosable anxiety disorders, uncovering the cause can be a long, mysterious process. Sometimes, there may not even be an obvious cause, rather a complex synergy of many factors. 

Factors could be environmental, genetic, the result of a trauma or brain injury: there are so many potential factors even for diagnosable anxiety disorders, so the elusiveness of high functioning anxiety is even tougher to pin down. It may be possible to identify triggers for your anxiety, even if you never uncover how it began in the first place. 

 

The Downside of High Functioning Anxiety

High functioning anxiety can have numerous adverse effects in your life and on your health. Including:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Chronic stress
  • You may avoid eye contact
  • You may be a people pleaser 
  • A cycle of procrastination
  • The inability to say “no” even when you’re too busy or overwhelmed
  • Loyal to a fault
  • Never go beyond your comfort zone
  • Never show your feelings
  • May think your feelings are normal and never seek help because outwardly you’re successful
  • Living a life of denial, simply labeling yourself as a “workaholic” or “list-maker”
  • A reliance on substances to cope, such as alcohol, weed, caffeine or sleeping pills.

 

The Benefits of High Functioning Anxiety

Having high functioning anxiety isn’t all doom and gloo m however. Many studies have proven that those with a livable amount of anxiety are more driven, more organized and even have less accidents causing injury. Other benefits include:

  • Punctuality
  • Outgoing
  • Detail oriented
  • Helpful
  • Loyal
  • A good leader
  • A person of action
  • Focused 
  • Incredibly driven
  • More successful than non anxious peers

While these are all excellent qualities that clearly great for achieving success in your career and following your dreams, there are ways to find a healthier balance so you don’t have to put up with the negative aspects of your high functioning anxiety. 

 

How to Cope

It is worth noting that even if you feel like you have an undiagnosable condition like high functioning anxiety, if you feel overwhelmed or need help figuring out how to make your life easier you should seek out a therapist. 

We’re not just for crises, we can help you overcome anxiety, depression, and anything that is making life difficult by giving you the tools for coping and thriving. 

Some steps you can begin to take on your own include meditation to encourage stillness and stopping the cycle of rumination. 

Channeling anxious energy through exercise can be helpful, and avoiding caffeine may help with insomnia and feelings of anxiety. 

Proper sleep hygiene can increase your quality of life drastically. This means taking time to wind down at the end of the day, avoiding caffeine after lunch and no screen time an hour or two before bed. Try reading a fiction book, soothing yoga or sleep meditations to prepare your mind for rest. If you find you can’t fall asleep, try leaving your bedroom and reading somewhere else until tired again. 

 

If It Isn’t a Real Disorder, Is It All In My Head?

When your thoughts, habits and behaviors are impacting your quality of life negatively, then it doesn’t matter if there is an official definition or diagnosis. Something can still be done, and there is no need to suffer that deeply for success. 

 

Can a Therapist Still Help Me? 

Therapists don’t just deal with diagnoses, we help you uncover the root of your high functioning anxiety and build a plan for coping with it to make your life as enjoyable as possible. We can help you harness the positive benefits of high functioning anxiety and minimize the negative aspects in a healthy way. 

If you think you are living with high functioning anxiety, know that you don’t need to struggle and can find help! It may be hard to admit you need help or aren’t “fine”, and overcoming your high functioning anxiety will certainly be worth it! 

If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

Call us at 203-733-9600 and press 0 to leave a message, or make an appointment.


Gender Non-Conforming

Gender Non Conforming or Gender Creative

Gender Non Conforming or Gender Creative

 

Gender Non Conforming or Gender Creative individuals are people whose gender expression does not follow the stereotypical “rules” surrounding what is expected in male or female within our society. 

You may wonder what is gender non conforming or what does it mean when people are gender creative? 

In our society, we commonly categorize individuals as male or female. 

Therefore, those people who identify themselves as either side of the binary are expected to conform to a particular style and behavior. 

Someone who identifies as female is expected to wear “feminine” clothing such as dresses, leggings, skirts, specific shirts, etc. Females are also assumed to wear makeup, have longer hair, and no facial hair. 

Those who identify themselves as male are expected to wear “masculine” clothing such as sports attire, pants, more solid colors, and usually not bright clothing. These are some of the “rules” that are gender conformity. 

When an individual does not ascribe to these set of rules or engages in shifting gender expressive play (through clothing, makeup, etc), this is breaking gender conformity or the binary. 

Gender non conforming individuals are those we are focusing on here.

There are a variety of ways people can choose to break gender conformity through the varying ways gender is expressed. 

Some common options are: 

  • Mannerisms
  • Dress and attire
  • Makeup
  • Hair style
  • Accessories 

Individuals who are gender non conforming or gender creative may have a different style completely or may fluctuate between what the culture considers masculine and feminine. 

Some people who identify as non conforming may present more neutral or androgenous, while others may shift their gender expression based on activity, crowd, emotion, or internal desire. 

People who are gender non conforming or gender creative may identify with their assigned gender or may identify with other identities. 

These identities can include, yet are not limited to:

  • Non binary
  • Gender queer
  • Gender fluid
  • Gender bending
  • Gender non conforming
  • Or something else. 

The important thing is learning to understand each person's identity and not making assumptions about those you meet. 

If you are wanting to learn more about someone’s identity, be sure you are doing it for them and their comfort, rather than for your own needs. This is often a good place to start by knowing your intentions. 

You can also seek therapy or reputable sources who can help support you in learning and understanding. 

It is your own responsibility to learn more rather than anyone in the community teaching you. Seek a professional if you need, that specializes in this area of focus. 

YouTube page where she provides free information at The Sex Healer

If you know someone that would benefit from this information, feel free to share it. 

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. For clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized coaching on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

Call or text us at 203-733-9600 or make an appointment.