Intimacy Answers

My wife and I need to work with a CSAT therapist are there any recommendations on betterhelp?

Hello,  Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out and ask this question on the BetterHelp platform.  Please remember that this is a safe space and that part of finding a therapist match for you is finding a therapist that is able to create a safe space with you so you can develop a healthy therapeutic relationship.  I know that CSAT Therapists complete a rigorous training certification program, through the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction, which focuses on treating patients with sexual addictions, etc.  For patient's and their partners who want to work together with a CSAT therapist; it allows them to work on breaking down shame and addiction, as well as building a safe space towards an empathetic therapeutic environment.  I personally am not trained in CSAT Therapy, but possibly therapists on this platform may either put it in their biography or know other resources.  I know that I do have colleagues who are.   Questions I would ask myself in finding a therapist match, especially in the specific field that you and your partner are looking for would be: - How does this therapist view the interactive nature and complexities of various psychiatric diagnosis (i.e. the linkage between trauma and addiction) - How does the therapist engage me and my partner - How does the therapist create safety and also address denial  - Does the therapist understand the dynamics of sexual addiction - Is the therapist trained in trauma bonding and its affect on attachments, attachment theory, etc. You can also look for therapists outside the this platform who focus on sex addiction, and focus on breaking down shame and addiction, but use therapeutic modules build on safety, trust - as well as focus on finding therapists who are Certified in Sexual Addiction Therapy (Certified by Patrick Carnes).   You can also copy and paste this URL below for possible resources around CART Therapy: I hope you find this helpful.  Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.  I know that all of us here have a wealth of information to share.  To reiterate, I am here to share information, but I am not trained in CSAT Therapy, but I am willing to share resources I do know or am I aware of.  Thank you again for reaching out, In loving kindness, Francis Joseph Gallego, LCSW    
Answered on 09/29/2022

Why am I so attached to my male friends yet dismissive of my female friends?

Greetings. You mentioned that you have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Some of the defining features of BPD are unstable relationships, changes in self-image, and a fear of abandonment/rejection. These issues, in turn, are related to an insecure attachment style, most often Fearful-Avoidant. You seek closeness, but you foresee negative consequences, and thus find yourself in a loop of engaging and withdrawing. In therapy, it would be important to explore your historical family dynamics and any attachment trauma that you might have experienced, and to promote your sense of self-expression and self-efficacy. A common question that comes up in general is: "Can men and women be friends"? My answer to this question would be that friendship between men and women who are attracted to the opposite sex is intrinsically intertwined with that attraction. Therefore, there is always the potential for an intimate relationship to form between them. Consequently, a man and a woman in a committed relationship will naturally be protective of each other. They might not want their partner to spend too much time alone with someone with whom attraction is a natural possibility because it might affect their own relationship with that person. Finally, we must look at the definition of the word intimacy in the dictionary. You will notice that it is defined both as a sexual act but also as a "close familiarity or friendship, closeness". Therefore the term casual, which is defined as "relaxed and unconcerned" is not well suited for intimacy.  My wishes for you and to anyone reading these paragraphs are to find a sense of fulfillment in everything that you do. I hope this answer was helpful. Please feel free to reach out for further input. Regards. Vadim.
Answered on 09/26/2022

How do you come back from having so many bad relationships and actually allow yourself to like someone

Hi Kat,   Thank you for reaching out during this time while you struggling and questioning some things.  I am glad you have insight into yourself and are advocating for your wants and needs.  There are several things that came to my mind when I read your question and I hope my response below is helpful.   What I am going to share are some concrete ideas and skills that can be used anywhere (at home, school, work, in the community) and come from modalities called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).   I am glad you are willing to get into a relationship again and see how it progresses.  When you mentioned anger, there is a concept called The Anger Iceberg.  If you think about an iceberg, we only see 10% of it, the remaining 90% is hidden.  Anger can be compared to an iceberg.  When we get angry, the brain chemicals change and we are fueled and sometimes want to take action.  That is the 10% other people see.  Some people see anger as an emotion that covers other uncomfortable emotions.  I call emotions uncomfortable verse comfortable and not good or both because emotions are ours and ours alone, no one should judge them.  When you get angry, what uncomfortable emotion is it covering up?  For example, if my husband were to cheat on me, I would rather be angry than feel betrayed, upset, depressed, etc.  Is your anger covering up something from past relationships that you have not been able to process or let go of?   There is also something called CERTS.  Consent, equality, respect, trust and safety (emotional and physical safety) that should be present for a healthy relationship.  I see these as the foundation for a strong relationship and can be built slowly and over time and could also be ever changing as the relationship grows and deepens.   The basis of CBT is something called a behavior chain.  It that says we have a thought and the thought leads to a feeling and the combination of the two lead to a behavior or action.  For example, if I start thinking I am going to be late to work and get in trouble, I may start panicking or feeling anxious and then I may start to speed. I mention this because we have 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day so it is difficult to be aware of everything single thought we have.  When you start thinking these maladaptive or unhealthy thoughts, try to catch yourself and picture maybe a STOP sign or a bulldozer.  You want to change your thought in the process before your anger increases.  For example (and I am making this up), you may start to think "I was used" and then you become angry, keep thinking it and then become even angrier.  Every time we have a thought we connect the neurons in our brain and a path is built  The more we think it, the deeper the path.  The deeper the path, the more we think the thought/daydream without realizing it, therefore it can be a vicious cycle.  I am hoping that makes sense.  So, it is important you break the cycle by changing the thought to something more healthy.  Not only should your replacement thought be healthy, it should be realistic with facts to back it up, not something that is spun in your mind (which is something we all do).   Another skill is called The Circle of Control.  If you were to draw a circle and writing everything inside your control inside the circle and everything outside of your control, outside of the circle what would fall where?  Your thoughts, your feelings and your actions or behaviors falls inside, everything else--her actions and other people actions will fall outside of the circle, just like the weather--all of that is outside of your control.  Focus on what you can control and how you view past and current situations.   While it may seem cheesy, I would also suggest a mantra for yourself that you can say to help support yourself when you are having thoughts or feelings from the past.  Something that is encouraging and brings you back to the current relationship.   I hope this was helpful.  I wish you the best in this relationship and in your journey moving forward.   Best, Erica
Answered on 09/23/2022

How do I heal my fear of attachment and abandonment?

A way of starting the path to healing is to honor the spectum of emotions (comfortable and uncomfrotable).  When we experience traumas and in this case learning that a parental figure would no longer be in the same home on the day-to-day basis is rightfully so- a difficult event for a child to process. The emotions that have resulted from this experience and the residual effects (that show up in your present day life) are all trailheads of information to further explore.  What did you need back then that you can give to yourself in the present? (verbally, symbolically, creatively etc).  As you strengthen your muscle of vulnerability you can start with establishing what safety looks/feels like for you in proximity to other people. Trust is something that takes time to establish and being mindful of your needs and ability to communicate them to those you share space with is a starting point.  As you are mindful of your current attachment style, give yourself grace along the way as you unlearn patterns that are no longer working for the way you want to show up in relationships moving forward.  I'm curious, what you mean by "safely grow"? To be vulnerable is to risk, there is the possibility that things will not turn out how we want them and even in that there is still an opportunity to be present with ourselves and how we respond to the situation. When things work in our favor (comfortable emotions), things to consider include but are not limited to:  1. Did I honor my own boundaries? 2. Do I feel safe to share what I actually felt without holding back? 3. Is this relationship recriprocal? When uncomfortable emotions come to visit, curioisty around the emotions that still sting are trailheads of areas in your life that need further attention.  In the opportunities available to further explore and get to know yourself intimately, you can build on the information that you gradually uncover and move from a place of authencitity at the pace that works for you in the place you are currently in.  Addressing abandonment wounds take time, be gentle with yourself as you gradually address something that has been challenging. 
Answered on 11/28/2021

How do I keep my anxious thoughts from ruining a relationship?

Hello, I wish to applaud your courage in reaching out to a stranger to ask a vulnerable and possibly tough question. That said, I am sorry to hear that your partner seems to be experiencing anxiety and is feeling overwhelmed. When your partner 'goes quiet,' I can only imagine that you must feel left out, disconnected, and perhaps a bit isolated. You did not mention how you have tried to cope or address this with your partner? I assume that you have tried to communicate with your partner? If so, I wonder what your outcomes have been so far when you have tried to reach out. I also wonder why you are writing on behalf of your partner when your partner needs to step up and take responsibility for their own mental health issues. You cannot fix them. We cannot fix another person, ever. My humble perspective. Have you considered that anxiety is just a fancy word for fear, so if your partner is feeling anxiety, their best way forward would likely be for them to reach out to a professional counselor or psychiatrist to explore what is the origins of their anxieties in the first place so that they can reduce that anxiety by getting to the true roots of it? There are of course daily coping tips for anxiety that your partner can try, such as meditation and relaxation and positive thinking approaches, but doing that deeper work for them to really explore the real roots of that anxiety would likely yield them the deepest long-lasting benefit for a more healthy life emotionally. When you ask about keeping their anxious thoughts from destroying the relationship, I am assuming you mean your partner's thoughts. Again, you cannot change another person. You can only work on yourself and suggest to them that they do the same, work on themselves by seeking professional assistance and therapy. This tendency of your partner's that you describe briefly here does not sound emotionally healthy and it surely does not sound as if it supports having a healthy relationship. Working on yourselves as individuals first can be a real jumpstart forward to you both. I wish you well.
(LCSW, ACSW, C-IQ, Conversational, Intelligence, Coach)
Answered on 08/03/2021

How do I forgive my parents and stop them from triggering me?

Dear Bec,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me the dynamics between you and your family, and your struggles with forgiveness regarding the pain you've been suffering from.    We do have the right to be angry at how the lack of courage from the ones who have hurt us and have left us feeling unresolved and unfairly treated. It could be true that because of how much shame and guilt the other person is feeling, they might not ever have the courage to come to us, acknowledge what they have done and apologize.   They have hurt us once in the past, yet by allowing this resentment to build, I am afraid that it means we are giving them the license to continue hurting us.   It is unfortunate that this is a situation where it doesn't seem to be fair, the ones who have wounded us continue to live their lives while we are still sitting in the wounds. I can understand how frustrated and angry that feels, I would be feeling the same way given in this situation.   Meanwhile I am also thinking about our future, your future and what is best for your interest. On that note if you would like, I would like to propose forgiveness. Not to agree / accept the person's wrong doing or letting them go from being hold accountable, rather this forgiveness is all about setting ourselves free from continue being hurt / controlled by this person's action / inaction.   As you have been practicing kindness, I am sure you have noticed that we have much control over how we want to feel and we can make choices to promote kindness within ourselves, regardless of how others treat us or what life brings us.   “Forgiveness is the most powerful thing that you can do for your physiology and your spirituality.  Yet, it remains one of the least attractive things to us, largely because our egos rule so unequivocally. To forgive is somehow associated with saying that it is all right, that we accept the evil deed. But this is not forgiveness. Forgiveness means that you fill yourself with love and you radiate that love outward and refuse to hang onto the venom or hatred that was engendered by the behaviors that caused the wounds.” ~ Wayne Dyer   Here are some thoughts that I have when it comes to forgiveness, perhaps some benefits when we practice letting go of resentments and allow forgiveness to bring peace and healing back into our heart:   1. Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves   “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” ~ Maya Angelou   Your mind might try to convince you that forgiveness is “letting someone off the hook,” and that you are in fact doing those who mistreated you a favor by forgiving them, but the truth of the matter is that you are doing yourself a favor.   Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, to be at peace, to be happy and to be able to sleep at night. You’re not doing this for them, you’re doing it for yourself, to set yourself free from the feelings of hurt, anger and helplessness that kept both of you attached for so long, and to be at peace.   2. Forgiveness is an act of strength   “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute if the strong.” ~ Gandhi    Contrary to what you have been led to believe, forgiveness is an act of strength. You don’t forgive because you are weak, but because you are strong enough to realize that only by letting go of resentments you will be happy and at peace.   3. Forgiveness is a sign of self-love   “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.    Love yourself enough to let go of all the toxicity from your life and free yourself from all the anger, bitterness and resentments.  If you’re mad, be mad. Don’t hide and suppress your feelings. Let it all out, but once you’re done with being mad, allow forgiveness to enter your heart. Let go and love!    4. When you forgive, you find peace   “If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.” ~ Ajahn Chah   Peace of mind is what you find the moment you let go of any grudges and any resentments you might be holding on to. The moment you say to yourself: “It is time to let go, it is time to forgive”, that will be the moment you will find peace.    5. If you forgive, you will be forgiven   “In this world, you are given as you give. And you are forgiven as you forgive. While you go your way through each lovely day, you create your future as you live.” ~ Peace Pilgrim   In life, we get what we give, and we reap what we sow. And since we’re all humans, and we all make mistakes, the more we forgive others for the past, present and future mistakes, the more others will forgive us when we will make mistakes. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. That also means forgiving ourselves. The more we practice forgiveness, we will find ourselves having more grace and compassion for others, and for ourselves, which would result in peace, comfort and calmness.   I hope this is helpful. Again I want to acknowledge how difficult it is to navigate these waters, especially when some of these pain and acts are ongoing. I just want to acknowledge your courage in seeking to learn about forgiveness.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to learn your thoughts, Jono
Answered on 05/24/2021