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With so many relationship therapists working online currently, virtual therapy also allows you to be more selective about finding the right professional therapist you wish to work with because you are not restricted by their, or your, location. Plus, the ease and convenience of checking in online for virtual therapy makes it is easier for couples to schedule and attend sessions with minimal interruption to everyday life.
While online therapy relieves many worries, there is one important aspect that needs to be taken into consideration: the environment you plan to hold your sessions in.
Successful outcomes in relationship therapy are largely based on engagement in the therapy process, trust in your couple’s therapist, and how you and your partner interact together in, and out of, the therapy room.
Creating the right atmosphere for your online therapy session has a strong influence on your ability to engage in therapy and with each other. Therefore the atmosphere affects your overall therapeutic experience, particularly in the early days.
In traditional face-to- face therapy, your therapist is the one responsible for creating the perfect environment and conditions for your therapy sessions. They provide a quiet and private space, comfortable seating, soft lighting, plus other necessities like water, pens and paper for notes, and tissues when tearful emotions arise. There are no interruptions, distractions, or incidents that could disrupt your valuable time together within the therapeutic space. That hour of couples therapy is a concentrated, and often intense, experience together because the therapist has considered all of the conditions on your behalf.
The opposite is true with online therapy. Here, the couples are responsible for creating the right environment and atmosphere for a successful online session and many aspects of this are completely out of the therapist’s control. It is now up to the couples to consider all of the small and practical elements of the session in advance that would create the perfect atmosphere for couples therapy.
Creating the perfect atmosphere is simple, you just need to plan ahead with a few practical and technical considerations. Check out the article preparing for your first online couples therapy session together for more tips.
Creating the right atmosphere for your online therapy session has a strong influence on your ability to engage in therapy and with each other.
The couples must consider and prepare their environment for the session in advance. They must decide on the most comfortable place to sit together for the duration of the session; the kitchen table, home office, or quiet living room space works well for most couples. Find a space that feels comfortable, private, and completely free from distractions.
These considerations will be completely new challenges for couples just starting out with online therapy, and it might feel like a lot to take on initially, but the preparation will be worth it. Practice makes perfect, and most of these practical arrangements will come naturally to you both in just one or two sessions.
Of course, we understand it is not possible to control every little detail, but with a little preparation and planning, together you can create the perfect environment for your online couples therapy session.
Distractions are bound to arise, but you can certainly try to be as prepared as possible. Remember to have water, tissues, and a pen and paper within arm’s reach. Ensure that you are in a well-lit area so your therapist can see you and your partner clearly. Make sure you are both sitting comfortably and able to keep warm in the space for your session.
Also, you should aim to predict and avoid potential disruptions to your session. While we all love our pets, they are the one of the most common session distractions for clients! As much as possible, try to keep pets outside of the room for the duration of your session. And if you have a busy household, post a “Do Not Disturb” note outside your door to avoid the potential for family to interrupt.
There are a few technical considerations that naturally come up when working and meeting online. Ideally, you would use a PC, laptop, or tablet for your virtual session because the screen size is bigger and this makes it easier for you and your therapist to see each other. You’ll also want to ensure you have a strong connection; do this by closing all other apps and, browsers on your device and by turning off any background noise like TV or radio. Be sure to put your phones on silent and out of sight for the length of the session as they are another common distraction during online therapy.
Most therapists use HIPPA compliant and secure telemedicine software like DOXY for online therapy, which will have a Pre-call Test function for you to click before the session starts to check the audio and visual quality. Complete the test and turn the volume up so you and your partner can easily hear your therapist in sessions. Unfortunately, headphones cannot be used for couples therapy, so it becomes even more important to make sure all background noise is reduced.
You should also log in five minutes before the start of your session to ensure you have the correct link and that your sound and audio are working well.
We all expect technical hitches from time to time and have learned to be flexible while working virtually. With a little bit of preparation, you and your partner can create the perfect atmosphere for your couples therapy session. And a positive virtual therapy experience ensures you will both feel committed and motivated to continue therapy together. Find out more at www.orlaghgahan.ie or read more about online therapy and couples therapy via my blog.
One of the biggest festivities of the year, St Patrick’s Day is upon us and this year the holiday season is longer than usual with two bank holidays together. Like many annual holidays and festivities they can present challenges for those in recovery, anxiety and tension may be heightened in anticipation for the days ahead. This can be a particularly challenging time for those who feel desperate for recovery but have not yet committed to a recovery process and anyone in their first year of recovery.
Enjoy your St Patrick’s Day bank holiday weekend. Shift your perspective on the days ahead and go into them feeling strong and confident with a good recovery plan in place. Go to dinner, see a movie, go running, walking or hiking, enjoy good food, coffee with friends, shopping, a good book, early nights, restful mornings, hot showers, fun with the family and the simple feeling of being out in nature. Recovery is about living again and not just sobriety.
Stay recovery strong and take some time to map out and plan in advance how the holiday break will look for you. Visualize how you want the next few days to go, identify the challenges you might have, make your own plans to celebrate with people who support your recovery. This is the time to maintain strong boundaries with yourself and others and pre-empt triggers and potentials for slips.
Remember people, places and things are triggering so be clever in how you plan your next few days. Too much time with others or too much time alone could compromise your recovery.
Shift your perspective on the days ahead and go into them feeling strong and confident with a good recovery plan in place.
Always avoid putting yourself into social situations that will be difficult to manage, people can be very persuasive and the buzz of celebrations can be intoxicating. Urges, slips and relapses can be exceptionally impulsive in the wrong environments and by removing yourself completely from those situations you are making your recovery focus easier.
If you are using a diary as a recovery tool then take a few moments to sit down and plan out each day into your diary, find your own way to celebrate and enjoy the holiday break. Try the 10 minute daily recovery checkin exercise. There are so many fun, relaxing and simple ways to enjoy yourself in recovery. Ask for the support of your partner, family or friends and take this as an opportunity to go out and do something new together. See it as a chance to connect with others in meaningful ways.
Stay grounded and focused, remember why you are in recovery today. Write the list out again if you are losing track of your sense of purpose. It’s easy to get caught up in the short term buzz of the holiday season and throw caution to the wind so shifting your focus to longer term plans might benefit you right now. Holidays and festivities like St Patricks Day are milestone events to work through in the first year of recovery and celebrate on the other side.
This is the time to be your own recovery cheerleader and plan out each day for recovery success – you won’t regret it.
For those in recovery from alcohol and substances, St Patricks Day can feel like a real challenge because it means not only practicing and maintaining sobriety but also changing completely how you socialize over the holiday’s and changing what it means to you. You are not letting anyone down by putting yourself and your family first. Mentally start practicing simple refusal skills. Let people know well in advance what your plans are so that you won’t need to keep practicing refusal skills or explaining yourself.
Having large periods of time free and a different routine can present challenges for those in recovery from process addictions such as gambling addiction and pornography addiction. Alcohol can be a huge trigger and predictor of relapse for anyone in recovery from process addictions, make sure to limit, reduce or refrain from alcohol during predictably challenging times. Reduce screen time and take long breaks from the smartphone which as we all know poses many challenges to those in recovery from process addictions. Stay strong in your recovery intentions and keep telling yourself you are in control.
Lean into your support group network over the next few days. Identify what self help support meetings are available to you and write them in your diary to have as an option. Many people will attend daily meetings over the festive period and this is a good idea for anyone who is feeling uneasy and insecure in their early recovery.
This is the time to be your own recovery cheerleader and plan out each day for recovery success – you won’t regret it! Get intouch with me email@example.com when it’s over and let me know what worked for you.
Embracing the wonderful healthy habit of a daily recovery check-in will set you up nicely for the day ahead. This simple ten minute mindful recovery exercise can be done no matter where you are – first thing before you get out of bed, while eating breakfast, out in the garden in the fresh air or sitting in your car before you head out to work. It can adapted as a recovery exercise for any health condition and rehabilitation.
Shifting into a recovery mindset after a period of dependency and addiction will take some time to master, which is why it is so important to give lots of time and attention to your recovery practices and plans each and every day. A simple way to do this is to develop a daily habit of doing a recovery check-in in the morning for the day ahead.
This morning recovery check-in will help you to prioritise your recovery throughout the day rather than it being an afterthought. Give your recovery as much time as your addiction took from you throughout the day. A strong recovery plan and using a recovery diary for planning out your week will reinforce your goals.
The morning daily recovery check-in is a simple mindful recovery practice which should take no longer than ten minutes each morning. You can include 5 minutes of stretching or breathing exercises at the end if you have more time available. Make this your own ritual and include anything else that will work well for you. It will become second nature after a couple of weeks. Here are a few steps to follow – have a strong recovery day!
Step One: Take some quiet time alone and tune into how you are feeling in the moment. Are you feeling positive or stressed, tired or full of energy today? What is your body and mind telling you that you need for the day ahead? Self-care is the skill of listening to what you need and taking time to care and love yourself in a positive and nurturing way.
Step Two: Use your recovery diary to check-in and see what you have planned for that day. Keeping a daily recovery diary helps you to plan days and weeks ahead and commit to recovery practises like therapy, support meetings, recreation and any activity which positively reinforces your recovery goals.
Step Three: Write into your diary your days in sobriety. This is the number of days you are actively sober, i.e day 5 or day 105! Keep counting your sobriety days so that you can celebrate milestones and achievements to keep you motivated, focused and building recovery confidence.
Step Four: The morning check-in can be a good time for a quick list making exercise to help clear your mind of errands, thoughts or things to do that day. Write a list of ways to cope and manage if you experience urges or impulses today.
Step Five: Take a minute to practice some positive recovery affirmations for the day ahead. If you are expecting any difficult or challenging events that day, take a few minutes to prepare yourself for how you can navigate these in the best, most successful way you can.
Step Six: Finally, how is your support network looking for the day ahead? Make sure to check-in with the people in your life who are caring, supporting and encouraging your recovery and avoid those who may compromise it in any way. Connection with others is such an important aspect of addiction recovery. Maybe you are supporting others in their recovery too – reach out to them and see how they are doing today and feel good about supporting others.
Support can come in many different forms. Below is some information about attending support groups in Ireland for problematic behaviours, dependencies and addictions – all that is required is a motivation or desire to stop.
The most helpful and therapeutic support you can get will come from those who understand exactly what you are going through either personally in their own recovery journey or professionally as addiction specialists. Which is one of the reasons why engaging early with self-help recovery support groups is so crucial in the early stages of recovery.
Attending self-help support group meetings such as the 12-Step Programme meetings, Smart Recovery or Lifering connects you with others in all stages of recovery. Meaningful new connections and relationships develop through support groups which will help you stay committed to your recovery.
‘The most helpful and therapeutic support you can get will come from those who understand exactly what you are going through…’
Meetings are available virtually online and in various locations around Ireland daily.
Since the pandemic started many support groups moved from face-to-face meetings to virtual meetings which are hosted online via ZOOM and some by telephone. Face to face meetings have resumed in most locations and attendees can now benefit from combining both face-to-face meetings and online meetings. This has allowed those in recovery more convenient access to regular daily meetings.
Check out the individual websites for meeting times, resources, self-assessment information, literature, contact details and family support information. Contacting someone on the support group helpline is a positive first step towards getting support. It is normal to feel apprehensive about attending a support groups in the beginning – there will always be people there to make you feel welcome each and every time.
Smart Recovery – Addiction recovery support group – www.smartrecovery.ie
Smart Recovery Org – Self-help addiction recovery – www.smartrecovery.org
LifeRing – Self-help support group for overcoming addiction – www.lifering.ie
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) – www.alcoholicsanonymous.ie
Cocaine Anonymous Ireland (CA) – www.caireland.info
Food Addicts Anonymous – www.foodaddictsanonymous.org
Gamblers Anonymous (GA) – www.gamblersanonymous.ie
Marijuana Anonymous (MA) – www.marijuana-anonymous.ie
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) – www.na-ireland.org
Overeaters Anonymous – www.overeatersanonymous.ie
Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) – Twelve Step self-help support group for sex and pornography recovery www.slaaireland.org
Sexaholics Anonymous (SA Ireland) – Twelve Step self-help support group for sex and pornography addiction – www.saireland.com
Al-Anon – Support for partners & families members of alcoholics – www.al-anon-ireland.org/
S-Anon – Support for partners of SA – www.sanon.org/meetings/meetingsireland.html
Gam-Anon UK & Ireland – www.gamanon.org.uk/
Co-dependents Anonymous Ireland – www.codaireland.com
The Christmas season is right up there on top of the most challenging times in the year for many people in recovery from all types of addictions and behaviours. The first Christmas and New Years in recovery is a milestone event to get through and may feel overwhelming without good preparation. Apprehension, anxiety, fear of relapse and a host of thoughts and feelings may be flooding your mind in the lead up to the holidays.
A strong recovery plan will mean that you sit down and actively plan out each day for the two-week period over Christmas.
Fear based thoughts are common at times like this, particularly for those who do not feel secure and grounded in their sobriety. It is a good time to reach out for the support of others in long term recovery. If you are not currently attending group support meetings then now is the time to make first contact and find out about face to face and online meetings.
Shift your mindset from fear-based thoughts to proactive plans for the holiday season. Take control of all upcoming situations and events by planning ahead and establishing your own clear boundaries around people, places and things.
Trust your gut when it comes to attending family gathering and socialising. Air gently on the side of caution by doing what is best for you and where you are on your recovery journey right now. This may mean practicing polite refusal skills and letting people know well in advance of your availability and plans. Make your health, wellbeing and recovery a priority this Christmas.
The right support – at the right time – from the right people may need to be well planned during the festive holiday.
Making a strong recovery plan will mean sitting down and actively planning out each day for the two-week period over Christmas. While this may seem over-the-top, the purpose of the plan is that each day is semi-structured with your support activities and network in place for each day.
If you are not already using a page-a-day diary then right now is the time to start practicing this mindful recovery habit. Treat yourself to a new diary so that you can start the New Year off on a positive note feeling in-control. If you are not using a diary to plan your recovery, consider using the Smart Recovery 7 day planner worksheet here to get through the holidays.
Using a page-a-day diary will help you develop the habit of planning and structuring your recovery. Choose the same day at the start of the week to plan the week ahead. Over time it will become second nature. Forward planning means writing into your diary daily supports, meetings, events, activities and appointments that will reinforce and promote your recovery goals every day.
Plan your group support meetings in advance. This means finding out exactly what times and dates self-help support meetings are being held and writing them into your plan. Many people double up on daily meetings over more challenging times for extra support if they are feeling particularly vulnerable. (You can find a list of recovery support meetings in Ireland on this page.)
The right support – at the right time – from the right people may need to be well planned during the festive holiday. Your peers and friends in recovery will also be planning extra supports and contact so don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Many support groups have private active WhatsApp groups for staying connected each day.
When you have finalised your simple recovery plan, share it with others such as your therapist, sponsor, recovery peers and important people in your life who are supporting your recovery process for moral support and reassurance. It’s important to involve partners in your recovery plans for the holidays and helps build trust.
Those in recovery from alcohol and substances may find it easier to limit social contacts and social events which may compromise sobriety. While those in recovery from hidden addictions such as pornography and gambling may find it more beneficial to be physically around close family and friends to limit availability, opportunity and accessibility.
Simple recovery habits which you can plan into each day will keep you focused and motivated to achieve recovery goals. These are activities such as journaling, workbooks, reading, listening to podcasts, worksheets, using recovery apps, listening to audiobooks and any of the supports that have worked for you so far. Keep your recovery activities content specific in the first six to twelve months of recovery. Include the habits and rituals that work for you into your weekly planner for consistency and routine. It is better to choose three or four habits and activities you can do well consistently, rather than lots of things inconsistently.
Journaling each day will allow you space to acknowledge and process thoughts and feelings in the present.
Supporting others in recovery is a strong motivator and provides a sense of purpose greater than yourself. This may mean that while you are planning your own support network, you choose to also offer support to others in recovery – just like you.
Write a list detailing the challenges you are envisaging over the holiday season to help you prepare. Or write a list focusing on the benefits of being in recovery and the positive things that will come from your sobriety and healthy well-being. Your recovery positively impacts on every single person in your life. List making is a helpful mindful recovery exercise.
Each morning, consider writing a gratitude list outlining what you are grateful for in your life right now.
Write out two or three mantras or affirmations you can say in your mind when you find yourself in stressful or overwhelming situations.
Incorporate a simple daily routine of physical exercise to help reduce stress and tension. This will improve sleep quality and is a good way to managing urges and triggers. Plan solo exercise such as running or walking and also exercising with others to keep you motivated.
Remember to lean into your whole support network – you are not alone.
Take time out for quiet down time and resting. It is helpful to schedule calls to close friends before and after what may feel like challenging times and circumstances for extra support.
Let go of worries about what other people may think about you not attending social events or being sober if you are in recovery from alcohol and substances. Instead turn your attention inwards and focus on the benefits and positive impact sobriety has on your life and the future. We have little control over what other people may or may not think about us.
Be consistent and focus on staying balanced and grounded. Take things one day at a time – but also plan ahead. Remember to lean into your whole support network – you are not alone.
Find joy, fun and meaning in your own way throughout the Christmas holidays. Wake up each day feeling strong in your recovery and ask yourself – what have I planned for my recovery today?
What matters most is looking after yourself in every single way, achieving recovery goals and surround yourself with the people who love, support and encourage you most this festive season.
Sexual wellbeing and sexuality are an integral part of us, it is intrinsically linked to our overall health and wellbeing. Which is why when a woman experiences vaginismus it can feel devastating causing physical, psychological and emotional distress which filters out into everyday life and relationships. It not only impacts on sexual intimacy in the present, but can create a sense of powerlessness over your own body when it does not respond in the way you want and expect it too. Similar to performance anxiety, this powerlessness creates concerns and worry around future intimacy.
‘Vaginismus is caused by the involuntary spasm of a group of muscles surrounding the vagina, called the pubococcygeal muscles.’ – Vicky Forde author of Overcoming Sexual Problems
Vaginismus directly impacts upon intimate relationships and can disrupt the female sexual response cycle leading to diminished desire, frustration and overwhelming anxiety around sexual intimacy. Some couples naturally learn to navigate around the condition and develop satisfying sexual intimacy in their own way without vaginal penetration. A supportive and involved partner is an important influence when it comes to women overcoming vaginismus. As it can lead to fertility challenges and difficulty conceiving naturally, family planning can be a catalyst for couples seeking professional help with a sex therapist.
There are many deeply personal reasons why women wait to seek out professional help for vaginismus. These include feeling unclear about who to turn too, anxiety, fear of examination, fear of the unknown, shame, embarrassment and commonly general discomfort talking about private topics such as sex. It is 100% normal to feel apprehensive and uncomfortable talking about sexual problems, after all, it is not something we have a lot of experience or exposure to in everyday life. Even couples in therapy who are together decades experience difficulty talking openly about sex, sensuality and sexuality.
Thankfully there are experienced medical and health professionals who specialise in sexual health, pelvic pain and psychosexual problems who you can turn to for help and support with vaginismus, dyspareunia and related sexual problems. Working with a medical professional or therapist will give you the language, knowledge and skills to confidently move forward into a space were dealing with the condition feels manageable and hopefully – empowering for you.
Diagnosing vaginismus may require both a medical and psychological consultation as there are several factors to take into consideration. It is not the same as painful penetrative sex or fear of sexual intimacy however these are factors that need to be taken into consideration when assessing symptoms and discussing sexual history. Women often self-diagnose based on limited information which is why it is beneficial to seek out a professional for help to either accurately self-identify with vaginismus or for an official diagnosis and suggested goal plan from a health professional.
‘The good news is that when you understand how your sexual response mechanisms work, you can begin to take control of your environment and your brain in order to maximize your sexual potential, even in a broken world. And when you change your environment and your brain, you can change and heal your sexual functioning.’ – Emily Nagoski author of Come As You Are
If you experience symptoms of vaginismus or dyspareunia, the first step will be to consult with a trusted GP doctor or a women’s health clinic, they may then suggest a referral to a Gynaecologist, Physician, Sex Therapist or Pelvic Specialist. Organisations like The Well Woman’s Centre specialise in women’s sexual and reproductive health and have multi-disciplinary teams who specialise in vaginismus and genito-pelvic pain disorders.
There are a number of health professionals you can consider attending that will be able to help and support you with the condition of vaginismus. If you have private medical insurance, it may be possible to claim medical expenses for consultations and day-to-day medical expenses depending on your policy type.
Exploring a holistic approach to treating and managing vaginismus and dyspareunia may include medication, psychosexual counselling, physiotherapy, pelvic pain specialists, sex and relationship therapy, vaginal dilators, kegel and pelvic floor exercises, practical behavioural exercises, improving sexual self-esteem, mindfulness, relaxation and stress reduction techniques, sensate focus for couples, psychoeducation and psychosexual education.
Psychosexual therapy often requires working with your therapist over several sessions or months to explore and understand your own personal experience of vaginismus, improve sexual wellbeing, set goals and discover new ways to improve sex, intimacy and sexual self-esteem. If you would like to find out more about private psychotherapy or couples therapy for vaginismus – visit www.orlaghgahan.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org
During and after treatment for a sexual addiction or compulsive sexual behaviour disorder your partner will hopefully be actively engaging in several regular therapeutic interventions such as personal therapy, aftercare and self-help support groups. Through their own recovery process and with the help of the people supporting them they will be learning about the addiction cycle, recovery and sexual healing.
The best way you can support your partner in their sexual recovery and treatment is to focus intentionally on supporting yourself and your own healing process. One of the positive compassionate ways you can support yourself is to read and learn about these four key areas which may impact upon you and your relationship in the coming months. In this article you can find a list of over 30 related self-help books that may help you in your healing journey.
The best way you can support your partner in their sexual recovery and treatment is to focus intentionally on supporting yourself and your own healing process.
Partners most definitely also need support and healing and can benefit greatly from learning through books or listening to audio books what they can about sexual addiction, sexual recovery, their own healing process and healthy loving relationships.
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by what to read and what books feel relevant to you. Just go with your gut and intuition, research a few I have listed below and browse some good local book shops for ones which catch your attention.
Hopefully your partner will also be receiving good book recommendations and purchasing their own books and workbooks as part of their recovery plan which you can also pick up and read from time to time. Incorporate taking regular quiet time out to relax and read into your own personal healing selfcare plan.
Knowledge is power. The more you read and absorb about the process of addiction and recovery, the easier it will be to both emotionally and mentally detangle yourself from all the habits, traits and behaviours that come with addiction and maintain a healthy level of detachment from your spouse. Sexual addiction is progressive which is why it can be helpful to understand more about infidelity and betrayal which may develop into a hidden sexual addiction.
Reading what is required and necessary for a strong sexual recovery path and knowing what supports, interventions and activities your partner should be engaged in will give you the confidence to be able to talk openly and directly to your partner about their recovery. This also means agreeing to talk about slips, relapses, boundaries, ground rules, sobriety goals, non-negotiables and rebuilding trust again when the time is right.
Sadly, with sexual addiction comes various degrees of discoveries, disclosures, infidelity, different forms of betrayal and emotional and relational trauma. Betrayed partners can experience many symptoms of PTSD and betrayal trauma and a strong emphasis on their own healing is needed before couples addiction recovery can commence. Reading books about your own healing journey from a partners sexual addiction and the impact it can have on your relationship bonds, attachment system, safety and security will be a part of helping you heal yourself. When you understand what your own needs are then you can begin to help your partner understand clearly too when the time feels right.
This may not feel relevant in the early days of sexual recovery but there are many advantages to reading books about healthy loving relationships including establishing your own strong sense of clarity and confidence in your thoughts and feelings about the type of relationship you deserve. The deeper meanings around of sex, love, intimacy and trust and how compatible you really are together. They can empower you to set clear boundaries, identify your needs and relationship expectations and provide a blueprint for rebuilding your relationship or trusting when it feels right to end the relationship.
Deeply Troubled Radically Forgiven: A memoir About Rebuilding & Forgiveness after Complex Sexual Betrayal by Kelly Ibarra (2021)
Help Her Heal – An Empathy Workbook for Sex Addicts to Help Their Partners Heal by Carol Juergensen (2019)
Sex Addiction: A Guide for Couples and Those Who Help Them by Paula Hall (2019)
The Seven Principals for Making Marriage Work by Dr John Gottman (2017)
Out of The Dog House: A Step by Step Relationship Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating by Robert Weiss (2017)
Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage and Why We Stray by Helen Fisher, PhD (2016)
Sex Addiction: The Partners Perspective by Paula Hall, UK (2015)
Facing The Shadow: Starting Sexual & Relationship Recovery by Patrick Carnes (2015)
Why Men Really Cheat by Martyn Steward (2014)
Letters To A Sex Addict: The Journey through Grief and Betrayal by Wendy Conquest (2013)
Sex, Addictions, and Marriage: The Importance of Sexual Integrity by David J. Shock (2013)
Stop Sex Addiction: Real Hope, True Freedom for Sex Addicts and Partners by Milton S. Magness (2013)
Living and Loving after Betrayal: How to Heal from Emotional Abuse, Deceit, Infidelity and Chronic Resentment by Steven Stosny PhD (2013)
Facing Heartache: Steps to Recovery for Partners of Sex Addicts by S. Carnes, M.A. Lee & A.D Rodriguez (2012)
Soaring Above Co-Addiction: Helping your Loved One Get Clean, While Creating the Life of your Dreams by Lisa Ann Espich (2012)
Intimate Treason: Healing the Trauma for Partners Confronting Sex Addiction by C. Black and C. Tripodi (2012)
The Science of Trust: Emotional Attunement for Couples by Dr John Gottman (2011)
A Couple’s Guide to Sexual Addiction: A Step-by-Step Plan to Rebuild Trust and Restore Intimacy by P. Collins & G. N.Collins (2011)
Mending a Shattered Heart: A Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts by S. Carnes (2011)
A House Interrupted: A Wife’s Story of Recovering from Her Husband’s Sex Addiction by Maurita Corcoran (2011)
Attached by Dr. Amir Levin & Rachel Heller (2011)
Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families by Pamela Paul (2010)
Sex At Dawn: How we Mate, Why We Stay and What It Means for Modern Relationships by Christopher Ryan & Cacidla Jetha (2010)
How Can I Ever Trust You Again: Infidelity, From Discovery to Recovery In Seven Steps by Andrew G. Marshall (2010)
Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey Through Sexual Addiction by S. W Silverman (2010)
Love, Infidelity, and Sexual Addiction: A Co-dependent’s Perspective, Including Cybersex Addiction by Christine A. Adams (2009)
The Porn Trap: A Guide to Healing from Porn Addiction, for Sufferers and Their Loved Ones by W. Maltz (2009)
Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope & Heal by B.Steffens & M.Means (2009)
Relationships from Addiction to Authenticity: Understanding Co-Sex Addiction – A Spiritual Journey to Wholeness and Serenity by C. Pletcher & S. Bartolameolli (2008)
Hold Me Tight: A Guide to The Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships by Dr. Sue Johnson (2008)
The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships by Patrick Carnes Ph.D. (1997)
Co-dependent No More by Melody Beattie (1992)
Claiming Your Self-esteem: Guide Out of Co-dependency, Addiction and Other Useless Habits by Carolyn M. Ball (1991)
Women, Sex, and Addiction: A Search for Love and Power by C. Davis Kasl, Ph.D (1990)
Escape from Intimacy: Untangling the “Love” Addictions: Sex, Romance, Relationships by Anne Wilson Schaef(1990)
Lonely All the Time: Recognizing, Understanding and Overcoming Sex Addiction, for Addicts and Co-Dependents by R. Earle, G. Crow & K. Osborn (1989)
Marijuana Anonymous Ireland (MA) have recently upgraded and moved their website, you can now find them at www.marijuana-anonymous.ie. Attending a self help support group is often the first positive step towards learning about recovery. You can read more about other self help addiction recovery support groups in Ireland here. The great thing about all the Twelve Step groups is that you can find and attend a meeting every single day.
MA is a twelve step self help group support for men and women who want to stop using Marijuana, cannabis, hash and related drugs and substances and recover from a Marijuana addiction.
At marijuana anonymous meetings people discuss their problems with marijuana, what they did to recover, and what life is like now. We have found that as a group we can achieve for ourselves results which, as individuals, we failed at repeatedly. – Marijuana Anonymous
Through their website you can find lots of information on self assessment, group support meetings, detoxing from Marijuana and Cannabis and other helpful supportive information.
MA Ireland have literature and pamphlet’s on their website For The Newcomer which provides information about twelve step meetings. They currently hold four online virtual meetings a week via ZOOM which are easily accessible and one outdoor meeting in Dublin on a Sunday at 3pm.
All marijuana anonymous meetings are autonomous and formats vary from meeting to meeting. Sometimes there is a speaker. Sometimes we study the Steps or other literature. Sometimes we start with a mindfulness meditation. Many meetings have a topic for discussion.
Taking the first step and attending a meeting or talking to an addiction counsellor could help change your life. Get lots of group and professional support in the early days of recovery to help you understand the addiction cycle and the recovery process. Get in-touch if you would like to talk to an addiction counsellor about starting your recovery or email email@example.com
“We need to move beyond the overly simple and disempowering concept that libido is either high or low and cultivate a mindset more focused around sexual health and healthy sexual attitudes – understanding and practicing what it means and feels like to be a sexually healthy human being with the understanding that libido fluctuates.
Passive recovery and hoping things will change and work out without putting in the recovery work will be fruitless and lead to slipping back into an addiction cycle. To quote the twelve step mantra about active recovery, ‘it works – if you work it’. These recovery practices and rituals will reinforce your overall recovery goals, not just for abstinence and sobriety but for moving towards a place where you are living a fulfilling life far beyond the stress and trauma of addiction.
Recovery really is about consistency and every small daily practice you do for your recovery moves your forward.
An addiction counsellor or sponsor can guide you through the many different types of good recovery practices and exercises. Some of the more common ones are journaling, keeping a diary, gratitude lists, learning, list making, support groups, reflection, mediation, workbooks, reading, therapy and physical exercise. (Read – The Daily Recovery Ritual of Tracking Your Sobriety) Of course as with all new learned skills, it will take you time to work out what works best for you, your personality and your own unique skill set.
For example, you may not be an avid reader and choose to listen to podcasts or audiobooks. Then there are people who will enjoy writing daily in a recovery diary or journal and others who are not natural writers and prefer to use a recovery app instead which has lots of similar features to a diary.
As you progress in your recovery, you will learn new and clever ways to stay focused and motivated in your recovery that you never knew about when you began. Recovery really is about consistency and every daily small practice you do for your recovery moves your forward. Recovery activities will keep your grounded and focused especially on the more challenging days. Find out more about how addiction counselling can support you through a recovery process here.
It might seem like a small and overly simple daily exercise, but it holds more significance and meaning as time goes on. Counting your sobriety days, each and every day has benefits at all stages of a recovery journey. Keeping tabs on your sobriety helps you to measure your performance as you work towards your recovery goals. These goals then become milestone days to celebrate, which is one of recovery’s simple and unexpected joys.
Every small intentional daily routine and ritual in recovery matters.
As you achieve goals and milestones it helps to build new skills and confidence in yourself to succeed. With time, consistent sobriety propels you further away from a destructive addictive cycle which is filled with perpetual failed attempts and recommitments to stop.
In early recovery and right through the first twelve months, it is a basic recovery skill to keep tracking your sobriety days. Common goals and milestones to reach are 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and beyond. If you are working with an addiction therapist, together you will be discussing your ongoing goals and progress. It is not unusual for people to track their sobriety right up to the 1000 day mark! What once started out as a sobriety goal and target becomes a milestone achievement to celebrate.
Addiction recovery is generally monitored attentively for the first three years, and many will choose to continue counting successful long-term abstinence. It is a strong personal and sometimes spiritual motivation to stay focused on recovery especially on the challenging days.
Firstly, make a decision to actively acknowledge every day of your sobriety. A simple mindful recovery exercise is to write your sobriety day number i.e. 89 on the palm of your hand or on a post-it and stick it on a mirror or maybe in your recovery journal. Somewhere that you can see it throughout the day. This will act as a visual reminder of your progress and helps keep you focused and grounded. You can also use recovery apps and sobriety calculators and counters which help you to monitor your sobriety from the date you started in-case you loose track.
If you want to take this daily mindfulness ritual to another level, then you can practice intentionally noticing your sobriety day number in your surroundings. For example, on a house door, a bus stop or even a car registration number. Every small intentional daily routine and ritual in recovery matters.
The Gottman Card Decks App is a relationship app created by The Gottman Institute for couples to use to help deepen their understanding of each other using fun helpful questions, statements and ideas to choose from. It has 14 card decks with over 1000 flashcards to select. It can be used as a resource tool for couples attending Gottman Method couples therapy outside of the therapy room or for couples who just want to have fun and get to know each other better and learn new skills at any phase of their relationship. Gottman trained couples therapists are big on providing couples with tools and exercises they can practice outside of therapy.
Each deck is based on the basic Gottman principals for developing stronger relationships such as building connection, creating rituals, developing empathy, expressing appreciation and needs, learning listening skills and asking open-ended questions. The love maps and salsa categories focus on developing romance, passion and sexual intimacy.
This clever relationship app gives couples an opportunity to get to know each other better in a simple and structured way. Each deck provides insight into the topics that it really is OK to talk about in your relationship.
The App is free, simple to use and available for download on your smartphone or tablet device, just search Gottman Card Decks. Practice using it a couple of times over a period of weeks and months until you both get more comfortable opening up. Give each other plenty of time to talk through questions and statements rather then quickly making your way though each one, the aim is opening up and listening to understand rather than to respond. Trusting your partner is core. In order to build trust together, agree that you can both decline to answer any questions that put you out of your comfort zone. Encourage each other to use the practical decks which are expressing needs, expressing empathy, showing appreciation and great listening.
The app consists of 14 card decks designed to inspire and educate various aspects of relationship health. Just click on the deck you would both like to explore together. You can favorite questions and statements and come back to them again at another time. It might be helpful to also check out the gottman relationship blog if you want to learn more about all the wonderful research, science and psychology of relationships.
Below are the different deck options on the app to explore with your partner. Happy connecting.
Rituals of Connection
Salsa Mild, Medium and Hot!
You can find more great Gottman Institute resources such as books, blogs and online workshops for couples online at www.gottman.com or find a Gottman couples therapist using the Gottman referral network worldwide directory.
The Problem Gambling Podcast is an excellent Irish podcast which explores the various and often complex aspects of problematic gambling behaviour, the recovery process, the gambling and gaming industry and pretty much everything you need to know about this often hidden and wide spread problem. Co-hosts Barry and Tony interview special guests and leading experts on their experience of gambling addiction and recovery.
This podcast touches on a wide variety of content throughout season one and will be of particular interest to anyone who wants to learn more about gambling and gambling problems, especially those who may be concerned about their own gambling habits. Episodes share genuine personal stories of out of control gambling problems and expert guests with information and advice for anyone who needs help and support. For anyone thinking of getting help for a gambling problem, you could start by listening to the podcast from the start of episode one right through to the end of season one. You can listen to Episode One here via the Problem Gambling Ireland website.
In season one, Barry and Tony share insights into the signs of problem gambling, recovery and what to expect, self-exemption, self-regulation, conditioning, the challenges of recovery and strategies for how to stop the addiction cycle of gambling. They talk regularly about the importance of personal individual therapy as a part of successful recovery and particularly being part of a group self help support such as Gambling Anonymous.
Tony and Barry openly discuss problem gambling from two very different perspectives and their professional insights will be of great interest to any health professionals working in individuals and couples.
The Problem Gambling Ireland website offers information, podcasts, resources, support, blogs and self-help information for any one seeking help with gambling problems.
When you realise that you can no longer manage or fight your addiction alone it can be difficult to know what to do next, who to turn to, or how to find out about recovery options. Finding support is the first step followed by growing your support network. It is through this support that you will learn all about recovery and sobriety and how to move forward. Getting the help of a professional Addiction Counsellor or Psychotherapist who is experienced in addiction and recovery or couples recovery will also help provide you with the information you need to move forward.
Most people who are seeking help for the first time and are new to the recovery process are not aware that there is in-fact a wide variety of self help support groups available here in Ireland. These organisations have websites with advice, information, self-assessment questions, leaflets, helplines and group meetings around Ireland daily and weekly. Once you know where to look, you will realise that you are not alone in your recovery and that there is hope for the future and a path forward.
Since the COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines came into place in March most of these group meetings are now being hosted online using Zoom and by phoning into a meeting. Being able to call or log-in and join a group support meetings means you can attend meetings regularly day or night and around your schedule from home. Sadly, many regional drop-in meetings are currently suspended at present. There are many benefits to attending group support and they are an integral part of long term successful recovery. To find out more about joining a face to face meeting in your region or joining an online meeting contact the helpline for the organisation. Many of these meetings are by region or may be nationwide.
There are organisations that provide support groups in Ireland specifically for food addiction, alcohol problems addiction, drug addiction such as Cocaine, Marijuana and Narcotics, gambling problems and sex addiction. Many of these groups are based on the 12 Step principals while other organisations such as Lifering and SMART recovery offer a research based recovery approach.
There are also support groups for partners and family effected by a loved one’s addiction. It is always a good idea to get the support of peers or professionals when effected by a spouses addiction even if they are not yet in recovery themselves. You can identify the organisations for partners and family members by the Anon reference such as Al-anon, S-Anon and Gam-Anon. The Rise Foundation provide excellent support to partners and families effected by a loved ones addiction.
Once you know where to look, you will realise that you are not alone in your recovery and that there is hope for the future and a path forward.
Support group meetings are available throughout Ireland daily and are on a donation basis making them affordable for everyone. Group support is a crucial part of early recovery and successful long term recovery.
Some organisations provide 24/7 chat room group support and have developed apps to promote recovery and sobriety which you can find on iPhone or Samsung play store or check out their websites for more information.
Podcasts are now also a great way of learning more about addiction and recovery support. The latest podcast launched here in Ireland recently relating to recovery is called The Problem Gambling Podcast with Barry Grant and Tony O’Reilly which you can find on all podcasting platforms.
To find a professional registered Psychotherapist visit www.iacp.ie and www.addictioncounsellors.ie or to book an online appointment with me for addiction and recovery support click here or visit www.orlaghgahan.ie
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) – www.alcoholicsanonymous.ie
Al-Anon, Support for families of alcoholics – www.al-anon-ireland.org
Cocaine Anonymous (CA) Ireland – www.caireland.info
Marijuana Anonymous (MA) – www.marijuana-anonymous.ie
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) – www.na-ireland.org
Co-dependents Anonymous Ireland – www.codaireland.com
Food Addicts Anonymous – www.foodaddictsanonymous.org
Gamblers Anonymous (GA) Ireland – www.gamblersanonymous.ie
Gam-Anon UK & Ireland – www.gamanon.org.uk
Problem Gambling Ireland – Information, support, resources & podcast – www.problemgambling.ie
LifeRing – Sobriety from alcohol & substances – www.lifering.ie
Overeaters Anonymous, Food addictions – www.overeatersanonymous.ie
Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) – www.slaaireland.org
Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) – www.saireland.com
S-Anon, Support for partners of sexaholics – www.sanon.org
Smart Recovery Ireland – A science based recovery support group – www.smartrecovery.ie
The Rise Foundation – Support for partners and loved ones – www.therisefoundation.ie
If you have a recovery support group you would like included in this list please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gottman Institute who are experts in relationship research have just launched a new tool for couples called 3o Days To a Better Relationship. This is an exciting email series provided over 30 days which aims to help couples reconnect and inject some positivity into their relationship. Focusing on important habits and behavours such as listening, appreciation, creating meaning and developing rituals together along with simple exercises to practice with your partner. It is a great way of learning more about the basic Gottman method couples therapy principals for healthier happier relationships.
Relationships can be complicated and don’t always run as smoothly as we might like so learning more about what makes happy long lasting relationships is a huge benefit to couples. – Orlagh Gahan
The Gottman Institute also have a range of tools designed especially for couples to use together such as The Art and Science of Love Online Workshop, The Small Things Often Podcast, the Gottman Relationship Blog and even an app called Gottman Card Deck which you can use at home for a better relationship. All of these Gottman tools can be used individually or to support couples attending couples therapy and relationship counselling together. You might be interested in reading my article – Improve your relationship at home without a couples therapist with these Gottman Relationship tools.
Find a Couples therapist near you using the Gottman Referral Network Directory.
Season 2 of the Small Things Often podcast is now available to listeners. The Gottman Institute created the Small Things Often podcast for individuals and couples. They are experts in relationship research and they know from studying over 30,000 couples what makes relationships and love last or fail. The Gottman Institute have trained over 50,000 therapists around the world to specialise in Gottman Method Couples therapy and provide a range of resources, books and training for couples and clinicians.
The Small Things Often podcast shares simple short 5 minute insights into various aspects of healthy relationships that you can learn, practice and hopefully introduce into your own relationship.
Listen to it alone or with your partner each week. It may be helpful for couples who are already attending Gottman Method Couples Therapy or any type of relationship counselling and sexual recovery. The Small Things Often podcast is available on SPOTIFY and most podcast platforms.
Find a therapist near you on the online gottman.com directory or visit me at www.orlaghgahan.ie for online gottman method couples therapy and relationship counselling for you and your partner. I provide therapy online and face to face for individuals and couples experiencing problems with sex and intimacy, addiction and recovery, infidelity, betrayal, relationship problems, sex and porn addiction, sexual recovery and relationship healing. You can book online at www.orlaghgahan.ie or email email@example.com
Giving up porn for good when you have developed a dependence and reliance on pornography and any type of sexual material alongside a perpetual habit of sexual acting out is going to take some time. Sexual recovery describes the process of restoring a healthy sense of sexual well-being that is not impulsive, compulsive, or problematic in any way. There is no shame, guilt, remorse, regret, or secrecy associated with being a healthy sexual adult.
Getting help for pornography addiction means also dealing with the negative ripple effect on health, relationships, lifestyle and your overall mindset. Often unresolved problems linked to stress, trauma and loss become evident as clients who come for therapy open-up and talk about their problems. The impact of having a long-term porn habit slowly unravels.
Every clients story and experience of pornography dependence and addiction is different and individual to them. However, the characteristics and problems associated with porn addiction are often similar. There are basic tasks of recovery and achieving abstinence and these can be supported using practical recovery tools that will suit almost everyone.
Using visible recovery tools will help to rebuild trust in a relationship that may have broken down. It shows that you are taking your recovery seriously and are committed to ongoing change and learning. They can also be a safe conversation starter for couples struggling to talk about the problem.
In supporting my clients through addiction and recovery, I want to help make the process as easy as possible by sharing practical recovery tools that I know can be helpful. It is easy for anyone to use these practical recovery tools every single day. What is more challenging is understanding and changing behaviours, habits, resolving emotional conflict and committing to ongoing personal therapy.
Using recovery tools will help to reinforce these more challenging behavioural changes which take time. They are also helpful for re-building trust in a relationship as your partner can see you doing practical things for your recovery.
Recovery tools are essentially practical things and habits you can do on a daily basis that will support your recovery and help you develop new insight and understanding of the problem. Rehabilitation, addiction counselling, addiction coaching, group support, group therapy and relationship counselling are recovery interventions that can be reinforced by using recovery tools.
These different types of recovery tool’s will help you to be focused and motivated about sexual recovery even if you’re not exactly sure what that means for you just yet. Early recovery is a big learning curve. Here are some examples and suggestions of recovery tools that I know have helped my clients particularly in early recovery from pornography and sex addiction. Find some that work for you and keep using them. It is better to use two or three often then different ones sporadically and randomly.
Podcasts. Listen to one or two podcasts each week that are related to sexual recovery, overcoming porn problems and relationship healing. Two popular podcasts right now are Consider Before Consuming & Sex, Love and Addiction 101 which are available on Spotify.
Keeping a Diary. Get yourself a page a day diary and spend 5 minutes each morning or evening filling it out. Record your therapy appointments, daily reflections, sobriety day, mood good or bad, triggers and recovery tools/tasks for that day. It’s a great way of learning to be focused on changing your behaviours and habits. This is also helpful for building trust in the relationship because it is evidence that you are doing practical things to overcoming pornography.
Books. Books are a super recovery tool. There are lots of books available about overcoming pornography and the effect it can have on your brain, biology, relationships and sexual functioning etc. I could suggest authors such as Dr. Patrick Cairns, Dr. Rob Weiss, Paula Hall and Your Brain on Porn by Gary Wilson. Relationship books are really helpful for relationship healing and learning how to restore trust again. Again, having books by the bedside locker shows that you are reading and learning about recovery which show your partner you are committed to recovery.
Workbooks. Workbooks are a practical way of working through the stages of your own recovery and learn about the addiction cycle, triggers, managing habits and changing behaviours. The Kick Start Recovery Guide by Paula Hall is an excellent 21 page free downloadable workbook for getting started on porn recovery. Sex Addiction 101 Workbook by Dr. Rob Weiss (2016) and Facing the Shadow by Dr. Patrick Carnes are two recent workbooks that I recommend to my clients.
Wall Calendar. This simple mindfulness practice is a good visual motivational tool. Tick each day you have achieved another day of sexual sobriety. Some clients also draw smiley faces to help describe if it was a good day, bad day or just OK day. It is also a simple practical way of building trust with your partner so they can also keep track of your progress and mood.
10 Minute Exercise Ritual. Work through impulses, urges, emotional upset and feelings of slipping or relapsing by creating a simple 10 minute exercise ritual. This will be something really simple like doing 100 sit-up, 100 press-ups, 100 star jumps or a 10-minute run. Basically brief energetic exercise that will get you into your body and away from your thinking and thoughts temporarily.
Setting Recovery Goals. Write out a list of Short Term Goals (0 – 90 days), Medium Term Goals (90 – 365 days ) and Long Term Recovery Goals (365+) days. Record the list in your diary and mark dates in advance. Keep adding to this list as you need to and tick them off as you achieve your goals. Set yourself rewards for achieving and succeeding.
Audio-books. Just like traditional books, audio-books are a great way of focusing on recovery and you can listen to them in your own time. Listening to biographies, personal development and self-help audio-books are helpful in recovery. Download them on your phone or table for easy access anytime.
Self-Soothing Techniques. These are an important aspect of sexual recovery to help the transition from being impulsive and compulsive sexually to being mindful and accepting of sexual feelings, thoughts, and impulses without acting out sexually. They consist of simple 10 minute breathing exercises, listening to a meditation or meditation music, positive affirmations or more simple practices like just taking a 10 minute walk rather than acting out.
Online Support. There are a host of 24/7 online supports such as webinars, group support & inspirational speakers for people going through all types of recovery and sobriety. Webinars and experts can be viewed on YouTube and TedX. Online support groups are available on most of the 12 Step Support group websites via ZOOM or by teleconferencing. Dr. Rob Weiss has online support groups every week at sexandrelationshiphealing.com which you can register and access.
Recovery Apps. The Fortify App helps people to overcome pornography and quit porn for good. It provides a host of tools, video’s, research, shared experiences and most popular – a community forum. The premium version is worth investing in at about $15 a month. It is a good way to stay motivated and learn something new every single day. The Fortify programme is also available as a book and is available on AMAZON.
Restriction Software. Also called parental control software which can be applied PC’s and smartphones such as Qustodio can help compulsive and impulsive porn users restrict availability of sexual content on their devices. Interrupting access and reducing availability and accessibility can make early recovery easier. Some couples choose to use this type of software on home and personal devices as part of a restoring trust plan together.
You can find more articles on my blog at www.orlaghgahan.ie
These days couples seek out professional relationship therapists for all types of reasons and not just because there is a breakdown in their relationship. They are often looking for support, guidance and direction on how best to address concerns and worries relating to health, family and lifestyle. Unfortunately, many couples wait too long to seek professional help and support so it can take time to work backwards through any difficulties they are experiencing. Some couples seek out therapy to re-couple or de-couple effectively following a relationship breakdown.
Now that many Psychotherapists and Relationship Counsellors are available online it will make accessing couples therapy a more viable and realistic option. Online therapy is convenient, efficient and has many different types of benefits compared with traditional face to face therapy particularly for couples who have hectic schedules, live apart or who have childcare restrictions. There are also differences between online therapy and traditional face to face therapy – but different does not mean less effective so it helps to be prepared. Book your first online couples therapy appointment here.
Getting the most out of your first online couples therapy session together is important. For many couples it will also be the first-time meeting with their relationship therapist and understanding how therapy works. Hopefully, you will have been able to find the right relationship counsellor for you both.
Online therapy is convenient, efficient and has many different types of benefits compared with traditional face to face therapy particularly for couples who have hectic schedules, live apart or who have childcare restrictions.
Timing. Book appointment times that suit you both which will ensure you are not stressed starting the appointment or interrupted by anything or anyone. I ask my couples to sit down for 5 or 10 minutes before their session starts to check-in with each other and talk about they what would like to bring up in therapy.
Comfort. Decide on a comfortable space to do your session, ideally this will be a quiet bright room where you can both sit side by side together facing your online therapist. I notice couples work best when sitting together on the couch or at a kitchen table close to their device. Relax and settle yourselves ahead of your session, make each other a cup of coffee and settle down.
Privacy. Being comfortable and relaxed will help you both to open-up and talk honestly about how you are feeling, this is at the core of effective couple’s therapy. Reduce the risk of interruptions from family or children so that you can talk comfortably.
Device. Ideally do your online sessions on a laptop, PC or larger size tablet which has a good camera and audio. This means your therapist will be able to see and hear you both clearly all through the session. A phone is not ideal for regular ongoing therapy sessions as it is difficult for the therapist to see you both.
Internet Connection. Make sure you have a good strong internet signal on your device. Turn off the wi-fi on your phones and anything else that may reduce internet connection for the duration of your session. Closedown all applications, notifications and any other software that may interrupt you both. A poor-quality signal may mean the session will have to end abruptly.
Lighting. Good quality lighting means that your therapist will be able to see you both well. Verbal communication is only a small percentage of actual communication, so they need to be able to see you both clearly. Turn on an overhead light or have a table light close by.
Preparation. Its always a great idea to be mentally prepared for your therapy sessions. Write down notes, thoughts or questions that you would like to raise in the session. Its helpful for couples to talk together ahead of appointments and agree on specific topics or problems. It does not matter if you do not agree on what you want to discuss as both opinions are important.
Mindset. Online couples therapy is best suited to couples who are focused on finding solutions and some common ground to deal with their relationship problems and concerns. It is not ideal for couples who are in a high conflict or distressed state unless you have agreed with the therapist in advance that online therapy is a suitable intervention. Being in a high conflict state means that one or both partners are very emotive and will be unable to listen, talk or empathise effectively with each other or their therapist.
Communication. Both individuals need to be able to express themselves, respect each other while talking and engage in active listening. Criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling during sessions will make online therapy sessions completely ineffective. Make a decision to try work together for the duration of your online couple’s therapy session even if you both have different feelings, opinions and agendas.
Expectations. It takes time for the couple’s therapy process to develop. The first few sessions will be focusing on assessing the problems and factors which are affecting the relationship. With sessions often limited to one hour at a time, it may take several sessions before you feel any intervention or progress is being made. Committing to at least six couples therapy sessions together will give you a good idea of how beneficial they are for you both, bearing in mind that relationship counselling is often a medium to longer term process over months.
Follow the instructions provided by your therapist well in advance of your session to start your online therapy sessions. Depending on the software they use, you may need to download software, create an account or profile. I use DOXY.ME which means my clients just need to click on a secure link to access the virtual therapy room.
Yes. Online couples therapy sessions can be done from the same location or separate locations depending on your relationship counsellor. If you are in different locations, both individuals will log into the virtual therapy room at the time the appointment starts and a group call will commence together. This type of therapy group call can take some time to get use to but will be suitable for couples residing in different locations or countries.
Online Therapy and consultations are available to individuals and couples for a range of problems. It is easy to access, convenient and an effective way to access professional therapeutic support with an accredited Counsellor & Psychotherapist, Sex & Relationship Counsellor and Addiction Counsellor in the comfort of your own home, work or while abroad. Online therapy is now available for couples in the same location using DOXY.ME Telemedicine or who are in two different locations via ZOOM Teleconferencing.
Telephone counselling is available to individuals for a wide range of personal problems and circumstances. It is an effective short term therapeutic intervention which provides non judgmental professional support.
Due to the current social distancing restrictions and HSE guidelines I am not currently available for face to face appointments or any complementary health therapies at my practice in Naas, Kildare. I will not be providing face to face appointments for the coming months and will review this decision in August 2020 with a view to recommencing sessions in September 2020.
You can find weekly articles, resources and information on my Therapy Blog.
For more information please don’t hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you stay safe, healthy and connected together.