Recovery & Sobriety – Setting Short Term Goals in Early Recovery

Recovery & Sobriety – Setting Short Term Goals in Early Recovery
Recovery is about a return to good health and in order to return to good health you may benefit from setting goals to help you get there. I talk to lots of clients early in their recovery about the importance of goal setting to help them achieve what they really want out of life, which is often ultimately to achieve sobriety, repair relationships and get some control back in their lives.

Sobriety requires much more than just sheer willpower which can be the reason people fail trying to do it alone with no direction. It requires motivation, goals, support, time, practice, routine, focus, patience and positive reinforcement.

‘Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.’    -Tony Robbins

If you are starting to understand setting goals for your recovery then focus on sorting them into short, medium and long term goals. Short term goals are from day one to day ninety. Medium term goals are from three months to twelve months. While long term goals are from twelve months and into the future. Its important to set goals which are realistic, achievable and motivating. Working towards your goals then starts to become part of a new routine in the longer term. As you reach your goals you will experience positive reinforcement that you have completed something you set out to achieve along with the feel good factor. They helps to build your confidence and self-esteem and most importantly your belief in yourself. Good strong routines in turn are a great relapse preventative measure in the long term.

Firstly you need to make a very clear decision on what your basic ultimate goal is in terms of your recovery. For example, do you want to be alcohol free, drug free, stop using pornography or give up gambling for good? What ever your ultimate goal is, that is your finish line. Right now in early recovery your only thinking about running a race. Every single goal you set out will help to support and reinforce your ultimate goal.

What should your short term goals be in early recovery?

Short term goals are really about helping the individual find some kind of balance and routine in their lives. These goals are focused on the present and should be quite simple and achievable. Set both daily and weekly goals, one week at a time. I think limiting them to no more than ten goals can help prevent feelings of being overwhelmed. It is much better to do two or three really well then ten half hardheartedly. Short term goals are about helping the client stabilise physically, mentally and emotionally.

Here are some common short term goals my clients often set out in the first 90 days.

  • Committing to one personal therapy session every week in the first 90 days.
  • Going to a support group two to three times a week in the first 90 days.
  • Learning about recovery and reading a book every night about recovery and self-development can help you to focus and gain some personal insight or, reading one book a week.
  • Keeping a journal and once a day spending some time writing down your thoughts and feelings.
  • Keeping a diary each day and writing in it each morning the things that will help you to focus on your recovery and sobriety that day. One day at a time.
  • Choosing an exercise like running or swimming, something you know you enjoy which will help you to burn off stress, anxiety, tension, frustration and all the emotions your may start to feel as you change your habits and behaviors. Exercise clears your head, helps you to focus and improves your sleep. Try to commit to your exercise every second day or so.
  • Start thinking about housekeeping. Housekeeping means that you start to get rid of any triggers, paraphernalia or products which may lead you to acting out. This may be deleting email addresses and accounts, clearing the house of alcohol or cigarettes or removing traces of anything which may lead you to consider a relapse.
  • Setting some goals around relationship healing is often on most peoples list. This may be something simple like asking your partner to sit down with and start talking to them about what your goals and plans for sobriety. It might also mean sitting down with your partner and listening to their needs and feelings. It might mean inviting them to a therapy session or talking about going to relationship counselling together.
  • Listen to a podcast or audio book about recovery, motivation or personal development.
  • Start writing lists which you can bring to therapy or work through yourself. List of goals, lists of motivations, lists of regrets, lists of thoughts and insights, lists of relapses, lists of people to connect with, lists of triggers, lists of music to listen to that will inspire you, lists of emotions, lists of hurt, lists of pain, lists of plans for the future. Writing down your thoughts can help you put context onto what you have be going through and is a way of letting go and releasing emotional pain.
  • Finding ways to learn to relax maybe by going to a yoga class or having a massage therapy session once a week.
  • Write out some thoughts on medium and long terms goals for recovery and your personal life.
  • Short term goals may simply be doing the things you have been avoiding for a long time like going to the GP, dentist or getting health checkups.
  • Personal hygiene and self-care is often a good short term goal. It may be simply getting up earlier every day, taking a hot shower and getting dressed.
  • Write an activity list of things that you can do to help you work through urges. This is a kind of activity list you can practice when you are feeling triggered. It may include things like meditation, go for a walk, do press-ups, phone a friend, breathing exercises, stretching etc.
  • Find an app that you can use every day to help monitor and motivate your recovery.
  • Do some research online of support groups, resources, workshops or blogs that might help promote your recovery.
  • Do something different at the weekend from your regular weekends. This might mean not socialising in the same way or meeting with different friends or family or planing activities for early in the morning instead of later at night.

So you can now start to see that short term goals are about helping you to focus on all the things which will promote your sobriety one day at a time from week to week. As you reach your goals, set new ones, this is how you grow and change. Recovery really is a learning process that times time and persistence. The more time you give it, the more you will gain from the work you put into yourself.

I believe that support and connection with people is a major part of what gets people through the early days of recovery.  Addiction counselling helps you to work through all the challenges you come up against so that you can learn how to recover. Recovery is about returning to health and finding your true happy fulfilled self. Keep it simple. Achieve your short term goals. Sooth yourself in positive ways. Give yourself praise and positive recognition every single day. Stay strong one day at a time. Reward yourself for goals achieved.

The biggest mistake is that people try to do it alone. You alone can do it, but, you can not do it alone. Remember, keep up your therapy sessions and support groups in your early days no matter how good or bad you are doing.

 

Starting Therapy – What to Expect From Your First Psychotherapy Session

Starting Therapy – What to Expect From Your First Psychotherapy Session

I wanted to write a short blog article to help potential clients feel reassured about what to expect in their first counselling & psychotherapy appointment for face to face and online therapy. Most new clients tell me that they have thought about coming to therapy for a long time, in many cases years, so I hope that this will help to demystify the concept of coming to therapy for the first time. Personally speaking I want clients to have a positive experience from their first session so that it helps normalise the idea of being in-therapy. If you have been thinking of starting therapy, don’t waste any more time, just go for it.

Many people consider therapy for between six months to two years before they make an appointment with me. The lead up to your first session can feel a bit daunting and nerve racking, the fear of the unknown and not really knowing what to expect but don’t worry too much. How do I start, what do I say, what will they think are common thoughts people can have first time around. Remember, every single therapist had first session nerves just like you! It’s really reassuring to know that your therapist will guide and lead you though your sessions every time, particularly your first session.

I like to break my sessions down into three parts which are an opening, middle and closing section. We know how difficult the first steps can be and meet new clients every day so an important part of our role as a therapist is to make you feel at ease and comfortable during each and every session.

What Should I Expect From My First Therapy Session

Most therapists will follow a similar process in the first session so this article outlines the process that I like to follow myself. The first session is very much an informal relaxed session of getting to know each other and a discussion around how we can both work together therapeutically with your particular presenting issue. What you can definitely expect to get from your first session is a safe supportive space to start talking about what ever it is you are going through. Below is a road-map of how I like to work through the first sessions.

Consultation Form. You will be asked to provide basic information such as medical conditions, GP details and contact details of a next of kin in the event of an emergency.

Introductions. I will introduce myself and my practice and what to expect from the first session to help put you at ease. Personally I take notes during sessions which I use as as a visual tool in therapy with my clients.

Explaining The Therapist Client Confidentiality Agreement. I will explain to you information about the our confidentially agreement and also the limitations of confidentiality and answer any questions you may have.

Sharing. This first session is really a safe space for you to talk about everything that brings you to therapy. I like to call it a session to just offload all your problems and worries. It can take some time to get used to taking about yourself but you will be amazed how quickly you can adjust and have plenty to talk about.

Identifying Problems. By the end of the session we will discuss some areas to focus on in therapy over the coming sessions and also discuss how many sessions to start off with. You may be asked to complete an assessment during the first session which will also help us narrow down some areas to focus on.

Closing The Session. I will spend five to ten minutes closing the first session and checking in with you to see how you are feeling or any thoughts and questions you might have. Many people are feeling much more relaxed as we come to the end of the first session and most report feeling relieved, happy, motivated that it is over after thinking about it for some time.

It is important to be realistic and not to expect to much from your first session. I think that many people expect to have life changing experiences in therapy and that they will walk out the door feeling fixed or better after just one hour. The reality is that most of the changes happen for the patient between sessions as they learn to practice what has been discussed in therapy and start to focus and reflect more on themselves. I regularly hear clients say ‘I tried therapy before and it did not work‘ and when we explore this more early in therapy, they may have attended just a handful of sessions, sometimes just one and had unrealistic expectations of the outcome. Therapy is where you come to talk about change, the next part is to actively learn how to change outside of sessions.

I can reassure you that your second session will feel easier to attend, as you know where you are going and what to expect. Ongoing sessions will feel like they have a nice natural comfortable flow as we get to know each other more and develop a relationship overtime. Therapy is a process of change, healing and personal insight. It is also learning to be vulnerable and open with another human being and using that connection with your therapist to help you to accept yourself, change and grow. All of which takes time.

 

Promoting Wellness – Positive Coping Techniques for Everyday Stress

Promoting Wellness – Positive Coping Techniques for Everyday Stress

Wellness is defined as feeling comfortable, happy and healthy. A state of being which most of us would like to achieve in our everyday life without having to think to much about it. But everyday life can be hectic and often we don’t get a moment to stop and take stock until the weekend or a break away. Burnout can happen as a result of long-term physical, mental or emotional stress which is not managed well.

The healthier you feel in your mind and body the better you are able to cope with all the symptoms of stress and a busy lifestyle.

In fact, the more positive you feel, the more motivated you will be to focus on your health and improving your overall quality of life. It is important to be proactive and be able to identify and manage stress in a healthy way that’s best for you.

Here are some simple positive coping techniques for everyday wellness which can also help anyone who is recovering from stress, anxiety and burnout or feeling overwhelmed.

  • Practice 2 minute grounding exercise during times of stress by focusing on your breathing and senses, what you can feel, hear, smell and touch.
  • Practice mindfulness by focusing on the present day and what you can control.
  • Embrace self-care by resting, relaxing, looking after your self, having fun and laughing.
  • Love your body and enjoy taking care of yourself.
  • Exercise regularly to feel good, release endorphins and burn off adrenaline.
  • Stop catastrophic thinking and ruminating about worst case scenarios.
  • Identify your negative though processes and focus on shifting to positive thoughts.
  • Stop being critical of yourself and others and focus on strengths.
  • Get plenty of undisturbed sleep approx. 6 to 8 hours to help the body heal.
  • Avoid negative influences which are unnecessary such as news, dramatic TV shows etc.
  • Practice positive self-talk and affirmations.
  • Find ways to feel inspired and empowered through reading, audio-books, groups, talks, music, workshops, hobbies, events.
  • Short breathing exercises through the day during times of stress can help improve mental clarity, oxygenate the body and relax muscles through the body.
  • Learn to say ‘NO‘ to others or ‘Can I come back to you on that?‘ when you have had time to think and start putting yourself first.
  • Ask for support and help from others and learn to accept help when offered.
  • Talk to your partner, family and friends about the things that bother you.
  • Surround yourself with positive loving people.
  • Let go of trying to control others or wasting energy on what they may be thinking or feeling.
  • Treat yourself from time to time, you are worth it.
  • Use commuting as an opportunity to rest, listening to audio-book, podcasts you enjoy or reading a book.
  • Leave work at work and stick to clear working hours.
  • Turn off work related phones, emails and devices early in the evening so it does not infringe on home life and valuable relationships.
  • Write lists of things that are on your mind or that you need to get done.
  • Let yourself feel what ever you are feeling rather than trying to suppress emotions, uncomfortable feelings will pass.
  • Most importantly find ways to cope which work for you.

 

Convenient New Practice Location on Monread Avenue, Naas, Kildare & just 20 minutes from M50 Dublin

Convenient New Practice Location on Monread Avenue, Naas, Kildare & just 20 minutes from M50 Dublin

I am delighted to announce that from Monday 25th March 2019 all appointments will now be in a new convenient location 5 minutes from Naas town center and the N7 in Kildare and just 20 minutes from the Red Cow M50 Dublin. My new private practice is located on the First floor, Unit 5, Monread Leisure & Commercial Centre, Monread Avenue, Naas, Co. Kildare, W91 XV8Y.  This is in the same building as Studio 3 Yoga & Therapy Centre, Park Medical Centre & Monread Dental Clinic.

There is plenty of free parking outside the building with a coffee shop, pharmacy and a large park minutes walk away. Access to the building is secure & private.

– 5 Minutes drive or 15 minutes walk from Naas Town Centre

– 5 Minutes drive from the N7 Exit 9

– 20 Minutes drive from the Red Cow M50 Roundabout, Dublin

– 20 Minutes drive from Newbridge, Co. Kildare

– 25 Minutes from the N4 Maynooth, Co. Kildare

You can also view and book appointments for 60, 90 and 120 minutes directly online through my website www.orlaghgahan.ie or by BOOKING ONLINE HERE

Online Counselling via SKYPE will also be coming soon for new clients from April 2019 for clients who are nationwide & worldwide.

FORTIFY – An Online Platform for Overcoming Pornography

FORTIFY – An Online Platform for Overcoming Pornography

The FORTIFY program was developed by an American organisation called Fight The New Drug. Their goal was to create a movement which would help to educate young people about the negative impact that pornography can have on health, relationships, sex and society and to encourage people to make more conscious choices about pornography usage. The movement has gained rapid momentum and so has their science based recovery resources, supports and research available to anyone who wants to overcome pornography problems. They are not a religious organisation and their strong message is that #PornKillsLove 

The FORTIFY program provides an online platform which helps support individuals who wish to recover from pornography addiction. They have thousands of online users in over 155 countries around the world. The FORTIFY program is also available to purchase as a book called ‘The Fighter’s Guide’ and a new App is now available to download on the Apple Store and Google Play. New users can trial the FORTIFY recovery program for free or pay a subscription of approx. $10 a month.

Here are some useful links if you would like to find out more about FORTIFY.

Fight The New Drug website

The FORTIFY Program – Link to their online support platform for overcoming pornography

FORTIFY Book – The Fighter’s Guide to Overcoming Pornography Addiction 

We Need to Talk About Pornography Video on YOUTUBE by Fight the New Drug.org 

Get help face to face or online via SKYPE visit www.orlaghgahan.ie

 

20 Early Recovery Insights from an Addiction Counsellor

20 Early Recovery Insights from an Addiction Counsellor

Last week I saw a picture online trying to portray how complicated the process of recovery from an addiction can feel in the early days for someone who had no clue about recovery. It looked like a giant blackboard packed full of mathematical equations which equal (=) ‘Recovery’. Now for someone who could never get the hang of basic long division and also as a therapist who sits across from men, women and family who desperately want to understand the recovery process in order to get a feeling for what to expect, I can wholeheartedly empathize with how confusing that analogy depicting the recovery process must feel. Abstinence and recovery is not a straight road.  The various roles of an addiction counsellor are to support, listen, empathize, encourage and educate clients. But often in the early days, the individual is so clouded with emotion, stress, pain, dependence or chaos that they are unable to hear simple messages that anyone, including their therapist are trying to get across.

Early recovery should be about focusing daily on practical abstinence and harm reduction goals, support and positive habit forming behaviours. However, understanding recovery really comes from being in a recovery process and the personal experience gained from recovery and sobriety. Here are some of these insights and strategies which I hope will help to motivate and encourage individuals early in recovery to stick with the process through the good and bad.

  1. Make a clear conscious decision that some things in your life need to change. Make a long list of those specific things and how you might change them.
  2. Remind yourself you will have good days and bad days, it won’t be easy, but, it will be worth it.
  3. If you are blaming everyone else for all your problems, you are still in denial about your problem. Stop blaming others for the things only you can control.
  4. It really is ok not to be ok and to reach out to someone or a professional who can help you understand what might be happening.
  5. The first steps to getting help can feel like the hardest, you are not alone, there are people who will understand and help you, you just have not met them yet.
  6. You don’t always have to go to rehab to recover from dependence or addiction, you can try support groups and addiction counselling first.
  7. Start talking yourself ‘out of acting out’ instead of ‘into acting out’.
  8. Motivation to recover does not come naturally in the early days, sometimes sobriety and feeling better in yourself motivates recovery.
  9. Willpower alone is never enough to change. Willpower is all in your head BUT practice makes perfect.
  10. You will have cravings, physical, mental, emotional and psychological cravings, but they too will pass.
  11. You won’t really understand how addicted you are to a substance or behaviour until you stop feeding your addiction, focus on abstinence and actively try to stop for a period of 7, 10, 30 days etc.
  12. Recovery is a process of change, challenge, learning, abstinence, re-discovery and time.
  13. Expect mood swings, difficulty sleeping, frustration, aggravation, withdrawals, anger, sweat and tears but not forever!
  14. Do not expect your partner and family to understand what you are going through until you can learn to share with them what you are going through.
  15. Time – Focus on your recovery every day in everything that you do until you realize you don’t need to think about recovery and what you do anymore.
  16. Be realistic about your expectations of yourself and others once you achieve sobriety because real change and healing takes time.
  17. Learn and connect with healthy balanced people how to be healthy balanced and connected.
  18. Our addiction tells us everyone else is doing ‘it’, but that’s just the world you see around you, its not reality. When you are in recovery you will realise that in general most people are relatively healthy, functioning, non-users and enjoying life.
  19. You can recover, you are not your addiction, your addiction does not define the beautiful human being that you really are.
  20. Believe that you can change, trust in others to help you, tell yourself you are worth it, share your story and focus on getting mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually better.

Sobriety and meaningful recovery takes willpower, motivation, practice  support, self-love, connection and time. The goal should also be gently focused on finding meaning and connection in life. Ultimately, recovery from illness and addiction is a path of personal development, self-love and healing.

Read about Setting Short Term Goals in Early Recovery.

 

Positive Anger Management Tools & Skills

Positive Anger Management Tools & Skills
Anger is a natural emotion like all the others which we feel and experience to various degrees based on what is happening around us and inside us. Like all emotions it can be sensed, expressed and repressed in many different ways.

Anger is often described as a strong powerful and raw emotion and typically more obvious than others as it is expressed through body language, physical gestures, breathing, facial expressions, tone of voice and language. Anger is simply an emotion, it is neither healthy or unhealthy. It is how we express and direct our anger which defines it as healthy or unhealthy.

The behaviours we develop over time to avoid, control or suppress our emotions are usually far more problematic then the emotions themselves. These may be using substances such as drugs and alcohol or developing problematic behaviours which are destructive or abusive to ourselves and others. Anger which is misdirected causes the most problems, anger management is about understanding and expressing our anger in a healthy way.

Anger is simply an emotion, it is neither healthy or unhealthy. It is how we express and direct our anger which defines it as healthy or unhealthy”.

When we talk about anger management we need to consider that anger is also a common symptom of stress and anxiety. Therefore anger management must also entail anxiety and stress management. It is also not enough to try manage an emotion which is a natural internal response, we need to get to the root cause of these emotions and deal with past hurt, conflict, resentment and any other experiences which have lead to anger issues. These may be rooted in past experiences, abuse, trauma, family relationships, self-esteem or simply an inability to express one self in a healthy way.

It takes time, patience and a level of self awareness to understand and overcome anger problems. Developing a range of positive anger management tools and skills can help individuals to become more balanced.

Positive Anger Management Tools & Skills

  • Understand and overcome triggers.
  • Develop a greater self-awareness and sense of self.
  • Practicing self-acceptance daily.
  • Make a clear conscious and assertive effort to change.
  • Express emotions in a healthy controlled and gentle way.
  • Let go of past pain, hurt and resentment.
  • Stop avoiding uncomfortable feelings, emotions and conversations.
  • Stop controlling, criticizing, confronting and being cynical of others.
  • Expressing things you have been unable to say and express, these are often called unsaid’s.
  • Stop blaming everyone for how you feel and how you react.
  • Taking ownership of your feelings using I am statements. ‘I am‘, ‘I feel‘, ‘I think‘.
  • Learning how to respect yourself and others around you.
  • Developing stronger and closer relationships.
  • Practicing self-care, stress management and relaxation techniques.
  • Learning how your breathing can help you overcome strong emotions, feelings and anger.
  • Engaging in anger management counselling, group therapy/support and personal development to deepen your understanding of yourself.
  • Changing unhealthy or addictive behaviours such as abusing alcohol, drugs, food, sex etc.
  • Practicing being balanced in mind and body and avoid excesses.
  • Restoring relationships and and start to actively listen to others.
  • Focus on all the positive in life.
  • Find ways to channel anger in positive ways.

To manage our emotions, we must first learn to understand, accept and respect ourselves. As long as we are blaming others for our actions, thoughts and feelings we are not in control of ourselves.”

Anger management counselling helps individuals to manage and understand all their emotions including anger and deal with the underlying emotional or psychological causes. Counselling for anger management is usually attended weekly for a number of weeks or months. Some individuals also engage in regular anger management group therapy. Find out more about face to face and online therapy at www.orlaghgahan.ie 

 

FERTILITY HEALTH – A Mind and Body Approach to Fertility in 2019.

FERTILITY HEALTH – A Mind and Body Approach to Fertility in 2019.

If you are hoping to get pregnant in 2019 there are many positive health & lifestyle changes you can make to improve your overall fertility. Natural fertility therapies help women to feel empowered and motivated to look after their body and mind while also promoting overall fertility. Trying to get pregnant can sometimes feel like a rollercoaster and what better way to feel supported then by a professional therapist who understands what you are going through. Fertility counselling and fertility reflexology promotes health and wellbeing and support’s women where ever they are on their fertility journey.

Specialist Fertility Counselling

Specialist fertility counselling provides gentle emotional support and understanding to women who are planning a baby naturally or through the various types of the IVF fertility treatments and beyond. Counselling can help to motivate women to make lifestyle changes while also dealing with any personal problems they may be experiencing. Sometimes counselling is the first step to getting help for sexual problems and unexplained infertility. Talking to someone in confidence helps reduce emotional and mental stress which has a positive effect on the body and reduces isolation. With a strong emphasis on self-care, fertility counselling provides a safe space to feel supported, encouraged and empowered.

Fertility Reflexology

Fertility Reflexology is a natural complementary health therapy which focuses on the reflexes of the feet to help bring the whole body into balance. This relaxing and soothing treatment is adapted specifically for fertility and focuses on the reflexes associated with reproduction and pregnancy. Fertility reflexology can be beneficial for women who are planning to have a baby naturally and has many physical and emotional benefits. For women who are planning assisted fertility treatments, reflexology helps to promote a stronger sense of calm, brings balance to the body and is a wonderful way to practice self-care during the various stages and cycles of treatment.  An important role of fertility reflexology is to help improve the overall health of the body so that it can better support a pregnancy.

If you are hoping to improve your health and fertility in 2019, then fertility counselling and reflexology for fertility is a wonderful place to start with the support and understanding of a professional therapist. Orlagh Gahan is one of the few therapists in Ireland who provides a mind and body approach with individuals and couples who are seeking professional therapy for health, fertility and pregnancy.

Orlagh Gahan  is a Specialist Fertility Counsellor & Psychotherapist and Fertility Reflexologist based at the Naas Holistic Centre in Naas, Co. Kildare. She is a member of the Irish Fertility Counsellors Association and the National Register of Reflexologist of Ireland. To find out more and book an appointment on-line visit www.orlaghgahan.ie or email info@orlaghgahan.ie 

Simple Everyday Tips to Help You Feel Calmer

Simple Everyday Tips to Help You Feel Calmer

Stress is a natural part of life. These days, it can be difficult to find a quiet moment to help your body and mind switch off and relax. The problem is that if you are feeling wound up, then it takes time to wind down again. Feeling calmer and relaxed can take time and practice if you have a very busy lifestyle. Many people do not realise how tense they are actually feeling until they try to relax. These simple everyday ideas can help you to feel calmer more often so that you can cope better with stress and feel more focused.

1. Switch coffee and tea for relaxing herbal teas such as Chamomile tea and Bed Time tea.
2. Put a few drops of Lavender or Chamomile essential oils into an oil burner which promote relaxation.
3. Enjoy watching your favorite film.
4. Get engrossed in an inspiring or motivating book.
5. Leave the phone at home, go outside and take a walk somewhere quiet in nature.
6. Have a relaxing massage or reflexology treatment.
7. Lie down in a quite space and listen to relaxation music or a meditation for 30 minutes.
8. Take some quiet time to yourself. Go buy a coffee, walk around a museum, park or a book store and give yourself space to think clearly or not think at all.
9. Practice breathing deeply and have a good stretch in the fresh air or relaxing on your bed.
10. Have fun and laugh often – do things that make you feel good about yourself.
11. Take a cleansing refreshing swim or walk by the sea.
12. Keep a journal and write down your thoughts and feelings at the end of the day.

Find out what works for you, everybody is different. Remember, practice makes perfect.

 

Orlagh Gahan is a Complementary Health Therapist and Psychotherapist based in Co. Kildare, Ireland. She provides a range of therapies for physical, mental and emotional health. To find out more visit www.orlaghgahan.ie

 

 

The Irish Fertility Counsellors Association

The Irish Fertility Counsellors Association

Did you know that in Ireland we have a number of Counsellors & Psychotherapists trained specifically in fertility and infertility problems?

Specialist fertility counsellors provide counselling and professional emotional support to men and women who are effected by fertility issues. Talking to a counsellor can help get you through challenging times whether you are going through natural conception or assisted IVF fertility treatment. Counselling can help both men and women where ever they are on their fertility journey. Sometimes couples can experiences stress and tension as a result of ongoing fertility complications. Counselling can help couples to cope better together and plan for the future.

Fertility counsellors can help you through the following problems:

-Infertility
-Sub-fertility
-Secondary infertility
-Sexual problems & fertility
-Assisted fertility & IVF
-Natural fertility
-Grief & loss
-Stress management
-Relationship difficulties
-Preparing for a baby

You can find a list of some of these specialist fertility counsellors at www.fertilitycounsellors.ie or contact me at www.orlaghgahan.ie to book an appointment for Fertility Counselling in Co. Kildare.

Orlagh Gahan is a Psychotherapist & Complemenaty Health Therapist based in Co. Kildare who provides a range of therapies for physical, mental and emotional health. Find our more at www.orlaghgahan.ie.

Can Regular Exercise Lead To A Better Sex Life?

Recently I spoke with Stellar Magazine about the connection between exercising, fitness and sex which can have a positive ripple effect on intimacy and relationships.

Stellar.ie | Can Regular Exercise Lead To A Better Sex Life? Here’s What The Experts Say..

You’ve probably heard about all of the health benefits of regular exercising: reduced risk of heart problems, type 2 diabetes and obesity, to name a few. But exercise can have huge benefits to another aspect of your life – your sex drive.

Sex itself is an intense physical exercise that tests your endurance and stamina. And while doing regular exercise can be a bit of chore, if it were more likely to enhance your sex life and lead to better orgasms, would you be more inclined to do it?

We spoke to sex psychotherapist Orlagh Gahan to find out how exactly exercise can impact your life in the bedroom.

There is no doubt that exercise, fitness and overall levels of stress are right up there on top of the list of things which affect our sex drive which often dips or disappears when we are experiencing periods of stress. Exercise helps to reduces stress as the brain releases feel good chemicals and hormones into the body, the same in-fact as during sex, orgasms or when we receive hugs.

“Regular exercise which gets our blood pumping means we feel fitter, more positive and motivated all round,” she said. She explains that exercise can have such a huge impact on your sex life as it gets you out of you head and reduces stress:

Continue reading this article at STELLAR.IE Can-regular-exercise-lead-to-a-better-sex-life-heres-what-the-experts-say.

Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery Resources

It is difficult to know where to start when you are seeking help for yourself or a loved one for a sexual addiction or pornography addiction. The good news is the more you start to research the subject, the more support and resources you will find are available. It is important however that you get help as early as possible and continue with various therapeutic interventions until you feel completely free from any problematic behaviour or addiction. Recovery often means engaging in both personal therapy and relationship counselling until the end of the process or on an ongoing basis. The level of professional support required will depend on the severity of the addiction and various other factors. Individuals may also have mental health problems, past trauma or abuse which also requires addressing. Partners are also encouraged to attend counselling, as addiction impacts spouses and family members on many levels.

You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone.’

Below are some suggestions regarding sexual addiction recovery;

  1. Private counselling with a professional Psychotherapist, Psychosexual Counsellor or Addiction Counsellor.
  2. Attending a treatment recovery centre or Intensive 6 Day Recovery Course.
  3. Attending group therapy or group support regularly such as SLAA or SA.
  4. Speaking to your GP for a referral to a Psychologist or Psychiatrist.
  5. Attending an Addiction and Recovery (Life) Coach.
  6. Reading various books on sex addiction, pornography addiction and relationship recovery.
  7. Completing online courses for pornography addiction.
  8. Various Apps for your phone which can aid and encourage recovery.
  9. Using online resources and websites which educate and promote recovery.

Below are some Irish & UK resources which you may find helpful;

Support Groups in Ireland
Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) – www.slaaireland.org
Sexaholics Anonymous (SA Ireland) – www.saireland.com
S-Anon – Support for partners of Sex Addicts – www.sanon.org/meetings/meetingsireland.html

Professional Counselling Associations & Professionals
Addiction Counsellors of Ireland – www.addictioncounsellors.ie
Irish Association of Counsellors & Psychotherapists – www.iacp.ie
Psychosexual & Relationship Counsellors of Ireland & UK – www.cosrt.org.uk
Eoin Stephens Psychotherapist – www.eoinstephens.com
Addictive Behaviours & Sex Addiction Private Counselling – www.addictivebehaviours.ie

Addiction Recovery Centers 
The Rutland Centre – www.rutlandcentre.ie
Aiseiri – www.aiseiri.ie
Cuan Mhuire – www.cuanmhuire.ie
Smarmore Castle Private Rehabilitation Clinic – www.smarmore-rehab-clinic.com
6 Day UK Intensive Sex Addiction Recovery Course –  www.paulahall.co.uk

Online Resources
The Kickstart Recovery Guide -21 Page Recovery Workbook –  www.sexaddictionhelp.co.uk
The Fortify Programme – Online Pornography Recovery course – www.fortifyprogram.org/
Fight The New Drug – Pornography Awareness & Education- www.fightthenewdrug.org
8 week online course for Porn Addiction – www.paulahall.co.uk/services/addiction-recovery/
Sex Addiction Education & Information – www.paulahall.co.uk
The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity – www.atsac.co.uk

Recommended Reading List of Sexual Addiction Recovery & Self Help Books for Addicts & Partners

One day….or day one, you decide.

Pregnancy Essentials – Hospital & Baby Bag Checklist

Pregnancy Essentials – Hospital & Baby Bag Checklist

Your new baby is arriving soon and you probably have a lot on your mind so being prepared can help to reduce any anticipation you may be feeling. Taking plenty of time to enjoy the experience of getting your hospital bag ready can help you to prepare mentally for labour. It is never to early to start packing your bag, a good rule of thumb is from around 34+ weeks or early in your third trimester. Ask your consultant and midwife what items will be available during your hospital visit, they often provide pregnancy balls, towels and baby hats to name a few. This helpful hospital & baby bag checklist will make sure you and your baby are fully prepared for your trip to hospital. Don’t worry if you forget anything, you will have plenty of time for someone to bring more supplies as you need them. 

Essentials For Birth:

Birth plan ☐
Loose nightdress for labour   ☐
Nightwear – Plenty of changes  ☐
Disposable maternity briefs ☐
Dressing gown ☐
Perineal gel ☐
Slippers or Flip Flops ☐
Toiletries – Toothbrush, tooth paste, shampoo, rejuvenating shower gel ☐
Maternity sanitary towels  ☐
Face cloth ☐
Cold drinks & water ☐
Hairbrush, hairband or clips to keep hair out of Face  ☐
Bikini if you are using a birthing bath  ☐
Phone & charger  ☐

Non Essentials But Good To Have:

Pregnancy birthing ball (Often provided by Hospital)   ☐
Tens Maternity machine for contractions   ☐
Beanie Bag to heat for back pain   ☐
Essential oils to help with relaxation or tiredness.  ☐
Rejuvenating face mist spray  ☐
HypnoBirthing or GentleBirth music ☐
Music device or tablet ☐
Ear plugs  ☐
Something to read i.e books, magazines ☐
Lip balm – Lips can get dry during labour   ☐
Glucose sweets for energy  ☐

For Mum Post Birth:

Loose cotton top suitable for skin to skin ☐
Plenty of maternity underwear  ☐
Toiletries ☐
Lanolin nipple cream     ☐
Disposable nursing pads  ☐
Maternity nursing bras  ☐
Light snacks and drinks for energy ☐
Makeup Bag ☐

For Your New Baby:

Baby gros & vests  ☐
Baby hat, socks and mittens ☐
Newborn nappies ☐
Baby wipes ☐
Newborn Soother ☐
Blanket (Provided by Hospital) ☐
Car Seat ☐

Orlagh Gahan is a Complementary Health Therapist and Psychotherapist in Naas, Co. Kildare, Ireland. She providing a range of therapies for health, pregnancy and fertility. Find out more or book an appointment online at www.orlaghgahan.ie 

Sexual Addiction Recovery & Self Help Books for Addicts & Partners

Sexual Addiction Recovery & Self Help Books for Addicts & Partners

Contrary to what many clients and partners believe when they initially come for counselling for sexual addiction, there are in fact many self help and recovery related books on the subject. As new research continues to emerge so to does the variety of literature and understanding in the field. Below is a shortlist of some of the many books for anyone seeking information, understanding, recovery or help for sexual addiction and pornography addiction. I strongly recommend to anyone who is struggling with problematic sexual behaviours, sex or pornography addiction to start to understand, through reading, how the problem is effecting you, your partner and your life. Knowledge is power.

Most of the below books are available on Amazon.com and are downloadable on Kindle.

Sex Addiction – The Partners Perspective by Paula Hall, UK (2015) *Recommended Reading*

Understanding and Treating Sex Addictions: A Comprehensive Guide for People who Struggle with  Sex Addiction and those who  want to Help Them by Paula Hall, UK (2012) *Recommended Reading*

Always Turned On: Facing Sex Addiction in the Digital Age by R.Weiss & J.P Schneider (14 Jan 2014)

Breaking the Cycle: Free Yourself from Sex Addiction, Porn Obsessinos and Shame by G. Collins (2011)

Contrary to Love: Helping the Sexual Addict by Patrick Carnes (1994)

Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men by Robert Weiss (2005)

Cybersex Exposed: Simple Fantasy or Obsession? by J. Schneider & R. Weiss (2001)

Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction by Susan Cheever (2009)

Disclosing Secrets: When, to Whom, and How Much to Reveal by Deborah Cor-ley and Jennifer Schneider (2012)

Don’t Call It Love: Recovery from Sexual Addiction by Patrick Carnes (1992)

Facing the Shadows – Starting Sexual & Relationship Recovery Workbook by Patrick Carnes (2015) *Recommended Reading*

A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Steps: The Classic Guide for All People in the Process of Recovery by P.Carnes (2012)

In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behaviour by P. Carnes, D. Delmonico, E. Griffin (2007)

Is It Love or is it Addiction by Brenda Schaeffer (2009)

Lonely All the Time: Recognizing, Understanding and Overcoming Sex Addiction, for Addicts and Codependents by R.Earle & G.  Crow (1989)

Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction by Patrick Carnes (2001)

Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families by Pamela Paul (2010)

Say Yes to Your Sexual Healing: Daily Meditations for Overcoming Sex Addiction by Leo Booth (2009)

Sex Addiction 101: A Basic Guide to Healing from Sex, Porn, and Love Addiction by R.Weiss and D.Sack (2013)

Sex Addictions And Real Life Stories | Help and Healing for the Sex Addict by T.D. Johnston (2012)

Sex Addicts Anonymous by Sex Addicts Anonymous Fellowship (2009)

Stop Sex Addiction by Milton S. Magness (2013)

The Sex Addiction Workbook: Proven Strategies to Help You Regain Control of Your Life by T.P Sbraga & W.T O’Donoghue  (2004)

The Teen Guide to Recovery from Sex and Porn Addiction: Based on Dr. P Carnes ‘Innovative Thirty Task Treatment Model  (Jan  2014)

Untangling the Web: Sex, Porn and Fanstasy Obsesssion in the Internet Age by J. Schneider and R. Weiss (2006)

 

Related reading for partners, spouses and couples;   

Sex Addiction – The Partners Perspective by Paula Hall, UK (2015)

A Couple’s Guide to Sexual Addiction: A Step-by-Step Plan to Rebuild Trust and Restore Intimacy by P. Collins and G. N.  Collins (2011)

Facing Heartache: Steps to Recovery for Partners of Sex Addicts by S. Carnes, M.A. Lee & A.D Rodriguez (2012)

Intimate Treason: Healing the Trauma for Partners Confronting Sex Addiction by C. Black and C. Tripodi (2012)

A House Interrupted: A Wife’s Story of Recovering from Her Husband’s Sex Addiction by Maurita Corcoran (2011)

Claiming Your Self-esteem: Guide Out of Co-dependency, Addiction and Other Useless Habits by Carolyn M. Ball (1991)

Escape from Intimacy: Untangling the “Love” Addictions: Sex, Romance, Relationships by Anne Wilson Schaef(1990)

Letters To A Sex Addict: The Journey through Grief and Betrayal by Wendy Conquest (2013)

Lonely All the Time: Recognizing, Understanding and Overcoming Sex Addiction, for Addicts and Co-Dependents by R. Earle, G.  Crow & K.  Osborn  (1989

Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey Through Sexual Addiction by S. W Silverman

Love, Infidelity, and Sexual Addiction: A Co-dependent’s Perspective – Including Cybersex Addiction by Christine A.  Adams (2009)

Mending a Shattered Heart: A Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts by S. Carnes (2011)

Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families by Pamela Paul (2010)

Relationships from Addiction to Authenticity: Understanding Co-Sex Addiction – A Spiritual Journey to Wholeness and Serenity  by C. Pletcher & S. Bartolameolli (2008)

Sex, Addictions, and Marriage: The Importance of Sexual Integrity by David J. Shock (2013)

Soaring Above Co-Addiction. Helping your loved one get clean, while creating the Life of your Dreams by Lisa Ann Espich  (2012)

Stop Sex Addiction: Real Hope, True Freedom for Sex Addicts and Partners by Milton S. Magness (2013)

The Porn Trap: A Guide to Healing from Porn Addiction, for Sufferers and Their Loved Ones by W. Maltz (2009)

Women, Sex, and Addiction: A Search for Love and Power by C. Davis Kasl, Ph.D (1990)

Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope & Heal by B.Steffens & M.Means (2009)

You can also find UK based information, resources and intensive recovery courses at www.paulahall.co.uk and sexaddictionhelp.co.uk

Download your first steps 19 page Kick Start Recovery guide by Paula Hall.

If you would like to find out about private personal counselling for sex or pornography addiction in Kildare, visit www.addictivebehaviours.ie and www.orlaghgahan.ie. 

The Joy of Massage Therapy During Pregnancy

The Joy of Massage Therapy During Pregnancy

Complementary health therapies such as pregnancy massage therapy and maternity reflexology can be wonderful during pregnancy and are often a welcome relief from many pregnancy symptoms and the life changes which come with pregnancy. In fact, you may never appreciate lying down and being pampered with a massage as much as you do during pregnancy, it truly feels incredible.

Pregnant women have been honoured and celebrated throughout history with ceremonies and rituals which often included touch, bathing, nurturing and massage. In many cultures around the world, abdominal massage has been prevalent to help sooth mother and baby, while also helping to ensure the correct positioning of the baby. These days, modern women are too busy to indulge in rituals and ceremonies which makes pregnancy massage even more inviting.

Massage therapy has many health benefits for both mother and baby particularly in the third trimester when her body is working overtime as baby piles on the pounds. Many women are often still working and managing family life with very little time for relaxation or to put their feet up for an hour. Pregnancy can be demanding on the body and massage therapy helps to counteract those slight physical symptoms which build up during the 40 week rollercoaster. Regular treatments can help with muscle pain, aching legs and fatigue while also promoting a strong sense of relaxation.

Touch is such a powerful and under-estimated sense, most women find the emotional benefits far out-weigh the physical benefits when it comes to maternity massage.”

Therapy also provides an opportunity for mother to switch off from the outside world for just a brief moment in time to connect with her baby. Take some time to experience the joy of massage therapy during your pregnancy journey.

Orlagh Gahan is a Reflexologist and Massage Therapist who provides a range of specialist therapies for health, pregnancy and fertility in Naas, Co, Kildare.

The Health Benefits of Massage Therapy

The Health Benefits of Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a well established complementary health therapy which has evolved over decades. Therapy treats the symptoms of illness, injury, pain and stress and helps promote relaxation. Regular treatments can have many benefits physically and mentally on the individual. It is effective in combating many conditions not to mention stress, tiredness, fatigue and anxiety. There are different types of massage therapy namely, relaxation, sports, remedial, deep tissue, pregnancy, aromatherapy, seated chair massage and Indian head massage. Each therapy uses a specific range of massage techniques on the body such as kneading, circular movements, acupressure, cupping and tapping. While massage therapy is most recognised for it’s natural effects on the physical body, it can also have many positive effects on emotional and mental health.

As a Psychotherapist, I often refer clients suffering from stress, anxiety and low mood to have a course of massage therapy treatments. Massage therapy can help to counteract conditions which effect us emotionally and psychologically such as stress, insomnia, anxiety, hypertension, exhaustion and depression.”

The Health Benefits of Massage Therapy

  • Relieves stress, tension and tiredness
  • Encourages and promotes relaxation and reduces stress
  • Reduces muscular and physical tension by relaxing muscles
  • Has a soothing effect on the mind and body
  • Improves blood circulation thus increasing the efficiency of organs and cells
  • Stimulates the nervous system
  • Improves lymphatic drainage
  • Increases circulation and eliminates toxins from the system
  • Improves joint mobility and flexibility
  • Improves rehabilitation after injury
  • Helps improve posture
  • Helps to release trapped nervous energy and balance energy
  • Activates and enhances the bodies natural self healing abilities
  • Helps to maintain and restore overall health
  • Helps to improve sleep and reduce insomnia

Massage therapy varies in cost from around €60-€80 for a one hour treatment, while you can expect to pay around €100/€125 per hour in the top Hotels and Spas around Ireland. When booking an appointment always ensure the therapist is a qualified, certified and insured professional therapist. To book an appointment visit www.orlaghgahan.ie

How Reflexology Can Help Relieve Foot Pain and Sore Feet

How Reflexology Can Help Relieve Foot Pain and Sore Feet

Reflexology is a complementary health therapy applied to the feet. The feet each have 26 bones, 19 muscles and tendons, 33 joints and 107 ligaments. The body and a busy lifestyle can be hard on our trusty feet. As reflexology works on the feet, ankles and lower legs it can be a soothing and welcome therapy not just for your feet but your whole body. Foot pain and discomfort can be debilitating and prevent us from going about every day activities. It may also effect your posture over time and displace your centre of gravity which effects the spine.

On average we take between 3,000 and 10,000 steps every day. It’s no wonder that from time to time many of us experience foot pain, tightness or stiffness in the feet and legs.”

Reflexology can be used to help reduce various types of discomfort and pain in the feet. Symptoms may include pain, soreness, stiffness, tightness, burning, tingling or cramping in the feet. The various gentle reflexology techniques and massage pressure applied to the feet during treatments helps to increases the blood flow and circulation to the whole area. There are over 5000 nerve endings in the feet which are gently stimulated to relieve pain and promote relaxation. It can have a strong impact on the nervous system as a whole. Reflexology is popular with people involved in sports such as running and golfing as it helps the body to heal quicker after activity and can reduce pain from developing in the feet. Reflexology promotes the bodies natural healing abilities while the relaxation effect can have a strong impact on emotional and mental health. Reflexology and massage therapy are also beneficial for pain and tiredness in the legs and your therapist can focus on specific problem areas.

Some common causes of foot pain include:

  • Ageing feet
  • Arthritis
  • Flatfeet
  • Illness and disease
  • Long periods of time standing, walking and running
  • Overuse of feet
  • Poor circulation
  • Poorly fitting footwear and high heels
  • Pregnancy
  • Restricted exercise and movement
  • Repetitive strain
  • Sporting injuries
  • Tiredness and swelling

One single reflexology treatment or a course of reflexology treatments can help to reduce foot pain, promote relaxation and improve the overall feeling of the feet and lower legs. Orlagh Gahan is a registered Reflexologist & Complementary Health Therapist based in Naas, Co. Kildare. She provides Reflexology for health, pregnancy, fertility and foot pain.

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