Online Therapy – 10 Ways To Prepare For Your Online Counselling Session

Online Therapy – 10 Ways To Prepare For Your Online Counselling Session
Online therapy has many advantages in today’s modern fast paced world where time is precious and accessibility is essential. It allows you to be able to talk to your chosen professional therapist in the comfort of your own home, workplace or while travelling abroad about anything that is on your mind.

Online counselling is a different experience from being face to face in the same room as your local therapist so making sure your online session goes smoothly for you both is important. 

For many people, especially those comfortable with working and communicating online already, it is a convenient and increasingly popular way to access professional therapy with the right therapist for you.

Being prepared for your first session can greatly improve your overall personal experience of online therapy so that you will want to keep working and connecting with your chosen therapist. Online counselling is a good way to focus on self-care and personal development while also addressing any problems you may be experiencing.

It may be a completely new experience for you to talk to a professional therapist about your inner world and put words on your thoughts and feelings, but rest assured you’re in good hands. Any type of personal therapy be it face to face or online takes time to get used to. Your therapist should guide and support you through your online therapy session.

As you establish a relationship with your therapist you will hopefully get more comfortable talking to them over the course of your online sessions just like traditional couch therapy. Try to relax and be yourself as much as possible.

How Can I Get Ready For My Online Counselling Session?

Here are 10 ways to get the most out of your online counselling sessions. These are my tips combined with some great advice for online counsellors from Clay Cockrell, an online counselling expert and founder of onlinecounselling.com. I hope these will help you get the most out of your next online counselling sessions. To book an online therapy session click here

BE PREPARED. Make sure that you have the correct platform access and contact links for your counsellor before your session starts. I often use SKYPE for online therapy, and I connect with my clients via SKYPE the day they book their session so there are no delays on the day of therapy. Depending on the platform your therapist is using you may need to download software and set up a new account in advance. Read up on any emails your therapist sends you well before your session, these may also contain important details regarding client patient confidentiality.

GOOD LIGHTING. Visually it’s important that your therapist can see you clearly during your online video sessions. It can be helpful to be in a bright room or have a desk lamp close to your laptop or device to improve lighting quality around your face and upper body. Therapists are trained to read body language, facial expressions and visual ques so good quality lighting can enhance the communication and connection between you both and allow for a better sense of eye contact.

INTERNET CONNECTION. Good quality internet connection means that your online therapy session won’t be interrupted. To help improve your internet connection and network speed close down all other applications on your PC. This will also prevent you from being distracted by any PC notifications, messages or pop-ups during the session.

GOOD QUALITY SOUND. Using earbuds or headphones will greatly improve the quality of your conversation with your online therapist. They will ensure that you can hear every word that your therapists is saying and helps drown out distracting background noise. Wearing earbuds can help keep you more focused during sessions. They may take some time to get used to at first, if it feels difficult to adjust to using them you can reduce to one if that feels more comfortable.

BACKUP PLAN. In the possible event of poor internet connection or a PC crashing which can happen unexpectedly on the day, it’s helpful to have your therapists contact number to hand so that sessions can continue over the phone rather than ending abruptly due to IT problems.

RELAX. It can take some time to adjust to talking to a therapist via video-link as you start to develop a therapeutic relationship and get to know your therapist and share your inner world. Relax and try to enjoy the experience as your therapists guides you through the process. Sessions will generally have a good flow with a natural start, middle and end feel to them.

PRIVACY. Ideally find a quiet comfortable private room away from any distractions so that you do not need to worry about being overheard or interrupted during your online therapy session.

GOOD COMMUNICATION. Always face your video cam so that your therapist can see and hear you clearly. Try not to cover your face or mouth and sit comfortably close to your laptop or device. Your therapist will be doing the same. Don’t be afraid to tell them if you are having difficulty hearing and seeing them from your side.

GET COMFORTABLE. We want you to get the most out of your online therapy session so it’s important that you can really talk openly and let your therapist understand your world. Good therapy is about relationship building. The more comfortable you are during your session the more you will relax, open-up and be honest about how you are really feeling. Find yourself a comfortable space to sit for the session, get yourself a coffee if that helps you to relax while talking, whatever works for you. Some clients use diaries or notebooks for note taking and sharing during sessions.

MANAGE EXPECTATIONS. Clients can expect a lot from personal therapy in the first few sessions. They are often hoping therapy will ‘fix’ their situation or that the therapist will tell them exactly what to do. Remember online therapy is a talk therapy and is not prescriptive. The first few sessions are often about giving you space to talk openly and freely about your circumstances, getting your thoughts inline so that both you and your therapist can assess and get a better understanding of the situation or problem before any intervention is explored. Talking and expressing yourself is therapeutic and healing and is a large part of the therapeutic process even if you do not feel like you are making any practical headway. I like clients to end sessions with one or two simple practical things they can focus on between sessions.

 

25 Signs You Might Have A Problem With Pornography

25 Signs You Might Have A Problem With Pornography
How much pornography is too much pornography?

A commonly googled question and one my clients often ask early in therapy but there are no recommended healthy pornography viewing guidelines. It is better to consider what is healthy or unhealthy for you as an individual rather than focusing on duration or quantity of use. There are many signs of problematic online pornography use which are not measured specifically by time or quantity alone but are related to behaviours and consequences associated with using it.

The problem with pornography is that it can become difficult to differentiate what’s healthy and normal when you are your only reference point and so few people are talking about it.

This article is part two in a series of articles about Overcoming Pornography and is to help individuals and partners understand a range of possible signs of problematic pornography use. If you identify with one or more of the below sign’s you might have a problem with pornography and should consider seeking professional help. Find out what it is like to be 365 days in recovery from pornography addiction after being a habitual user for over 10 years and what my client wants you to know about giving up porn.

You do not have to be a pornography addict to benefit from counselling. In my practice, clients often come for sex therapy and addiction counselling before it escalates into a more serious problem and just want support changing their behaviours while addressing other problems they are dealing with. Therapy can provide non-judgemental professional support and advice for clients and couples experiencing any signs of problematic pornography use. It is important to spend time finding the right professional therapist for you. Read more about practical ways to give up online pornography.

It’s worth mentioning that many people who use pornography do not have difficulty controlling or stopping when they want, and it does not affect them or their relationships in a negative way.

What are the signs that you might have a problem with pornography?

Here are 25 signs that you or your partner might have a problem with pornography and that the problem could be getting worse over time. It includes some links to external sites which readers may find helpful.

  1. Porn is negatively effecting your physical, mental or emotional health.
  2. You have tried to stop and give up many times but have failed over and over.
  3. You no longer enjoy regular natural healthy loving sex and intimacy like you did in the past.
  4. You are experiencing signs of erectile dysfunction with a partner but not alone.
  5. You are over sexualising the world around you including people, places & situations.
  6. The content you are viewing conflicts with your core values and beliefs as a person.
  7. You are viewing online pornography for more than 11 hour a week.
  8. You believe you couldn’t live without pornography in your life.
  9. You are experiencing signs of Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder.
  10. You choose viewing pornography alone to intimate real sex with your partner.
  11. You have developed performance anxiety and are fearful about real sex.
  12. When you are having sex with your partner you are thinking about pornography and are not present or connected with them.
  13. Relationships have ended because of your pornography use.
  14. You are hiding your porn use from your partner and do not like that you are keeping secrets from them.
  15. The content you are viewing is making you feel bad about your body and that you are not good enough.
  16. It’s making you turn away and disconnect from your partner, family and friends.
  17. It is affecting your sexual health in a negative way.
  18. You feel you need to be watching pornography to have good sex.
  19. You are influencing your partner to watch pornography even though they do not want to.
  20. You are now watching pornography during working hours or in the work place.
  21. You are using work property such as phones and laptops to access sexually explicit content and pornography and as a result risk losing your job.
  22. It is leading you to view other sexually explicit websites that might end your relationship.
  23. You are putting your children at risk of being exposed to pornography at home on your devices.
  24. The content you are viewing is verging on illegal.
  25. The content you are viewing is illegal.

As a general rule of thumb if something in your life is effecting your health and well-being in a negative way or is causing you mental or emotional distress then you will probably be happier without it.

The problem with pornography is that it can become difficult to differentiate what’s healthy and normal when you are your only reference point and so few people are talking about it. Problematic pornography use does have different types of consequences but you can live a happy healthy life without pornography.

If you are experiencing problems giving up pornography, then talk to someone and get professional help. To book an appointment face to face in Ireland or worldwide online via SKYPE click here. 

Sexual Recovery | 365 Days in Recovery From Online Pornography Addiction

Sexual Recovery | 365 Days in Recovery From Online Pornography Addiction
How does it feel to be 365 days, one full year free from online pornography when you have been a habitual user for over 10 years? This month one of my regular clients celebrated being 1 year in full recovery from his pornography addiction. He offered to share his experience in the hope that it will encourage others to get help just like him, because one person’s recovery also positively impacts partners, peers and family.

For anyone going through a recovery process, getting through the first year of abstinence is a full-time commitment. Challenging, testing and rewarding and just cause for celebrating personal achievements. The first year of sobriety from any addiction helps to pave the way for a brighter more fulfilling future for everyone effected. The challenge with online pornography addiction and recovery is that nobody is openly talking about it. This is the third part in a series of articles about Overcoming Pornography for individuals and couples.

The most common questions that clients who come for therapy ask me about pornography addiction is how do other people give up porn? What are their results? What can I expect? Where do I start? In the media we read about the negative consequences of pornography but rarely hear about personal accounts of sexual recovery and giving up pornography.

Michael who is 28, has kindly shared his experience of recovery and answers some of these commonly asked questions. His story of problematic pornography use is not uncommon. In fact many of my clients who come for addiction counselling have been accessing pornography for as long as the internet has been available, that’s over two decades.  For other’s, smartphones have escalated the habit into a problem. In many instances the partner would not be aware that there is a problem and rarely has it been discussed openly in the relationship.

Here is Michael experience of his first 365 days of sexual recovery and personal development.

How was online pornography effecting your life before you realised you had a problem?

Porn has affected my life on a daily basis since I was just 14 year old. For me that was over 13 years of habitual use that I had to start unraveling. The last 4 years have been the worst, as my problem showed me how much of a hold it had on me. It took almost losing my family and job to realise how deep I was in this problem and addiction.

I had to change the small things first to get big results.

During this period of time, I never believed or realised that I had a problem. I always thought to myself that all men use pornography and I couldn’t see an issue with it. It started off occasionally and gradually became more of a routine from weekly to daily. At my worst it was a couple of times per day.

I had a routine and I was blindsided to the fact that I was no longer in control. Once the thoughts entered my head, I felt I had to act on the impulse and go online viewing porn.

The path that I was on was a downward spiral. At this point porn was my life, I had lost my close friends and almost my partner and kids. I distanced myself from everything that didn’t involve porn. I had no enthusiasm for life or my own family life. Porn was the biggest part of my daily life, in the morning, throughout work and I’d even sneak off at night while my partner slept. I thought everything I was doing was normal, unknown to the fact that porn had rewired my thoughts and mindset.

What are the things that you did to overcome your online pornography addiction that other people might be able to also try?

The first step in my recovery was realizing and accepting that I had a problem with porn. I was simply unable to stop alone. My biggest downfall was believing that I could overcome my issue with pornography myself. From that day on I realized I needed professional help.

I recommend reaching out and talking about what you going through. I did a search online for therapists who provide porn addiction counselling and made my first appointment with Orlagh Gahan. During my first session, I found it extremely hard and uncomfortable to go through but afterwards the relief I felt was unbelievable. I had so much that I needed to talk about and get off my chest in those early sessions.

Orlagh suggested several things to start with, some self-help books and the Fortify Fight The New Drug website and app which was brilliant. It was relatable and opened my eyes to what porn had and can do. (Check out a practical guide to giving up online pornography here.) My partner also came to some therapy sessions with me and we read The Partners Perspective by Paula Hall together.

I soon found out what my triggers were and how to avoid them. I now fill my life with structure and new hobbies. I gave up my phone with internet connection soon into therapy. This was the big turning point for me. I had to change the small things first to get big results.

How has your life changed since giving up pornography?

My life has dramatically changed since being free from online pornography. I can actually say I have a life now. I can feel and experience emotions, whereas before I kept everything suppressed. I have meaningful connections with people. I can honestly say for the first I am happy and content with my life. Words can’t describe how much my life has been changed positively since I began this journey.

I had so much that I needed to talk about and get off my chest in those early sessions.

With the support I received from Orlagh, my partner and my family I don’t feel trapped by porn anymore. I can now openly talk about it with all of them and I no longer feel shame or embarrassment.

Do you have any advice for anyone who thinks they might have a problem with pornography?

My advice to anyone who feels that they are struggling with porn is to stop trying to deal with it alone. Reach out to family, friends, your partner, a therapist or doctor etc. It’s the best thing I ever done, so much as changed for me in just one year. Get the help you need. Take it day by day. Figure what your triggers are and set goals, find new hobbies and talk about it, it will get easier.

A Practical Guide to Giving up Online Pornography

A Practical Guide to Giving up Online Pornography
Online pornography can effect people in many ways over time because of the many habits and behaviours associated with using it. For many users it doesn’t develop into a problem of any kind and may have no obvious negative consequences. However for some people it can develop into a very serious problem as it becomes a normal part of life. Here are over 20 practical ways to help you overcome pornography for good.

Online pornography effects users in many ways.

Excessive and long-term habitual use of pornography can have many negative effects on the individuals overall well-being and how they think, act and feel. The problem does not lie with the pornography content alone but with the sexual acting out, short term reward cycle and associations connected with it. Porn sites are also developed to be highly sensually and neurologically stimulating, designed to engage users for as long as possible, just like gambling websites. This makes them intriguing and compelling to keep accessing.

With porn being so free and easy to access, it can make it difficult to stop permanently. This is part one  in a series of articles about Overcoming Pornography for individuals and couples.

Pornography addiction which is kept hidden and untreated creates great conflict between the individuals inner and outer world.

Porn addiction can become a complex problem and is directly connected with sexual functioning, desire and the arousal process. Over-consumption can effect sexual health, performance, intimacy and overall relationship health. Research confirms long term use can distort the perception of real normal healthy natural sex and intimacy, making it feel unfulfilling.

The nature of addiction is that it takes people away from loved ones and family, leaving the addict disconnected. In a relationship this translates into them turning away and shutting down from their partner, neglecting their basic relationship needs. With the secrecy and privacy that comes with using online pornography this disconnect is magnified.

The good news is pornography does not have to be a part of your life and you can live a fulfilling happy life without porn. All men do not use pornography. This is a common belief system among many avid users. It is difficult to measure and understand the benefits of giving up pornography when you have a problem until you give it up. Clients in recovery feel their relationships improve, they are more driven in work, experience less stress, tension and anxiety and overall have a more positive outlook on life because they are no longer caught in a negative perpetual cycle.

How do I know if I have a problem with pornography?

The best way to find out if you have a problem with pornography is to give it up for a period of time and see how easy or difficult that experience is for you. If it is already having negative consequences on your life, causing problems with your sex life, creating conflict in your relationship or you have tried and failed to stop many times then it is most likely already a problem.

Giving up online pornography may often mean giving up the way you use social media or any content which may trigger an arousal or desire to act out sexually or which feeds into being preoccupied by sex and sexually compulsive behavior.

Practical ways to stop using online pornography.

If you think you have a problem or you know for sure you have a problem it can be difficult to know where to start. If you would like to book an appointment to talk about how porn is effecting your life click here. Here are some of my suggestions and tools to consider which I explore with clients who come for sex addiction and pornography addiction counselling.

Decide to Stop.

Make a decision to start stopping, significantly cut down or to stop cold turkey altogether for a period of time i.e 7 days, 21 days, 365 days. It is important to start setting goals for yourself to feel motivated and focused. Consider setting a short term, medium term and long term goal which you transition through. Willpower alone is not enough to overcome a long term problem. In recovery, the first 90 days of total abstinence paves the way for new habits and behaviours.

Get offline.

Spend less time online on your phone, laptop and tablet. If you want to move away from online pornography then you need to significantly reduce how much time you spend online in order to reduce your risk of acting out in the early months of recovery. Get offline and into the real world.

Talk to someone.

Talking about what you are going through is an important part of coming to terms with any problem. If you are in a relationship, start talking to your loved one about what you are going though so that you have extra support and also someone to be accountable to who you can discuss your progress and hopes with.

Get professional help.

Get the help of a professional Psychotherapist or Addiction Counsellor who works with sex and pornography addiction as early as possible. This will massively increase your chances of success. Its important to find the right therapist for you. They will help support, guide and motivate you to overcome pornography and help you understand how it started and the best way forward. Stay working with your therapist until pornography is no longer a problem. They will help you work through any other personal or relationship problems you may be experiencing. I can help you quit pornography for good, book a face to face therapy session or online therapy session here.

Spend time enjoying hobbies & interests.

Many porn addicts describe being sexually preoccupied and as a result begin to sexualise the world around them including people, places and situations. Being in a preoccupied state is a common characteristic of many addicts. Enjoying hobbies, interests and activities on a daily basis will help to reduce sexual preoccupation and the desire to act out by keeping your mind busy and active. When you are feeling a possible slip or relapse coming on, turn to your hobbies and interests for a distraction.

Read a book.

Read a few books in your down time about how pornography can impact and effect your brain, your health and your intimate relationships. There are lots of good books out there about pornography and sexual recovery. You could also consider reading books about changing habits and behaviors, self development books, relationships or biographies about recovery.

Mark your calendar on successful days.

Get yourself a calendar or diary and tick each day you have stuck to your goals of having a porn free day. This is a small simple visual way of staying motivated and focused and acknowledging the commitment you are making. It is also an incentive to help prevent slips and relapses. If you were in any twelve step groups you would be receiving a special coin celebrating your success as time goes by. Its important to do this for yourself if you are not getting the support of a group.

Learn to self-regulate.

Self regulation is a great life skill. It means that when you have a strong feeling, thought or emotion that you acknowledge what you are experiencing and react in a healthy way rather than in a negative way. For example when you are feeling very stressed you can choose to acknowledge the stress and manage it in a healthy way by going for a walk or a run rather than turning to porn, alcohol or something that may have a negative consequence. Self regulation for porn addiction means not acting out in an impulsive or compulsive sexual way but finding a new way to express yourself and cope with your emotions.

Learn more about others giving up pornography.

Check out the website www.fightthenewdrug.org which is an organisation in the USA promoting the positive aspects of living a porn free life. Their website has articles, videos, books, supports and podcasts. Their motto is #PornKillsLove. There are tons of websites dedicated to promoting porn recovery that you might find helpful.

Get software to restrict you going online.

Consider downloading some parental type software like Qustodio on your phone and other devices which will help regulate the content that you can view. The purpose of this is to make it more difficult to access porn when you are feeling triggered. Restricting access using software not only protects children from accessing pornography but also helps rebuild trust in your relationship.

Reduce your risk.

Contact your internet, TV and mobile phone provider and ask them to put a total block on all adult and pornographic content.  These days its not enough to just block your smartphone as most household devices with internet connection will have access to explicit content.

Download an App.

Download an app for overcoming pornography addiction such as The Fortify App on your phone and tablet and use it regularly for a couple of months. The Forify App helps your quit porn for good and is a great way of focusing daily on your goals and understanding more about yourself. It is free to sign up but the premium plan cost about €10 a month and it worth the investment.

Understand your triggers and stressors.

Spend some time thinking about the why’s and when’s of your porn habit. Most porn use can be described as predictive i.e same habits every time. Write out a list of triggers and stressors which lead you to using porn. Then write a list of other things you could do instead that will have a more positive outcome.  Finding ways to reduce or eliminate your stressors is a good preventative strategy. I always get clients to start compiling a list of alternatives to viewing porn, as they move through their recovery this list get longer.

Take it one day at a time.

Take things one day at a time. Try not to focus too far into the future, the present is what is important. Everyday is an opportunity to change and be better.

Keep a diary.

Keeping a diary is a common self-care recovery practice. Your diary can consist of thoughts and feelings about how you are doing, reflections or just simple plans for the week to help keep you focused on your goals.

Cut all ties.

Close any online accounts you might have, end subscriptions, clear browsing history, delete any content you have saved, empty spam folders and delete email accounts if necessary. The purpose of all of these exercises is to totally eliminate any connection to pornography you have created. You may wish to discuss this with your partner first. Rebuilding trust means allowing them to understand more about your addiction and be a part of eliminating all content and ties.

A routine for success.

Developing a good daily routine is a positive way of staying strong, motivated and focused particularly if life has become chaotic. Get good sleep, eat healthy, create a good work life balance, have fun, exercise, relax, enjoy life, get out into nature, spend time with friends and family. A good routine is critical to recovery.

Put down the smartphone.

If you access porn on your smartphone then its time to detach from your phone and start using it less, way less. Turn it off early in the evenings, keep it outside of the bedroom at night, don’t bring it into the bathroom or on your lunch break.  Alternatively, opt for a regular non smart phone for a few months until you are confident you have learned to self-moderate.

Real emotional connection.

Start spending more time with your loved ones, family and friends. The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is connection. Addiction slowly pulls the addicted person away from what really matters in life without them noticing. The more time you spend in the company of others, the less time you have to spend on your online addiction.

Avoid common triggers.

Common triggers for acting out which I hear my clients share are often stress, drugs, alcohol, hangovers, stimulants, medication, gambling, relationship discord, opportunity, boredom, anger, availability and a lack of  a sexual relationship. Triggers can keep causing slips and relapses if you don’t identify them clearly. Overcoming pornography will probably mean getting professional help for other problems, trauma or emotional pain you are struggling with.

Listen to podcasts.

Listening to podcasts on iTunes and Spotify about recovery, self development, addiction and areas of interest you might have can be a great learning and a good distraction. You can listen on your way to and from work, driving in the car or out walking. They are a great way to keep yourself motivated.

Get relationship counselling.

Porn addiction directly effects the health of your relationship, sexual intimacy and your partner. Couples therapy with an experienced therapist can help guide you both through a recovery and healing process together and address any problems that have developed in the relationship. Gottman Method Couples Therapy is a holistic approach to creating happy successful long lasting relationships, you can find a list of registered Gottman Couples therapists around the world here. Find out more about Gottman Method Couples Therapy.

A holistic approach.

Taking a holistic approach to overcoming your porn problem is the best approach. You can do this by addressing your online porn problem on lots of levels. This means you are not only overcoming pornography but also improving your overall quality of life and your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

The key to success is being focused on feeling happy with the changes you are making in your life and being in control of your decisions and not on feeling deprived or missing out. Keep your recovery process simple. Start where you are, stick with it. It will be worth all your effort. Invest as much time and energy into your recovery as you did your online porn addiction.

5 Great Couples Tools To Help Make Love Last

5 Great Couples Tools To Help Make Love Last
Has the energy gone from your relationship? Do you both need help getting closer to each other? Want to improve the romance and passion in your life?

These super modern Gottman couples tools have been developed especially with you in mind. Gottman Method Couples Therapy is a unique way of helping couples to improve their relationship together by building friendship, creating shared meaning together, developing intimacy and resolving conflict. The Gottman Relationship Check-up allows couples and Gottman trained therapists to clearly identify all the strengths and weaknesses of each unique couple who start relationship therapy. They are encouraged to also use these five tools together outside of the therapy room between sessions.

If you or your partner are not quite ready for couples therapy just yet, that’s OK! These easy to use everyday gottman tools can help you both to focus on your relationship together by giving it the attention it deserves.

Make love last by learning how to get the best out of each other and not the worst.

THE GOTTMAN CARD DECK APP

Download the free Gottman Card Deck App in an instant on iTunes and Samsung Play and take time out with your partner to go through all the unique app features.  Each section helps couples reconnect and get to know each other at a deeper level by suggesting open ended questions to ask your partner and discuss together. The app also helps users to learn how to be more appreciative, develop listening skills and be more empathetic towards each other. This is a great simple app to use at any stage of your relationship.

THE SEVEN PRINCIPALS FOR MAKING MARRIAGE WORK by DR. JOHN GOTTMAN

This New York Times bestselling book by Dr. John Gottman published in 2018 gives couples a road-map to help improve their marriage on 7 different levels. Find out the secret to a happy marriage. Each of the seven principals are important aspects of healthy happy fulfilling relationships. You can purchase this book at any good book store and online at www.bookdepository.com or download and listen together on audio book.

THE GOTTSEX.COM WEBSITE

The gottsex.com website is the perfect tool to help sex up your sex life and learn how to make real love. Two hours of online video streaming dedicated to teaching couples how to reconnect romantically and build sexual intimacy together. When you buy the gottsex guide it includes a simple downloadable guide and exercises to practice together. The gottsex.com guide is a great resource for couples who are experiencing problems with sex or intimacy together or who want to develop a deeper understanding of passion and intimacy. It is also helpful for anyone who feels they may have developed an unhealthy perception of sex and love or who want to learn more about deep and meaningful love making.

THE ART AND SCIENCE OF LOVE DVD SET FOR COUPLES

The Art & Science of Love is a revolutionary live workshop run by the Gottman’s and other certified Gottman Therapists around the world. This 2 day workshop is for couples to learn how to be better partners and have a healthy long lasting relationship. You can find out more about attending these live workshop here. Unfortunately, there are none currently planned for Ireland or the UK right now but you purchase a DVD set of the live workshop and watch it together in the comfort of your own home. The DVD set comes with Gottman couples card decks and relationship guides.

SIGN UP FOR THE MARRIAGE MINUTE EMAIL

Improve you marriage in 60 seconds! The Gottman Marriage Minute email is dedicated to helping you constantly learn about healthy relationships and motivate you to try out new things.  The email gives short regular insights and advice into all aspects of long lasting happy relationship. You can sign up for the marriage minute email here.

All of these Gottman tools are suitable for individuals and couples. I sincerely hope you find these resources helpful. Enjoy reconnecting!

If you would like professional help with sex, dating and relationship problems you can book an appointment with Orlagh Gahan who is a Gottman Trained Couples Therapist. Appointments are available face to face in Kildare and online therapy via SKYPE at www.orlaghgahan.ie 

Choose to Stop Being Angry by Changing Your Lifestyle & Mindset

Choose to Stop Being Angry by Changing Your Lifestyle & Mindset
Problems with anger can be reduced relatively quickly with a change of lifestyle and a new mindset. Most of us cannot change the people or environment around us but we can commit to really changing how we react to these types of triggers.

Putting a focus on dealing with your anger means reducing your overall daily stress levels. It also means learning to connect with people in a calm and approachable manner. In my experience as an anger management counsellor, clients who come for anger management therapy always have something deeper going on which is resulting in ongoing unhealthy outbursts. On top of that they are often firefighting because of the ripple effect of their anger on others.  Therapy helps clients to clearly identify all their triggers and focus on changing behaviours and deal with any past trauma which may be surfacing.

Angry and unpredictable people are exhausting to be around. Its even more difficult to maintain a safe and loving relationship with a partner who appears angry and agitated all the time. Partners experience loneliness, hyper-vigilance and an overall sense of feeling disconnected from their loved one. This is a sad state of affairs for any relationship as this negative sentiment override in the relationship triggers both partners and brings out the worst in them both.

For a relationship to thrive, it’s so important that both people feel safe, loved and respected. Anger only creates negativity and distance in a relationship.

Anger can be a symptom of ongoing stress and anxiety, feelings of things being out of control and general hypertension. In most cases anger appears to be the primary emotion, but the individual is experiencing a range of other emotions which they struggle to understand and express. To access these other emotions, they need to slow down in real time and try to tune into these other emotions before they react or lash out.

How you react to situations can be a conscious choice. Most people with anger problems treat partners and family very differently to how they would treat colleagues and the general public. The common saying house devil, street angel explains this difference in behaviour. Therapy aims to help clients to become more genuine and learn to be the type of person they really choose to be and not who they learned to be.

Here are some simple stress and anger management skills which will help you to improve your overall quality of life and create a healthier more balanced mindset.

  • Find ways to relax during week to help bring your overall stress levels down.
  • Start reflecting on the types of stress that you may be under. Find effective ways to reduce the types of stress you are experiencing i.e work stress, commuting, rushing around.
  • A healthy nutritious diet will have a strong impact on your general emotional wellbeing.
  • Reducing stimulants such as caffeine, excessive sugar, cigarettes and drugs can help to reduce stress in the body, your thought processes and your life.
  • Rushing round all day and feeling under pressure only increases your overall stress levels. Learn to give yourself plenty of time to do tasks and saying NO to unnecessary requests can help you reduce your daily stress.
  • Exercising regularly is a great way to burn off extra energy, tension and stress.
  • Practice simple short breathing exercises for a few minutes during the day can help you to focus on the present, slow down your heart rate, reduce adrenaline production in your body and generally promotes relaxation.
  • Getting good quality sleep every night helps improve overall mood and energy levels. Poor quality sleep causes fatigue, irritability and hyper-tension.
  • Cutting out alcohol can have a significant impact on how you are feeling in your body and how much energy you have throughout the week. Alcohol depletes the body of essential vitamins and minerals which are crucial to physical and emotional health.
  • Prepare for your day the night before reduces unnecessary stress and tension.
  • Start writing lists if you have a lot of things to remember and tasks to do.
  • Plan relaxing fun enjoyable activities which will help you to wind down and de-stress.
  • Get a hobby, something you can do each week which you look forward to.
  • Have fun with your partner. Build on your friendship and start enjoying each other’s company again.
  • Open up and start talking to people in your life about how you are feeling and what you are going through. They are there to help and support you if you let them.
  • If you are having difficulty changing your behaviours and reducing your anger then seek out the help of a professional therapist who can help you manager your anger and change for good.
  • Take an online anger management course.
  • Try complementary health therapies which will help you actively practice relaxating.
  • Learn more about managing and regulate emotions by reading self-help books.
  • Channel your anger into something more productive and creative like art, writing or music.
  • Start connecting more with your family, community and neighbours around you. Anger can distance you from things that have real meaning in life. By connecting more with people, it helps you to develop empathy and compassion for others.
  • Put others first. Anger can be a selfish and immature quality. Putting other people’s thoughts and feelings first by listening to them or helping them out develops emotional intelligence and connection with others.

If you would like to book Anger Management Counselling face to face or online therapy via SKYPE check out  www.orlaghgahan.ie and book online.

Relationship Counselling – What is Gottman Method Couples Therapy

Relationship Counselling – What is Gottman Method Couples Therapy

Gottman Method Couples Therapy is an evidence based therapeutic approach to couples therapy developed by Dr. John Gottman & Dr. Julie Gottman. Together they have been researching couples for over 30 years and have identified 9 key principals of relationship success. Gottman method couples therapy is different to all other relationship counselling approaches. There is a large emphasis on the importance of a relationship assessment, coaching communication skills and eliminating the four main predictors of divorce which are criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt.

Assessment

Couples who start Gottman Method Couples Therapy begin with a four part assessment process (approx. four hours).  An initial joint session together, two individual sessions followed by a second joint session. The assessment also includes individually completing an online relationship questionnaire called The Gottman Relationship Checkup. A thorough assessment is crucial in identifying the relationships strengths and weaknesses and each persons individual needs within the relationship.  The therapist receives a  full relationship evaluation and detailed intervention plan which they feedback to the couple once the full assessment is complete. The detailed assessment saves hours of therapy and gives the intervention sessions a very clear and direct focus.

Gottman Method Intervention

Gottman therapy focuses on supporting and coaching couples through the nine principals of healthy long lasting relationships called The Sound Relationship House. These principals are Trust, Commitment, Building Love Maps, Sharing Fondness and Admiration, Turning Towards Instead of Away, Positive Perspective, Managing Conflict, Making Life Dreams Come True and Creating Shared Meaning. The assessment will have identified the couples strengths and weaknesses in each of these 9 areas.

Every positive thing you do in your relationship is foreplay.   -Dr John Gottman

Gottman couples therapy helps couples to identify and eliminate what the Gottmans describe as The Four Horseman from a relationship. These are criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. These four behavior traits are the biggest predictors of relationship breakdown and divorce in their research based on over 3,000 couples.

The Gottman method places strong emphasis on couples practicing their interventions outside of therapy together. Therapists provide a range of practical interventions to help couples practice exercises such as managing conflict, talking in the aftermath of a fight, communication skills, compromising and developing intimacy. The Gottman Institute also provide live couples workshops some of which can be streamed online, best seller books, Gottman apps and a relationship blog. You can find a list of Gottman resources on the Gottman Method Couples Therapy page.

To find out more about Gottman Method Couples Therapy in Co. Kildare check out www.orlaghgahan.ie

Talking to a Fertility Counsellor About Fertility & Infertility Problems

Talking to a Fertility Counsellor About Fertility & Infertility Problems
As a fertility counsellor, I see all types of clients who come to talk about their fertility and infertility problems. Counselling is for anyone, male or female who would like to talk in confidence about any aspect of their fertility. Clients may come to therapy for just a few sessions to talk things through while others choose to attend more regularly depending on their circumstances.

Fertility counsellors provide professional experienced therapeutic support to women, men and couples who are affected by potential and existing infertility problems. They are also experienced in working through grief and loss, relationships problems and the many life circumstances which bring clients into therapy. Many of us are familiar with hearing about couples who are having difficulty conceiving or who are going through IVF treatment.

The reality is that there is a broad range of reasons clients come to talk about fertility, it is not just for couples who are having difficulty conceiving.

Therapy can be beneficial for anyone who would like to talk openly and honestly about their fertility plans or fears for the future at any stage. Getting support and guidance on lifestyle changes, reducing stress and addressing relationship problems ahead of getting pregnant is common. These days there is a range of options to contemplate when it comes to preparing and planning for a child depending on the circumstances. It can be difficult to talk openly about these options with family and friends. Natural conception, IVF, surrogacy, adoption, fostering and choosing not to have children are all choices that can be talked through with your therapist.

Other common reasons clients come to fertility counselling are related to physical, reproductive, psychological and sexual problems. Social factors such as career, relationship breakdown and the absence of a committed relationship also can have a direct effect on planning a family. Each person’s circumstances are unique to them and their relationship. Similarly, everyone copes and deals differently with life’s challenges particularly in a relationship where both people are trying to support each other. Understanding how to cope better and look after yourself with the support and guidance of a therapist can help make life feel less complicated.

Women may have a concern about fertility and having a child at any stage. This concern can come long before they are even ready to consider getting pregnant. This anticipatory worry can be linked to all types of life experiences such as relationships status, sexuality, sexual abuse, fear of pregnancy or sexual dysfunction i.e. vaginismus. For women who are having difficulty conceiving or staying pregnant, primary or secondary infertility is often an ongoing worry, something which they are trying to navigate through with little adequate support. The total loss of fertility on either side of a relationship may happen completely unexpectedly due to a sudden illness or accident and is often deeply traumatic and distressing.  

Infertility counselling also supports women who are experiencing chronic medical conditions, reproductive surgery, premature menopause and disability which may result in fertility complications. Coming to terms with the consequences of any of these conditions with the support of a therapist over time can be part of a healing and recovery process.    

Infertility often puts a natural strain on the strongest of relationships. Many couples feel that these challenges help to bring them closer together and give their relationship a deeper meaning. At the same time, they each may experience stress, tension, isolation and a range of complicated mixed emotions. Learning how to positively support and understand each other is important to the well-being of both individuals who will invariably be experiencing different things at different stages. Therapy can help couples to feel supported together and learn how to be emotionally more supportive to each other.

Parents, family, friends and even co-workers can be effected by infertility. Being able to talk freely in therapy about how best to deal with these extended relationships and situations can help to reduce stress and tension. Fertility counsellors are familiar with the many challenges that come with fertility problems and are there to help you through.  

If you or your partner are effected by any of the problems mentioned in this article or are concerned about anything relating to fertility then talk to your GP or local Fertility Counsellor. You can book an appointment online and find out more about fertility counselling and fertility reflexology in Co. Kildare, Ireland at www.orlaghgahan.ie 

The National Infertility Support and Information Group provide support meetings and information to anyone experiencing infertility in Ireland.

The British Infertility Counselling Association has helpful articles, information and links on their website and on all social media platforms.  

  

How Talking to a Sex Therapist Can Help With Erectile Dysfunction

How Talking to a Sex Therapist Can Help With Erectile Dysfunction

Sex and intimacy are an important part of sexual well-being and relationship health. Men can be affected by a range of conditions which may impact their sexual health and overall mental and emotional health and talking erectile dysfunction early is important.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a sexual dysfunction defined as the inability to maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. Men may experience mild to moderate erectile dysfunction or complete erectile dysfunction and other problems associated with sexual performance. The prevalence of ED increases with age and may be symptomatic of other medical conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions and chronic stress. Research suggests prevalence may be as high as 15% in some countries. Seeking professional help early is important. If you are worried about erectile dysfunction the first step is to talk to your GP or a medical professional to rule out any potential health conditions.  The second step may be to talk to a professional sex therapist who can help you come to terms with the condition in a positive way.

There are a range of reasons a male may experience ED. These can include lifestyle, physical health, psychosexual problems, hormonal imbalance, health conditions, stress, prostate conditions, surgery, childhood trauma and relationship problems. Excessive use of pornography and drug abuse has also been linked to mild to moderate ED. Some men may experience ED causing difficulty climaxing with a partner but they may have no problem climaxing alone through masturbating.

In my experience as a Sex and Relationship Psychotherapist working with men, women and couples with sexual issues there is always a combination of factors causing sexual problems which at first appear unclear. Through the process of therapy these factors become more evident, allowing the client to make conscious and informed decisions about the next steps to take.

Experiencing ED particularly over a longer period can be distressing and traumatic effecting a man’s sense of masculinity, self-esteem and overall confidence. For some men, the fear and anxiety associated with sexual performance can prevent them from dating altogether ruling out the potential for secure and loving healthy relationships.

Erectile dysfunction can be the result of treatment and surgery following a diagnosis of prostate cancer. It can be beneficial for men and couples who are affected by a prostate cancer diagnosis to talk to an experienced therapist to help them adjust to the condition together. Experiencing ED does not have to mean the end of a couple’s sex life. It often means however that they need to redefine their association of sex as being focused on penetration and more towards a focus of experiencing pleasure, touch, foreplay, sensuality, arousal and a deeper intimate connection together.

Sexual problems can feel difficult and embarrassing to talk about but that can change over time the more you talk through problems with a therapist. It is important not to let fear of talking about any condition prevent you from getting the right type of help.

The good news is that there are a number of health professionals who have expertise and training specifically in sexual problems called Sex Therapists, Psychosexual Therapists or Sex & Relationship Psychotherapists.

Talking to a therapist can help in a number of ways to deal with ED.  They are professionally trained to help you talk more openly about sexual problems by making you feel comfortable and supported. Therapists guide clients through difficult conversations and work towards helping them come to terms with the condition. Therapy for ED may include completing an assessment questionnaire to understand the level of ED and explores the history and potential causes for the condition. Once the client has gained some insight into the reasons behind their condition therapy focuses on intervention, adjustment and recovery.

Take the time to find the right therapist for you and work through your problem to rule out potential causes and identify factors. Therapeutically your therapist should be focusing on many levels such as lifestyle, sex and intimacy, emotional health and relationship healing.

It may take a number of sessions to properly assess the various factors and history of the sexual problem before any intervention is discussed. I always invite partners to engage in therapy for sexual problems to discuss the relationship and help the couple come together to support each other in a positive way. Dealing with sexual problems often means addressing the impact on both people in the relationship and working out how they can adjust together.  I find many couples I work with never learned to talk openly about sex or intimacy together. When one partner opens up in a relationship it makes it more acceptable for both partners to talk more about their intimate relationship leading to an enhanced connection together.

An important part of therapy for ED is helping men of all ages to regain their confidence, self-esteem and masculinity and start to feel good about themselves again.

 

Finding A Therapist – How To Find The Right Psychotherapist For You

Finding A Therapist – How To Find The Right Psychotherapist For You

Deciding to go to therapy might be one of the best things you ever do for yourself. Personal therapy is not just for individuals in crisis or who are suffering mental health problems. On the contrary, in my experience as a Psychotherapist many people come because they want to change something in their life, improve their relationships, get motivated to do something challenging, overcome fears or to feel inspired and empowered.

Therapy can be the perfect space for personal development with the support of a professional who can help you achieve your goals, only faster. When finding a therapist, people often make the mistake of attending the wrong therapist in the right location or the right therapist in the wrong location and find themselves feeling that ‘therapy did not work the last time’, a saying I hear regularly from new clients.

Finding the right Psychotherapist can feel mind boggling when you are not exactly sure what you are looking for. A therapist who provides general counselling might be just what you need if you want help with general everyday life stress or work life balance.

Here are some straightforward things to consider to help you narrow down your search and find the right Psychotherapist for you.

Be Specific.

There are thousands of accredited Counsellors, Psychotherapists and mental health professionals across Ireland each trained in various psychotherapy models and specialist fields from depression and trauma to individuals, couples and family therapy. Save yourself a lot of time in the long run by finding a therapist who specialises in the specific problem or area you feel you need help with.

For example, if you want to talk about a sexual problem then seek out a therapist who works specifically in sexual problems and sex therapy. If you want help to overcome an addiction and start a recovery process, then find a therapist who specialises in addictions. Maybe you and your partner want to improve your relationship or separate amicably then find an excellent relationship psychotherapist to guide you through the process.  There are many areas of expertise in psychotherapy which means a recommendation from your GP or a friend is not always a good way to find your therapist.

To narrow down your search, first identify what you want to achieve from your therapy sessions.

Most Psychotherapists who specialise in various fields also provide general counselling but many therapists who provide general counselling do not specialise in specific fields. Now with the internet you can find and profile many experienced therapists and websites to find the right professional. The benefits of online counselling also mean you could potentially access a therapist who may be practicing in another country but that you feel have the experience you are looking for. Expect to pay more for Psychotherapists who specialise as you are paying for their experience, expertise and training. It could save you money and time in the long term.

Accessibility.

When choosing a therapist consider that you may be spending weeks, months or maybe year’s working with your therapist. Many people find being in therapy so valuable that they choose to continue on an ongoing basis dipping in and out of therapy over time.  Convenient access to your chosen therapist is an important factor and should be up there on your priority list so that you can attend regularly.

Ideally you want to make getting to appointments as stress free as possible, arriving stressed is counterproductive. Even consider allocating time after your session so that you can get a coffee or have a short walk to process your thoughts and feelings on your own.

Traveling an hour to a therapist may seem fine in the early stages but longer term it becomes inconvenient and unrealistic. You may find yourself having to start all over again with a new therapist which is frustrating and time consuming. Many therapists provide online therapy which means that accessibility and location no longer restrict people accessing the right therapist in the comfort of their own home.

Trust Your Gut.

Therapists are people too with different personalities, traits and life experience. Just like in the real world sometimes we just don’t feel a connection with someone for no particular reason or maybe for a very specific reason. Possibly you saw a therapist already but did not feel at ease with that person or their practice on that day. If that happened, that’s OK, it’s natural, find another one. Don’t just give up there. Therapists are trained to be professional, ethical and approachable but even so it is human nature that your personalities or experience may just be incompatible for you to be able to really open up in the therapy room.

It is important that the therapist you are working with feels relatable to you as a person.

The client therapist therapeutic relationship takes time to develop, weeks at a minimum, psychotherapy is a therapeutic process after all. If, however your intuition and gut reaction is strong and tells you this therapist is not a good fit for you after two or three sessions then find another therapist. This time being even more specific in your search. Trust your gut but also give the relationship time to develop. Just as the therapist is learning about you, you are learning about them and how they work.

Finding the right therapist can save you a lot of time and money and really help you achieve your desired goals in a shorter space of time. Some other things to take into consideration when finding a therapist are if you would prefer a male or female therapist, affordability, agreeing to cancellation policies, age gaps and level of expertise. If you are attending therapy through your private health insurance provider, you may have no choice who you are referred to. You may need to balance up working with that therapist in the short term at no cost or choosing to see a therapist you find privately instead.

Finding the right therapist ultimately depends on your individual circumstances and what you want to achieve out of therapy. Just like relationships, it takes time to develop the connection so be open to opening up.

 

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