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The Good Therapy Blog

Archive for April, 2010

Through realizing that racism is a considerable issue in the lives of many and often has serious implications for well-being, research teams and society in general may be better equipped to help end such incidents and empower victims to overcome related challenges in meaningful ways. [post_title] => Study Finds Coping Methods Influence Impact of Racism [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => psychology-racism-copy-methods [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-07-18 04:50:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-07-18 11:50:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/?p=6391 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 5 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 [robotsmeta] => index,follow ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6389 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2010-04-03 01:00:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-04-03 08:00:31 [post_content] => Bing eating has been identified as a significant issue contributing to concerns of obesity and poor physical and mental health in many people, and investigations of potential treatment methods have been ongoing in an effort to ease and treat symptoms. A research team has recently been reported as testing the viability of self-treatment for binge eating. The study included counseling but focused on participants working with a book to work through their emotional connections to eating. After a year-long period, the study group was found to have a significantly higher success rate than a control group given regular treatment with a nutritionist. The work may help develop new ways to empower binge eaters to take charge of their habits and avoid psychiatric medications. [post_title] => Researchers Explore Self-Treatment for Binge Eating [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => binge-eating-treatment [to_ping] => [pinged] => http://en.naanoo.com/bing-eating-self-treatment-gninews [post_modified] => 2013-08-19 01:20:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-08-19 08:20:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/?p=6389 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 7 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 [robotsmeta] => index,follow ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6386 [post_author] => 131 [post_date] => 2010-04-02 12:42:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-04-02 19:42:27 [post_content] => Woman sits between two rows of shelves in library readingLast month’s article noted that “as the body reacts to external situations we have internal reactions. The degree to which we can allow the “charge” from the external stimulus to be expressed, to “discharge”, determines the degree that the experience stays with us.” This month let’s look at this physiological response in more detail. When something occurs in the environment, let’s call it the “stimulus”, we have a corresponding reaction that we can call the “charge”. The charge can be any type of reaction to a stimulus, be it excitement, anger or fear. It is a preparation, a building of energy in our body. If the charge is allowed to its natural flow it will then be discharged through the muscles, usually through sound, breath or movement. This allows the physiological system to move into a phase of relaxation. From that relaxed state the body can extract or recoup the important messages from the experience, making this the recuperation phase. It is different from relaxation in that here the system is processing the information from the experience. On an unconscious level the body sorts out how well the particular response worked. This leads to a further phase called integration. When any experience goes through this whole cycle uninterrupted there is a new baseline, we now know how to, or how not to, relate to the particular stimulus we have just experienced. Let’s say you are walking down the street and suddenly a big dog charges at you. Your reaction is to make yourself look big and yell “NO” as loud as you can. The charge and discharge happened before you even knew it. As the dog backs away and you see you are safe, your body begins to relax. You may find yourself shaking a little. This is a way for the body to continue to discharge any excess energy in your system. Eventually, when you know you are safe again, you should be able to go into the relaxation phase, a deep letting go of all of the muscle and brain activity leading to a state of rest after the surprise and exertion of the attack. From here, your body will take stock of the fact that you were able to let the dog know you were in charge of your space, this is the recuperation phase, to understand the implications of the response. In the integration phase the information will allow you a certain sense of mastery that you can carry with you into any future situations of dog danger. You will be able to call upon the learning from this experience in future situations. But what happens when the cycle is not completed in such a neat and clean way? Say we see the dog, we tense up with the charge but he runs in and bites us before we can respond. Where does the charge go? Perhaps it is released through a crying spell after the attack, or perhaps we have already learned early in life that we shouldn’t respond. Then we might hold the charge deep within our system while finding another way to avoid the dog attack. We manage to hold the energy with our muscle structure, holding the energy in in order to react in a way that, from some past situation, we believe will keep us safe. There are several ways that we stop the discharge and the cycle of learning which we will discuss in future articles but for now let’s look at some clinical situations to better understand the impact of the cycle and how to open it and create change. Here is a fictitious clinical example: A client suffered physically at the hands of his sibling growing up and neither of his parents protected him. He tried hard to be good and to not get in trouble. He learned to be quiet and not attract attention to himself in order to keep from getting hurt. He learned to cut off from his feelings to the extent that when strong feelings emerged in others in group therapy, he would become very sleepy. He fell asleep in social situations, and needed naps every day after work. In therapy he began to recognize that being sleepy was a way of coping with feelings that he didn’t know how to deal with and he began to recognize and express them. Eventually he found that he often was irritated by other men. He perceived that they didn’t like him and he was resentful of this. During a group session he was relaying a situation where he felt left out at work. I asked him what he would really want to say or do. “I’d like to go over there and beat them up”, he has his fists up and got a lot of enjoyment from realizing this. When offered a large pillow on which to open the expression of anger more he turned pale and closed his eyes. He states he is overwhelmed with memories of his brother towering over him. I invited him to make his palms flat and just push against the pillow, holding his big brother off. He does this with his eyes closed and his head down. He asks to stop. He realizes this is what he is always doing. He reflects that he feels the energy (rage) coming up in him and that he is afraid of his feelings, afraid that it would be too much for him and that he might lose control. So he holds it off with his muscles, not even knowing anymore what it is he has to express. He is still living the abuse that he never got to respond to. This is an example of how an external threat creates a charge in the system to protect itself; but after years of holding and a muscle armor forming to hold the energy in, he has internalized the threat. There was no danger to him in the room at the moment, nor at work. The danger now was in feeling his own feelings. An unresolved external threat becomes an internal threat and we form our lives and our personality around holding it off. But there is no judgment when energy and charge is concerned. The fear of the energy would be the same if it were pleasure or anger flowing, the client has dulled down his excitement level so that he does not know how to surrender and allow it. He cuts himself off from joy as much as from his self-protective rage. Look at the cycle of learning wheel below. In this situation the client feels the charge build and ignite the natural internal impulse to protect himself. He unconsciously stops himself before the discharge. This creates a straight line back to “status quo”. The experience informs the other levels of being, the thinking, acting and emotions. In this case he thinks “guys are stupid” or “nobody likes me”; and at the will/actions level he avoids people; the client becomes isolated in his life based on a physical blockage, the fear of his own life energy. This distorts the charge and results in energy blocks which eventually we tune out and don’t feel anymore; it is resistance to the life flow. Over time, the trapped energy crystallizes in the physical body and becomes muscle memory forming our automatic response, in this case, of withdrawal. In order to heal and change his patterns the unconscious process needs to be made conscious. Then he will remember and experience the original charge. We don’t necessarily need to remember or re-experience the content of the trauma, but of the energy we put against it; the impulse and emotional process we use to overcome the experience. Here is another example of how this can happen in therapy: A client had experienced ongoing sexual intrusion by someone she cared about. She was constantly hoping to be able to confront the perpetrator about this and felt that her healing depended on it. During a session she went into a regressed state while lying down in my office. Noting that she was pulling her legs up and tensing them, I had her put her feet against a piece of foam and push. Her legs started shaking, this is the charge, the energy, trying to break through the muscle holding. I invite her go with the discharge. She begins to kick until she is kicking very hard and yelling “OUT” and “NO”. When she was finished she felt alive and excited in a way she hadn’t felt in years. She no longer felt the need to continue an ongoing relationship with the person, hoping to get an apology. She didn’t need anything else from the perpetrator once she freed her own energy that had gotten blocked and held back from the situation. She had to remember and loosen the energy that she had put against the intrusion, she had been holding it all of this time. In this situation the discharge breaks through the muscle armoring; the client is open and breathless, she feels alive and her energy is flowing; she “recoups” the learning from the situation: “I expressed myself and I feel better, nothing bad happened”. Her muscles experience a different level of openness, fluid flows into the cells that were previously tight and contracted. She is in an expanded state on all levels. The system does not have to return to its former level of tension and she didn't need to confront her abuser to accomplish this. She learns that now as an adult, in some situations, she may be able to stand up for herself. This is a new baseline and she doesn’t need to fall back to status quo. It may be useful for readers to copy off the graph of the cycle of learning and look at situations in your own life. See if your reactions allow you to get all the way around the circle and to be able to respond to each situation as it presents itself, or whether you are disconnecting from the cycle in a way that puts you back to status quo and prevents your being flexible and present. This can be especially helpful as you meet new people, to be able to form relationships with them and who they really are rather than from your past experiences.

[post_title] => The Body’s Cycle of Learning [post_excerpt] => Author gives a detailed report on the cycle of learning the body goes through, by familiarizing yourself with the cycle, you may be able to begin healing. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => psychotherapy-body [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-08-14 15:18:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-08-14 22:18:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/?p=6386 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 8 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 [robotsmeta] => index,follow ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6382 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2010-04-02 09:00:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-04-02 16:00:30 [post_content] => Over a decade ago, it was found that a certain genetic abnormality had about a thirty percent chance of predicting the development of schizophrenia in humans. Since this discovery, researchers have been working on further studies surrounding the mutation and its relationship to one of psychology's least-understood health concerns. Recently, a breakthrough has developed in this line of study, produced by the same doctor credited with the original discovery and a team of researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center. The findings show that the mutation affects communication between the hippocampus and the pre-frontal cortex, key areas of the brain responsible for, among other things, enabling the working memory to function. The research was carried out with mice, some of which were engineered to exhibit the genetic mutation identified in the earlier study. The mice were then put through a maze that required them to remember the direction from which they had come in order to successfully exit. Those mice with the mutation were found to have significantly hampered or altogether absent communication between the hippocampus and the pre-frontal cortex. Researchers have noted that investigations of individual mice found that the more disrupted the communication between these brain regions (as measured by recordings of neural activity), the poorer the performance, a correlation that clearly demonstrates a relationship. A difficulty in using or lack of ability to use the working memory in humans is a trait commonly associated with the manifestation of schizophrenia, and can play a major role in an individual's ability to enjoy life within the context of society. The work may help researchers and clinical practitioners better understand the causes of schizophrenia, and earlier detection may also prove possible as a result. [post_title] => Researchers Uncover Action of Genetic Defect in Schizophrenic Mice [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => psychology-genetic-defect-schizophrenia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-07-18 04:50:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-07-18 11:50:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/?p=6382 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 4 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 [robotsmeta] => index,follow ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6383 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2010-04-02 01:00:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-04-02 08:00:33 [post_content] => Because of serious concerns surrounding client confidentiality and the preservation of trust within the client-therapist relationship, providing the community with details about a particularly interesting or insightful series of therapy sessions can be difficult. In a recently-released series focusing on pornography addiction, however, a therapist has carefully crafted a “clinical portrait” designed to shed light on the concern without violating client confidentiality. In a ten-part series, the therapist details a crafted relationship with a client and discusses his own trials in attempting to improve the quality of life of a person with porn addiction. [post_title] => Therapist Creates “Clinical Portrait of Porn Addiction” [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => porn-addiction [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-12-08 00:57:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-12-08 07:57:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/?p=6383 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 6 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 [robotsmeta] => index,follow ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6381 [post_author] => 2455 [post_date] => 2010-04-01 13:47:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-04-01 20:47:29 [post_content] => A statue of a man and a woman are in an affectionate pose.Dramatic activities are powerful tools when used in a family therapy setting. One such tool is called psychodrama. An example of one type of psychodrama is family sculpting. The first step involves determining who has a sense of readiness to do their family sculpting at this time. I generally ask this question to the group and then wait to see who is interested in doing work. If more than one person is interested, I encourage each person to talk about how important it is for them to do work now, versus considering a later date. Whoever has the most pressing need is then afforded the opportunity to do the sculpting. The individual is then asked to intuitively pick an event or an occasion from their childhood to present to the group. I ask them arbitrarily to pick an event or circumstance from when they were five years old. Later in the sculpting they are asked to pick additional events from age 10 and then eventually age 15. I will say more about this later. The person going through the sculpting is asked to choose a support person to be with them throughout the psychodrama. The person chooses someone he/she feels a connection with and feels safe around. As the individual recalls the setting, and whatever happened, he/she is asked to talk about the other people involved. As the individual introduces the people involved in the original setting, he/she is asked to choose somebody to play the part(s) of those initially involved. [fat_widget_right] This is typically the stage of the sculpting where the individual really starts to sense the realness of what is about to happen. They begin to develop a sense of who might trigger the original mannerisms or energy that people possessed in the original setting. Paying attention to who the person chooses for each role can also reveal projections that the individual may have toward other group members. That is one of the reasons it becomes very important to de-role at the end of the sculpting. Once all of the participants are chosen, the individual then places them in the room according to where they would have been in the original setting and in relationship to where the individual him/herself was in the original scene. The person then provides information about each individual, so that the people playing the roles will have a sense of what their character might say and how they might act. They can ask questions until they feel a degree of comfort with the role. This is typically a place in the activity where I assure the participants that I have a sense of their role and I will help them if they get stuck. I also make it clear that, if what they are saying does not seem accurate or helpful, I will intervene and provide direction. While overseeing the group I remain available to be there for emotional support for the person being sculpted. The co-therapist may be asked to play a role. If he/she is not in a role then he/she can help provide information or direction to the participants. This person also plays the important role of tracking the group and must pay close attention to anyone who gets triggered into some of their own trauma as a result of the intensity and/or realness of the psychodrama. The individual may choose someone to play his/her part in the drama or may play the role him/herself. This is determined through discussion between the individual and the group leaders. The main criteria for the person being involved as him/herself, is generally whether he/she feels prepared to get emotionally connected with the original pain or not. If he or she is not sure of the degree of readiness, it is better to move in the direction of not having a role for him/herself. Someone experiencing psychodrama for the first time generally does better being less connected emotionally through having someone else play their role. This also allows him/her to see how impacted he/she was by the traumatic event, from the outside. This potentially provides an opportunity to be there for his or her own hurt parts that are revealed through the sculpting process. By getting to see their internalized process be externalized, the person, in some cases, makes their first connection with these hurt part(s), and thus begins to learn to acknowledge and be there emotionally for these parts of him/herself. [post_title] => Psychodrama: Family Sculpting [post_excerpt] => In family therapy, psychodrama is used to act out emotional issues. Family sculpting is a role-playing activity that works on traumatic events. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => psychodrama-family-sculpting [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-02-26 15:48:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-02-26 23:48:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/?p=6381 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 [robotsmeta] => index,follow ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6379 [post_author] => 2382 [post_date] => 2010-04-01 12:26:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-04-01 19:26:45 [post_content] => Toddler on a swing is pulled by parents on either sideWhen parents divorce they are faced with the need to continue a relationship that has not worked. For some this is not a difficult transition. They set up separate households, work out a parenting plan, communicate efficiently about the needs of the children, and, while co-parenting, move on to whatever comes next in their lives. Others experience rancor towards each other, argue about decisions regarding the children (including those they disagreed on in the marriage), carry the hurt feelings and blame into each discussion, and have to work to keep their conflict out of the children's reach. With some effort and some help, they manage to minimize these problems. Then there are parents who cannot abide the presence of the other. Being near each other is often emotionally and physically upsetting. They act out in front of the children and appear to have little control over their interactions with one another. The children are exposed to a level of conflict that can be loud and frightening or quiet (deadly silence) and disturbing.

What Is Parallel Parenting?

The courts involved with these families have struggled for years to devise ways to allow children to keep a relationship with both parents without being exposed to their negative dynamics. Parallel parenting, a term taken from child psychology literature, has emerged as the outgrowth of that effort. You may have noticed that toddlers do well playing in the same room, perhaps in the same sandbox, as long as they play separately. They do not share toys easily and have no ability to negotiate their desires or control their emotions. The parents steered in the direction of parallel parenting exhibit many of the same behaviors. Most often, each parent has sufficient ability to independently raise their children. The problems occur when they try to make decisions together, manage schedules, allow flexibility, or try to negotiate their differences. Parallel parenting has developed over the past 10 years because there is a strong belief in many courtrooms that, for the most part, children should have a relationship with each of their parents without being caught in the middle of the parental conflict. Courtrooms also believe each parent has a right to have a relationship with their children that is unimpeded by the other parent. The single indicator for children not doing well after a divorce is the level of conflict to which they are exposed. They can be exposed to conflict whether or not their parents are loud and angry. They are exposed to conflict when they experience their parent's tension and inability to co-parent by making the necessary decisions on behalf of their children. Children often feel they are the reason for the divorce and the tension. If they hadn’t wanted something or said something or did something wrong, Mom and Dad would not be so unhappy or angry with each other and might still be together.

How Parallel Parenting Works

Both parents make decisions about their children for the time they are in their care. They often work with a Parenting Coordinator (called "Special Master" in California) to close loopholes where differences can occur. The intent is to help the parties avoid trying to control how the other person parents and to reduce the need to make decisions together. This includes bedtimes, food, clothing, friends, activities, etc. For major decisions, each parent may have an area for which they are primarily responsible. For example, one parent will make medical decisions while another will make educational decisions. They will then inform the other parent of the decision that has been made. In an emergency, parents will communicate whatever is necessary; however, for the most part, they avoid face-to-face contact. Communication is through email or another medium and the pick-up and drop-off of the children is at school or daycare or in the presence of a third party. Their parenting plan is specific, leaving no room for misunderstandings. The pick-up and drop-off times are detailed as well as who is responsible for transportation at each exchange.

Discussion

The above description gives an overview of parallel parenting. While this is often the only way to minimize the conflict to which children are exposed, it is certainly not without its problems. • Children with parents who parallel parent may have difficulty containing their own feelings when they are in disagreement with someone they are in a close relationship with. They have not had this behavior modeled for them and may not have a sense of what it is like to modulate and negotiate without feeling personally attacked. • The parenting styles may be of such a different nature that going back and forth between parents may feel like living in two different cultures. Children do have an amazing ability to adapt to change, however, there is little in the literature addressing the outcomes for those who grow up with big differences, such as what clothing they are permitted to wear, the friends they can have, the religion they must adhere to, or the foods they are permitted to eat. And it may be confusing to them to know which rules they may break in each household. Depending on the child’s age, there may be more confusion when the child is too young to ask the appropriate questions. • Loyalty issues are very important to children. They have to learn to navigate between the two households while trying to be fair and not feel disloyal to Dad for doing something at Mom’s house that is not allowed at Dad’s house. It may bring up the question, at too early an age, as to what makes something wrong when it is okay in one place and not in the other. • Parents tend to have incomplete pictures of their children due to not getting caught up on what has happened when the children are with the other parent. They might miss out on first steps for infants, the first day of school, problems a child only tells the other parent about, or losses a child might experience of a relation. Holes in communication do not get filled. Perhaps there is a last-minute team practice, play rehearsal, or game that only the other parent was notified about. If you are in a situation where parallel parenting seems to be the best option, think about the costs of making this choice and consider how to deal with the problems it can create along with the problems it appears to solve. [post_title] => Parallel Parenting: Minimizing Conflict for Children's Sake [post_excerpt] => Shendi Tuchman, Psy D - Parallel parenting helps divorced or separated parents to work manage their parental duties without directly contacting one another. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => parallel-parenting [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-01-17 10:20:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-01-17 18:20:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/?p=6379 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 3 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 [robotsmeta] => index,follow ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6376 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2010-04-01 09:00:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-04-01 16:00:36 [post_content] => The ability to choose a long-term benefit over instant gratification may be a difficult dilemma with which people grapple every day, but it's also an important choice that can have significant consequences for personal satisfaction and quality of life. Everyone from children to elderly adults has displayed difficulty in making such choices, though the specific influences that may effect the tendency to sacrifice the immediate for the eventual are not thoroughly understood. Recently, a research team at Columbia University found that the choice of when to receive a reward can be traced within the brain, and have narrowed the source to the pre-frontal cortex. The project, which was a joint production between the university's Department of Psychology and the Center for Decision Sciences at its business school, worked with over fifty participants using a kind of non-invasive brain stimulation. The participants were divided into three distinct groups; a third were given stimulation to the left pre-frontal cortex, another third received stimulation to the right pre-frontal cortex, and the final third was given a placebo procedure with no stimulation at all. The participants were then involved in exercises that required them to choose between small immediate rewards and larger rewards given at a later date. Researchers recorded that those participants who had been stimulated in the left pre-frontal cortex were more likely to choose immediate rewards. This area is also known to be poorly developed in children and adolescents, and may explain the greater degree of difficulty commonly experienced among children making choices relating to delayed gratification. The team noted that with further research into the pre-frontal cortex and its responsibility for handling such crucial decisions, a better quality of life and improved developmental care for many people may be in sight. [post_title] => Origins of Self-Control Located in the Brain [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => psychology-self-control [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-07-18 04:51:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-07-18 11:51:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/?p=6376 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 11 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 [robotsmeta] => index,follow ) ) [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6394 [post_author] => 1044 [post_date] => 2010-04-05 13:26:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-04-05 20:26:43 [post_content] => Man and woman face-to-faceWhen I opened my psychotherapy practice in the late 1970s I saw myself as a feminist psychotherapist, putting the majority of my focus on women. I would have been disdainful of books like David Deida’s The Way of the Superior Man. Now I incorporate his often provocative approach into work that I do with straight, gay, and even lesbian couples! The Way of the Superior Man is not just for men. It is written specifically for “people who have a more masculine sexual essence, and their lovers, who will have a more feminine sexual essence—since you always attract your sexual reciprocal.” At first glance it may seem a strange book to use in work with lesbians. Yes, they are two women—but every passionate couple, regardless of gender, includes two different energies: masculine and feminine. Which one are you? Deida asks, “Would you rather that your sexual partner was physically stronger than you, or would you prefer to feel your lover’s physical vulnerability? Which would turn you on more, to pin your partner on the bed below you or to be pinned below your partner?” You may want both at different times, but most of us will tend toward ‘pinner’ or ‘pinee’ more often. I agree with Deida that about 90% of people seem to have a clear preference: “They definitely either prefer that their partner kills the cockroach crawling toward them, or they’re fine with doing the crunchy job themselves, perhaps with sporting fervor.” But what about the 10% (or so) left over that might scoop the offending insect up onto a piece of paper and deposit them safely outdoors? These folks, he suggests, have a more balanced essence, be they male or female, straight, gay, or bisexual. Growing up in the 1960s, I embraced the hippie, Age of Aquarius lifestyle where I learned to be an assertive woman while enjoying the summer of love with its carefree and sensual lifestyle. The men around me wore bright colors and long hair, embracing their inner feminine. In terms of social roles, men and women became more similar—an improvement for all of us. Those reading this blog are probably in more balanced relationships than your parents were. But a side effect of this trend toward gender balance, and even similarity, can be the reduction in desire that drives many couples to my office. What Deida calls 50/50 has resulted in social equality but also in sexual neutrality, and that causes big problems in the bedroom. “Sexual attraction,” Deida writes, “is based on sexual polarity, which is the force of passion that arcs between masculine and feminine poles.” (Remember, this doesn’t necessarily mean a masculine body and a feminine body.) The North and South Poles of the Earth create a powerful force of magnetism. In the same way, he explains, the masculine and feminine poles between two people (regardless of gender) create the flow of sexual feeling, or passion. This dynamism often disappears in modern relationships. Deida says that “If you want real passion, you need a ravisher and a ravishee; otherwise, you just have two buddies who decide to rub genitals in bed.” You don’t need these different poles for genuine companionable love, but you do need them for ongoing sexual passion. Couples who lament that desire has slipped away may still be close friends, but the juice of the sexual polarity fades, unless in moments of intimacy, one partner is willing to play the masculine pole and one partner is willing to play the feminine. As Deida says, “You have to animate the masculine and feminine differences if you want to play in the field of sexual passion.” [post_title] => Fanning the Spark: The Sexual Passion of Opposites [post_excerpt] => Jill Denton, LMFT, CSAT, CSE, CCS - Do opposites attract? When it comes to sexual passion, the answer is: Yes! Each couple needs a ravisher/ravishee assigned. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sex-therapy-sexual-passion [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-01-17 10:39:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-01-17 18:39:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/?p=6394 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 10 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 [robotsmeta] => noindex,follow ) ) -->

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