How to Get the Most Out of Your Therapy Part 1: Is Therapy Only for the Sick?

Tips to Improve Your Therapy Experience Part One. Click Through to find out more and check out Part 2

Your Health is More Important than Stigma…

There is still a lot of social stigma around mental health and related therapies: a lot of people receive the message that “you’re crazy or sick” if you need therapy or mental health care. However, while psychotherapy, talk-therapy, and psychopharmacology are interrelated treatments for mental illness, therapy is also a process of progressive emotional growth and lifestyle change, regardless of its relationship to mental illness. I think of the range of therapies as analogous to the range of treatments for physical ailments. Severe injuries may require invasive surgeries, medication regimens, and a long recovery time, while chronic ailments can be addressed with physical therapy, exercise regimens, and lifestyle changes, which can benefit almost anyone. Yes, some mental illnesses are like severe injuries and require multiple, coordinated forms of intervention – but just as with physical injuries, most of our ‘mental ailments’ are lower level and can be addressed in ways that not only alleviate suffering but actually improve life satisfaction.

 

Defining Therapy as Well-Care…not Sick-Care

For those who don’t see therapy stigmatized, or have experienced therapy in the past and have moved beyond the stigma, therapy can function as a form of psychological exercise, a regular experience clients use to “better themselves” or their relationships. In my practice, I discuss this as a distinction between “well-care” vs “sick-care” and define well-care as “preventative medicine” instead of sick-care, which is similar to emergency or urgent medicine. In physical medicine, after an emergency, many people try to improve their health and lifestyle through physical therapy, exercising, whatever they have to do to address underlying problems that they didn’t know were leading to a crisis. I see the exact same thing with my regular clients. I meet them first in a crisis situation, and once we address that, we work to improve day-to-day habits and functioning not only to avoid emergencies but to address life goals and that always mysterious idea of ‘happiness’.

 

Tips to Improve Your Therapy Experience Part One. Click Through to find out more and check out Part 2

Yes, Even Our Brains and Hearts Need a Checkup

Therapy is a place to gain insight into yourself – your emotions, your thoughts, and their relationship to your behaviors. Many times, a person first seeks therapy after a crisis occurs; for example, the discovery of an affair, the possibility of divorce, a family member’s death, or depression or anxiety impacting daily life. Just as you go to your primary care doctor for annual checkups to ensure that you aren’t missing subtle cues about significant illnesses, you can also use therapy to ensure that emotionally you and/or your relationship are on the right track and that you’re addressing any potential concerns before they become crises.

The important point is that therapy is like physical medicine in two important ways: there are as many varieties of treatment as there are people and conditions, and for this reason, there should be no social stigma in making use of it. Once we move past the stigma, we can find out how therapy can most benefit our specific situation and help improve our lives.

Check back next week for Part Two: Committing to Therapy, but in the meantime, what are your thoughts about therapy as a part of healthcare? How do you view therapy and mental health?

When Your Spouse Doesn’t Like Your BFFs, It’s the Marriage That Suffers, Says Science: A new study finds that our taste in friends may hold the key to a happy marriage, or actually destroy it.

Remember those days when you first met your spouse and everything felt like springtime? Those initial months were full of all the best firsts—first dates, first smooches, first adventures, and of course, the first time you introduced him or her to the other “loves of your life”—your besties. In an ideal world, your pals like your partner just as much as you do, and vice versa. But when they don’t? It can wreak havoc not on the friendships, but rather, on your marriage, according to a new study.

For the study, researchers followed 355 heterosexual couples to determine the impact of friendships on marriage after 16 years. None of the couples was interracial, to rule out race as a potential source of tension). What the researchers found was fascinating: In white couples where the husbands liked their wife’s friends, 70 percent of couples were still together by the end of the study. However, in white couples where the husbands didn’t like their partner’s pals, only 50 percent remained together. For black couples, liking the friends didn’t seem to impact the relationship.

What do psychologists think of this theory?

Click here to continue reading

Originally posted on RD.com and written by Lindsay Tigar

Vibration is Good for Your Sexual Health: A Review of Intimina’s KegelSmart

KegelSmart Box

As many of my clients, readers, and listeners know, I am a HUGE proponent for pelvic floor strength. Your pelvic floor can be weakened both by atrophy and by a variety of medical experiences – for women, pregnancy and childbirth are the most common, and it’s a seldom-discussed side effect of prostate issues for men. Strengthening your pelvic floor can help with recovery from procedures related to these issues and help prepare the body for birth. Perhaps the most desirable benefit is that, for both women and men, a stronger pelvic floor can intensify and lengthen orgasms. I also have personal experience with pelvic floor treatment, including kegel exercises (90 a day!), which can become monotonous and boring. When things become boring, we tend to stop doing the exercises, and this is how our muscles begin to atrophy.

 

Well, when I found out that my newest affiliate partners, Intimina, manufactured kegel exercisers, I jumped at the opportunity to test the product to see if this would help motivate me to perform my kegel exercises more often without getting bored. At a minimum, I was excited and impressed that this tiny device could measure the strength of your pelvic floor muscles and help me track my progress!

The KegelSmart is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and is made of smooth, medical-grade silicon. KegelSmart is inserted into the vagina like a tampon and provides a vibration to indicate when contract your pelvic floor and muscles and

kegelsmart in hand_Fotorstops vibrating to allow for “rest” between contractions. For those concerned with removal, KegelSmart also features a looped string for easy removal. The KegelSmart also has an indicator light that not only shows the product is turned on, but also shows your current program level. Did I mention KegelSmart is also 100% waterproof, meaning you can perform kegels anywhere including the shower or bath. If you’re feeling daring, you could even take your KegelSmart to your beach vacation for even more excitement in the ocean. (Of course, please be aware of all public indecency laws before inserting and removing the KegelSmart or just proceed to the nearest ladies room for privacy.)

Did KegelSmart live up to my expectations? Well, I began looking forward to my kegel exercises and performing them more regularly. I also progressed in the programs as my pelvic floor strength increased. The KegelSmart is programmed with five levels suited to your current pelvic floor strength and aimed at increasing it from your starting position. In my opinion, this helps keep your muscles working and building strength without overworking the muscles. The program and vibration keep you focused on the exercises instead of becoming distracted and loosing focus on your goal. Oh, did I mention each routine only lasts five minutes!? Come on: we all have five minutes out of 24-hours a day to work our core muscles!

Although I highly endorse this product, I do have to provide honest feedback about some cons of the device. KegelSmart requires a battery, which is not included with the product. This is clearly stated at Intimina.com – but who really reads the fine print? You can only imagine how disappointed I was to open my new toy to discover I needed a battery! As I don’t keep batteries in stock at home, I was very grateful to my physical therapy office for providing the AAA battery. Of course, they all got enjoyment from seeing this new toy as well.

KegelSmartAlthough KegelSmart is safe and will be effective for most women, I do caution women with less strength or experience in how to properly squeeze your PC muscles. It’s a skill that’s easy to learn, but that like many exercises takes some instruction from a professional and a bit of practice to get the hang of. The vibration routine provides only 5-6 seconds (at least from my count) for contractions and rests. The short rest time may be too short for some women. Please check with your current medical provider that this product is safe for your current treatment before using. I also recommend testing KegelSmart in your hand before inserting it into your vagina. This will help you become more familiar with the vibration sequence, including the delay pulse provided while you insert into your vagina as well as the ending pulses for once the program is complete. Don’t be like me and lay for an extra minute saying to myself, “Is it done yet? Do I remove it now?” and trying to grab the user manual for answers!

There you have it! Now, go check out the KegelSmart and other women’s intimate health products including other pelvic floor conditioning products, the menstrual cup, and intimate massagers at Intimina.com.

For more information about the pelvic floor, don’t forget to check out the Let’s Talk Sex podcast, “All About the Pelvis,” with Dr. Shelley DiCecco!

 

 

Spice Up Your Sex Life

This blog is a spinoff from my Spice Up Your Date Night blog. For all kinds of reasons, any couple can get into a sexual rut. If allowed to persist, these ruts can lead to mixed signals in the bedroom, less frequent sex, sometimes even no sex at all! Here are few tips that have helped my clients revive their sexually struggling relationships.

 

Go to Bed Angry AND Get It On!

Angry sex is acceptable and enjoyable! Most people believe we “can’t go to bed angry” or “sex will make him/her think all forgiven.” False! Sex is a natural behavior for humans. The part of the brain that is triggered by anger is the same part triggered during sex. Therefore, it’s natural to want sex when angry even if you haven’t made up. Another benefit of angry sex is focusing a bit more on your own needs than your partner’s needs. As I discuss with many clients, it’s all right to be a little selfish in bed at times! Plus, during this moment, you might focus a little more on yourself, which is also acceptable.

 

That Old Trunk Holds WHAT?   handcuffs-1503841_1920

No one likes eating the same thing every night!  Wink wink.  One way to add variety and spice to your sexual diet is to be adventurous with different toys or activities. For example, create an adult toy box with your partner. Regularly add to the toy box, and replace when things get worn out. And no adult toy is pleasurable with dust all over it: don’t forget to use the toy box on a regular basis. Do you find yourself ‘forgetting’ about using those toys or feeling embarrassed talking about using the toys? Create a code word or system to let your partner know you’re excited to use a certain toy. I suggest clients put the toy on top of the toy box, on the bed, or another place to indicate to your partner you want to play!

 

Not Your Average Romantic Getaway

Not tantra-389099_1920into toys or curious about a more advanced activity? Find an adult workshop in your area such as a couple’s retreat to build more intimacy and closeness, a tantra workshop to tap into your inner sexuality, or a kink workshop to learn ‘the ropes’ of bondage.

Many of my clients have also had success planning a sexcation: a vacation centered around sex and intimacy! Book a nice cabin in the woods or a ritzy hotel room for the weekend. Pack your favorite toys and sexy outfits (or no outfits at all!), leave your phone(s) and other devices off, and enjoy the time with your partner. To spice things up even more, plan your own spa times giving and receiving massages or facials! Who says you need to leave the room on vacation?

 

Kick Aging in the Butt!

You and your partner aren’t as young as you once were though that doesn’t mean your sex life has to suffer. Don’t let aging get in the way of your sex life! Talk to your doctor or sex therapist if there are changes in erectile functioning or if vaginal pain occurs. Yes, I know it’s embarrassing talking about these issues with your doctor, but it’s important! Although many causes of male and female sexual dysfunction are harmless, some sources could cause more long-term damage or chronic medical conditions. Especially as we age, it’s vital to stay on top of all medical issues, not just sexual ones, because we have a more difficult time recovering. Have you started a new medication and noticed a decline in sexual desire or function? Talk to your doctor as well. Making a small adjustment to a medication or trying a different medication is all it takes to resume a great sex life.

I work with many clients on embracing the present and learning a “new normal” for sexual functioning. Our bodies might not work like they did 10 or 20 years ago – but they still work! Embrace your age and change. Sometimes, it’s easier to accept the present than to try to replicate the past. After accepting the body’s new normal, many clients create a new and satisfying sex life with their partners and themselves!

 

Make Sex a Priority

Let the house stay dirty! Who wants to waste time and energy on boring chores when couple-731890_1920you can have sex?! We often get caught up in our daily routine that puts sex on the back burner. Before you know it, a month has gone by without sex! Of course, we need to take care of ourselves and our households, but sex is as important a part of a household being ‘whole’ as buying groceries, cleaning the kitchen, mowing the lawn. Indeed, sex is more important, because the intimacy that sex is part of is the whole reason we choose to have partners, to live and grow with them, in the first place. The chores will always be there, but time for sex may be limited, by schedules, children, medical conditions, or work. Even better, make a sexy game or reward out of the chores! The guests won’t know what really happened in the bathroom!

Oral Sex Positions: 11 Steamy Positions That Make Oral Even More Exciting

You don’t need us to tell you that oral sex is super-fun, satisfying and well, sexy as hell. But what might surprise you is how unfulfilling a sex life without oral activities could really be. Overall, for your mental, physical and sexual health, making sure to set aside foreplay time to pleasure each other orally will maintain your connection and prosperity, individually and as a couple. No matter your limitations, most couples can find a way to make oral sex a leading component of their sexual routine and repertoire.

“Oral sex can improve a person’s or couple’s sex life. For women, oral sex before intercourse allows the vaginal muscles to become looser and can increase natural lubrication. This is great for women experiencing vaginal tightness to prevent discomfort or injury during intercourse. Men experiencing erectile dysfunction can benefit from oral sex as well,” sex and relationship therapist, Courtney Geter, LMFT, CST explains.

“Behinds the pleasure, oral sex can help increase blood flow to the penis helping a man obtain a stronger erection. Oral sex could also help with delayed ejaculation by retraining the brain to enjoy sexual stimulation from a variety of methods. If a man is able to obtain an erection after ejaculation, it may also help extend the intercourse as well…”

 

Click here to continue reading and find out a new oral sex position for tonight!

 

Originally posted on AskMen.com and written by Lindsay Tigar

Hashtag Living with a Sex Therapist: When BFF is Gone, the Toys will Play

Last week, BFF went out of town on one of his many excursions. IMG_5226I’ve stopped trying to keep up with him. While that cat was making calls to local contractors for quotes on kitty play room, I was checking out my newest product to test. (That’s right! A new review blog is coming soon!)

After the dining room experience, BFF sarcastically asked if I was going to have a sex toy party while he was gone.  Therefore, I only found it fitting to place the newest addition on the table with colorful “rope” (aka the cat’s leash) and snap a picture. I sent the picture to BFF with the statement, “When BFF isn’t home…”

His response, “Hell, that happens when I am home.”  Does he realize how envious many men would be of him right now?

Yes, the toy still sits on the end table…

Hashtag Living with a Sex Therapist to be continued…

 

Photo:  Tantus Echo

How To Propose To Her: The Complete Guide To Proposing (And Blowing Her Away

For most men, meeting the right woman is an idea that’s nice in theory, but not top priority for quite some time, especially during your 20s when you’re building your career. But whether you credit meeting your girlfriend to the universe, chance luck, some online dating site or to nothing at all, when you reach that point when you’re ready to take it from Facebook official to legally binding — it’s a big step.

In fact, that one question is what’s so essential — and no, not the one you’ll ask her — ‘will you marry me?’ but the one you’ll be asking yourself: ‘how will I ask her to marry me?!’

While a spontaneous proposal has it’s merit, most men have to think carefully, do some research, examine their finances and ya know, make sure that it’ll be a special memory for their relationship, and a story to tell their families (and ahem, future children). Figuring out how to propose doesn’t have to be so anxiety-provoking that you take all the magic out of the once-in-a-lifetime moment, though.

Here, relationship experts and therapists give you their best advice on how to approach, plan and consider your game plan for getting on one knee and hoping for forever…

…To continue reading, click here!

 

Credit:  Originally posted at AskMen.com and written by Lindsay Tigar

All About Orgasms and How to have One

Tips to Experience the Big O

As a therapist, I enjoy helping women explore their orgasm as I can relate to the experience! Honestly, I can’t remember my first big “O,” because my brain is getting old or I never knew the sensation was an orgasm! This is common for many women. Until women become mindful with their bodies, including understanding sensations felt with sexual stimulation, it may be difficult to achieve or even know when they’ve had an orgasm. Anatomically speaking, the clitoris has both external and internal parts. It’s really bigger than we think! Check out this article for more detail explaining the clitoris and its function with orgasm. The internal parts are close to our urethra. The resulting response to stimulation can cause women to feel reactions from other organs including the bladder and urethra. If your bladder is full or begins to fill with urine during sex, it may feel as if you need to urinate during climax or orgasm. This causes many women to cease the experience to prevent an embarrassing moment with her partner.

Get to Know Yourself

Start by exploring your body and erogenous (or pleasure) zones alone without any distractions. Having a partner around may create unintended anxiety that will prevent you from focusing on yourself and becoming mindful of your body. This can be done anytime. Does your bedroom after waking up sound inviting? Then do it! How about the tub after a long day at work? Go for it! Choose a time and place that feels comfortable for you.

Next, you can begin exploring different parts of your body and how your body responds. The body has a natural sexual response with involuntary movements including flushing of the skin, nipple erection, muscle tension, and curling of the toes. Some areas of your body may have a stronger response than others. There is no right or wrong when it comes to sexual stimulation and response. During this exercise, you can also use toys or other objects such as a vibrator, ice, feather, or anything that is safe and won’t cause harm. Does a feather over your thighs feel different than your hands or ice over your thighs? Mentally make note of your explorations and discoveries.

Now, let’s see what you feel stimulating the clitoris with mindfulness. When exploring your clitoris, also keep a mental note of where you experience sensation externally and internally in addition to the listed sexual responses above. You may feel internal sensations such as a tightening of your pelvic muscles or sensation (such as tingling) near your pubic bone or urethra. As stated above, it may feel like you are about to pee! At this point, trust yourself and your body! Keep going until you reach climax and orgasm. Feel free to check the sheets for a pee spot. Get down there, sniff it and touch it! Does it smell like urine? Honestly, it might or it might not. Some studies have shown that urine can be released with female “ejaculation” or “squirting” though it’s not all urine. Female ejaculation and squirting come from the urethra. Therefore, if there is urine in your urethra or bladder at the time of orgasm, some may come out though it is not fully concentrated urine.

Get Your Partner Involved

Once you are comfortable with yourself, try allowing yourself to experience the full sensation with a partner. First talk to your partner about your exploration so they know what to expect and can provide support. Also, talk to your partner about your thoughts and feelings of possibly urinating during sex or orgasm, and ask their thoughts about this too! You might be surprised to learn that this isn’t a big deal for them either.

Get Some Toys Involved

Toys can be an added benefit to sexual play whether with a partner or solo. If you’re looking to enhance your solo exploration or partner play, check out these suggested toys:

Lelo Ora 2 was created to stimulate tongue movements.

Magic Wand  was created to stimulate the clitoris without causing it become over stimulated.

Tantus’ Rumble will add additional stimulation and offers detachable heads for a variety of stimulation.

What Does “Fighting” Really Mean?

When you hear “we had a fight,” what comes to mind? How about an image of two red-faced people with fists clenched and angry expressions? Does “fighting” bring to mind the image of physical violence? What about an image of two toddlers trying to play with the same toy and then crying over it? Yes, these are examples of fighting…Would you ever think an image of people in disagreement over a decision and trying to prove their own points, or two people getting angry over how the dishwasher is loaded or the toothpaste tube is squeezed? Are the former examples fighting or arguments?

Many times I have had clients report their “worst fight ever,” and then proceed to describe an example of an argument. I sit there listening trying to notice unhealthy behaviors or interactions (i.e. hitting, name calling, manipulation, etc) that warrant on going for therapy to improve communication and managing feelings. When the story is over and these red flags are never mentioned, I ask the client, “How is this the worst fight ever?” More times than not, the response is…

Click here to read more…

 

 

Originally posted on Marriage.com