How to Get the Most Out of Your Therapy Part 2: Committing to Therapy…

Committing to Therapy…

In my practice, one of the biggest reasons therapy is not ‘successful’ is that people don’t commit the time or to making the process a priority. For many, this means attending the

Tips to Improve Therapy: Committing to Therapy
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

session as scheduled and reflecting on the therapy outside of session. My time recommendation for new clients is a weekly appointment, as this allows time for you and your therapist to learn about each other, to develop a rapport, and to begin the therapeutic process. If time or cost is a barrier, every other week is an option to discuss with your therapist. Once a client is established or has achieved the goals for initially seeking therapy, we discuss sessions monthly as “well-care” or as needed. I have many clients in my caseload who schedule as needed because they used therapy to develop skills to keep them healthy, one of which is understanding when they need a professional’s unbiased thoughts. In terms of “how long therapy will last,” I don’t put a timeframe. Again, therapy is your own personal journey, aimed at working with your psychology needs, and this journey may not have an obvious or definite end. That all depends on you and your goals – which can change as therapy progresses.

 

… the Therapeutic Relationship…

Another reason therapy doesn’t work out is a lack of connection in the therapeutic relationship. Although your therapist is not your best friend or family member, a potent bond still forms. This person may be one of the only people who knows the most intimate and vulnerable details of your life. It’s important to feel safe and comfortable with them! But therapists are still human, and this means we may not click with every other human in the world. It happens and it’s ok to be realistic about this and seek out a new therapist. Instead of ghosting on your therapist, have a discussion to properly end the relationship. In these cases, professional therapists will understand where the client is coming from and can recommend a colleague who may be a better fit.

Tips to Improve Therapy: Committing to Therapy
Image courtesy of everydayplus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Addressing Outside Factors…

Another reason I see clients reporting dissatisfaction with therapy (either with our sessions or past therapy with another therapist) is focusing on other aspects of the process. These can include costs or pricing, insurance issues, and rapidly switching therapists before change can occur or is about to occur. Yes, the cost of therapy is an important factor (we don’t want you going broke in order to grow or heal!) but is your growth and healing less important than finding someone with a lower rate or being able to use your insurance benefits? It’s important to answer this question in the best way for your situation, and also, to discuss this concern with your therapist.

In the past insurance plans were more consistent and changed less frequently than today. Now, the majority of plans could change in a year or a provider may leave your state or network. For instance, your employer may contract with company A this year though next year contract with company B, altering your network and your coverage significantly. Even private plans through the insurance company may change each year, resulting in a change of your benefits including mental health coverage. Before beginning therapy and choosing a therapist, I suggest exploring what is most important to you about therapy and then choose based on those options. If seeing a person with a specific niche or knowledge area is important, then choose a therapist based on those criteria. If using your insurance is most important, then choose a therapist who accepts your insurance with the possibility that this could change at any point during your treatment. And as always, discuss these issues with your therapist. He or she is invested in your success as well, and will often be able to find workarounds and compromises for insurance, coverage, and billing difficulties.

 

…And Embracing Unintentional Change

As I tell clients beginning therapy, be open to the process involving change you

How to Get the Most Out of Your Therapy Part 2: Committing to Therapy
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

aren’t expecting. Therapy is a journey and, at times, our path may take us down an unintended route. You may begin therapy with a specific goal in mind, but the could open other possibilities or provide insights you’d never considered. These can be some of the most moving and helpful sessions, even though neither I nor my client anticipates them when therapy begins. Much of my work with clients is not only symptom management but also helping clients learn about themselves (and learning along with them) and the systems impacting their development. Being too rigid with goals and expectations of therapy can lead to dissatisfaction and lack of growth. For those concerned about too much flexibility, a good therapist won’t let you flounder around and will help keep you and the process on track by reviewing the reasons you started therapy and reviewing the progress and change. And of course, therapy is grounded in communication: if you think your progress is slowing or something is not working for you, tell your therapist, who can help work out new strategies.

 

Tell us your thoughts about how you choose a therapist and what is most important to you…

 

Running Out of Steam in Bed? Tips to Build Endurance in the Bedroom

 

bedroom unsplash.com.jpg

 

Endurance is the ability to exert oneself over a long period of time without fatigue, as well as recover from the exertion without injury or trauma. Endurance is important in all areas of life; it also benefits our sexual activity by allowing us to engage in longer, injury free sexual acts or “running out of steam” before we choose to end sexual activity. When we can’t endure a longer sexual session with our partner, we could develop feelings of guilt or shame from thoughts such as “I am not good enough,” “Other people are better than me,” or “I’ll never be able to last longer.”

 

How Much vs. How Often  

Before we talk about “lasting longer in bed,” we first need to understand and feel satisfied with “quality over quantity.” As a sex positive therapist, I help clients reframID-100112062.jpge negative thoughts to promote positive feelings and self esteem.  There are times when a “wham bam thank you ma’am (or sir)” is all we need to get a boost of enery or relaxation. Understanding “do I want to last long?” versus “do I want to get off quickly” h
elps create a positive mindset going into the bedroom. We also need to communicate this to our partner so we’re both in agreement about expectations.

 

The Green Light to GO and How to Get There!

Secondly, I encourage collaboration with other healthcare providers to ensure individuals are healthy enough to increase any physical activity including sex. Sexual activity falls into the category of exercise including cardio and strength training movements. Therefore, changing current physical activity could create or exacerbate current medical conditions including pulled muscles or heart conditions. Allowing communication between all of your healthcare providers improves your chances of progressing instead of regressing in your goal to increase endurance.

Since sexual activity is physical exercise, we also need to prep our muscles before sex and allow recovery time after sexual activity. In other words, we need to warm up our whole body including the vagina and penis. A sensual massage that will help blood flow in the muscles is a great warm up activity and also builds intimacy between partners. Orgasms and vaginal stimulation also decreases tightness and helps relax muscles before penetration. This is particularly important for women with a history of vaginismus. Finally, make sure you have a great lube on hand! Lack of lubrication can cause pain or injury resulting in possible future vaginal pain or longer periods of healing time between sexual activity sessions. Courtney recommends a variety of lubes including AloeCadabra, which is also safe for toys. Check out the product at www.AloeCadabra.com and enter AFGETER at checkout to save 25% and get free shipping!

 

ID-10044290.jpgCool down or recovery time is also important for muscle recovery. Your sexual positions will determine the type of stretches used after sex. I recommend talking to your physical therapist or personal trainer to create a routine for you and your partner. This is another great time to build intimacy and communicate with your partner about the sex while. Skipping the warm-up and cool down parts could create injury during sexual activity and delay increasing endurance.

A final tip is rest and sleep. When one is already fatigued from a busy day or lack of sleep, longer endurance may be an unreasonable expectation. Due to busy lives and unexpected events, we can’t predict when we might loose energy. However, we can understand that longer sexual activity may not occur or be a reasonable expectation after a 10-hour work day plus taking care of children though it may be more reasonable after 8 hours of sleep and before getting ready for your day. In regards to rest and recovery for your body, if you go to the gym after work, a long sex session that night may be unreasonable and potentially unhealthy as you’ve already exerted energy and fatigued your muscles. Plan longer sex sessions during times you are physically and emotionally well rested.

 

Don’t forget to check out AloeCadabra.com for a natural, water-based lube that is safe for silicone toys. When checking out, use code AFGETER to save 25% and receive FREE shipping! Stock up on all flavors to get a bang for your buck!

 

Photo 1 Credit: Unsplash.com- Krista Mangulsone
Photo 2 credit: marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Photo 3 credit: Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There is No Normal Sex

To err is human, to have “normal sex” is for the birds! Simply put, there is no normal sex.

“Normal” is what makes many people think they are “weird” in life, in love, in family, and in bed! Think back to when you first learned about sex. What did you learn? Did anyone say, “OK class, it’s alright for you all to explore and experiment what turns you on?” Did anyone ask, sans judgment, “Do you want to be tied up, spanked, wear sexy outfits or watch someone wear sexy outfits, or roll around in jello?” I wonder if anyone said, “Yeah, it’s cool that watching erotic videos is sexually stimulating.” Would the word “partner” have even been used? Unless you grew up in a home or community that supported sexual diversity, this is probably not how you learned about sex.

 

refugee class

 

Thinking back to my 8th grade year of school, I clearly remember the experience of “sex education.” This was an all girls class with a female teacher, and the curriculum taught consisted of anatomy, reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, abstinence, and how to protect yourself from peer pressure and rape. Although this was my experience, I have found that many people share the same experience. Many children learn that “normal” sex solely involves the male and female anatomy. Often sex education is taught in separate rooms, with separate curriculum.   Personally, I have yet to figure out why boys and girls had to be separated for this course. You also might have learned about sexually transmitted infections or STIs (formerly called venereal disease or sexually transmitted disease), and why STIs are “bad” or “dirty” and that “not having sex is the best way to prevent them.” Some of you reading this were probably told that only “two adults who were married and in love have sex.”

Many people grew up with a set-in-stone definition of “normal” sexuality and “normal” relationships. When one decided to go outside that definition, they were “deviant,” or “weird,” and “we can’t talk to them (because it might rub off, Heaven forbid!). This mindset does not allow people to openly talk about sexuality, explore their interests in sexual behaviors, or explore their own body. “Problems” arise when we are not allowed the opportunity to explore our unique definition of sexuality. These “problems” have been given names such as “erectile dysfunction,” “low sexual desire,” and “vaginismus,” to name a few. Although these “problems” are real, they can be treated, AND, sometimes, they can be prevented.

 

crimson forest

 

So, what IS normal sex? Sex is what YOU (and your partner or partners) want it to be. Myjob is not to tell clients what his/her/their sex life or sexuality should look like, but help them discover and embrace their own sexuality. When given the time and space to openly explore sexual interests and learn about one’s OWN sexuality, you not only improve your individual self, but also your relationships improve as a whole.

So, if there is no “normal” sex, does this make us all normal?

 

 

Photo Credit:  Big Thanks to Lorrie Lynn King and 50 Cents.Period for the use of  the lovely photos!  First photo is a class of Burmese, refugee women attending Women’s Circle class to learn about physical and emotional health. Please visit www.50centsperiod.org for more information. The second photo is Crimson Forest in Gryfino, Poland.

The Five B’s to Good Health

Part of my practice with clients is teaching and encouraging self-care.  Self-care can be anything from physical health, emotional health, or spiritual health such as daily exercise, time spent doing a hobby, meditation, or even taking a day off work. Self-care can also improve unwanted physical and psychiatric symptoms such as fatigue, depression, weight gain to just name a few.

Click the link below to view a handout I created on self-care, and how to get started with making a few minor changes in your daily and weekly routine!

FIVE B’S TO GOOD HEALTH

Fifty Shades of Normal: A Women’s Sexuality Group

NOW FORMING! Fifty Shades of Normal: A Women’s Sexuality Group

Courtney Geter, LMFT will facilitate a women’s therapy group to address topics related to women’s sexuality. The group will meet on Wednesday night in Midtown.  The group is open-ended though a commitment of six sessions is required to start. The group is limited to six participants.  Please call    (678) 951-9192 or email CournteyGeterLMFT@gmail.com for further information.

Achieve Your Goals the SMART Way!

How many times have you made a New Year’s Resolution and mid-year realized you made no progress and the resolution is now forgotten? (If you could see me, my hand is raised.)  Yes, I am a therapist and I’ve failed at my own resolutions and goals.  I can’t say how many times this has occurred, but I remember the feelings of guilt and shame for not succeeding at a resolution, which we might also call a goal.

Let’s talk about goals and why we either succeed or don’t succeed with them.

Many mental health professionals use a common format, SMART, when creating goals with clients.  Why?  It prevents clients from feelings of failure and becoming overwhelmed with expectations.  There are various definitions of a SMART goal, but here is a snap-shot of what to aim for. When creating a goal, ask yourself the following:

Is your goal Specific?

Is your goal Measureable?

Is your goal Attainable or Action oriented?

Is your goal Realistic?

Is your goal Time-sensitive?

If you answered “no” to one or more of these questions, you may then face greaterdifficulty meeting and following through with your goal.

Many of us create goals around weight loss or improving a part of our lifestyle.  However, these goals are often too broad and not defined very well.  When this happens and we have not achieved the goal, we feel defeated and ultimately “give up” on or lose interest in the goal.  For some people, it might not be realistic to loose 20-30 pounds or “go to the gym” every day. Did you give yourself enough time to lose 20-30 pounds?  Is going to the gym all that is needed to lose those pounds?  I’m starting to feel defeated just writing about this goal!

Besides the SMART format, here are a few other ways to aid you in achieving your goal:

  1. Motivation– Why are you creating this goal and what is the ultimate purpose? Typically, goals are created due to the current fad or trend or because someone suggested the change.  The question, is do YOU want the goal and outcome associated wit the goal?
  2. Knowledge– Let’s go back to our prior weight loss example. Sure you know you need to lose a few pounds (or at least that’s what your wife/husband/partner/doctor/best friend/current TV personalitysaid), but do you know HOW to lose that weight? Just because you saw a 20minute segment about a current trend does not mean it will work for youwithout the knowledge of WHY or HOW it works.
  3. Individuality-Unless you are a human clone, you are a UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL.  That means you are not the same as any other person on this earth. What works for your best friend might not work for you. Again, knowledge and resources will help you here too.

 Don’t give up on those past resolutions, but make them work for YOU!

 

Photo Credit: PhotoPin.com

Spice Up Your Date Night! Part 1

I don’t care what anyonmedium_5984718411e says, but you are never too old to add a little spice to your life!

A common concern I hear from many couples (and individuals too!) is their romantic and intimate life has become boring.  After hearing story after story, the common pattern for relationships is falling into the “same old” routine. Here are just a few reasons I’m told:

  •  “We only go to the movies for dates.”
  • “We can’t go out during the week!  We have kids!”
  • “We just stopped doing the things we did when we were dating.”
  • “Only attractive and sexy people/couples do those things!”
  • “We just don’t have time during the day.”

When was there a law created that said couples, after a certain time together, can only sleep, work, run errands, clean house, and maybe go to dinner or a movie once a week?  Who said that parents aren’t allowed to go out during the week?  Again, who created a law that only “attractive” people can have “spicy” lives together?

This is my two cents (ok, maybe three cents…),

First, MAKE TIME FOR SPICE!  Before you can actually ADD spice to your life, YOU MUST MAKE TIME FOR IT!  Schedule a date night and make it just as important as your cardiology workup, afternoon gym session, or holiday dinner with the family!  Put it on your schedule and in your budget if you must.

Second, think about what USED to excite you or what you looked forward to on a date with your partner.  Think about activities you never tried, but WANTED to try. Create a list of activities or dates. Call it your “Date Night Spice Bucket List.”  Put that list in a place you will remember and see often so it is a constant reminder of what you need and deserve.

Third, forget about what others will think!  This is for YOU and your partner (or just you if you so choose!).  If we were talking about paying your bills or fixing dinner or your next vacation, would it matter what your best friend/cousin/sister/mother in-law thought?  Right.  Then why are your intimate Spice up date night imageor romantic activities any different?

In Part 2 of this blog, Courtney will give you ideas to create your own “Date Night Spice Bucket List!”

 

 

 

 

photo credit (photo 1):  PhotoPin.com