Self-Acceptance

Coming soon!

Addictions

Addiction is a disease that is rife in our society. Although most people

 think of addiction as being centered around substance abuse, such as 

Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine or other narcotics, hallucinogens or 

stimulants, it can also include things like over-eating, over-working, 

over-exercising, and sex addiction. Addiction can be seen as any type of

 behavior that we use to numb ourselves (self-medication) or bolster low

 self-esteem (external self-esteem regulation).


The self-medication type ususally takes the form of alcohol or other 

drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetemines, although it can also 

include the abuse of prescription medication, or things like over-eating

 and compulsive sexual behavior (visits to prostitutes, pornography, 

internet sex etc). I am of the school of thought that it is not the 

substances themselves that are the problem, but our relationship to the 

use of them. Simply put, if we are dependent on a substance, as in 

feeling an adverse effect from stopping the use of said substance, or 

use that substance to numb from/avoid feelings/emotions, then we have a 

problem.


External self-esteem regulation takes the form of behaviors that involve

 seeking ego boosts to maintain our sense of self. Such behaviors 

include over-working to achieve success financially or greater prestige,

 sexual conquest behavior, and abuse of power (such as physical 

abuse/wife battering). And also included in this catagory would be 

dependency on relationship ( as in only feeling worthy because one is 

loved and being unable to sustain being on one’s own for any length of 

time).  Once again, none of these behaviors in themselves are unhealthy,

 unless we are dependent on them to maintain our self-esteem.


And it is often the case that we fool ourselves into believing we are 

not addicted, by stopping one kind of addictive behavior, only to then 

begin another (as in the person who gives up cocaine only to begin 

drinking more alcohol). What also makes dealing with addictions so 

difficult is that many of them are socially condoned or even actively 

encouraged in our society (such as over-achieving or over-working).


Most approaches to dealing with addiction focus on cutting out the 

addictive behavior. I prefer to work on the underlying causes that lead 

to addiction, such as unresolved trauma, depression, 

self-loathing/hatred, a fierce inner critic/judge, feelings of shame, 

insecurity, inadequacy or a host of other reasons. From this viewpoint, 

addiction is simply a symptom of an underlying problem, not the problem 

itself. My experience is that once these underlying problems begin to 

get addressed and treated, the addictive behavior will cease to have 

such a pull on the individual, and will be much easier to break free 

from. And as the individual becomes healthier and happier, the addictive

 behavior will simply cease, since the need for it has gone.


There is another aspect to addiction that is almost totally unaddressed 

in our culture, in our medical and psychological approaches to healing 

addiction, and it is this: The reason most people engage in addictive 

behaviors is quite simply to get high. In my opinion, there is nothing 

wrong with wanting to get high, or wanting the high that certain 

substances or behaviors can bring us. Rather, my view is that we are 

seeking to get high in the wrong ways. 


The healthiest and best high in my experience comes from intimacy, from 

the open, honest and authentic sharing of true feelings, emotions and 

experience between people. When we can come to learn how to relate to 

each other in this way, then the need to find high's through addictive 

behaviors simply vanishes, since the artificial substitutes

have been replaced by the natural way.


Therefore i prefer to work by helping to guide the client to healthy 

ways of getting their needs met first, and then the addiction will 

simply fade way.

But i do want to make clear that here I am referring to what would be 

called functional addicts: This means those who are addicted in some 

way, but manage to continue keeping their lives more or less together 

(holding down a job, being in a relationship).  But in certain cases 

where the addictive behavior is out of control, and threatening to 

destroy the person's life, then it is necessary to work the other way 

around, in terms of having the individual stop the addictive behavior 

and then developing treatment plans and goals accordingly.  It certain 

cases this is absolutely necessary to avoid serious negative 

consequences an out of control addiction can cause.


For me no one approach is ever the right approach in all situations. We 

are all individuals and although we share many commonalities, each of us

 needs to be treated according to our uniqueness.  And I do encourage 

those dealing with addictions to join twelve step/and or recovery 

programs, especially since these programs enable people to find support,

 help, encouragement and community around their recovery process. But I 

do not insist on their joining recovery programs.


What feels vital to me is that those I work with know that they can come

 and seek help to deal with the addiction without having to face the 

often terrifying prospect of letting go of the addictive behavior first.

Trauma

I have experience working with all sorts of trauma, including sexual, 

physical and emotional abuse(whether experienced as a child or an 

adult), rape, car crashes, domestic violence, bereavement and divorce. I

 work with issues from childhood such as neglect, abandonment, divorce 

and being the child of an alcoholic or otherwise addicted parent(s).


I also work with what is known as inter-generational trauma. This is 

where a traumatic event has such a profound impact on an individual 

within the family, or on the whole family or even community that the 

trauma gets past- on from generation to generation.  This is a rarely 

recognized and little understood phenomenon in our culture at large, but

 one that is very real. The result of trauma is that we develop what is 

known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition which can be

 severe and debilitating.


My approach is informed by the work of people like Peter Levine and Pat 

Ogden. Their theories ( and these are being increasingly supported by 

current  medical research) view trauma as resulting from trapped energy 

in the body. Simply put, the theory is that trauma occurs when our 

normal responses to fear, which are fight or flight, are not available 

to us. ( An example of this would be if a child is abused by one of 

his/her parents. You may be able to run away from your own home, but in 

the moment of trauma, that option is often not available to you, and you

 can’t fight a parent who is much bigger and stronger then you and on 

whom you depend for your well being. Thus, you can not fight and you 

can’t run/flight). The energy that our bodies generate within us to 

enable us to fight or run away gets trapped inside the body, creating 

blocks that limit our freedom of movement and expression. It is this 

trapped energy that needs to be released in order to overcome the 

trauma.


The second major way in which trauma affects us is in the cognitive 

distortions they create within our belief system.  As an example, if you

 were violated as a child, you grow up believing that it is normal for 

others to violate your boundaries. These cognitive distortions need to 

be recognized and changed to more positive and healthy beliefs about the

 Self.


I therefore use both Somatic techniques such as Hakomi and Process work 

(please see the links on the left or bottom of this page for more 

information about these approaches) and Cognitive techniques (including 

EMDR, a very effective new technique that combines Cognitive and Somatic

 approaches) to help those who have been traumatized to heal.


Healing trauma is delicate work. I usually wait quite a few sessions, 

until my client and I have gotten familiar and comfortable with each 

other, so that a very safe and secure container in created in which the 

trauma(s) can be healed. There is a very fine line between releasing and

 thus healing a trauma and simply re-traumatizing someone, and it takes a

 sensitive and competent therapist to help guide the client through this

 delicate process.