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Book Review: The Porn Trap by Wendy and Larry Maltz

February 14, 2012

By Mark Chamberlain, PhD
Clinical Director, ARCH Counseling

Back in the 1980s, Wendy Maltz and her husband and fellow therapist, Larry, were not that concerned about pornography. Like most in the field, they thought it was essentially harmless. The use of porn was even promoted at professional trainings as a way to help couples reinvigorate their sex lives. Then the authors noted a trend: porn was moving couplesaway from being sexually intimate with each other. For too many of their clients, porn itself had become the object of desire. They wrote Porn Trap because “We believe you have a right to healthy, love-based sexual expression, and that today’s multi-media driven pornography is interfering with that right” (p. 8).

The authors share this gem of a line from the 14th Century Sufi poet, Hafiz:

Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
that may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
but then drag you for days
like a broken man
behind a farting camel.

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Being there on Valentine's Day

February 14, 2012

by Geoff Steurer, MS, LMFT
Founding Director LifeSTAR of St. George, UT

I don’t know if there is another holiday in our calendar year that creates the types of polarized responses I see during the week leading up to Valentines Day. Comments range from “It’s fun to celebrate love and relationships” to “It forces men to either be romantic or look like jerks.” Valentine’s Day is a loaded holiday, to say the least.

Truth be told, I’ve had my own mixed reactions about this holiday. There were years where I resisted celebrating Valentine’s Day for a variety of reasons. However, over the last few years I’ve made peace with February 14th and resolved that I’m not going to turn down any chance to celebrate my relationship with my wife.

I think the cultural expectation to do something over-the-top romantic often creates so much pressure for couples that they end up shrugging off Valentine’s Day. While I...

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Recovery Apps

Even though smartphones and tablet devices are capable of delivering harmful content, such as pornography, they can also arm recovering men, women, and couples with powerful tools to help them along in their journey.

We recognize that many individuals in early recovery choose to rid themselves of smartphones and tablet devices to reduce accessibility to pornography. This article in no way suggests that these apps (or the devices  that run them) are necessary for successful recovery.

If you’re already using a smartphone or tablet, then we want to give you more tools and resources to help strengthen your efforts.

There are thousands of apps to help you enhance your recovery goals. Recovery categories can include: fitness, reading, healthy eating, money management, and so on. Here are a few of our favorites:

My Fitness Pal is a calorie tracking program that makes losing weight a lifestyle change instead of a passing fad. Using MyFitnessPal is very...

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Shamed - Help Make this Documentary a Reality!

January 17, 2012

For those of you who are personally, or through the life of a loved one, struggling with pornography or sex addictions in your lives, you understand the power of shame. You know how incapacitating it can be. You understand that until you can remove the shame from what you are going through, you cannot heal.

Jessica Mockett, a filmmaker based in Utah, is producing and directing a documentary feature film entitled Shamed. After nearly two years of research and study she has concluded that in conservative Christian cultures, shame is what keeps so many good people who would be righteous, faithful followers of Christ tethered and strapped to an addiction that leaves them feeling hopeless, unlovable, and unworthy of God’s protection and blessings.

Unlike guilt, shame tells us that we are bad people. But we are not. We are always worthy of love, though sometimes our actions or behaviors need to be curbed and changed. That is what life is for, it is an opportunity to...

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Setting Boundaries During the Holidays

December 15, 2011

Does the fear of offending friends or family members keep you from setting boundaries? It’s a timely topic with the holidays fast approaching. Therapist, Julie Hanks, says it’s ok to set boundaries, even if you offend someone.

Don't Be Afraid To Set Boundaries: Julie Hanks LCW on KSL TV'S Studio 5

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Opening up in Recovery

November 15, 2011

By Geoff Steurer, MS, LMFT
Director, LifeSTAR of St. George, UT

One of the most significant recovery tasks for both addicts and partners is having the courage to open up to others about their struggles. The thought of having to tell other people their story fills them with fear and dread. Of course, this is why most addicts and even partners, stay quiet for so many years, hoping that the problems will just go away.

Some of us may have been taught in our families to not share our problems with others. Perhaps we have had bad experiences opening up, or being caught, and vow never to experience the same rejection and humiliation.

Regardless of the reasons, it is a fact that something important happens when you open up to a safe person about your story. You begin to experience relief that you’re not the only one carrying the secret. Dividing up the weight of your story with other people is one of the best ways to begin healing from addiction.

This is why 12-step...

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Who Can We Talk To?

In this webisode, Dr. Jill Manning, a licensed marriage and family therapist, answers the question: Who can I talk to?

One thing that I found in my research with wives and also in my clinical work with women was this common thread of isolation. Women, even women who are well connected to friends and family and have a strong social network around them, will tend to feel very isolated when this issue arises in their lives.

And that isolation can be a very serious problem in and of itself because when you are isolated you are not reaching out and seeking resources that are available.

So when women ask me ‘Who can I turn to,” there are two things that come to mind:
1. Not everyone is ready to talk. Some people need time to step back, reflect, OK what’s going on, how did we get to this point and just become oriented.

And for those women I’d want them to know even if you are not wanting to talk, there are still...

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Mentally Practice Your Way Out of Craving

By: Mark Chamberlain, PhD

When I worked at a preschool for autistic children, we went through a peculiar routine every time one of them failed to follow directions.

“Kevin, it’s time to clean up.” Little Kevin was oblivious. “Kevin, please put your toy away.” He kept playing with the truck. “Kevin, you need to put your toy away.” No response.

Now it was my job to walk over and guide little Kevin’s body through the motions of cleaning up. “Kevin, it’s time to clean up.” Placing my hand over his, I’d guide his hand down and help him pick up the toy truck with it. I would them walk him over to the toy bin and help him drop the truck in. There you go Kevin. That’s the way we clean up.

With that, we would have been done–if I’d had my way.

But I wasn’t in charge. I was following a treatment program. So instead of getting on with the reading activity that was next on the...

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Sex as an Addiction Officially Recognized by American Society of Addiction Medicine

August 17, 2011

For years, the idea that sex could be addictive was scoffed at by medical professionals, therapists, and others. Many believed that it was simply an excuse for bad behavior and weak morals. However, anyone who has ever worked with individuals who struggle with sexually compulsive behaviors can testify that the pull and power of these behaviors over individuals who struggle looks a lot like addiction.

Now, we are one step closer to officially calling it an addiction.

The American Society for Addiction Medicine recently released an updated definition of addiction, which now includes sex and other process addictions (like gambling, shopping, etc). They recognize that people can get a “high” from these activities that impacts their brains, emotions, relationships, and lives in the same way drugs and alcohol do.

I especially like their “ABCs” of addiction that help clarify whether someone really has an addiction:

Addiction is characterized by:

  1. ...
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Dimensions of Self-Care

August 11, 2011

by: Amy Cluff, LCSW

“To succeed, you need to take that gut feeling in what you believe and act on it with all of your heart.”
– Christy Borgeld

Self-care is an essential piece of recovery for addicts and their partners. Make a commitment today to take good care of yourself.

A good place to start is to choose 1-2 activities for each area of your life: Emotional, Spiritual, Physical, Relational, and Personal Development. You can choose from the examples below or journal your own self care activities. Decide how often you want to participate in the activity. If this is new to you, it is okay to start slow, and then add in more self-care as you feel ready. It is very helpful to write down your commitments to self care and to track your activities. You will feel the confidence and satisfaction that comes from taking care of yourself.

o Participate in your meetings, therapy, support groups
o Journal
o Use positive affirmations each day

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