The Trauma Recovery Institute

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Sex Addiction Recovery at The Trauma Recovery Institute

Sex is one of the most powerful forces in the human condition. It can drive individuals to the pinnacle of emotional and physical ecstasy or, conversely, spiral other people into depths of despair and anguish. The power of sexual energy and expression exists because our sexuality is tied, or connected, to the core of who we are; it is our essence, our life force, our creativity, and our passion. A sense of self means an inner knowing, clarity of our true nature or authenticity. In healthy sexual expression, there is desire, connection, and a sense of well-being. The act of expressing one’s self sexually results in a positive, life-enhancing experience; it is an expression of love, an exchange of mutual pleasuring and respect that leads to an intimate connection.

The sexual compulsive person may think this is what he or she is experiencing. However, the opposite is true. Sex for the addict is about intensity, danger, power, and control. It is about emotional numbing, conquering, and getting high. Sex becomes a commodity to be manipulated, a means to a self-defeating end. Sex and love become a game to play, avoidance, a push/pull, or a hunger so powerful that the addict will risk everything to reach that sexual high. No risk or consequence has stopped the addict: disease, financial ruin, lost relationships, legal injunctions, career setbacks, or self-respect. The addict is caught in an intoxicating dance that has induced a delusional reality. This is the cycle of sex addiction, and it is deadly—not always in physical form, but most assuredly in emotional experience. This “soul” death is temporarily allayed when the addict is on the “hunt” for sex or, at the other extreme, is avoiding sex at all costs. At either end of the spectrum, the addict feels in control and powerful. This is the high, a chemical release that is as addicting as any drug. When these chemicals—or the high—are induced, euphoria washes over the addict, creating the illusion of complete immunity to the realities of his or her internal ache.

 

 

Sexual addiction is not a moral issue; it is a coping mechanism born out of the addict’s wounding. The types of wounding can be as diverse as the addicts themselves. Not all addicts are aware of their “wounding,” as abuse or trauma is often covert. When a person is wounded or traumatized, he or she must learn to cope, often without understanding or support. In order to cope or escape their painful realities, addicts may use drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, staying busy, controlling others, or work. Sex addicts escape through sex. Like a steamroller, they cover, protect, and seal the layers of their painful past. Unfortunately, the layers are never erased. The history is embedded like sediments layered in a canyon wall, linear markings of a sordid history, buried but never forgotten. All sex addicts are profoundly angry with the people they think they love or to whom they have the greatest attraction. Sexual lust or fantasy is the result of the addiction. However, anger is its driving force. Sexualized anger attempts to hide or bury the shame addicts feel at their core.

 

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Dynamic Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy
is grounded in models such as affect regulation theory, an interpersonal neurobiological model of emotional and social development from early human beginnings and across the lifespan, attachment research, polyvagal theory, traumatology and interpersonal neurobiology. Drawing upon these various scientific and clinical disciplines, our trauma recovery work describes how the structure and function of the right mind and brain are indelibly shaped by experiences, especially those embedded in emotional relationships, and how communicating right brains align and synchronize their neural activities with other right brains. These experiences of interpersonal synchrony are a central focus of Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy. At The Trauma Recovery Institute we attempt to get to the root of your life challenging symptoms, discomfort, illness and maladaptive behaviours. This is not another talk therapy, although talking is certainly a part of psychotherapy, it is not the central feature of focus, talking in this context is about communicating body awareness, building therapeutic alliance, challenging internal object relations, investigating transferences etc. We offer a broad multi-disciplined, somatic orientated, polyvagal informed right brain to right brain approach to treating trauma. We also specialise in personality disorders & complex trauma. Our approach brings focus on the brain, body, mind, diet, lifestyle, relationships and most importantly the nervous system of which traumatic experiences have greatly shaped thus priming a predisposition of subsequent adversity.  The definition of a traumatic experience is an experience or experiences that overwhlem our capacity to cope. Trauma effects all areas of the brain and all bodily systems often manifesting as cancer, IBS and a host of other chronic illnesses and pain syndromes which can not be otherwise explained.  
At The Trauma Recovery Institute We Endeavour
  • to co-create an interpersonally synchronized right brain-to-right brain emotional dialogue beneath the words with clients
  • to empathically receive the client’s rapid implicit (unconscious) nonverbal communications in synchronized mutual regressions
  • to sensitively monitor very slight changes in the other’s emotional expressions
  • to intuitively track physiological variations in the patient’s emotional prosody, facial expressions, and gestures
  • to interoceptively read one’s own physiological autonomic responses to the client’s emotional communications
  • to transiently shift from the verbal left into the nonverbal right brain and the deeper core of the personality
  • to co-create a relational context of implicit safety and trust with the client
  • to be able to work with strong, traumatic affect and relational trauma, typically found in personality and psychiatric disorders
  • to engage in stressful dyadic transference-countertransference and rupture and repair transactions
  • to be intuitively aware of one’s own spontaneous bodily-based subjective and intersubjective experience
  • to offer well-timed interventions and interpretations that can impact the client’s unconscious levels
  • to interactively regulate the patient’s dysregulated affective states, across a spectrum of psychopathologies.
At The Trauma Recovery Institute We Focus
on how to work more directly and effectively with bodily-based emotions, unconscious affect and transference – countertransference within the therapeutic relationship, especially in “heightened affective moments” of the session. Attention is also placed upon working with the defenses of right brain dissociation and left brain repression that blot out strong emotions from consciousness. This central focus on right (and not left) brain affect regulation in the co-created psychotherapy relationship shifts the clinical focus from a reasoned, coherent cognitive narrative to a spontaneous emotion-laden conversation. In this manner the clinical emphasis moves from objective cognitive insight to the subjective change mechanisms embedded in the emotional attachment bond of the therapeutic relationship itself. Trauma Recovery is a complex pursuit and due to trauma and neglect’s impact on all bodily systems, any approach to address the presenting symptoms will be an oversimplified model, therefore we must approach trauma with a multidisciplinary approach on top of cultivating presence and establishing a strong therapeutic alliance with our clients. Modules of treatments such as SE, EMDR, Neurofeedback etc may be helpful adjuncts but they are way too simplified to be effective treatment for trauma, complex trauma and the presenting symptoms of trauma and neglect. The right brain implicit self represents the biological substrate of the human unconscious mind and is intimately involved in the processing of bodily based affective information associated with various motivational states. The survival functions of the right hemisphere, the lo- cus of the emotional brain, are dominant in relational contexts at all stages of the lifespan, including the intimate context of psychotherapy. The central focus of the psychotherapeutic encounter is to appreciate the client’s motivation, we need to discern the emotional experience he or she seeks. At times, the goal sought will be self- evident to client and [therapist]. At other times, the goal will lie out of awareness and will be difficult to ascertain. The golden thread in assessing motivation lies in discovering the affect being sought in conjunction with the behavior being investigated. In other words, understanding the need underpinning the behaviour, the corrective emotional experience so to speak. The right hemisphere is dominant for the recognition of emotions, the expression of spontaneous and intense emotions, and the nonverbal communication of emotions. The central role of this hemisphere in survival functions is that the right hemisphere operates a distributed network for rapid responding to danger and other urgent problems. It preferentially processes environ- mental challenge, stress and pain and manages self-protective responses such as avoidance and escape. Emotionality is thus the right brain’s “red phone,” compelling the mind to handle urgent matters without delay. Neurobiological studies also demonstrate that the right cortical hemisphere is centrally involved in “the processing of self-images, at least when self-images are not consciously perceived. Deep psychotherapeutic changes alter not only conscious but unconscious self-image associated with nonconscious internal working models of attachment. Both unconscious negative emotions and unconscious self-images are important elements of the psychotherapy process, especially with the more severe self pathologies. Thus, the essential roles of the right brain in the unconscious processing of emotional stimuli and in emotional communication are directly relevant to recent clinical models of an affective unconscious and a relational unconscious, whereby one unconscious mind communicates with another unconscious mind such at that with the therapeutic alliance.
 
 

Talk therapy alone is not enough to address deep rooted trauma that may be stuck in the body, we need also to engage the body in the therapeutic process and engage ourselves as therapists and clients to a complex interrelational therapeutic dyad addressing transference – countertransferential modes of communication, rupture and repair, right brain to right brain, limbic system to limbic system, in order to address and explore trauma that persists in our bodies as adults which can present as complex reenactments inside and outside of therapy and influences our adult relationships, thinking and behaviour.” – The Trauma Recovery Institute

 

WHY NOT TALK THERAPY

There is much confusion regarding talk therapy which I would like to offer some clarification on. Many trauma researchers including myself over a number of years have suggested that talk therapy does not work or talk therapy is not enough to address the trauma because the trauma is often stored in the body. There has been a host of fantastic published work showing that in-fact trauma is stored in the body. It is also well documented and I concur from my many years in clinical practise that recalling traumatic events and sharing the story of the trauma offers very little relief of trauma symptoms. Having said that any therapy that offers trauma treatment without talking certainly will not address trauma either and will most likely be an extraordinarly over simplified treatment or may infect be retraumatising particularly if involving touch.The body must come into the therapy but talk must be present too. The origins of talk therapy come from freud’s talking cure therapy of free association. Freud was less interested in the unpredicictibility of emotions and instead relied on the thoughts of his patients. Allowing patients to simply talk in order to relieve symptoms. There are other forms of talk therapy that are more modern such as grief counselling and other forms of counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy. In any trauma informed psychotherapeutic treatment of trauma there will indeed be talking but it does not take centre stage, it is just one part of the therapeutic alliance and one part of top down modality in a multidisciplinary approach. Trauma is very complex and an effective treatment model must be as broad as possible and multidisciplinary.

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