Many individuals have experienced some form of trauma in their lives, ranging from mild to catastrophic. The good news is the recovery from a traumatic event is more than possible, it is a true probability. Evidence based treatment methods, to include EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Memory Reconsolidation Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Yoga, and relaxation/meditation techniques are instrumental in providing relief and recovery for some of the debilitating symptoms of a past traumatic experience. Evidence based treatment methods used in counseling have proven time and again to work as well as, and sometimes better than, psychiatric medications which are typically used to treat depression and anxiety.
The interesting thing about traumatic experiences are the varying degrees with which individuals perceive the same experience. For instance, a car accident could potentially prevent someone from riding in a car for as much as the following year. Another person may have the same type of accident but experience it much differently with different effects. Maybe the second person is okay to hop in the driver’s seat the next day after a major accident. We are all unique and experience this world in various ways. No matter what the outcome, it is possible to rise above the despair and fear, no matter how great or small, and to overcome any distress or symptom which may linger.
The loud sound of a crowd, horns beeping in traffic, sudden noises, particular places, certain smells, or any trigger which leads to the memory or response of the trauma can lead to extreme discomfort, to say the least. Don’t give up hope. Help is just around the corner and counseling can have significant results in alleviating your symptoms! If you would like to speak with me regarding the techniques, please do not hesitate to call me at (706) 425-8900 ext. 717 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Janet W. Beasley, LPC
School will be out soon and now is the time to enroll your child in a brain enrichment program. A brain-training program called neurofeedback is available in the Athens area and is designed to rewire neural pathways into efficient, highly functioning pathways. Neurofeedback training can help your child with ADD/ADHD by increasing focus, attention, memory and organization. It can improve sleep and decrease anxiety and depression. Neurofeedback can train your child’s brain for flexibility and peak performance—it’s a great way to give your child an edge in their education and in their life.
It all begins with obtaining a qEEG brain map. An individual will wear something that looks like a swim cap. This cap has EEG sensors inside of it, which allows for brainwave activity to be measured and recorded. Once that data is obtained, a brain map is generated which pinpoints the areas of the brain where inefficient brainwave patterns are operating. Those patterns are retrained into efficient, higher functioning neural pathways.
Training the new neural pathway is quite simple with neurofeedback. It’s very similar to training a new muscle through repetitive movement at the gym, only it’s neural pathway training and it’s more fun! Neurofeedback training consists of watching a movie for 30 minutes on a movie screen while your brain trains and moves into the programmed zone. When the brain moves into the efficient brainwave pattern, the movie screen stays light and when the brainwave pattern defaults back to the old inefficient pathway, the movie screen will turn dark. The brain brilliantly seeks to stay in the new efficient pathway so that the movie may be viewed. This is a form of operant conditioning and will entrain/rewire a brain to stay within the efficient neural pathway.
The training is as enjoyable for an individual as watching a movie or a favorite television show. The brain is doing the work on it’s own as it is being guided by the neurofeedback software. Neurofeedback is non invasive and does not have negative side effects like so many of the prescription drugs used to manage similar issues in the brain.
Contact Pamela Key, Neurofeedback Practitioner, at Counseling Associates for Well-Being for brain training in the 2016 Summer Program. (706) 425-8900 or email@example.com
I recently came across an article titled: Good to Know: Why We Think the Way We Think by Pandora Maclean-Hoover. I am always intrigued by how people think and interested in helping them learn to view things differently, so I couldn’t help but be curious to read what the article had to say.
Have you ever wondered why you think the way you do? Which in turn leads to how you respond to a situation. In the article Pandora Maclean-Hoover says that “unhealthy thinking is, in large part, a function of negative belief systems, often installed by others and reinforced by our childhood experiences”. She goes on to say, “the longer we think a particular way, the harder it is to change our thoughts and beliefs”. As a therapist who operates from a psychodynamic approach I believe that one of the reasons we think and behave the way we do as adults is largely due to our childhood experiences. People frequently come into my office and get frustrated because they have decided they want to change the way they [fill in the blank] think, act, feel, etc., and they want it to happen NOW! They may have been coming to therapy for some time and think “what’s the point” I don’t see a difference. I often remind people…”you’ve been thinking this way for how long??? Be patient with yourself, it takes time to change, especially when you consider that you have been doing these things your entire life!” When you consider that this has been your frame of reference for your entire life then I think you can appreciate that it is going to take some time to learn a new way. I view therapy in these cases as a journey, definitely not a quick fix. I had a supervisor once who compared therapy to gardening, it’s like planting seeds and patiently waiting for them to grow. I have come to appreciate this process and encourage my clients to do the same.
For many of us our maladaptive behaviors served a necessary purpose in our childhood, they helped us cope with our circumstances and for some they actually helped them to survive. Unfortunately, as we grow up and continue with these behaviors (and why would we know or want to act any differently when these behaviors have served such a necessary function?) we find that they are no longer serving their purpose, in fact they are causing problems for us, primarily in our relationships. Change is not only difficult but it can be very scary too, especially when what you are familiar with and something that has served an important purpose throughout much of your life is what you are trying to change. I believe the first step to any type of change is awareness. I try to help my clients become more aware of their behaviors, and not to judge or feel shame about them, but to become more curious about themselves and why they behave the way they do. With this knowledge they can then begin to realize that they can make changes and that things can be different. I think Pandora Maclean-Hoover says it best: “Awareness is a starting place. The brain does not have a delete button for experiential files, but it is possible to update and integrate files. The password for reprogramming? Choice.”
Here is the article if you are interested in reading it: http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/good-to-know-why-we-think-the-way-we-think-0908155
If you have been wanting to make changes in your life but don’t know where to start therapy can help! Contact me and we can work together to help you make the changes you want in your life. firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-425-8900 ext 712
Real Reasons You Are Going to Couples Counseling
Most couples I see state that the reason they are coming to counseling is “to improve communication.” Usually, there IS difficulty with communication, but if people were completely honest, they would give the following many, different, real reasons for seeking couples counseling.
- I want to have more sex with my partner
- I want my partner to listen to me
- I want my partner prioritize me over his/her family of origin/children/work/friends
- I want my partner to be less emotionally reactive
- I want my partner to be able to have a calm, rational discussion with me
- I want my partner to be more passionate about me
- I want my partner to do more household chores
- I want my partner to do more childcare
- I want my partner to stop spending money on…
- I want my partner to stop telling me to stop spending money on…
- I want my partner to lose weight
- I want my partner to stop lying
- I want my partner to validate my feelings
- I want my partner to think more logically
- I want my partner to share his/her feelings
- I want my partner to calm down when we have conflict
- I want my partner to stop leaving when we have conflict
- I want my partner to stop shutting down when we have conflict
- I want my partner to be more fun loving, like he/she was when we first met, before we got married and had children
- I want my partner to stop having a physical affair
- I want my partner to stop having an emotional affair
- I want my partner to get over my affair
- I want my partner to stop drinking/smoking/doing drugs
- I want my partner to love me in a way that heals all of my wounds
- I want my partner to love me in a way that makes up for my childhood
- I want my partner to stop yelling at me
- I want my partner to stop ignoring me
- I want my partner to finally, fully understand me
- I want my partner to parent our children the way I do
- I want to leave my partner but I am worried about him/her and I want him/her to be in the care of a mental health professional
- I want a therapist to tell us that we need to divorce
- I want my partner to say that he/she will do anything to save our relationship
- I want to discuss our conflicts in front of a professional, so I am not so scared
- I want to discuss our conflicts in front of a professional, so my partner will control him/herself
- I want the therapist to fix my partner
Do any of these resonate with you? The more honest you can be with yourself about your reasons for seeking couples counseling, the more effective it can be. Need some help in your relationship? Give me a call and let’s get real about what you need.
Susanna Rains Moriarty, LPC, CRC
706-425-8900 ext 709
Humans have a need for connection with other people. Relationships can be a wonderful, enriching part of our lives. While relationships can provide us with moments of great joy and happiness they can also be difficult and cause us a lot of stress and pain. Every relationship has conflict, conflict is inevitable and is not necessarily a bad thing. While it may not feel like it when you are dealing with the conflict, there are functional and positive aspects of conflict. Harville Hendrix, co creator of Imago couples therapy, tells us that “conflict is growth trying to happen”. While I would imagine most of us do not enjoy conflict, learning how to effectively manage conflict without causing damage to your relationships is an important piece to the success of any relationship.
John Gottman, author of The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work, is known for his research on couples and predictors of divorce. One of the concepts he is well known for is what he calls the four horsemen of the apocalypse, which are essentially four behaviors that can be destructive to a relationship. The four horsemen are: criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. These are behaviors he has observed in couples that can be destructive and kill a relationship over time, he has found them to be consistent predictors of divorce. Gottman’s research has found that it is not the appearance of conflict but how conflict is managed that predicts the success or failure of a relationship. Gottman tells us that the first step in effectively managing conflict in your relationships is to identify and fight the four horsemen when they arrive in your conflicts. If any of the four horsemen should enter into the conflict and you ignore them he believes you risk serious problems in the future of your relationship. While Gottman’s information may appear to be common sense, in the heat of the moment when emotions are heightened it can be easy to lose sight of how to “appropriately” react towards our significant others, and we can easily fall into these damaging traps of criticizing, becoming defensive, acting contemptuously and/or stonewalling.
While the majority of Gottman’s research applies to couples, I believe the four horsemen are important to be mindful of in ANY of our relationships. Our most intimate relationships tend to trigger intense emotions, both positive and negative, which may cause us to respond in ways we would not typically respond to an acquaintance. Whether you are interacting with a spouse, significant other, parent, sister, brother, daughter, son, close friend, etc… the four horsemen can be detrimental to any relationship. It is important to be aware of our behavior in the midst of conflict and pay attention to any sign of the four horsemen and what Gottman suggests as the antidotes to the four horsemen. These are important guiding principles to keep in mind when dealing with conflict in any relationship. When we are involved in a relationship with another person our behavior has an impact on that person, so it is important to consider how we are going to respond during conflict before reacting harshly to emotions and potentially damaging the relationship.
THE GOTTMAN INSTITUTE’S DESCRIPTION OF THE FOUR HORSEMEN
AND THE ANTIDOTES FOR EACH ONE OF THEM:
- CRITICISM: the definition of criticism is stating one’s complaints as a defect in one’s partner’s personality; giving the partner negative trait attributions. A complaint focuses on a specific behavior, while a criticism attacks the character of the person. The antidote for criticism is to complain without blame. Talk about your feelings using I statements and then express a positive need. What do you feel? What do you need?
- criticism: “You always talk about yourself. You are so selfish.”
- antidote: “I’m feeling left out by our talk tonight. Can we please talk about my day?”
- DEFENSIVENESS: defensiveness is defined as self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or innocent victim hood in an attempt to ward off a perceived attack. Many people become defensive when they are being criticized, but the problem is that being defensive never helps to solve the problem at hand. Defensiveness is really a way of blaming your partner. You are saying, in effect, the problem isn’t me, it’s you. As a result, the problem is not resolved and the conflict escalates further. The antidote is to accept responsibility, even if only for part of the conflict.
- defensiveness: “It’s not my fault that we’re always late, it’s your fault.”
- antidote: “Well, part of this is my problem, I need to think more about time.”
- CONTEMPT: contempt involves statements that come from a position of superiority. Some examples of displays of contempt include when a person uses sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, mockery, and hostile humor. Contempt is the greatest predictor of divorce and must be eliminated. The antidote is building a culture of appreciation and respect.
- contempt: “You’re an idiot.”
- antidote: “I’m proud of the way you handled that teacher conference.”
- STONEWALLING: stonewalling occurs when the listener withdraws from the interaction, it is emotional withdrawal. The antidote is to practice physiological self-soothing in order to stay emotionally connected. The first step of physiological self-soothing is to stop the conflict discussion. If you keep going, you will find yourself exploding at your partner or imploding [stonewalling], neither of which will get you anywhere. The only reasonable strategy is to let your partner know that you are feeling flooded and need to take a break.
Relationships are hard work, but the rewards of a positive relationship are well worth the work. If you are looking for support on your own or with someone you are in a relationship with to better manage your relationship contact me at email@example.com or 706-425-8900 ext 711. I can help!
You have graduated from high school, spent the summer making memories with family and friends, and now it’s time to start college. You may experience mixed emotions given this new journey in your life. You might be excited to have a new independence – living on your own, deciding when and what to eat, hanging out late with friends. Perhaps, sharing a room with a complete stranger makes you a little nervous or maybe you are enthusiastic about having a new friend to study with or to join you for social events. You may have concerns about your courses- will I like them? Will they be too hard? Will I meet the professor’s expectations? All these emotional responses and thoughts are normal when adjusting to college. It will take some time for you to acclimate to this new environment and to become comfortable with this new chapter in your life. So don’t think that everything will fall into place the first day of school. Here are a few tips to help you make a smooth college transition and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Get to know the campus. Take a tour with an upper-class student. Learn the buildings where you will have classes, meetings, and social events. Becoming aware of your surroundings will make you feel more comfortable with the new environment.
- Give attention to food choices. The endless amount of food at the dining halls and late night food runs makes it easy to develop unhealthy eating habits. Be mindful of the foods you are eating and make food choices that you feel are best for you.
- Make time to move. You may refer to this as exercise but moving your body can help you with managing stress, anxiety, and depression. You don’t have to go to the gym in order to reap the benefits. Simply walk to or around campus instead of riding the bus or driving your car, play an intramural sport, or enroll in a dance class.
- Get some zzzzz! Late night studying or hanging out late may result in poor sleeping habits. It’s important that you are getting proper sleep in order to be alert and productive. Lack of sleep can impact your memory, mood, ability to learn and retain information, increase stress, and may result in injuries or long-term health issues.
- Ask for help. Avoid waiting until mid-semester or the end of the semester to seek help with your academic work. Take advantage of tutoring services, the writing center, study sessions, and professors’ office hours. If you have a disability, register with the Disability Resource Center in order to arrange for accommodations. Planning ahead can help you be successful in your classes.
- Have a healthy relationship with your roommate(s). Having a roommate can be a big adjustment for all parties. It is important for you and your roommate to meet and communicate expectations. Develop an agreement about how you all will share your space.
- Meet your professors. You might think your professors are only interested in lecturing but faculty like to get to know their students as well. Visit them during their office hours and introduce yourself. If you have questions about the class, class preparation, or ideas discussed in class, talk with the professors about them. Don’t wait until you need a recommendation letter to introduce yourself to your professors. Meet with them now!
- Make new friends. College is a time to meet new people and make great connections. You will encounter people from different backgrounds and even from different parts of the world. You may find it easy to make new friends or it may take time for you to establish relationships. Regardless, take the opportunity to meet someone new. You may just gain a lifelong friend.
With these tips in hand, you should be well on your way to having a successful first year of college. If you find that you are having a difficult time with this transition, you are welcome to meet with me. I have over 14 years of experience working with college students. I’d be glad to help you on your new journey. I can be reached at Marian@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900 ext. 704.
Anxiety has reached epic proportions in America – 31% of the American workforce is dealing with anxiety issues. With all of the new technology options and social media platforms, we’re connected to work more than ever and have difficulty finding time to disconnect and relax.
According to Tony Schwartz, founder of The Energy Project and best-selling author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, Americans are in constant “fight or flight” mode. This should raise a red flag in our lives and we should recognize this isn’t a healthy way to live. But many of us are just toughing it out. Schwartz notes, “If you can’t build a sense of safety and security, it will compromise every aspect of your life, including work.”
He makes it clear, your body can’t distinguish between a lion attack threat and other safety and security threatening stressors. According to a recent Business Insider report, Schwartz discovered the most common anxiety arises when someone’s sense of value is threatened. “Almost any time you move into a negative emotional state, you can trace it back to an experience where you perceive your value has come under some type of threat,” Schwartz explains. “That awareness is power. I have the capacity to decide, is this a real threat? Almost always, it isn’t. It’s much less of a threat to your body than you think.” But, our mind is processing the threat as “fight or flight” and anxiety levels are maximized. Understanding that our immediate environment may be difficult to quickly change, we can take charge of a few things – our thoughts, nutrition and exercise.
The primary anxiety triggers that may threaten your sense of safety or value:
• Serious life events like the death of a loved one or a divorce
• Problems in personal relationships, marriage or close friendships
• Work stress
• Financial stress
It’s apparent most of us experience life stressors and many of us are certainly living in “fight or flight.” With this awareness, and through working with people with high levels of anxiety, I have developed a powerful program to identify and address the aspects of anxiety, and provide clients with the tools to move into a more peaceful, productive life.
I hope you will join us. Take this life-changing opportunity to learn and experience new techniques designed to take you from the “fight or flight” mode to living in greater “peace and harmony.”
It’s Monday morning. Time for you to wake-up and head to your job. You know the one that you dislike going to everyday. The job where you feel like your skills are not being used. The job that does not match with your interest. You know that job where you sit and daydream about the future and wonder if you will find a career that is suitable for you. If this sounds like you, then you need a new career.
There is nothing more miserable than working a job that leaves you feeling empty, frustrated, and longing for more. If you are tired of feeling this way, today is the day for you to start planning for your career change. In order to make this change, you must first look within yourself and then decide on the career that will be best for you. Here’s a few areas for you to assess before moving into your next career.
What Do You Do Naturally?
Before you can move forward in your new career, spend some time getting to know yourself. Self-awareness is important to securing the job you want in the career field that’s best for you. You can start by thinking about your natural abilities and skill set. Your natural abilities are simply your innate strengths. You may often hear your family or friends marvel about something that you always seem to do so well. “Wow, you really are good with organizing and decorating your home, office, or any space you are in.” What are your abilities that always lead to compliments from others? Make a list of them and use them to determine what type of career would allow you to use them.
Skills are competencies developed from learning or practice. Some skill sets include helping, management, teaching, leadership, design, financial, problem solving, and mechanical. Although you may have skills in several areas, you should decide whether you like using all the skills that you possess. For example, you may possess supervisory skills but do you enjoy being a supervisor? If not, this is a skill set that you may not want to continue using. Take a moment to think about the skills you use in your job on a daily basis. Identify the ones you like to use and the ones you do not like to use. Also, identify the skills that you have and do not currently use but would like to use. If you are unsure of the skills that you possess, a skills survey can help you determine the ones you have and like to use.
What Does Your Personality Say About You?
Believe it or not, your personality is a good indicator of the type of career you may want to consider. I recommend taking the Myers Briggs-Type Indicator, the most widely used personality tool, to assess this area. The MBTI will assess how you focus your attention (inward or outward), how you gather information (basic information or adding interpretation and meaning), how you make decisions (by using logic or considering people and circumstances), and how you structure your world (decided or flexibility). Upon completion of the MBTI, you will be assigned a personality type which further identifies your strengths and how you best work. Using your type information, you can identify careers that are most suitable for your personality. While there are many online versions of this assessment, I am qualified to administer and interpret the official version of the MBTI which gives you a more accurate picture of your type.
What Are Your Main Interests?
Your interests can cover several different areas. Some interests may be more suitable for a career while others may be well suited for hobbies. The Strong Interest Inventory can be beneficial in understanding your interests and the careers associated with your interests. The assessment is based on the concept that people are more satisfied when they work in careers that are of interest to them and when they work with people who have similar interests. This assessment categorizes interests into six different areas. Once you have completed the assessment, your interest areas are identified and further explained in a personalized report. The report also includes a list of careers related to your interests along with information about your work style, learning style, and risk-taking orientation. I find the Strong Interest Inventory to be a great complement to the MBTI.
What Do You Value?
Your values are a reflection of what you consider important and a priority in your life. You need to know what you value in your work space in order to have a satisfying and rewarding career. Some career values include salary, work location, benefits, stable employment, challenging work responsibilities, opportunities for advancement/promotion, and recognition. While career values are important, you also have to consider your life values and factor them into your new career plans. Some life values include education, family, freedom, health, honesty, independence, integrity, and loyalty. Take a moment to note your values and think about how important they are for your next career.
Once you have gathered information about yourself in these areas, begin to look for common themes. Do you see commonalities between the skills you prefer to use and your interests? Do your values align with your interests? From each of these areas, you can start putting the pieces together to determine what you will want in your new career. The next step is to determine careers where you can be yourself – natural abilities, skills, personality, interests, and values. The assessments that I previously mentioned (Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory) can offer a great start with a list of careers associated with your personality and interests. If you have some careers in mind that you want to consider, research them and decide whether they are suitable given your abilities, skills, personality, interests, and values.
If you would like assistance with making your career change, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-425-8900 ext. 704 to schedule an appointment.
Maybe you’re the kind of person that has trouble focusing. One thought seamlessly leads to another and that thought takes you to something else and so on, making it difficult to complete the task at hand or listen to a speaker for more than a few minutes without your mind wandering.
Perhaps your mind races about with one exciting idea after another, inhibiting your ability to concentrate on one concept for any length of time. You could be coping with ADHD, depression or anxiety, any of which can cause you to lose focus or make it hard to find it in the first place.
For whatever reason, an inability to concentrate is more than frustrating. It impedes kids’ schoolwork and adults’ careers. It strains friendships, stresses family relationships and detracts from self-worth.
The good news is the mind can be directed to concentrate better through neurofeedback, a non-pharmaceutical method of retraining wayward electrical impulses in the brain.
Measuring brain waves
While it’s normal for brain waves to vary in rate according to what a person is doing, some people’s brains get stuck in a too-fast or too-slow pattern for extended intervals, making it hard for them to focus. For example, a prolonged period of a slower state, which is called theta, can cause people to drift and make it hard for them to return to full awareness. On the flip side, experiencing the fast beta state for too long can leave someone too anxious or too excited to concentrate. Neurofeedback works by assessing and retraining such electricity in the cortex, or top layer, of the brain.
To begin, a map of a person’s electric activity in the brain is created by having the individual sit in a chair and don a thin cap fitted with 19 sensors that detect and measure the activity in the brain’s cortex. The results are compared against a normative sample, bringing to light any areas where the electrical activity is too fast or too slow, either of which can impede concentration and focus.
Re-training electrical activity
To retrain electrical brain activity, the practitioner will place one to four sensors on the individual upon those spots where the activity reads as too fast or too slow. The sensors, which are connected to a computer that’s linked to a video monitor, read the person’s brain activity as the individual begins to watch a movie. When the person’s brain activity fires too quickly or too slowly, as determined by the sensors, the image on the monitor screen dims. As the brain’s electrical impulses go toward the norm, the picture brightens and a click sounds, thereby reinforcing the better brain activity on two levels.
Each session lasts about 30 minutes, with two sessions per week recommended. The number of sessions required varies with the type of problem experienced by the individual and his or her response to training. Some people get a “tune up” session after six months or a year, and many people have been able to modify or stop taking related medications after treatment.
Although the brain likes to stay on a set course, the positive reinforcement achieved by neurofeedback challenges it to shift accordingly and permanently, thereby calming overactive impulses or boosting ones that are too slow, helping improve a person’s ability to focus and concentrate.
Better and better
Neurofeedback also can help with anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It also can contribute to peak performance in athletics, music and dance. Members of the Italian soccer team underwent neurofeedback therapy before winning the World Cup in 2006.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information supports neurofeedback as a viable treatment for ADHD (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19715181). The treatment can be “efficacious and specific,” that is, equal to or better than the current accepted standard of care, as rated by the International Society for Neurofeedback & Research.
Typically, changes are seen gradually over time, with, perhaps, a child’s teacher noticing a student’s improved behavior first, followed by the child’s parent and then the child himself. Gradual shifts that can lead to desired change and increased well being.
Pamela Key provides neurofeedback services for children and adults at Counseling Associates for Well-Being. Contact Pamela at email@example.com or call (706) 425-8900.
I recently watched a TED Talk by the world renown relationship expert, Esther Perel, about infidelity. http://www.ted.com/talks/esther_perel_rethinking_infidelity_a_talk_for_anyone_who_has_ever_loved
In it, she points out that the data about the occurrence of affairs is hard to pin down because the definition of an affair or infidelity is varied. She says that the numbers range from 26% to 75% depending on the source. That’s very common even at the low end. So it seems that information about affairs and their impact on our lives is extremely important for all of us.
I have worked for quite some time now with couples reeling in the aftermath of the discovery of an affair, or individuals who have been affected by an affair in their relationship—either because they are in the midst of one, grieving the end of one, or blown apart by the discovery of their partner’s affair.
I think that Ms. Perel’s assertion that affairs can be the final blow to an already damaged marriage or relationship, or may in fact be the greatest opportunity, is absolutely correct. The chance to examine and search for what she terms “lost parts” of ourselves or our partners is invaluable. She jokes that she isn’t “pro-affair”, and to be so would be akin to being “pro-cancer.” But in the aftermath of such a life-changing event, one cannot help but be somehow different.
I have suggested on many occasions to the couples I have been privileged to work with that, that they may eventually come to be grateful for the discovery of the affair. I am often initially met with doubting looks to put it mildly.
You don’t just get married or move in together and never feel an attraction for any other person ever again. You don’t simply remain “in love” and tremendously attracted to your partner either. The intimacy and closeness in a relationship takes work. It takes attention. It needs to be tended to and nurtured, in a conscious, deliberate way. The awareness of this is the gift that can come from of the discovery of an affair. Even in instances in which one partner does not know about the affair because it is neither discovered nor disclosed, the person having the affair has an opportunity to explore the meaning of the affair. They can learn about the desires and the longing that may have led to the crossing of some line. In that process of reflection, there is a fantastic chance to grow—t o be more mindfully aware, and to clarify who we are and what we value.
When there is a discovery that leads to the trust being broken between two people, it can seem like an overwhelming blow, one that seems impossible to recover from. However, I have witnessed the beautiful transformation that can happen between two people as they work to understand themselves and each other, and to truly love one another through the most painful of processes. I have seen the bond or connection that deepens in the most remarkable ways as people share their most vulnerable selves, and find that the person that they once felt a giddy in love feeling with, can see all their flaws, forgive their mistakes, and still remain lovingly there –committed to the relationship. It takes time, and work, and hope, and patience, but yes, you can recover.
For help with Affair Recovery contact Claire Zimmerman at Claire@ca4wellbeing.com