Saturday 28 Feb 2015

Dr. Carol Clark

Be In Light

The offspring of a customized orbiter
Dr. Carol Clark is a Board certified sex therapist and addictions counselor, president and senior instructor at the Sex Therapy Training Institute and is an adjunct professor at Carlos Albizu University in Miami, Florida.
Our over-stimulated lifestyles have led to a disconnection from each other and the Universe. The themes and exercises in this book will help you to Connect and be present, leading to a more fulfilled and peaceful life.
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Sex Addiction Group Meeting held alternate Thursdays in Miami Shores. Contact Dr Clark at (305) 891-1827 for information.
2/21/15 STTI Class: Sexual Offender Treatment I 
2/28/15 STTI Class: Sexual Offender Treatment II - Guest Speaker Dr. Susan Bollinger
3/6/15-3/7/15: 2 Day Practice-Building Intensive with Jennifer Sneeden Register Here
3/7/15 STTI Class: Legal, Ethical and Forensic Issues in Sex Therapy I
3/17/15 STTI Class: Legal, Ethical and Forensic Issues in Sex Therapy II - Sex Addiction Panel
3/20/15 ATTI Class - Guest Speaker Jack Bloomfield, CAI
View Calendar for full STTI class schedule

 

 

My sexual behavior is out of control!  

Sexual Addiction or Compulsion afflicts an estimated 20 million Americans. It is characterized by: obsessive, compulsive, out of control behavior; done in spite of negative consequences to self or others. Addicts experience loss of intimacy and connection, loss of jobs, marriage, self-esteem, as well as shame and guilt. Think this could be you?

Addiction is treatable! Call (305) 891-1827 today to take your first step toward recovery. 

Sex Addiction Group Meetings held alternate Thursdays in Miami Shores. Please call (305) 891-1827 for more information. 

 

♦  My partner wants sex more/less than I do.         ♦  Where has the intimacy gone?         ♦  My partner and I argue all the time.

How can we learn to calmly discuss things and solve our problems? 

Couples often have communication or intimacy problems that manifest themselves in the bedroom.  

     Don’t be afraid to take that first step and seek help. 

♦  I think I’m gay, lesbian, Transgendered           ♦  My wife just found out I’m a cross-dresser

What do I do now?

Some individuals are unable to accept themselves, some need help coping with friends and family. 

♦ How can I stop these nightmares?        ♦ I was molested/abused.     ♦ I can’t seem to get past losing my loved one.

Grief and trauma can become frozen in a person’s mind and cause ongoing anxiety, nightmares, or eating disorders.

Read more...

Dr. Carol L Clark

Taking It Personally

There is a great bit in the movie “You’ve Got Mail” when Meg Ryan’s character is talking to Tom Hank’s character about the falsity of telling someone “it’s not personal” when of course, it is affecting her on a very deep, personal level.

The line “don’t take it personally” or “it’s not personal” can be a great way for someone to relieve their own sense of responsibility for another person’s feelings by blaming them for the hurt they are experiencing. This is very disconnecting for both people – let’s call them Meg and Tom. Tom’s acknowledgment of that hurt would be far more effective way of empathizing with Meg and by recognizing that they are both feeling disempowered. This, paradoxically, leads to empowerment. In other words, Meg “taking it personally” is feeling out of control because the Tom is doing something “to” her. Tom, who has done the bad deed, is feeling out of control to relieve Meg’s the hurt and pain. Something as simple as “I see that this is hurting you and I’m sorry that what I am doing is causing you distress” can be far more relieving than “don’t take it personally.”

On the other hand, for Meg, the aggrieved person, recognizing that she has the power to “not take it personally” can be an enormous step in taking responsibility for her feelings. The situation (her store that was going out of business due to Tom’s new big business) was only the surface issue. The meaning for her was that she was losing her connection to her mother, her childhood, and her life’s work. Those were what made this personal and it really didn’t come from Tom and he was not doing anything “to” her, he was doing something that was meaningful for him, and the consequences were neither intended nor under his control.

As it was, Meg was able to move forward in her life and begin her own journey of becoming a writer, so with no change in actual circumstances, she was able to respond in a different way.

It is a natural part of the grieving process to blame others for creating an unwanted change. It is our responsibility to make the decision to accept our own part in causing our own pain.

Addicts experience this all the time. Initially, they don’t want to change - they blame, they fight, and they push away. Eventually, in recovery, they live the Serenity Prayer and take responsibility for their own destinies. In so doing, they eventually move from resenting their addiction to being grateful for it, because it brought them to a far better place.

Be In Light

Addict America: The Lost Connection

The Serenity Prayer

God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The Courage to change the things I can,

And the Wisdom to know the difference

I grew up in an alcoholic home and had a drug addicted boyfriend at one time, so I wanted nothing to do with addicts when I became a mental health counselor. The Universe had other ideas for me, however, and when I couldn’t find work anywhere else, I ended up in a substance abuse treatment facility. My father and ex-boyfriend went into recovery around the same time and made amends and I experienced a profound shift in perspective. Over the years, I became a Certified Addictions Professional and when I specialized in sex therapy, working with sex addicts was the next progression for me.

After years of working with couples and individuals, sex addicts and others, I formulated a conceptual framework of treating everyone that was based on Recovery principles. When I realized I was saying the same thing over and over as I educated clients and students about how we create barriers to intimacy by using addictive thinking and behavior, I decided to write it all down and voila! Addict America: The Lost Connection was born. It actually gestated for seven years but it eventually was completed and then translated into Spanish.

Working and teaching in the sex therapy field, I have been exposed to a few sexologists who are fundamentally opposed to the concept of “sex addiction.” They have posited various reasons for this, including opinions that sex addiction treatment professionals are “sex negative,” into “reparative therapy,” and religious fundamentalists. For me, none of this is true. A few other professionals are less oppositional but still questioning. While I try to avoid going head-to-head with anyone who is obviously not really interested in a discussion, I am happy to engage in more academic discourse on the subject. Still, I find myself fighting twinges of defensiveness and last night, as I explored this, I was able to move to a completely different place of perspective, which I want to share.

I am blessed to be able to work with addicts. Addicts, no matter the drug or behavior, go through hell and it takes enormous courage and willingness to change in order for them to begin Recovery. As they learn new ways of living, make decisions about everything from what shoes to wear to where to eat, work, play, to relationship choices, they are evolving to a higher spiritual plane. When addicts are living in Recovery, they are present and grounded. They have made choices as to what kinds of people they want to be and they live congruently with that identity. They have made choices regarding their values and what is important in life and are living according to those values. They are fully able to be in intimate, Connected relationships, whether with a committed partner, a child, a friend, a coworker, or someone just passing on the street. For each moment, there is Connection and awareness of Connection. They have Connected to a higher power and live the Serenity Prayer without rationalization, minimization, or intellectualization. They can truly say, and often do, that the worst day in Recovery is better than the best day in addiction. They are my heroes and my role models. I am humbled and grateful to be a part of their journeys.

We all have it in us to be in addiction or be in Recovery. I know when I am not present, not Connected, and not in harmony with the Universe. I know when I’m rushing around, angry or irritable, and blaming others. That is an addictive place. I also know when I am grounded, in the moment, and have a sense of myself and others in Connection. I know who I am and am responsible for myself. That is Recovery. It is where I strive to live.

Be In Light,

Carol

“I spent too long wanting what was taken from me and not what was given.”

King Caspian, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

What a powerful message this is! It goes to the heart of addiction and recovery. Addiction is wanting what we lost and often what we never had. It is about seeking fulfillment and validation from external sources, always looking for something to fill that hole in our souls.

Recovery is about seeing what we have, the beauty around us, the love of whatever people are in our lives who truly care about us.

As we move into this season of crazy commercialism and family pressures, pay attention to what you have and let go of what you think you are lacking. This isn’t a new message, it’s just something we all need to be reminded of.

While you have some time off, watch the movie. It’s a good one!

Be In Light

There are so many meanings to these words: I lost my voice. In my case, I caught a bad cold and had three days of laryngitis, so I actually lost my voice. It’s a scary feeling to open one’s mouth and have no sound come out. There was literally an emptiness in my throat. I’m talking total loss – no croaking, no hoarseness, no squeaks. Nothing, no voice at all.

I had never really thought about what it would mean to lose my voice. I couldn’t answer the phone, I couldn’t call my dog, and I couldn’t do my job. I am a counselor and a professor. I talk for a living. I’ve often thought that I’m fortunate in that if I ever became disabled, perhaps in a wheelchair or blind, I could still do my job. No voice, though, how can I teach or counsel?

So here I am writing. I can do that. It is a different medium and the words are comprehended in a different manner entirely. I hear in my head what I’m typing but you will be giving my words different inflections and intonation. There is so much meaning conveyed when we use our voice to emphasize, to convey humor or gravity.

The new technology is grasping this and we use emoticons to try to convey more accurate meanings with our words. Smiley faces, “lol,” and winks help to fill the gap of not hearing a voice. There is still a disconnect though.

Losing one’s voice has deeper meanings than just not being able to talk. It can mean that I have lost my identity, lost my equality, and lost my power. If I am in a group of people discussing the topic of the day and I cannot talk, then I have lost my voice insofar as even being a part of the conversation. I am an outsider – listening, nodding, smiling or frowning – there, but not there, physically in the circle, but not a part of it. Can I write my opinions or gesticulate my thoughts? That would not last long. People would grow tired and bored and move away. The biggest motivator of human behavior is belonging to the group and I would lose that belonging without my voice.

Minorities, disenfranchised groups, and individuals who do not have equal rights in society have lost their voices. They form their own groups not just for a sense of belonging, but so they can strengthen their collective voice and be heard by the dominant group. We often think of people who are using loud voices as wanting to dominate and control, but maybe they just want to be part of the conversation and have been excluded. They are crying out to be heard and to assert their identity. They want to Connect.

My voice is back and I now have a new understanding of what it means to lose it. I have a deeper compassion for those without a voice. My challenge is to listen through different senses and allow the Connection that needs no voice.

Be In Light

I’m struggling with Ego issues at the moment, so it seems apt to write about this topic.

The reason I’m struggling is because someone made some disparaging remarks about one of the programs I developed and in which I am deeply involved. The comments were not truthful and frankly unfair and my first response (still lingering, hence the struggle) is from my Caveman Brain, where dwells the limbic system containing all emotions. I am also experiencing some physical reactions caused by the adrenaline and other neurotransmitters that make life interesting.

My daily work as a counselor is with people who find it difficult to deal with exactly this – an external event that triggers emotional and physiological responses that in turn lead to undesirable behavior. I know that our emotions are the result of unconscious thoughts that stem from negative childhood experiences. For example, being brought up in a dysfunctional alcoholic household where my very identity was largely dismissed and ignored led to the ingrained thought “There’s something wrong with me.” That, in spite of my own therapy and my years of personal and professional growth, is still the occasional default, as happened today.

When I work with clients, we go back and uncover those negative beliefs and re-process them. I use EMDR, but other therapists utilize other interventions successfully. I know that people like the one who was mean to me today (see how easily I revert to childhood!) have their own issues and that my higher self wants to be kind and compassionate and forgiving.

It takes practice, mindfulness, true desire, and also an awareness of just how powerful that Caveman Brain can be. The limbic system is where addiction moves in and takes up residence. We get “high” off all that adrenaline, enkephalins, dopamine, etc. When my blood is thundering in my ears (ok, maybe just pulsing a bit, I’m being melodramatic) I feel powerful. I’m on high alert and damn the torpedoes! I am able to recognize this and see the paradox of power – I am, while in that state, not powerful at all. Rather, I am truly in control of myself when I can make a decision how to respond based on my values and own sense of self.

People can become addicted to anger and drama just as they do to sex, gambling, shopping, and drugs. Anger can fuel the other addictive behaviors by giving permission to act out. How easily I could have said “I really need a drink now.” There was a time when I would have smoked half a pack of cigarettes.

Instead, I made choices. First, not to act in a way I knew I would be sorry for later. Then to look for meaning and personal growth. Hence, this article. Finally, there is the possibility of Connection in this.

I started out talking about the Ego. There is another paradox, which is so common when we talk about addiction and recovery. Our Egos are how we identify ourselves, what makes each of us who we are. Our Egos are also what keep us in addiction in that we turn inwards and focus only on the “rush” that allows escape from the pain of our disconnection. Letting go of the Ego allows us to Connect to the Universe and every living thing in it, including the people who piss us off. The paradox is that each of us is Connected and so our Egos are a part of that. We don’t need to lose ourselves, deny ourselves, or act against ourselves for the greater good. Everyone’s good is my good. My compassion for that mean person is compassion for myself, because we are Connected. And of course, I need that compassion and understanding. I’ve been there and done that when it comes to being thoughtless and even mean. So in the end, my Ego brought me back to Connection. I’m calm now and ready for sleep.

Be In Light