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Beginning to Focus on the End Game

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

We are the brakes. The people we work with who struggle with Problematic Sexual Behaviors, including Sexual Addiction, usually first present with a desperate need for us to help them stop. Thankfully, when our training in well-established treatment protocols intersects with client willingness, we have a realistic opportunity to do just that. Once we have established some success in the braking department, a whole new world of opportunity begins to emerge. It’s the leading edge of a new frontier in a foreign land called “Healthy Sexuality.” Entry requires steady resolve and the patience of Job as we help our clients steer through the hazy illusion of false abundance (in which there was actually never enough) and into the warm embrace of true Sexual Abundance™, finding deep satisfaction in the renewable wealth of sexual expressions to which they can definitively say “yes.” In order to lead our clients bravely and wisely into this new territory, we as clinicians need to be very clear on two issues: a) our own concepts of healthy sexuality (because this will necessarily become part of the client’s treatment) and b) the conditions surrounding the clients as they continue to live in the same culture, (and many in the same relationships) in which their addiction once thrived. Their decision points are around every corner: Do I avoid standing near the attractive woman on the subway car? Do we go to the beach/pool and walk amongst the bikini-clad set? Do I consider taking masturbation out of my inner circle, and if so, how? Do we watch the R-rated movie together (the kind we used to take for granted, but now must cross-reference three different review sites for nudity content)? When we do watch that movie, do I close my eyes/leave the room/fast forward during the racy scenes? And which scenes “count” as racy? Would I be doing this for my own recovery or for my partner’s comfort? And what about our physical intimacy? When is the right time to be sexual again? Should we take a break from being sexual? Why could he be so sexually turned on with others but not with me? How can we even talk about sexual intimacy? The questions above barely scratch the surface, but what is clear is that the road to sexual health is going to be a bumpy and non-linear one, with many unpredictable obstacles along the way. Successful treatment is not simply a matter of contingency planning for scenarios like those above, but instead a complex, multi-layered conceptualization of treatment that encompasses everything from interpersonal neurobiology to 12 Step fellowships to good old fashioned psychodynamic and CBT approaches. And it most often involves caring not just for a single recovering person (though certainly, a number of our recovering clients are single), but for that person’s partner and for their recovering relationship. That relationship is where the potential for healthy sexuality truly emerges, and where the greatest potential for a complete recovery lies. In order for the coupleship to be healed, it will require nothing less than a consistently courageous commitment to intimacy. And what an amazing coincidence that intimacy just happens to be the Achilles heel of our recovering clients! Accepting the challenge to move into vulnerability (armed with the skill sets to do so smarter and safer) is exactly what their trauma histories taught them NOT to do but is also what yields the chance to have it all: The benefits of a trusting, respectful and equal Living Room, combined with a passionate, sensual and erotic Bedroom, all within the same relationship. So “braking” is not what our clients and couples ultimately aspire to. It’s something much more, even if they can’t quite imagine what that might look like in the early months (or years!). But once those brakes are firmly set, we can then begin steering our clients toward the same “finish line” that everyone is striving for, regardless of sexual acting out history: The integration of sexuality and intimacy. The need for us to be mindful of this endgame is constant, and as a field,...

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The Sad Irony of the Ashley Madison Hack

Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

The Sad Irony of the Ashley Madison Hack

 “Life is short – have an affair.” That devil on your shoulder Ashley Madison slogan gets us every time. It triggers a scrunched-face, head-shaking reaction, like biting into a mealy peach. Why? It’s because we see the devastating consequences of people acting on AM’s philosophy in our practice on a daily basis: Pain. Raw, penetrating, consuming and infinitely deep pain. The kind of pain that betrayal causes like nothing else can. The kind of pain that shakes a trusting spouse’s faith not only in one’s partner, but in humanity and in God. The kind of pain that coats everything around it, making us want to go home and shower immediately. And if last weeks’ headlines regarding 37.5 million AM users’ info on the verge of being exposed are true, there’s about to be a whole lot more pain in this world. How sad that so many millions feel entitled to keep one foot in their marriage, pretending to go along with their marital vow of fidelity, and the other in a secret world where they can post their sexual preferences to see if there is a suitable extra-marital fit out there. Of course, affairs existed long before James Madison, let alone Ashley. According to The Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, nearly 50 percent of married women and 60 percent of married men will have an extramarital affair at some point in their marriage. When you consider that these statistics nearly doubled in the decade between 2004-2014, it’s clear that something is driving this cheating trend. Yes, there are societal factors — working longer hours while wages have remained flat; raising kids at a distance from nuclear families; technology providing an omnipresent distraction — that cumulatively have made it more challenging to be a closely connected couple than ever before. But what about the effects of the rapidly growing “affair technology?” It’s not just Ashley Madison, but also businesses like Adult Friend Finder, or Fling.com and Craigslist’s “Casual Encounters.” The very existence and huge popularity of such instant affair facilitators both serves and creates a need. The high visibility of these affair websites validates the cheating spouse’s ideas about an affair as a strong option and can serve as an internal justification: “Obviously, I’m not the only one.” But what makes these sites survive is not just their ease of use or their guilt-reducing effects. It’s the promise of anonymity. How ironic that this promise turned out to be as empty as the one each AM user made to his/her spouse and also that the AM users drawn to a site designed to make betrayal as easy as possible now find themselves feeling betrayed. While we hate to think of the pain that will flow from the release of AM users’ information (allegedly including sexual preferences), we are hopeful that it will mark the decline of the online affair facilitating industry. We are also hopeful that the couples affected will find skilled professional help in healing their damaged marriage – not only can it be done, but the couples that resolve to deal directly with such ruptures often wind up more intimately connected than before the affair. There are steps that affected couples can take that will go a long way toward helping them get started on a healing path. Is it too much to hope that the AM hack could spur a mass reflection on the meaning of commitment? Or that it might give pause to spouses who are tempted to cheat? Or that it might even prompt an anti-affair movement? We know that every marriage is not destined to endure forever, but what’s even clearer is that when one is chronically dissatisfied in one’s marriage, there are far better options than cheating, no matter how easy, trendy or discreet it may seem. Perhaps a new tag line is in order: “Life is short: Make the most of your marriage – or leave it honorably.” Now What? Just Found Out? Click Here for Help.   Drs. Bill & Ginger Bercaw Clinical Psychologists, Certified Sex Addiction Therapists and Certified...

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Fox News: How Pillow Talk Can Help Save a Relationship

Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Fox News: How Pillow Talk Can Help Save a Relationship

Giving the Bedroom a Boost Of all the possible ways to breathe new energy into your Bedroom, “Pillow Talk” is often overlooked. Watch as Dr. Ginger and Dr. Bill sit down with Carol Alt of Fox News to explain how to use Pillow Talk to provide a boost not only to your sex life but to your emotional intimacy as well.   Watch the Video  Drs. Bill & Ginger Bercaw Clinical Psychologists, Certified Sex Addiction Therapists and Certified Sex Therapists. Drs. Bill and Ginger Bercaw are the only Licensed Clinical Psychologists who hold both the Certified Sex Therapist Addiction Therapist (CSAT) and Certified Sex Therapist (CST) certifications. ​info@drsbercaw.com 626.375.9483...

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Marriage Killers: What Not to Say

Posted by on Oct 8, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Marriage Killers: What Not to Say

Dear George and Amal, Congratulations on your recent nuptials! We were not there, but we did hear about the beautiful wedding from a friend (more specifically, Access Hollywood) and saw the beautiful photos from another (People Magazine). There are a few things we’d like to share with you based on our years of experience as (married) relationships experts and sex therapists so that when you return home from your Honeymoon (November? December?) you’ll steer clear of some of these common marriage killers We’ve also pulled lines from some of your famous characters, George, as reminders of what not to say in certain situations: Affirmation starvation: It may become easy to take for granted all the qualities that fueled your attraction to each other. Make a point of expressing what you admire and appreciate about each other. Strive for this every day. Even if you’re only successful half the time, you’ll be nurturing your relationship quite well. What not to say: “Deceitful, two-faced she-woman!” (“O’ Brother Where Art Thou?”) Late-night arguing: Everyone reaches a time in the evening when fatigue overrides their best selves. Whatever time that is for each of you, pick the earlier time and pledge NOT to discuss anything of importance after that hour. Better to pick it up again with a fresh mind the next day than adhere to the Old Testament tenet to “not let the sun set on your anger.” It just might prevent a fight of Biblical proportions. What not to say: “Why is it that all the beautiful ones are homicidal maniacs? Is it me?” (Batman & Robin) Keeping score: You’re officially a team now and good teammates don’t keep track of how many times she didn’t answer her cell phone or how many times he forgot to put his socks in the hamper this month. If something feels imbalanced or if you notice a pattern of undesirable behavior, address it directly, but without citing your accounting results. What not to say: “This is why Superman works alone.” (Batman & Robin) Bedroom boredom: Finding familiar comfort in the Bedroom with your spouse is a clear benefit of marriage, but when that familiarity turns to routine, it’s time to add some novelty. Take our Sexual Preferences Survey together now, revisit it each anniversary and watch your sexual communication soar to new levels. What not to say: “You’re either in or your’re out. Right now.” (Oceans Eleven) or “I always find the fish. Always!” (The Perfect Storm) Financial infidelity: Money is a huge cause of marital discord, regardless of your tax bracket.  So no matter how tight the prenup, we recommend regular financial meetings where you discuss goals, concerns (we know, we know) and open up the books. What not to say: “Is this your first time being robbed? You’re doing great.” (Out of Sight)       Drs. Bill & Ginger Bercaw Clinical Psychologists, Certified Sex Addiction Therapists and Certified Sex Therapists. Drs. Bill and Ginger Bercaw are the only Licensed Clinical Psychologists who hold both the Certified Sex Therapist Addiction Therapist (CSAT) and Certified Sex Therapist (CST) certifications. ​info@drsbercaw.com 626.375.9483...

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Sexual Fantasies Shared on Access Hollywood with Drs. Bill & Ginger Bercaw

Posted by on Sep 5, 2014 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Sexual Fantasies Shared on Access Hollywood with Drs. Bill & Ginger Bercaw

Sexual Fantasy – Separating Fact from Fiction On Access Hollywood Live, Drs. Bill and Ginger Bercaw joined Access’ Billy Bush to discuss sexual fantasies.  “Ever wonder if fantasies have a place in your relationship? How would you respond if your partner shared a fantasy with you? How would you introduce a fantasy to your partner? And what do those Adirondack chairs really mean? Drs. Bill and Ginger Bercaw cover all of this and more in their latest Access Hollywood Live interview.”   Watch the Video      Drs. Bill & Ginger Bercaw Clinical Psychologists, Certified Sex Addiction Therapists and Certified Sex Therapists. Drs. Bill and Ginger Bercaw are the only Licensed Clinical Psychologists who hold both the Certified Sex Therapist Addiction Therapist (CSAT) and Certified Sex Therapist (CST) certifications. ​info@drsbercaw.com 626.375.9483...

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The #Aftersex Trend

Posted by on Apr 22, 2014 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

The #Aftersex Trend

The #Aftersex Trend Imagine the perfect day with your partner: You spend it enjoying all your favorite activities together — posting every step of the way, of course, this being a modern relationship — and cap it off with a passionate and fun romp in bed. Hey, maybe we should take a picture of ourselves right afterwards and post that too! Welcome to #Aftersex, the latest trend for people who just can’t get enough of their personal life on display. So now, not only do we know when Candace had an amazing dinner with her besties, or when Caleb made the best smoothie ever, we also know within moments of their most recent climax. Now that, our friends, is seriously in the loop! But before we get too cynical, is it possible that this is a form of modern art or perhaps a sweet, tech-enhanced way of expressing love for one’s partner? Uh, possibly we guess. But it seems a lot more like just another way for people to chase the sweet song of public affirmation of themselves and everything they do, everywhere they go and everything they like. The aftersex selfies we’ve seen (and yes, our job does require this kind of research from time to time) skew predominantly toward the twenty-something set. Could it be that millennials have become so fish-bowled (our term) that even during their most private, intimate moments, they’re already thinking of how it’s going to play on Instagram? At a certain point, don’t intimate moments lose their intimacy? On the bright side, the #aftersex movement has spawned some hilarious parodies (see below). Let’s hope this whole thing becomes a forgotten joke before you can say “cheese.”     For more information about living with #aftersex challenges, please click here.   Drs. Bill & Ginger Bercaw Clinical Psychologists, Certified Sex Addiction Therapists and Certified Sex Therapists. Drs. Bill and Ginger Bercaw are the only Licensed Clinical Psychologists who hold both the Certified Sex Therapist Addiction Therapist (CSAT) and Certified Sex Therapist (CST) certifications. ​info@drsbercaw.com 626.375.9483 ​...

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