Couples Counselling and Sex Therapy

Darwin, Northern Territory based Relationship Counsellor and Sex Therapist    

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How are our young children learning about sex?

Posted on 18 May, 2017 at 8:55 Comments comments (0)


I had the opportunity to learn more about how our youngsters are learning about sex these days. Unfortunately it appears to be from pornography. Ordinarily I would agree and have a little giggle, I mean who didn't grow up sneaking a peak at Play Boy. This is different. This is dangerous and leading to extremely dysfunctional young sexual relationships and expectations.Here are some statistics from the presentation.

- 30% of all internet traffic is porn related

- It is everywhere, advertising, TV and magazines. It is mainstream.

- 90%of boys and 60% of girls have viewed porn

- The mean age for boys is 12 years old. 10 % view it daily and 63% weekly.

- 88% of scenes involve aggression.

- 94% of the targets of aggression were female.

- 95% of the aggression was met with acted facial expressions of neutral or positive nature

In a time when we are fighting for gender equality and against domestic violence, the porn industry teaches our young that woman are not people during sex. They are there to be hurt and abused for their gratification. Incidental. Doesn't matter who they are.

What can we do about this? According to Maree Crabbe who produced the presentation:

1.Limit young people’s exposure and access to pornography

2.Equip and encourage young people to critique what they see.

3.Help young people develop skills required to resist pornography’s influence

4.Inspire young people that relationships and sex can be better than what they see in porn

It's All About Language

Posted on 2 December, 2016 at 1:00 Comments comments (0)

Recently I became acutely aware of the unintentional damage a male partner was placing on his female counterpart. He was expressing his admiration for his partner’s body, her skin, her eyes and hair. How he wanted always wanted to touch her. He began to get louder shifting in his seat and his frustration began to show. “Anyone can go to a massage parlour and get a hand job for some relief, but why should I have to when I have this beautiful woman at home! I don’t even want to masturbate, why should I have to?” By this stage she had sunk back into her chair making herself as small as possible and very silent.

The words we use are an expression of our thoughts, beliefs and values. The phrase “I didn’t mean it like that” has been used many times to try to rectify an unintended insult or misperception. However when a relationship is infected with distrust and negative sentiment towards one another, words can be received through that negative lens.

In the world of Sex Therapy, sexual desire is a very fragile aspect of our selves that needs nurturing and love to maintain its ebb and flow. There are things that can be said that cuts to the source of sexual desire and severs it. A man can be sensitive to a woman’s insecurities and compliment her body in an attempt to boost her self-confidence, however if that negative lens is in play it can come across as “you are only interested in my body!”

This is not intended to “man bash”. Women get it wrong too. However, woman may be more sensitive to language used because of engrained societal expectations, values, cultural beliefs and lived experience around sexuality. In western society the issue of objectification of woman has been discussed in depth and whether we like it or not it is in the back of our minds.

What I am trying to relay here is that if your relationship is waning in the sexual department, ask yourself if you are up to date and in tune with your partners inner world. It takes frequent open communication to keep connection so that when things are said in error or misperceived, the relationship recovers quicker.

My advice is to refrain from referring to sex as “it”. I need “it”, I want “it”, I have to have “it”, she won’t give “it” to me. This intimates “it”, is a ‘thing’.

This ‘thing’ that needs to be provided.

A service.

A product.

Objectification.

“It” almost makes a person feel as if their body is the product that needs to provide that service. If a woman constantly refers to her partner and sex as “get it up”, “give it to me, I am ready to go”, “ I want it” this may put unnecessary pressure and focus on performance and a disconnect with the partner as a whole person. Our partners are not there to perform or provide “it” to satisfy our needs. They are there because we connect with them on many levels and want them in our lives.


 

Top End Relationships at Risk.

Posted on 21 November, 2016 at 1:35 Comments comments (0)

 

Doing the work that I do as a couples counsellor and sex therapist, I am privileged to have an insight into the private lives of couples and individuals. Since moving to the Northern Territory I have noticed that the issues I am seeing are specific for this location due to the nature of the work. FIFO workers, Inpex project workers and high levels of Blue Collar labour and Defence mean that more and more men, (mostly, I acknowledge woman work in these areas too), are exposed to difficult working conditions over long periods of time. In 2015 several news articles reported on the fact that several workers have completed suicide in the three years Inpex has been in operation. There were no accurate numbers on workers who have attempted suicide or developed mental health issues. Often incidents are not reported or linked to employment factors.

In an ABC article written by Felicity James on October 27th 2015 Brian Wilkins the Unions NT Secretary commented that there needed to be a more preventative approach to support workers and their families. The article reported that at its peak, up to 8,000 people are employed on the Inpex project, with FIFO workers staying at a 3,500 bed camp in Darwin's rural area.” A staggering 30 percent have mental health issues. Prevention could be better achieved if certain resistance to seeking help could be challenged. This would mean breaking down stigma’s and addressing work culture. Fostered attitudes such as “suck it up mate”, fear of reprisal and losing their income, isolation, and a mental rationale where they tell themselves “this is not forever, best to just push through for now”, all create barriers for men to seek support.


The WA report, “The impact of FIFO work practices on mental health” in 2015 acknowledged that relationship stress and strain contributed to poor mental health. The rates of divorce were higher than the general population being 1 in 10 workers. Dr Simon Byrne Psychiatrist told the committee that a staggering 80 percent of workers who have attempted suicide or self-harm such as an overdose had a preceding event linked to their relationship.

Workers don’t need to be told this stuff, they live it. They need to acknowledge when there is an issue and to seek help.

The common trends I have noticed in counselling are:

- Lack of positive anticipation for their partners sexually

- Exhaustion and frustration leading to more anger and conflict

- Emotional disengagement

- Sexual dysfunction such as low desire or erectile dysfunction with partners.

- In some cases a lack of communication or real understanding of the work stresses by partners

- Possible lower Testosterone levels due to challenging environmental factors.

These issues and others can be dealt with through counselling. When the job is done, what’s next? Will they be with their family or alone? My message is to all the partners, workers and defence members to invest in their future by investing in their relationships.

 



 

You Wish Mate!

Posted on 14 November, 2016 at 6:20 Comments comments (0)

You Wish Mate!

As a woman I have heard this sentiment repeated throughout my lifetime and as well as from my own thought processes. Working with men who suffer from low self-confidence, performance anxiety and in some cases anger towards woman, it is clear to me the effect woman can have on men. Why do girls think that boys are built to withstand rejection? What is it about gender stereotyping that leads us to believe that we can put a man down for trying to approach us? It’s called the mating dance ladies. How about we appreciate the advances of a man for what it is, a compliment. This person is risking an often cutting rejection to gain our attention. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that sometimes the approach and timing may be wrong. Sometimes the approach is so wrong its offensive and even assault. Those guys…. well, ….. let them have it. What I am suggesting is that we could do better in our response to the genuine suitor that you may not be ‘into. A gentle ‘let down’ beats a rough degrading retort any day. Just because they might be male and we appear to hold the cards, doesn’t mean we need to damage a person for playing natures game by societies rules.

It won’t last forever ladies. One day you might just find yourself on the invisible side of the dating game. Enjoy the compliments, perhaps an “I am flattered, but am not interested “ will do.

 

Get out of Darwin Jackass mules!

Posted on 2 November, 2016 at 22:35 Comments comments (0)

JACKASS! Darwin, Northern Territory was lucky enough to have the degenerates from Jackass visit recently. Thank goodness it was a one off show day and they have left town. The noun for jackass is "stupid person". I couldn't agree more. During the show these mules encouraged two young girls up onto stage and eventually, with the crowd chanting and phones drawn to take opportunistic shots, they bayed for these girls to flash the crowd! I believe one of the girls obliged. Had I been in the crowd I would have walked up on that stage and encouraged those girls away. They did not know this was why they were going up there. With a pack of wolves demanding they degrade themselves it would have been an intimidating experience masked by smiles to help themselves cope.

How dare these idiots!

If they think defecating on stage is entertainment, then their self respect is right there amongst the muck on the floor. If you want to take yourself down, that's fine but don't bring others into your disgusting world. What they did in the show is sexual harassment and borders on sexual assault! Be ashamed you morons

Hair Loss & Acne Treatments Resulting in Loss of Sexual Desire & Arousal

Posted on 23 September, 2016 at 8:25 Comments comments (0)

I had the privilege of being included in a workshop this week to look at an emerging treatment for Post Finasteride Syndrome. Brett McCann and colleagues in Sydney, have been working hard to look at this issue. Finasteride is a key component in hair loss treatments. This treatment was at its peak in the early 2000's. The side effects were not discussed in depth, the only focus was on how many new follicles were regenerating and hair growth success. Later the side effects were noted but did not outweigh the success of the treatment. Now, finally, it is well known that this treatment has infact cause many men to loose all sexual desire and ability to become aroused. This is not a side effect but a syndrome as it did not abate after ceasing the medication. Finasteride is still prescribed here and attainable online.

Acne treatment Accutane (oral isotretinoin) which ceased distribution in the USA in 2009 has also been reported to have detrimental effects on sexual functioning such as impotence, decreased desire, genital deadening, inability to orgasm, watery ejaculate and shrinkage of the penis in a flaccid state. This drug has well documented mental health risks increasing susceptibility to depression and suicidal ideation.

Although research has focussed on men it reports of sexual functioning being affected in woman has been identified.

If you feel you may have been affected by these treatments and would like more information call Nina on 0420 323 022.

 

Infidelity

Posted on 26 June, 2015 at 8:15 Comments comments (0)

nfidelity, unfaithful, words which most monogomous couples live in fear of. Educate yourself on this concept by watching renowned researcher and therapist Esther Perel give her TED talk.


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http://www.ted.com/talks/esther_perel_rethinking_infidelity_a_talk_for_anyone_who_has_ever_loved

7 Ingredients for Successful Therapy

Posted on 19 May, 2015 at 2:30 Comments comments (0)

There has been much research to uncover what is the key to successful therapy. The resounding outcome is not the skills or techniques employed but the relationship between therapist and client.

Recently, I have been fortunate to go on a journey with a client. Of late discussions have been very positive and revolve around the successes he has been enjoying physically, within his relationship and with his personal growth.

There is no need for details on what the issues were that brought this gentleman to me, what is important is the recipe mixed together to effect these positive changes.

Self awareness –The ability for this client to delve deep into his emotions and past disappointments was the key him to be able to recognise his current core beliefs and ways in which can sabotage himself.

Understanding partner –This has been such a key part of the process as the client is a part of a couple. She agreed to meet with me once and is understanding of the process due to her own experiences with counselling. Her openness, patience and assistance with ‘sexercises’ have been crucial to continued therapy and the relationship.

Perseverance and fortitude –Many journeys take a few steps back every now and then, its how you recover that makes the difference.

Commitment to the process –When things haven’t gone to plan and there have been disappointments, every client has the choice to leave therapy instead of working the process. This client decided to continue to work at it and now he is at a stage in the process where work is turning into fun.

Recognising small successes – One of the toughest parts is change the way we think which is so automatic that we don’t even realise we do it. When these thought processes are negative then being able to see the small successes can be hard, but they accumulate making the big success.

Managing expectations -It would be lovely to wave magic wands and have change be immediate. Recognising that nothing happens without effort was something I didn’t have to impress upon this client.

Continued momentum to avoid relapse –This client feels the want to continue the momentum of his success and asked how to do that. Recognising that without continued effort, which will eventually become effortless, the chance of relapse is there.

Yes, the relationship with the therapist is important, but these elements absolutely can indicate how close a client will get to their desired outcomes.

Pornography Appeal

Posted on 19 May, 2015 at 2:20 Comments comments (0)

I have read and watched many programmes on the damaging effects that pornography is having on our youth. How it is distorting our views on sex, what is normal and what is healthy. The industry is certainly no longer in a brown paper bag, but even I still have a little feeling of angst walking into an adult store. Perhaps that’s part of the excitement.

 

HERE ARE THE THINGS I AGREE WITH WHEN IT COMES TO THE MARCH AGAINST PORN.

 

It is damaging to woman and men in the industry whether they engage consensually or are compliant for other reasons. Their bodies are pumped with sustaining chemicals, stretched beyond repair in some cases, surgeries to correct or enhance features that are normal for others and lastly, the enduring mental issues.

It is not a realistic representation of what actually happens in the bedroom.

It does distort what men believe woman want and enjoy. It does distort what woman think men can do and the size of a penis.

Porn does distort the notion of a woman having the right to control what happens to her body and whether or not she enjoys it.

Porn is not responsible for our sexuality. IT CAN, HOWEVER, INFLUENCE OUR TRIGGERS FOR AROUSAL AND THAT WILL STAY WITH YOU.

is not a disease.

 

WHAT I DON’T BELIEVE PORNOGRAPHY SHOULD NOT BE BLAMED FOR!

 

Pornography has been around since the early ages. It has lasted because it does speak to human arousal. There are parts of our animal instinct that taps into the power dynamic found in sex.

Let’s be honest, there are certain mechanics in sex. Something is going to be penetrated! Let’s stop freaking out about woman and men being subject to all this horror. It is just how it works. THE POWER IS IN THE ATTITUDE OF THE GIVER AND RECEIVER.

Porn is not there to teach us about real life sex because it does not incorporate the most important aspects of sex which are INTIMACY and EMOTIONAL CONNECTION! We alone are responsible for linking this to our sex lives.

Woman and men need to learn to be an advocate for their own bodies. Have the courage to tell your partner what you like, what you may be willing to try and what is not negotiable!

Youth need to learn that as they mature they learn what they truly get pleasure from. Just because it is on a screen it doesn’t mean you have to like it.

They are not gifts given out like candy. If a woman is not fully present mentally and physically enjoying what is happening for her, she will not be able to orgasm. If a man is feeling pressured, devalued or that his partner doesn’t really want to be there, he will begin to experience sexual issues.

 

It is incredibly liberating to take control of your wants and needs as sexual being. It is your basic right. Perhaps you like things a little outside the box, that doesn’t make you sick or a slut. Sex is an incredible bonding experience for two people in love. Explore yourself, explore your partner respectfully.

 

PS: Please please please don’t share private images or video.IT IS FOREVER!


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