I’m glad to be listed in this directory, which includes a number of colleagues here in Seattle and in the State of Washington. Having a Polyamory-Friendly Professionals Directory is both a reflection of need, as well as how widely practiced poly is becoming.
(A bit of a break since the last post. I’ve been relying far too much on feeding @SeattleShrink! While Twitter allows me to draw on many sources, the blog is where some of those inputs can synthesize into information that is helpful to you – the ultimate test.)
The blog is also meant to give an ongoing picture about my practice, and the person leading it. Blogging about therapeutic dialogue(s) seems to fit that well.
I Talk To Clients About…
….Wanting and Choosing
Wanting is the verb of desire. Choosing is the act of commitment.
Wanting v. Choosing, a tension to manage. We get better at it as we age. This tension can create remarkable, resilient, self-aware decent people.
The Commitment Anchor
Choosing is how the world gets built – it’s fundamental, essential, powerful. So, most people lean toward mastering the relative certainty of commitment over the more fluid, variable, playful desire.
The Tide Of Desire
Wanting must be constantly nurtured (by the imagination) and generally defended, as a priority in relational life. It’s highly perishable, needy. Yet desire problems drive so much breakup and divorce, mono and poly.
Who Wants to Be Seen & Known?
That’s understandable since most adults know that wanting powerfully reveals the self. Our sexual development is influenced by the fear of being seen and known, by intimacy we have to tolerate.
The term immunity comes from the study of biological life and health, of which psychology is but a subset. Immunity presumes exposure – to everything. To learn how to protect, it must fail often enough. But it copes well with each loss – it’s rarely fooled again by identical bacteria or virals. Think of how that might hold equally true for your emotional life, and your relationship(s). As long as you are vulnerable enough to connect with your feelings, yet with a solid sense of self, you will learn much about who you are. (Attachment-centered therapists may see this model as an invite to an “auto-immune disorder”. I don’t.)
The pursuit of a self, guided by thoughtfulness about intimacy and privacy (self-intimacy). Intimacy that’s understood to be both indulged (wanted) and tolerated (frustrated.) Right in that crease lives the kind of personal development that understands emotionalpain (and joy) as part of ongoing personal development. That means balancing awareness with careful, accurate thought about your big picture.
Mastery speaks realistically to that core development process that we want in our work, and in life. This is a “modest and durable” module, grounded in the practical life of spirituality, gender and sex-role netural. It owes nearly everything to George Leonard. It can fit into just about any therapy approach – it’s like ‘behavioral support service.’ And all about practicing self-control.
A ‘practice’ can be built to reconstruct a life and a self. It orients and organizes, but understands full well — that there can be ‘practice without progress.’ The model is usually helped by a meditation or greater body conditioning.
is not an emotion
The vast majority of my clients refer to anger as an emotion. I don’t. Anger is affect, emotion’s visible/audible ‘wrapper’. It’s driven by many different emotions. I ask clients to identify the emotions that fuel their angers, and there are often surprises on that ‘list.’ This starts a process of exploration, where before there was only a fear of losing self-control. The heat of anger leads to the light of clearer thinking about
A missing element in many adults. Why? How you’ve been loved, or not (and just how so), truly surfaces in adulthood. Self-love (masturbation) migrates to & from the imagination, then expressed in adult relational play. Our erotic/sexual ‘template’ is a way to relieve worries (per Bader), to relinquish anxiety — to feel fully alive.
The erotic connection lovingly turns the world on its head. Relieved of of typical daily importance, familiars can safely be strangers. An endless paradox: taking for oneself — as a primary form of giving, of showing up, of wanting intimacy of all kinds.
Grief is the seam between life and death, where they “meet”. Through my critical incident practice, I’ve learned more deeply how to help those who have endured painful loss. While I think of grief as a system equally ‘elegant’ to gestation & birth, I also know that going through most of it is lousy. Sometimes with the feeling there’s little to no light at the end of the tunnel. When someone can make durable meaning from a significant death, the process ripens.
…..Kink Aware; Sex Positive
To credibly present these two credentials begins to heal the long history of professional mental health abuse towards the sexually, erotically and relationally diverse. That abuse has evolved into a fear of psychotherapists who either moralize, or refer clients they know they can’t relate to – after the therapy relationship has begun. Ouch.
I’ve worked with many clients advanced in the imaginative & playful living (or educating) known as kink. Their sex positive beliefs are openly practiced, even as they face nearly universal problems of intimacy and integrity.
You’ll be safe in this office with your erotic and sexual selves, exactly as they are.
I would like to acknowledge the work of this organization (NCSF), of which I’m a member. Its Kink Aware Professionals (KAP) directory is an important asset for who seek professional services that respect and support erotic and sexual diversities. Here is my listing, and from there you can link to the rest of the NCSF site. I encourage you to support them.
Discrimination Against Sexual Diversity
It’s understandable if you don’t automatically include erotic or sexual diversity in your understanding of equality, non-discriminatory (or at least non-judgmental) society. Sexual activity is a blend of orientation and choice. Society has just recently come to grips with sexual orientation, and the equally progressive movement to understand gender as a socially – rather than just biologically – constructed meaning.
A Social Condition
Erotic maps and sexual practices, no matter what else is socially projected onto them, are fundamental to (understanding) the human self and condition. The social & legal movement towards LGBTQ equality has led the way, as the most current and comprehensive cultural “work” throughout the world.
Yet most societies/cultures tend to force eros into a regulated social domain, with strict personal boundaries, protecting the core of privacy/safety, against the worst in human nature. The threat of harm in the workplace (including violative power plays) is obviously high, and the means to deal with that threat must be firm and clear.
The World of Work
Within an employment context, there is a norm of suppressing outward expressions of eros, part of the broader emotional suppression that most work cultures “require”.
…but he didn’t get the memo
But Don’t Go There
Very few people however can or will “come out” with their multi-relational preferences or polyfidelous leanings. Or their social preferences for expressing eros. This risks being shunned or stereotyped, in ways that hurt careers.
Further to my new blog style, (the pursuit of ‘less being more’, with a mischievous element too), I am going to leave off this complex subject right here, ducking complexity. Happy to reply to any comments…