Specializing in Family Counseling, Men's Issues, & Trauma

Addictive Cycles 101: The Basics Part 2

Part 2 The Individual’s Tendency for Cycle-Preservation:  Why does a person seem so committed to their destructive behavior, even when they say they want to change?  Again, we will use the simple concept of a circle to understand this aspect of addictive/destructive behavior.  A circle is a circle because the curve remains constant.  In other words, at any point in the circle, the line’s curve is the same.  The result is a circle that will continue to repeat itself indefinitely.  The steps of pre-occupation, impaired thinking, ritual behaviors, addictive acting-out, and shame & despair will always lead to one another.  But. . .

What if we change the curve?  If the curve is altered, at any point, to any degree, the circle changes and the cycle cannot repeat itself.  It is here we find freedom.  There is a catch, however.  If alterations can be made to the curve in one direction, they can also be made it it’s opposite.  Changes can be changed back.

Addictive Cycle Change & Correction

Why, if someone is making healthy changes in their life, would they go back to the way they were?  Perhaps, we have sat with them as they recalled their past behaviors with horror, disgusted at themselves.  What does lapse into destructive, sinful behavior mean?  The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans 7:15-19-

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

The mind can be thought of like an old-fashioned set of scales, the kind that required weights to be measured against one another.  The mind desires balance, not health.  Often, our way of achieving balance is to give-in to our sin.  Changes, even those which are healthy, blessed by God, create a time of imbalance.  The scales are skewed and the individual experiences discomfort.  It is at this point, corrective actions are taken remedy the problem.  The individual sabotages success, going back the old curve, the old cycle, and achieves balance once more.

It is not a matter of whether or not a person will work against their recovery, it is a matter of when.  Much of the work in Christian Counseling and support programs is found in identifying and changing this sin pattern.  As believers, we see our sinful nature as a result of the fall of man.  Man, ultimately, is in need of a Savior and there is hope.  Paul goes on to say:   

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.  Romans 7:24-25

If you or someone you know is struggling with addictive/destructive behaviors, there is help. At THE RELATIONSHIP CENTER, our counselors are Biblically & Clinically competent to help. Contact us today- www.therelationshipcenter.us

Addictive Cycles 101: The Basics Part 1

Part 1:  Understanding Addictive/Destructive Behaviors as Cyclical:  When you think of your own or a loved one’s  addictive/destructive behavior it is helpful to imagine a circle.  A circle is a continuous line with no beginning or end, flowing into itself.  There is no defined point of entry, no easily identified trigger that sets the whole process in motion.  Instead, at any point you engage in the circle of behavior, you will eventually experience the entire cycle.  This seemingly pointless, disorganized string of destruction leaves those involved confused, angry, and hopeless.  They are unable to answer the question of “why” effectively.  In other words, does John act-out because he feels great shame or does John feel great shame leading to his acting-out destructively as a means of medicating himself.

Below is a diagram of a basic addictive cycle.  Not every addictive cycle is the same, so this example is not meant to be definitive.  However, it is a solid guide to understanding some of the basics of destructive cycles.  Let’s look at the components that make up the cycle:

Addiction CyclePre-Occupation:  The individual enters a time of rumination or internal obsessing on acting-out.  This can also occur in the form of obsessing on not acting-out.  It is important the individual acknowledge obsessive thought patterns are a part of addictive/destructive behaviors.  Rather than hiding this pre-occupation, they should be actively processing it with their counselor and support groups.

Impaired Thinking:  At the heart of destructive cycles, are faulty belief systems, which work to perpetuate problems.  Both addicted individuals and those with other destructive behaviors live according to these beliefs.  Some examples include-

  • I do not need others.
  • If others really knew me, they would reject me.
  • It’s not okay to show my emotions.
  • I don’t deserve love.

Ritual Behaviors:  Leading up to the actual acting-out, are a series of preparatory behaviors.  Often, when individuals have not fostered self-awareness via counseling and support groups, they are oblivious to their own ritual behaviors.  These can include, but are not limited to- isolating themselves from loved ones, looking for possible times or ways of acting-out, engaging in risky/”all most” acting-out behaviors.

Addictive Acting-Out:  The identified event of behaving in a addictive, or, otherwise, destructive behavior.  It is the “identified problem”, the piece of the cycle the addict and others point to as needing change.  However, it is only one of a set of steps.

Shame & Despair:  Inevitably, the individual experiences the impact of their destructive behavior.  If they have not been caught, this is the point at which they convince themselves they will never do “it” again.  The chief objective here is secrecy, and in the event they have been discovered, it shifts to minimizing the damage they have done.  In other words, the individual will attempt to convince themselves and others that what has happened is not “a big deal.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with addictive/destructive behaviors, there is help.  At THE RELATIONSHIP CENTER, our counselors are Biblically & Clinically competent to help.  Contact us today- www.therelationshipcenter.us

10 Indespensible Habits of Successful Parenting

family counseling parenting

  1. Invest in your relationship with God. Attend church regularly, pray for your family, and read your Bible.
  2. Be the person of integrity and character you tell your children to be. We ALL need to look in the mirror regularly and determine, with the Bible as our measuring stick, how we are doing in life. This takes great courage. Look in the mirror, identify your needs, and making changes. Great parents lead their children by being the person God has for them to be.  Leadership is not simply the setting of bedtime or inspecting of chores; that is a simplistic understanding of the concept. Godly leadership takes courage and sacrifice. Your kids long for others of character they can follow. Make the bold decision to start improving your family by first looking in the mirror.
  3. Speak well of those in authority. It is ironic that one of the chief complaints that counselors hear from parents is children not respecting authority. As a parent, what is your attitude towards authority.  To be more specific, do you speak ill of your boss, complain about church leadership, and run down public officials. Not every person in leadership is doing a job worthy of respect. However, the Bible does not make a distinction in these cases. God’s word is clear; respect them anyway. If you sow seeds of rebellion in your children via your words and actions, you can only hope to harvest rebellion. Use care in what you say and how you say it. Honor those in authority. In doing so we are obedient to the Lord and we establish our own authority as parents.
  4. Take time with your children. If you don’t have time, make it. If you can’t make it, re-evaluate your priorities. Remember, teenagers need attention too. Do you have time? Can you make time? Your children need you. Driving down the road there are billboards urging mothers and fathers to engage in the lives of their children. Well-meaning non-profit groups implore us to seek out time to spend with our little ones. There is no simple answer to finances and other obligations that keep parents from their children. However, making the decision to spend time with your kids is an investment both you and they will reap a huge return on.
  5. Set rules and enforce them, even when you don’t feel like it. Don’t worry so much about children always understanding why they must do something or the reasons behind it. Remember, obedience comes before insight.
  6. Love and cherish your spouse. Your relationship with your spouse is critical in the development of your children. Sons will learn what it means to be a husband and father. Daughters are taught how to be a wife and mother. Children learn how the sexes should treat one another and how important a marriage really is, versus all else that demands your attention. The condition of your marriage has, is, and will shape your child’s future.
  7. The Bible is your measuring stick for the way a family should operate, not television or the popular culture.
  8. Never stop loving your children with your words, actions, and intentions.  Say “I love you,” give hugs, and intentionally make time for your kids.
  9. Take care of yourself. This is a passing statement you may laugh at.  When do you have time to take care of yourself?  It is a very serious manner. You can’t have anything to give to your children, if you are used up yourself.
  10. Forgive yourself when you mess up, and ask your family to forgive you. The concept of forgiveness is powerful, not only as a cornerstone of our faith, but as a character trait we want to possess and see developed in our children. It is learned, so lead your children through humility.  Asking for forgiveness from your spouse and children when you have made a mistake and forgiving others is a tremendous act of courage and humility, not a sign of weakness.

 

family-250x250Over 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center

A Word on Parenting Boys

parenting boys family counseling

In an age of political correctness and gender neutrality, it is important to remember that boys and girls are different because God created them uniquely. A mature understanding of parenting requires that we not be gender avoidant, but sensitive to the notion that boys and girls each require a different approach.

Parenting Boys

While both genders need leadership from their parents, boys seem to need it in greater amounts, and at a more simple level. Boys require love and nurturing, but will often grow very unhappy and get into trouble without firm leadership, specifically in the form of a father. Any group of boys, on the playground or on a sports team, will quickly form a hierarchy of leadership. This happens naturally, as boys, and men, function by establishing an order of dominance. Keep it simple when parenting your young man. He needs to know he is not the dominant male in the home. The way to accomplish this is to have men in his life who lead by example, not just with words. You will quickly be aware of the importance of this principle when it is not practiced. Even well adjusted boys will push the boundaries of their own influence and authority in families where there are not men to hold them in check. In a sense, they attempt to become a man in regards to freedom, while keeping the responsibilities of a boy. The result is a young man who disrupts the home and increasingly defies authority. Love him enough to stand up to him.

 

family-250x250Over 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center

10 Quick Tips for Disciplining Children

discpliing children parenting family counseling

  1. Keep explanations simple and brief. Say less, do more. Let your children connect the dots and figure out the lesson they are learning.
  2. Be respectful in speaking to your children, modeling what you want from them.
  3. Your anger is a valid, but ineffective tool to modify your child’s behavior.
  4. Say only what you mean, always following through with what you say.
  5. Consequences should have a specific, targeted behavior.
  6. Disciplinary measures need a defined beginning and end.
  7. No bargaining or bribing to get a desired behavior.
  8. If immediate change in your child’s behavior does not occur, this does not mean discipline is not working. Change is only part of what you are after when you discipline. You are after a relationship; a secure stable parenting relationship with your children is established via discipline regardless of change.
  9. Enjoy your kids! Spend time playing with and getting to know them. Relationship will keep them from rebelling and keep you from getting resentful. This is just as important to effective discipline as the act of disciplining itself.
  10. Obedience comes before understanding.

 

family-250x250Over 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center

When to Get Family Counseling: Family Counseling 101

family therapy counseling

Most of us put things off until we can’t any longer. If you have taken time to look at getting  family counseling, you probably already know it’s time or past time to get help.  At The Relationship Center, we know issues don’t simply go away; they just demand our attention more loudly over time. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring a problem until it becomes unmanageable. Common issues include:

  • Lack of Communication
  • Damaged and Distant Family Relationships
  • Disrespect and Defiance in Children
  • School Failure
  • Destructive Peer Relationships
  • Effective Parenting
  • Abuse and Neglect

Who Gets Family Therapy?

“Normal Families.” Often, families assume they are abnormal or lesser if they need help. We use the word “normal” as a measuring stick for our lives. However, part of living is having real challenges, and overcoming requires getting help at times. All families have difficulties. Not all families overcome.

Who Needs to Come to the Session?

Initially, your counselor will meet with all of your family together to gather information, gaining an understanding of the situation. You will be asked to consider what you want to work on. Next, he or she will make recommendations on how to proceed. He or she will likely set times to meet with children or parents individually. This can vary from family to family, taking into account the particular issues present in each case.

How Long Does Counseling Last?

The duration of counseling depends on two basic variables: extent of the problems and what you hope to accomplish. First, the extent of the issues takes into account the severity of symptoms and the extent to which healthy functioning is disrupted. Second, each family must decide what they want to accomplish. If the goal is quick alleviation of symptoms via behavioral means, the counseling intervention is generally brief. However, if core issues are not addressed, long-term problems will likely rise again. This is a “band-aid” approach. A more thorough intervention involves taking time to get to the root of the problems, not simply addressing symptoms or problem behaviors. This takes longer and is more involved, but is generally more effective long-term. It is a “surgical” approach.

What If My Child / Teenager Is Really Upset With the Idea Of Counseling?

Resistance is a norm in counseling, not a rarity. As a parent, you are often put in the position of knowing what is best and making sure this occurs. Therefore, it is no surprise that counseling is like eating vegetables, frowned upon by children although it is healthy. Your counselor is experienced at dealing with resistance and it is rarely an ongoing issue. Regardless, be encouraged. As a parent, you do not need your child’s permission to improve your family situation.

Emotions 101: Creating a Common Language

Most people think they know what emotion words are and what they mean.  Say the word “sad” and instantly each of us has a host of definitions, memories, and thoughts which define what the word means.  It is precisely this phenomenon which is the issue.  The definitions of emotion words are not held constant, and, as such, can be very subjective.  Think about your chosen profession.  One of the first things you needed to do was understand accurately the language of the profession.  This meant moving beyond a common knowledge of terms being used and growing into a professional/expert understanding.  We apply the same principle here.  Good communication between you and others doesn’t just happen, it takes work, and one of the first steps is the establishment of a common emotional language.          

Click Here for CORE FEELING HANDOUT (1)

Group 1ANGRY & GLAD:  The easiest to allow others to see, at least at a surface level.

ANGRY:  Anger is a surface emotion.  Using the example of a tree, anger composes the trunk and branches, the parts readily visible to others.  As in the caseTree_roots_cross_section of a tree, there are extensive roots which are not able to be seen, deep underground.  Anger always has roots, and these roots are comprised of a combination of the other emotions.  Anger itself is not sin, but how it is expressed can be.  By its very nature, the experience of anger can provide you with false sense of power and mastery.  It may be one of the only ways you feel you are taking control of your life,  As a result, you may no longer have to experience fear or other difficult emotions.  You may make a kind of agreement with anger in these cases, “If anger will allow me the illusion of safety, mastery, and control, I will rely on it.”

Other Words for Angry:  irritated, uptight, impatient, upset, agitated, offended, cross, disgusted, disagreeable, annoyed, critical, displeased, bothered, enraged, aggressive, indifferent, hateful, furious, hostile.

GLAD:  Sharing this emotion can often be pleasant.  It is the one on this list, you might, at first glance, say is the only “good” one.  Emotions simply exist, the notions of “bad & good” are irrelevant.  Others knowing about your gladness is generally not very threatening, and in many cases, the risk of vulnerability is minimal.

Other Words for Glad: secure, content, appreciated, relieved, alive, excited, loving, compassionate, joyful, calm, peaceful, committed, understood, satisfied, confident, patient, healthy, strong, determined, respected, important, whole, worthy, valued.

Group 2SHAME & GUILT:  Difficult to experience and often forced by circumstances, such as being caught in the wrong.  The depth and intensity of these Shame & Guiltemotions can often lead to two faulty conclusions:

1- Emotions are very painful and I don’t want to feel them again. 

2- Shame and Guilt were so deeply intense/consuming, they are my deepest emotions (I have gotten to the very core of who I am).  However, Group 3 emotions go deeper.

SHAME:  It is a condition of finding the motives of your heart as corrupt.  Shame is a deep recognition of your deficits in both character and motivations directing behavior.  It feeds your need to hide, regardless of the costs.  You will typically avoid having to feel shame, but when it is finally experienced, it can be nearly intolerable.  Since shame is difficult,  you may resist openness with other emotions.

Other Words for Shame:  worthless, abandoned, ugly, inferior, ashamed, helpless, humiliated, detested, weak, bad, ignored, unloved, failure, inadequate, rejected, ungifted, degraded.

GUILT:  If shame is admitting your motives are sinful, guilt can be understood as the emotion which occurs when those motives reach fruition via your behavior.  While shame ultimately deals with the condition of your heart, guilt is the acknowledgement of how this condition has manifested tangibly in your actions in relationships with others.  It pushes  you to acknowledge your destructive impact on both yourself and others.

Other Words for Guilt: embarrassed, tormented, humiliated, regretful, alienated, disgraced, despised, stupid, worthless, bad.

Group 3FEAR, HURT, SAD & LONELY:  The deepest and most difficult to acknowledge.  Intimacy can be achieved when these are allowed to surface. 

FEAR:  The other 4-letter “f” word.  Its been said that men don’t get afraid, they get concerned.  You might chuckle at this, but when is the last time you spoke with someone about your fears?  This is a direct question, making a bold assumption- that you have fear.  As men, we experience fear, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.  In some cases, it has been such a long time, maybe since you were a young boy, you don’t even know how to recognize it anymore.

Other Words for Fear:  terrified, shocked, frantic, desperate, anxious, unsafe, concerned, apprehensive, vulnerable, tense, suspicious, uneasy, pressured.

HURT:  To experience hurt, requires that you have been vulnerable, in some way, to harm.  Often, hurt is equated with having been weak at some point in life.  You may see being weak as a mistake which you cannotHurt be allow to happen again.  You may even have disdain for the the part of yourself which was vulnerable to harm.  However, hurt is experienced, not by those watching life from the sideline, but the brave who take the field.  Courageous play necessitates the risk of harm.  You were not hurt because you were weak, you were hurt because you had the courage to take the field.

Other Words for Hurt: defeated, victimized, fragile, wounded, destroyed, hopeless, rejected, crushed, miserable, sick, torn up.

SAD:  If you choose to live courageously, you will experience sadness.  Sadness is a healthy response to many situations but has a requirement.  For you to experience sadness, you must have cared.  If you experience great sadness, you cared deeply.  The man who is aloof or detached, appearing not to care, may not be a pillar of strength. Instead, he is risk averse.  This man skillfully hides within plain sight.  Great men know what it is to be sad because they have the courage to care.

Other Words for Sad:  depressed, trapped, exhausted, hopeless, helpless, overwhelmed, miserable, remorseful, misunderstood, upset, crushed.

SadLONELY:  You were created with the need for relationship, first with God, then with others.  At the suggestion  they are “needy”, most men wince.  It is a word equated with weakness.  You may be much more comfortable in the role of provider than you are in the role of recipient.  Women, in general, are more accepting of the reality of needing others.  If you attempt to live apart from accepting your relational needs, you will feel deep loneliness.  Answer a few simple questions: Who do you share the content of your heart with?  Who knows you intimately?  When do you rely on others, apart from  times of crisis, during which you have little choice?  There should be ready answers for these questions.  First, a substantial relationship with God, via the forgiveness provided by Jesus Christ death on the cross, must be present.  Second, the relationship with your spouse should be deep and meaningful.  They should have access to your heart.  Third, other men who choose to serve and honor God need to be part of your inner circle.  Without such relationships, you cannot get your needs met.

Other Words for Lonely: alone, not chosen, empty, abandoned, despised, friendless, alienated, isolated.

Parenting: A Balancing Act

It’s no secret, parenting isn’t easy.  Children don’t come with instructions manuals, and, even if they did, it seems the manual gets rewritten on a regular basis.  Often times, parents may not even be sure how to conceptualize and then communicate what they are struggling with exactly.  Asked what is going on and they may not be sure.  What is more difficult is the communication between mother and father.  In theory, you and your spouse are supposed to be a dynamic duo, a kind of super team capable of handling anything the little people living in your house can dish out.  However, you may not be anywhere close to being able to talk to your spouse about it.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were some simple tools you as a parent could use to understand and talk about what you are going through?  Well, the good news is those kinds of resources exist.  Here is one, very simple, quite effective way for moms and dads to understand and communicate in regards to the challenges of parenting.

20130125182402-tightrope-walkingParenting is a kind of ongoing balancing act between three important functions: Guiding, Nurturing & Controlling.  Using these terms, you can form a kind of working language to accurately define what it is your children are going through and devise an effective response.  The best part is, these tools are dynamic, able to be used in an ongoing way to handle the inevitable changes life brings.  In your family, circumstances do not remain constant.  Your kids get older and so do you.  You encounter new successes, and novel challenges arise.  Let’s start with defining each of these jobs:

Guiding:  Simply put, guiding involves parents directing the course of their child’s life via the position of a trusted adviser.  Throughout life, a your child is faced with many decisions leading to various possible outcomes, some better than others.  You harbor a deep desire to help your children make the very best choices, often based on your own experiences growing-up and the perspective as someone who has been around quite a bit longer than your kids.  You place significant effort into giving direction and explaining why particular choices would be best.

Nurturing:  No diamond, regardless of color or clarity sparkles in the dark.  Your nurturing is like a light, which brings to life all the beauty and quality of your child.  Nurturing is an child-mirroract of loving your child in such a way that brings out their very best and refines it further, while challenging those aspects in need of change.  Your love sees what is great in your child, acting as a mirror.  Your child will develop their own sense of self and worth via the reflection of their your nurturing.  Again, this reflection should be lovingly accurate.  In other words, you do not simply highlight your child’s strengths while ignoring issues, as this would lead to your child developing a very distorted picture of themselves.  Instead, as the parent, you demonstrate how to love deeply, bringing out the best in your child while refining rough edges.

Controlling:  Probably the most challenging aspect of parenting to navigate is determining the correct level of control to implement in raising your children.  In contrast to guiding, control is the action of directly exercising power over the course of your child’s life.  It is the act of making parental decisions about what will and will not be allowed to occur.  My child will be allowed to view PG movies.  They can go spend the night at a friend’s house.  No phone calls after 9pm.  Control requires authority on your part as parent.  Power is necessarily out of proportion in the parent-child relationship.  You can and should have more than your kid.  Children need to learn to navigate the challenges a power imbalance presents.  After all, they will be doing so the rest of their life either effectively or ineffectively (as in the case of rebellion).

Now these three terms have been defined, it’s time to use them.  Click Here to view Parent Nurturing & Controlling Discussion Guide.

 

family-250x250Over 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Family Counseling at The Relationship Center

Is Pedophilia caused by biology?

A pedophile's internal tormentA recent article in the LA Times on Pedophilia is misguided.  The title is quite sensational “Many researchers taking a different view of pedophilia,” and, no doubt, had a desirable effect of drawing readers to the content.  However, the use of the term “many”, seems an interesting choice, given that the names of only three researchers were given, one of whom, Dr. Eric Cantor, serves as the APA’s editor for their newsletter on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Psychology, a very politically motivated publication.

 

Sexual Orientation:  The use of terms like “sexual orientation” has become so common place in today’s media that a great deal of assumption is made on the part of the user that there is a socially uniform definition of the term.  Furthermore, this definition is accepted as accurate, without challenge.  Indeed, simply questioning the meaning of a term in regards to sexuality can spur such potent reactionary anger, the questioner is left resolved to silence in the future.  It is important to challenge misconceptions about what sexual orientation is, however.  Clinically, sexual orientation is not simply a matter of behavior, nor is it focused solely on the direction and persistence of attraction.  In the case pedophilia, application of the term sexual orientation focuses on the individual’s behaviors pursuing sexual interaction with children, in addition to an ongoing desire for such contact.  The use of the term is inappropriate and appears more directed towards creating an understanding of a troubling issue by combining it with an accepted sexual term.  If, the molestation or viewing of children sexually is part of an individual’s orientation, then it is an expression of  their identity, and all protections afforded to other sexual orientations are now granted to pedophiles.

Harmful Behavior:  Excessive individualism appears to be at play in this case.  Focus on the person is valuable and warranted, however, this attention should not lead to ignoring the individual’s impact on the world around them.  Pedophilia, like many other sexually deviant behaviors is manifested by a small minority of the population.  It is destructive to those who practice it and those they impact.  In the LA Times article, a reference is made to a man, Paul Christiano, who, though he never acted-out directly with a child (though we are taking his word), pursued acquiring child pornography.  Simple economics teaches us his role was the creation of demand.  Demand spurs opportunity for others to provide services and materials that meet the demand.  The end result of this process was the violation of innocent children.

It is with great curiosity and horror, that I, as a therapist who has worked extensively over the years with children who have been sexually molested, watch pedophilia being compared with romance, a mutually beneficial and consensual activity.  Men (statistics show us most sexual offenders are men) frame their actions with love and care for the child.  It is justified as an expression of love and intimacy between the two.

As a clinician, I will take a moment to explain what is actually going on here.  One of the key components of antisocial behavior is a toxic compartmentalization and justification of motive and behavior.  What this means, is all of us, as human beings, have some capacity to place the parts of our lives in a kind of mental box.  Think of the mind as a garage, full of boxes, each containing different items.  Men, seem to have a much greater tendency towards this way of organizing life, and there is nothing unhealthy about it.  The content of boxes, though different, should be in agreement.  Great distress, cognitive dissonance, is experienced, when the contents of one box are in conflict with the contents of another.  For example, Paul Christiano, has a box in his “garage” telling him that what he is doing is wrong and should not be done to children.  He also has a box containing child pornography seeking behaviors.  He places his “pedophilia box” away from the “convictions box” in the garage.

Additionally, he begins convincing himself because he is not acting out with children directly, but rather, viewing pornography, he is not doing something “wrong”, or probably more accurately, something “as wrong” as molesting a child.  If a man can compartmentalize and organize his mind in such a way that his behaviors are acceptable to him, he has laid the groundwork for doing extremely harmful things.  Paul elicits sympathy from the reader by noting he saw himself as a monster when he was a child.  We can and should sympathize with his internal struggle, but his actions, chosen by him, harmed the children, whom he victimized vicariously through the actions of other.

Biblical Perspective:  There are many desires present in the heart of man.  The nature of their expression is of utmost importance.  An individual may experience sexual arousal and attraction towards children, but it would be a sin to victimize the innocent.  The individual can and should seek help.  As a Christian therapist, I encourage individuals that therapy is a safe place where  such struggles can be addressed without condemnation.  However, as a licensed clinician, mandated reporter, and a Believer, the protection of innocent children requires accountability for those who act on such desires.

christian counselingOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Counseling at The Relationship Center

Discovery vs. Integrity in Sex: Secular Humanism vs. Biblical Truth

download (6)We live in an age of self-discovery and self-actualization.  It’s a tenant of Secular Humanism.  The great quest is to delve into “who I am” and learning to embrace whatever one might find.  Humanistic psychology has championed this approach, and pushes individuals to see the goal of life as fully exploring these various facets of the human experience as a means of life at its fullest.  If this approach is applied to sexuality, the issue is no longer one of integrity, but of discovery.  Any desire, thought, or action should be embraced and greater truth will be found.  It may surprise many, but Paul speaks of this way of thinking in Romans 1:18-25.

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.

Paul understood this way of thinking, by way of God’s revelation, is humanity’s corrupted pursuit of a god, which is idolatry.  As people in a modern society, we might scoff at the idea of 88308565serving an idol, but as in the case of many things, idols have evolved over time.  The modern idol is not a statue or image, but one’s self.  God is created by accepting what appeals to the individual.  In a sense, the person can move down a buffet line of ideas and thoughts, selecting the amount of each that seems right to them.  The plate is gradually filled and steadily transforms into a mirror, providing a reflection of the individual holding it.  Although, in the case of idolatry, whether an image, statue, or mindset, it has always been man’s worship of himself.  Self-exploration is a good thing, and a part of the work we do at The Relationship Center.  As believers, however, we seek to also to know who God is, as our guide and template.  As we discover the ways in which we are not like God, we surrender to His transformational work, allowing Him to mold us into his image.

Let’s apply this concept to sexuality.  If, for instance, a man is drawn to look at pornography and struggles to reconcile this behavior with his faith, he has a choice.  One of his options is to re-examine his beliefs about sexual behavior and change these.  He might reform his belief system so that looking at porn in no longer a problem, but simply an expression of his sexuality.  In regards to his faith, he begins to ignore or reinterpret aspects of scripture which contradict his new found thinking.  While he does not realize it, he is creating an idol.  God’s word about Himself is no longer held as truth, instead, this man defines who God is.  More specifically, he begins to bow at the altar of sex, serving, according to Paul, a created thing rather than the Creator, God.  What if, instead, the man knew what the Bible, the inspired Word of God, said about the created thing, sex.  The man, with God’s grace and help, transforms this area of himself to conform to the image of God.  In this instance, he bows before God.  Sexuality becomes an area which God is able to bless.