In my early years as a counselor in private practice, I was eager to take on new clients as quickly as I could. I conducted a quick telephone assessment before scheduling a client that was planning on coming in the next day. Later, I realized a big piece of information was missing from the assessment. I am sharing my story to bring awareness to other counselors who, like me, take our physical abilities for granted which is a form of ableist oppression.
The next day, as I waited for my client to arrive, I noticed that he was running late. This is not completely unusual, but I called him anyway. He answered and said that he was not able to come up to my office because it was located on the second level and there was no wheelchair accessibility. Not only was I unable to accommodate him for the session, I also contributed to more oppression by not thinking to ask if he was able to come up a flight of stairs. This fostered more shame not only for my client but also for me. If I had the awareness to inquire about his accessibility needs, I would have been able to offer a phone or video session eliminating wasted time and further embarrassment for the client. This error has led to an increased interest in advocating and bringing awareness of the needs of individuals with a disability and in particular people who use wheelchairs.
According to the World Health Organization, over a billion people are estimated to live with some form of disability. Impairments associated with being in a wheelchair are not limited to immobility. It affects work occupational impairment, self-care, communication skills, and typically includes social impairment due to isolation. For this reason, I want to share some common misconceptions that the general public may have about people who use wheelchairs. My hope in writing this is to encourage other therapists to become more sensitive to the setup of their offices, their intake procedures, and whether they are or are not handicap accessible. Furthermore, I hope to encourage therapists to take the following information into account when working with someone in a wheelchair and be knowledgeable about the types of generalizations and oppressions that these individuals face day-to-day. Lastly, I want to encourage therapists to find a way to use their new knowledge in helping other people that may exercise the same ableist ignorance that I was blinded by early in my counseling career.
The following are a few examples of ableist oppression towards people who use wheelchairs:
- Specific micro-aggressions
- Speaking loudly to a person within a wheelchair.
- Assuming that a person who uses a wheelchair has no sexual desire.
- There is a common misperception that people with disabilities do not possess. Intellectual capacity or any independent living skills.
- Poor early detection of mental health illness or missed diagnosis.
- Assuming that that reasons for entering therapy are connected to the disability (Smith, Foley, & Chaney, 2008).
- Silence is also a form of oppression (it’s ok to acknowledge it).
- Verbal and physical aggression.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but to set a foundation for further learning and self-reflection.
I work in an office building that is in a small shopping center. During the holiday season, the parking lot is packed. Just imagine, because we have all seen it, a person not living with a disability getting into his/her car that’s parked in a disabled parking spot because it was more convenient for them to park closer to the store they wanted to visit. This may not seem like a big deal to most; however, that minor action can create a critical inconvenience for my clients trying to come in for their therapy appointment. They may or may not find a spot to park due to the limited amount of disabled parking and it may cause them to be late to their appointment. This creates a huge hassle and may further anxiety that they may already feel when coming in for their session.
Those with disabilities also encounter a range of barriers when they attempt to access healthcare services. The World Health Organization (2016) reports that people in wheelchairs are four times more likely to report being treated badly by healthcare providers and nearly three times more likely to report being denied care altogether. Counselors can make a difference by becoming competent to the needs of people in wheelchairs. This task can be as simple as being kind. What we can do is provide a broad range of modifications and adjustments (reasonable accommodation) to facilitate access to healthcare services.
Access to health care is another hassle for people with disabilities. Affordability being one of the leading factors of reasons they don’t seek out healthcare services. For instance, It is often difficult to gain employment when applying for a job. This then creates lower income due to lack of job opportunities. Transportation is another issues because it sometimes creates an added inconvenience.
Due to cultural shame, people who use wheelchairs also tend to withdrawal and be hidden away. The prevention of people leaving the house can lead to a distinct cohort of psychosocial stressors. Included but not limited to, experiencing the loss of things that they used to be able to do, but now cannot. As counselors, we can encourage these individuals to increase their activities of daily living, so that they can be out in the environment more which could help treat depressive symptoms.
Agent of Social Change
Counselors are able to make a difference by educating themselves and others to the needs of those who use wheelchairs. Building relationships with legislators and policy-makers can bring awareness and improve access to quality, and affordable health care services. As a counselor advocate, if you live in an area where you have the ability to petition for access or at the very least begin a conversation about the lack of access, it may help in creating the reform that this population needs.
We can also advocate for facilitating data collection and dissemination of disability-related data and information. We can develop normative tools, including guidelines to strengthen health care. For example, changing the physical layout of clinics to provide access for people with mobility difficulties or identify alternative modes of service delivery models, such as in-home care, telemedicine or video conferencing.
We have to realize that aside from the physical impairment other psychosocial stressors continue to create additional aggravations such as negative attitudes or silence, inaccessible buildings or offices, no transportation, and limited social support. People with disabilities have the same general health care needs as everyone else and they are one of the most vulnerable groups, yet they are the ones to receive the least access to competent care (WHO, 2016).
Another consideration for building equity is to integrate disability education into undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education. We can train oncoming counselors so that they can play a role in preventive health care services. We can exercise competent clinical or supervisory skills in evidence-based guidelines for assessment and treatment with this population.
Lastly, let’s get real about the negative things that people say about individuals who use a wheelchair. Here’s some examples of oppressive language that I have heard: lame, cripple, cretin, gimp, gimpy, invalid. If you don’t know what to say or how to refer to individuals who use wheelchairs, here’s the answer: Always come from person first. What does this mean? This means that you use the person then the qualifier, or the person then the description. For example, “person with a disability,” as opposed to “disabled person.” It is not sensitive to say “the disabled,” but instead say “persons living with a disability.” Imagine this sounding like your identifying someone that has a distinguishable difference but no oppressive ties such as: a person living with an accent, or a person who lives with glasses. It doesn’t use language that limits a person to be identified from one struggle, as we all have struggles.
In summary, this was written to provide new information to counselors who do not realize the oppression that people with a disability experience on a day-to-day basis, in particular those who use wheelchairs. By maintaining a posture of openness and being committed to self-examination, counselors are able to be more sensitive to the needs of others. The awareness of needs also strengthens advocacy efforts and allows counselor to become agents of change.
ADA National Network. (2013). The Americans with Disabilities Act questions and answers .
Retrieved from https://adata.org/learn-a
Goodman, L. A., Liang, B., Helms, J. E., Latta, R. E., Sparks, E., & Weintraub, S. R. (2004).
Training counseling psychologists as social justice agents: Feminist and multicultural principles in action. The Counseling Psychologist, 32(6), 793-836.
Smith, L., Foley, P. F., & Chaney, M. P. (2008). Addressing classism, ableism, and heterosexism
in counselor education. Journal of Counseling & Development, 86(3), 303-309.
The World Health Organization. (2016). Disability and health. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre
- Specific micro-aggressions
As with any kind of addiction, people who have gone through sex addiction therapy and entered recovery remain vulnerable to relapses. Relapsing is often a part of the recovery process and does not mean that your sex addiction rehab program in Los Angeles, CA , has failed or that you cannot re-enter recovery. You can reduce your risk of relapsing by understanding the triggers and having a plan to cope with them when they arise. During sex addiction treatment, your therapist will work with you on building strategies to cope with the triggers you will inevitably face during recovery, including these common ones.
Physical and Emotional Stress
Many people with sex addictions used those behaviors to cope with stress, and when indulging the addiction is no longer possible, finding a new way to deal with stress is crucial. Physical stressors, such as not getting enough sleep and not eating right, can leave you feeling unhealthy and looking for something to make you feel better in the way that addictive behaviors may have in the past. Emotional stress, including pressure at work and strains in personal relationships, can tempt people with past sex addictions to turn to damaging behaviors. Having a plan for dealing with stress and using it can keep these feelings under control.
Although feeling confident in your recovery is important, feeling so secure that you stop taking the necessary steps to keep your addiction under control could trigger a relapse. During recovery, some people become so sure of their success that they stop meeting with their therapists or attending group counseling sessions, which could leave the unequipped to deal with other triggers when they arise.
Most people think of the stress of negative events when they think of relapse triggers, but happy occasions can also lead to a relapse. In some cases, the act of celebrating the event is the trigger for relapse. In other cases, positive events, such as marriage or the birth of a child, can also be overwhelming and lead to a relapse.
When are sexual behaviors considered healthy, and when do they fall into the category of sexual addiction? It can be difficult to recognize the signs of sexual addiction and to decide when to seek help. If you are engaging in any of these behaviors or believe that a loved one is, consider seeking advice from a sex addiction therapist in Los Angeles, CA . A certified sex addiction therapist can help you understand what behaviors could be unhealthy and how to cope with sex addiction.
Habitual masturbation is not easy to define by a specific number of incidents. Rather, it is a compulsion to masturbate, often multiple times per day, even in situations in which it is inappropriate to do so. Some people with sex addictions masturbate at work, in their cars, and in other places where getting caught could have serious consequences. The need to masturbate may dominate the life of someone with a sex addiction, and they may choose to masturbate instead of engaging in other activities or meeting responsibilities.
Pornography plays a central role in many cases of sexual addiction. The ease of access of internet pornography in particular has lead to addictive behaviors for a large number of people. People who are obsessed with pornography will devote large amounts of time to seeking it out, to the exclusion of other activities, and will watch it despite any negative consequences that could occur. Teaching people to overcome pornography addictions is frequently a part of sex addiction rehab.
Although many people have multiple sex partners, people with sex addictions habitually seek out new partners and frequently engage in anonymous sex. People with sex addictions who are in relationships cheat compulsively and may hire prostitutes or otherwise engage in risky sexual behavior that does not involve their partners. Sex addiction also leads people to have sexual relationships and choose sexual partners that are inappropriate for personal, professional, or even legal reasons. In extreme cases, sexual addicts may turn to stalking, molestation, and other forms of sexual aggression.
Although pornography has long been available to those who seek it out, the internet has opened up a whole new way of accessing and consuming porn. Now, an unprecedented level of porn is online and just a few clicks away for free, which has caused many people to develop an addiction to pornography and also a related sex addiction. If you are worried about your relationship with porn, a porn addiction center in Los Angeles, CA , may be able to help.
Porn addiction occurs when a person habitually views an excessive amount of pornography, even when it is negatively impacting their lives. Thanks to the internet, people with a compulsion to view porn have nearly constant access to it. The need to view porn can become overwhelming, and people may begin to use the internet to access porn at increasingly inappropriate times and to the exclusive of maintaining their responsibilities. Fortunately, a porn addiction center can help people develop the skills necessary to resist their urges to watch pornography and to engage in other risky sexual behavior. Porn addiction treatment is frequently part of sex addiction rehab programs.
Sex addiction is a compulsion that is equivalent to drug and alcohol addiction, and just as people with those addictive behaviors require treatment, sex addiction rehab is an essential part of recovery for a sex addict. Watch this video to hear one couple’s experience with this kind of addiction and why seeking a sex addiction treatment center in Los Angeles, CA , is so important if you’re struggling with a sex compulsion.
As the video demonstrates, sex addiction can happen to anyone, regardless of religion or walk of life. Sex addiction therapy helps sufferers and their loved ones understand the root causes of their behaviors and identify contributing factors, including internet pornography. Sex addiction rehab gives addicts the tools to enter recovery and rebuild their relationships in a healthy way.
When you seek out professional treatment for sex addiction near Los Angeles, CA, you may be wondering how your addiction will be diagnosed. What differentiates ordinary sexual behavior from sex addiction? Many people might assume that you can determine the presence of an addiction from how many sexual encounters an individual has sought out, but this is not the case. Rather than being based on behavior, sex addiction is characterized by a pattern of obsessive mental preoccupation with the subject of sex. In this video, Dr. Patrick Carnes explains how addiction changes the way your brain functions, and how your day-to-day behavior can inadvertently reveal the nature of your addiction.
On the road to recovery, one of the most difficult obstacles is breaking the news to your partner that you have a porn addiction. But recovery does not occur in a vacuum and this is a necessary step toward true healing and rebuilding your relationship. At a porn addiction center in Los Angeles, CA , both you and your partner can find guidance from a relationship therapist.
Seek advice from your relationship therapist.
Discussing your porn addiction with your partner isn’t going to be easy, but your relationship therapist can help. He or she can guide you in finding an honest way to share the news that does not inflict further damage on your relationship. Your relationship therapist will likely suggest that you find the right time to sit down with your partner. Ideally, you should discuss your addiction when both of you have plenty of time and when other emotional situations aren’t clouding the issue.
Prepare yourself for your partner’s response.
There is no way to truly know in advance how your partner will respond to the news, but many people react with anger. This may be true even if your partner has had suspicions about your behaviors. He or she may have found suspicious charges on the credit card statement, for example, or detected your browsing history on the Internet. Yet, hearing that a loved one does indeed have an addiction to pornography can still come as a shock. Your partner may feel betrayed, hurt, and jealous. It is to be expected that these feelings will continue for a long time; do not try to rush your partner to “get over it.”
Avoid minimizing your behavior.
When a person must confess something to a partner, it is often tempting for that individual to attempt to justify or minimize his or her behavior. He or she might point out how the situation could have been worse. The individual might even suggest that the partner could somehow be to blame, such as by not being as attentive or amorous. However, sharing the news of a porn addiction is a time to accept full responsibility for your behavior and to acknowledge your faults. Only then can the two of you begin to work toward healing.
When you go to a sex addiction treatment center in Los Angeles, CA, you will cover many issues during your session with your sex addiction therapist, including how to rebuild trust in your relationship. It’s important to understand that trust and forgiveness are two distinct things.. With help from couple’s counseling at the sex addiction treatment center , trust and forgiveness can be discussed in a compassionate and open environment. However, rebuilding trust is an ongoing, lengthy process that cannot be rushed.
Be open about your concerns.
Part of rebuilding trust with your partner or spouse involves restoring your communication abilities. Intimacy in a relationship is more than physical; it’s also emotional. Share your feelings, concerns, and challenges openly with your partner. It will help both of you become reacquainted with each other and lead to a deeper, more meaningful relationship. For example, it’s not unusual for a recovering sex addict to feel uncomfortable in certain situations. You may be watching a movie with your partner when nude scenes appear on the screen. It is encouraged to tell your partner what you are feeling or thinking. It is okay to admit you are distressed or feeling triggered.
Get into the habit of being honest.
Before you sought sex addiction therapy, it’s likely that you got into the habit of lying about your behaviors. For many people, lying becomes second nature and these individuals may lie even about relatively innocuous issues. Now that you’re in recovery, it’s critically important that you be fully honest with your partner about everything. Practice being honest, whether that involves admitting that you didn’t take out the trash or that you spent more than you should have on an expensive dress shirt. All lies, big or small, erode the trust in a relationship. However, you can rebuild trust by demonstrating to your partner that you’re willing to be completely honest about everything.
Take on a proactive role in your relationship.
All addictions can be incredibly isolating. While you were in the grip of your sex addiction, you might not have been emotionally present in your relationship or in your household. One way to nurture the trust between you and your partner is to demonstrate that you are taking an active role in rebuilding the relationship and contributing to the household. Take the initiative to offer to cook dinner, take your partner out on a date, or help the kids with their homework. Be patient and persistent with your positive behaviors.
The destructive nature of all types of addictions affects many other people in addition to the addict. This is certainly true of sex addiction, in which the partner of the sex addict is likely to feel betrayed. Some partners might even wonder if they somehow could have prevented the infidelity. At a sex addiction rehab center in Los Angeles, CA, couples can seek help from a relationship therapist. During sessions with the relationship therapist, the partner or spouse of the addict may find some comfort in learning about the nature of addiction and discovering that the addict’s behaviors are not the fault of the partner or spouse.
It can feel empowering for both partners to be involved with the sex addiction program. Couple’s counseling is an opportunity to explore the path toward healing and take a renewed look at the relationship to evaluate whether it might be repaired. During couple’s counseling, both partners can discuss problems and conflicts in a constructive, compassionate way.
Today, it’s well understood that addiction is a real problem that is not caused by the lack of willpower. An alcoholic may try to cut down on his or her drinking without success. A heroin addict may want to get sober, yet suffer an overdose the next day. Despite the progress society has made toward removing the stigma of these types of addictions, there is still a great deal of controversy and many misunderstandings surrounding the nature of sex addictions. The reality of sex addiction is that it’s a real problem that an individual or couple needs professional guidance to overcome. If you’ve been affected by sex addiction, you should know that help is available at a sex addiction treatment center in Los Angeles, CA. You can speak with a sex addiction therapist about your concerns.
Understanding the Nature of Addiction
Like all addictions, sex addiction is a complex issue. Addiction essentially hijacks the brain, causing the loss of self-control and powerful cravings for the object of addiction. Within the brain, all sources of pleasure are interpreted in the same manner. When a pleasurable activity is perceived, the brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine into the cluster of nerve cells below the cerebral cortex. This cluster is called the nucleus accumbens and it is also referred to as the brain’s pleasure center. Another region of the brain, the hippocampus, establishes the memory of the rush of satisfactory feelings associated with the pleasurable event. In turn, the amygdala establishes a conditioned response to the pleasurable stimuli. These processes set the stage for addictive behaviors.
Pursuing Behaviors Despite Negative Consequences
Individuals who suffer from sex addiction continue to pursue sexual encounters, solicit prostitutes, and view pornography despite the threat or the actuality of negative consequences. They may want to stop, but find themselves unable to do so. Before seeking sex addiction treatment, many individuals experience multiple negative consequences of their addiction such as marital strain or divorce, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), financial problems, job loss, or the loss of child custody. Ideally, individuals in these situations would seek outpatient sex addiction counseling before experiencing these problems.