Couples Counseling

Are You Struggling with Love Addiction?

Do you find yourself drifting in and out of relationships. Excited in the first few months but, eventually, it wanes and even boredom sets in. You end up seeking the next person to bring that excitement back. You like the ‘in’ love feeling, almost crave it. A repetitive pattern is never by fluke. It’s trying to tell you something.

This is just one form of love addiction. A lot of us tend to find we repeat relationship patterns. We start afresh with someone new, but it ends up feeling frighteningly familiar to the last relationship. It’s true we can carry baggage from one relationship to the next, but what if it’s deeper than that? What if it’s a deeply held belief you have about yourself?

You may find yourself getting bored easily, maybe running away from something. Maybe closeness or intimacy scares you. You try to end the relationship before getting too attached, saving yourself from the heartache in the long run. Or maybe you’re trying to fill an emptiness you feel inside. And if you don’t manage to fill that void, you’re no longer believing that the person you’re dating is  ‘the one’ and you try to move on quickly.

If you feel incomplete in some way, the only person that can complete you….is you. It’s an outdated notion to expect to find your ‘other half’- the soul mate, the ‘one’. What if you already ARE a complete and whole person. Relationships need to be an ‘addition’ to your life, rather than something that provides a band aid of some sort. How you feel about yourself will always be reflected in the kind of relationships you choose to find yourself in.

A re-learning has to occur. Love is not just a feeling, it’s an ability. Anyone can say ‘I love you’. But to be able to show it is another matter. To learn to love yourself as well as another, you have to go back to basics and ask yourself what do you want in a partner and why? If it’s to feel important or to be needed, where does that come from? By analyzing, you will be able to break the negative patterns and live more authentically and in the now.

Come to talk to one of our expert therapists today to talk more about your romantic relationships and set goals in counseling.

Communication & Connection 101 for Couples

Most couples seeking counseling state that they are having “communication problems.” Communication is a crucial component of any relationship, and there are many ways for it to go off track. Every culture, family, and individual has their own style and rules for communication. The more intimate our relationship with another person is, the more important good communication becomes.

“But we talk all the time!”

Talking frequently and communicating well are two different things. You and your partner may talk often about day-to-day issues or events. You may even talk about things that you disagree about. You also may have developed ways to talk at each other without really listening. Tuning out or just giving the impression that you are listening, when you are actually daydreaming about something else. Talking is not the same as good communication. Communication goes beyond words and encompasses actions, nonverbal expression, and connection.

What is the relationship between communication and connection?

Communication is happening all the time, whether it is conscious or not. You are communicating when you speak, and you are also communicating when you are silent. Banging the cabinets as you unload the dishwasher that your spouse forgot to unload again is communication (I’m frustrated with you). Turning on the TV or checking Facebook when your partner is talking is communication (I don’t want to talk or you are not important). Putting down your phone, making eye contact, and smiling is communication (I’m here, I’m listening). Actions and nonverbal signs are just important as words.

It is possible to communicate well but have poor connection with your partner. While communication can be involuntary, connection takes conscious thought and intention. Connection is emotional alignment with your partner. Connection is not just communicating well, but actually wanting to understand and feel close to your partner. Remember how it felt when you were first falling love? Everything the other person said was interesting. It didn’t matter if you were using good communication techniques. Connection was more important. If you can reestablish your connection, your communication will improve.

Techniques to Improve Connection and Communication

-     Timing. We are not always in the right mood or the right place to communicate well and connect. When one of you is stressed out, overwhelmed, or emotionally exhausted, you are more likely to misread each other, send negative nonverbal signals, and slip into old bad habits. When an important conversation needs to take place, make sure both of you are feeling calm and focused.

-     Attention. Make a commitment to give more attention to your partner and your relationship. This means giving your full attention, free from any distractions, if only for a few minutes each day. It also means paying attention to the things that the other person is doing well and saying thank you. Appreciation and attention are powerful ways to build connection.

-     Touch. It is difficult to be angry at someone when you are in close physical contact. Loving touch improves our connection with our partners and leads to better communication. In practice, this may mean holding hands, or simply sitting so that your legs are touching while having a conversation. When things start to get tense, you will likely pull away from each other. This brings your attention to the fact that things are getting tense, and a conscious decision can be made about how to proceed.

 Looking for more help improving your connection or communication with your partner? Contact the therapists at Sun Point Wellness.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Therapy Session

We all have limited time and money that we can spend in therapy - so how can we maximize the time in sessions that we have?  Therapy can be an effective and reliable tool to cultivate a state of mental and emotional well-being. Having someone objectively listen to your problems on an occasional basis can make you feel understood and help you to cultivate more self-awareness. However, in order to truly benefit from the experience of therapy one has to play an active role in order to make the best of each session.   Here are some tips to help you achieve just that:

  • Journaling: Keep a journal where you write down anything that feels significant to you such as any breakthroughs or milestones you’ve experienced during the week. Communicating this information to your therapist will make him/her more efficient at helping you to achieve your  goals.

  • Set Goals: Think about what you’d like to achieve at the end of each session. Take the initiative to reflect on issues that you’d like to discuss during the session and express your desired outcomes to your therapist beforehand.  

  • Try Not to Over Think: Try not to overanalyze your thoughts and emotions prior to the session. Instead of mulling over negative emotions rather to use the tools given to you in therapy to objectively  reflect on situations rather than allowing them to overwhelm you. This’ll help you to enter the session feeling at ease with yourself.

  • Stay Positive: Cultivate good habits to keep you in a positive state of mind. For example take a walk or go for a jog outside at least once a day. Connecting with nature or being in a calm environment can make you feel more centered and prepared for the issues to be discussed. Being calm can also help you to feel more open and vulnerable enough to make progressive breakthroughs in therapy.

  • Be punctual and arrive on time.  This will allow you to the most out of every minute of your therapy session. 

  • Be Open: Be vulnerable and honest with your therapist during the session.  Candor can go a long way towards reaching significant breakthroughs and transformations.

Lastly, remember that you don’t need to know everything prior to the session so don’t put too much pressure on yourself or place  unnecessary expectations on the outcome. Flow with the process of the session and use these tools to keep yourself on track when you’re in the outside world. If you have activities/goals between sessions, try using these recommended techniques used in therapy to help you experience ongoing progress.

Feel like you're not getting enough out of therapy?  Tell you're therapist - explore what might be going on - and which sessions have been the most productive and why others have not been as 'breakthrough' as others.

A New Perspective on Addiction: Research Suggests Some People May ‘Grow Out’ Of Addiction Phase

How much do we know about addiction?  And there was an alternate way to view people who are struggling with addiction issues?  Addition has traditionally fallen under the category of ‘disease’ – something that individuals who have will need to work on and face throughout their entire lives. 

But what if there’s a new way to conceptualize addiction?  This year, Maia Szalavitz, offered a new theory that addiction is a development disorder.  In her book, “Unbroken Brain: A Revolution New Way of Understanding Addiction” she posits that our brain chemistry may be constructed in such a way that some individuals are likely to struggle with addiction – and that this brain chemistry may change as we age (Szalavitz, 2016).  

Szalavitz challenges us to view addiction instead as a learning disorder, something that many individuals can overcome by learning disorder.  “Addiction, Szalavitz notices, is, predominantly, a problem of youth. Most addicts get started when they're still kids. And, remarkably, most addicts give up their addiction by the time they reach their 30s. In effect, they age out of their addiction. (NPR, 2016).”

Her research challenges many of the evidence-based practices that clinicians formerly used for addiction treatment.  She encourages people to rethink whether 12-step programs are most effective and instead believes cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy may serve as best practices when working with addiction. 

At Sun Point, we view people and issues holistically and work with each person to determine how they view addiction in their life.  We use a client-centered motivational approach to determining whether addiction is an issue in your life by using evidence-based practices like cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself before starting talk therapy for addictions-related issues:

·      What changes do you want to see in your life? 

·      How are substances impacting your ability to achieve your goals?

·      What are your relationships like with family, loved ones, and friends?  And how do other people in your life describe your substance use impacting you?

·      What has life been like at a different point when you were not using substances?

Feel free to call Sun Point anytime for recommendations on other literature or other substance use treatment.  We’re here for you – and for our community - we work with individuals to achieve their full potential everyday. 

Works Cited:

NPR. (2016). “'Unbroken Brain' Offers New Insights On Addiction” Retrieved from:

Szalavitz, M. (2016). “Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction”.

De-Stress Recommendations for Our Silver Spring Community

With the changing leaves of fall, we’re reminded it won’t be long before we’re into the winter season.  Many of us are excited for the holidays, but along with them come the added stress of extended family, finances for the holidays, cold weather and less time outdoors as we enter daylight savings time.

What are some ways to de-stress when we start feeling overwhelmed?

  1. Take an Outdoor Break - It’s easy to begin feeling ‘trapped’ indoors as the weather becomes cooler.  If exercise seems to overwhelming, take a quick walk around the block to get some fresh air.  Leave your cell phone at home and allow yourself a chance to be mindful of what you’re experiencing outside.  
  2. Listen to a Guided Meditation - Find a guided meditation on youtube or a song that is calming to you.  Allow yourself a quiet space where you can relax and solely focus on the words or music, attempting to silence other thoughts. 
  3. 5-Minutes of Exercise - Feeling angry and need a quick break?  Try 5-minutes of an intense workout such as - push-ups, jumping rope or sprinting.  
  4. Journal - Get your thoughts, feelings and stress into words by expressing what you’re going through on paper.  At the end of your journal entry, write about something that has been going well for you that you want to shift your focus to instead.
  5. Community - Make plans to connect with your friends or community groups.  Research shows us that people who are more connected in their community have lower levels of stress. 

Need more ways to de-stress?  Check out this article on scientifically backed ways to de-stress. Enjoy the fall season - and cheers to creating your self-care plan so you can enjoy a wonderful holiday season!