Teen Drug Abuse: What’s the Big Deal?

It’s no secret that the society we live it has drastically changed its opinion on marijuana over the past twenty years or so. The shift is influencing how our teens view the drug as well. But, is smoking marijuana safe for teenagers?

As a counselor, it is not unusual to hear my teenage clients make statements such as, “Marijuana is alright to use because it’s organic.” Or to hear them say pot cures cancer.

It’s also no secret that telling a young person what not to do, often results in the opposite being accomplished, I attempt to counsel them in a manner that is conducive to them making their own good choice rather than giving them instructions outright.

Once, a teen told me research proved that marijuana wasn’t harmful to young people. So, I requested that he bring in the research article. He later admitted the source wasn’t an article. It was a friend of his.

I proceeded to give the young man research articles which pointed out the risks associated with marijuana use and teens. He was not on the defensive because I had used a different approach with him so he was more open to hearing what I had to say.

When the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) conducted a survey, about 1 teen in 14 had used marijuana the prior month. A good number of teenagers feel that it is alright to use marijuana because it is organic and natural. Some think it is okay, whether it is illegal or not. Four million people in the US who were 12 and over had an abuse issue with marijuana in 2016. Research proves that marijuana does have the ability to harm the still developing brain of young people.

It is also a fact that marijuana certainly can be a source of addiction. Of course, not all who use it will become addicted to it. Becoming dependent happens when an individual isn’t able to control their use of any given substance and still continues to do it. Consequences do not stop an addict when practicing their addiction.

While harder drugs, like cocaine, tend to lead to big blow outs, like the tires of a car running at 90 miles-per-hour, marijuana is similar to a small, slow leak. It can be barely noticed. Over time, however, the tire begins to wear down. Such is true with marijuana issues. They may not surface as hard and fast as those associated with hard drug use. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist though.

Clearly, adolescence is a time of great upheaval and can be traumatic, filled with psychological turmoil. It’s a period when identity is being formed and defined. Teens struggle to find their individuality.

Often times, a huge amount of anxiety consumes a teen as he figures out how to fit in with his peers and he may be stressed out trying to work his values into the equation. During this turbulent time, if teens experiment with marijuana, they very well may feel as if they have found the perfect solution to all their problems and think it is the answer to their anxiety.

Being unaware that it is a problem in itself leads to other possible complications like denial. It is hard to get help when one does not admit or realize there is a negative issue with using it. That is why it often takes a while for marijuana users to get help if they are not intercepted by a parent or loved one.

Marijuana appears to be good when it comes to binding anxiety, it offers the false promise of stress-free living for teens. One of the main problems is that youngsters need some stress and anxiety in their lives to help them grow, emotionally. Coping skills are birthed from problems that kids learn to solve.

Life will pile on pressures but if a teen has not learned how to effectively deal with the stress those pressures cause, he is likely to cave because there is no personality structure to help him work through it all. That is how dependency sets in. Problem after problem, the teenager resorts to the only coping mechanism he has – marijuana. It offers an escape from reality and can quickly become a cycle that runs rampant.

While it is typical to think that hard drugs, like heroin or cocaine, would be much larger problems for an individual who is addicted to them, that’s not always necessarily the case. Because marijuana can be used for such a long time without many noticeable effects and has the tendency to ease anxiety rather than to create it (like amphetamines do), it can cause just as much or possibly more problems.

Furthermore, it greatly inhibits the development of coping skills (as mentioned above) which is a huge issue for teens who will soon be entering into adulthood and will be required to cope with a myriad of things life will throw their way.

For those who are heavy users, anxiety can go on for up to a year, even when not using. Maturity is delayed during this time which is something most teens cannot afford. It is imperative that the stages of growth are completed on time. None can be skipped which is a real possibility when marijuana use is part of the picture.

A number of functions are inhibited by marijuana. Driving is one of them. Since during the teen years, youngsters are learning to drive, this can be a problem. Delayed reactions are an area of concern. The lack of experience and delay in motor functions that marijuana use brings to the table is a dangerous scenario for the impaired driver and others on the road and in the car.

Marijuana lowers an individual’s ability to correctly function in academics as well. Marijuana causes memory and attention loss which can linger on for days after use because one of the main active ingredients is THC which is known for lowering concentration and memory as well and it’s fat soluble, meaning it takes a while to leave the system.

The loss of motivation is notorious for users of marijuana. It lowers anxiety which is, within reasonable quantities, something that naturally drives individuals to accomplish goes and press forward. For instance, a teen is often driven to complete homework because he doesn’t want to get a bad grade or be in trouble with his parents or teacher. If his level of concern is decreased, he is less likely to complete the task of doing his homework.

In a 2017 report, the NIDA stated that in comparison with teenagers who do not use, those students who did take part in using marijuana were less likely to complete high school. They were also less likely to acquire a degree in college. Because marijuana affects coordination, movement, and timing, their athletic abilities were also hindered making it a hindrance for athletes too.

Mental illness is yet another area that plays a factor in teens who use. They are at a high risk of having issues since it unlocks the potential for issues in that realm. Marijuana is classified as a hallucinogenic drug and therefore has the potential to alter the brain’s electrical activity that regulates perception.

Marijuana might be described as a drug that is used in the present and paid for in the future, like a line of credit. All of the consequences may not be experienced for years down the road. Sadly, however, they do catch up.

Like debt, issues and problems just keep piling up like a stack of bills that haven’t been paid. You can only ignore them for so long. Generally, it is in a time of chronic stress when the effects begin to surface.

Such an episode may lead to huge problems where mental health is concerned. Some forms of mental illness don’t just fade away. Some remain for the rest of one’s life. That is a heavy load for a teen to have to live with.

The NIDA reports that the use of marijuana is associated with a raised risk for such conditions as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. While it is unsure if using marijuana actually is the cause of the conditions, there’s a definite connection. The user’s age, the genes he possesses, and the frequency and amount of marijuana used are all contributing factors to be considered.

NIDA also reported these results:

Effects of short-term use, immediately following introduction to the body:

  • attention, memory, and learning problems
  • perception distortions (sights, time, touch, sounds)
  • poor coordination
  • an increase in heart rate
  • paranoia and anxiety
  • psychosis (rare)

Longer lasting effects can include:

  • memory and learning issues
  • problems with sleep

Longer-term effects (associated with repeated use):

  • marijuana addiction risks
  • lasting memory and learning issues when used excessively
  • the risk of bronchitis and chronic coughing
  • schizophrenia risk in those who have a high genetic vulnerability
  • severe nausea and vomiting (rare)

Is marijuana a gateway drug? Because most teens tend to try out marijuana and even alcohol and tobacco before experimenting with harder drugs, it is difficult to determine if there is a direct association with harder drug use as a direct result.

It is, however, plain to see that marijuana is easier to acquire than the harder drugs so perhaps that is why it is usually experimented with first. One who is smoking marijuana is more likely to hang out with people who use and sell harder drugs though so the chance of using them is increased.

Teenagers who discover that they are not able to stop using, even when it is their desire, might have a disorder or an addiction. When continued use causes problems yet it is still continued, addiction is likely a factor. Another sign is when it takes more of the drug to achieve the same high.

Marijuana treatment generally requires several simultaneous treatments because the addict who is in recovery may have a number of needs. Psychological education, group treatment, and individual counseling are usually all incorporated into the approaches.

There may be mental health issues that need to be addressed as well. A skilled counselor in the area of marijuana treatment can assess and determined what is right for your teen. The best plan is one that is tailor made for the teen and his or her given circumstances and needs.

Treatment for addiction is able to help an individual stop their drug use, rebuild the relationships they once had with friends and family, and restore the productivity they once enjoyed in society, at school, and at work. Counseling is best when sought sooner and not later when more damage has been done.

Summing it all up, marijuana isn’t the harmless, natural, organic substance that can do no harm that many people think it is. Especially when it comes to teens, using it regularly can undermine psychological developments and cognitive functions as well. The teen years are full of change and are the time for sorting things out and learning how to cope with oppositions. Marijuana stunts this growth.

A multitude of problems will have to be revisited if your teen is not able to learn skills of coping during the time he or she should be. Using marijuana to escape from the stress is not the answer. It only heaps on more problems. Getting help for your teen is the best step you can take. Intervention can help make a huge difference.

Scheduling a therapy appointment for your teenager to get proper teaching and education concerning their marijuana use and emotional support to help deal with their life stress points they might be attempting to escape from is imperative. Don’t let a small problem turn into a much bigger one. Take action today! We are here to help.

“What Ails You”, Courtesy of Wesley Gibbs, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Teen Smoker”, Courtesy of Ivandrei Pretorius, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Crazy High”, Courtesy of Ricardo Mancia, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Shooting Up”, Courtesy of VanveenJF, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Your Personal Leadership Development Plan: How it Can Help

Great leaders have mastered goal setting as well as finding ways to unlock personal growth. When a leader is focused on developing themselves and others, it creates an environment where other people can follow the leader’s example and thrive. A healthy culture sets an expectation for progress, not perfection, which helps a team function from a place of well-being instead of fear.

Whether you lead employees, students or athletes, creating a culture of empowerment instead of micromanagement will significantly influence success and overall satisfaction. The people you are leading won’t respect you as much if you don’t practice what you preach.

If you reiterate the importance of personal growth and achievable goals, then you need to establish these yourself first. Your team will flourish under this style of leadership.

Your Personal Leadership Development Plan

A few key factors that contribute to a healthy culture are values, vision, aligned behaviors, humility, and established community. A leader should use these to develop a team culture. Let’s explore what these key factors look like.


Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint. – Proverbs 29:18

Vision casting is a critical component to leading well. The vision includes a future-focused picture of what your organization wants to accomplish or what it wants to become. When the vision isn’t shared clearly, people go astray and become confused. When a solid foundation is lacking, people can easily divert from the vision.


If values are nonexistent this creates a toxic workplace. Values are crucial for alignment among the team. They express the reason why the organization does the things it does. When values are absent, or not enforced, dysfunctional teams start to form.

Those dysfunctional teams end up ruining productivity and influence the culture negatively. If one of your core values is respect, but you find a member of your organization is constantly talking negatively about a coworker this will cause conflict.

An organization can easily become poisoned by weak values. Craft values that are positive pillars in your organization. Your team should understand the values and hold firm to them when conducting their work.

Aligned Behaviors

A leader’s talk must match his walk. If a leader shares the vision and values with his team but does not personally model these in everyday affairs, this can cripple the organization. It’s the leader’s responsibility to align his behaviors with the vision and values. If you have a powerful vision and excellent values, but don’t actively walk them out your company suffers. What is exemplified by leadership will manifest in the culture.

Instead of scattered energy, aligned behaviors creates focused energy and greater impact. When people see a leader living out the organization’s convictions, they are more motivated to imitate the leader and work toward achieving the vision.


For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.Matthew 23:12

A servant leader is paramount to positive organizational health. When a leader possesses humility, he gives other people a chance to shine and grow into their gifts and talents. A prideful leader often instills fear in the people he leads and always wants what’s in his best interest. People tend to shrink and shrivel under prideful leadership and flourish under humble leadership.

Humbles leaders aren’t threatened by seeing other people rise up and take ownership. They empower and equip others to reach their full potential for the benefit of both the organization and the individual.

Established Community

Does your organization have an inviting, inclusive community or is it full of cliques that exclude certain people? People all want to belong and connect with others in a meaningful way. People are wired to need authentic relationships. An effective leader encourages constructive communication and genuine collaboration among teams.

When a team takes initiative to create a welcoming environment where people can be known through vulnerability, then this type of community becomes contagious. All five of the factors mentioned forms a team of trailblazers willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish the task at hand.

Five Practices of an Exemplary Leader

In the book, The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, Kouzes and Posner share five practices that can be adopted in order to become an exemplary leader. The five practices include modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act, and encouraging the heart.

1. Modeling the Way

Chances are you have a role model. This person you most likely look up to because they live out their values. When you model the way as a leader, you are clear about your personal values and your actions match your values. There isn’t a shred of hypocrisy in your character. This step always requires you to do some introspection in order to become an effective leader.

You must know your personal beliefs if you want them to guide your life. When you discover your genuine voice and principles, this will help give a voice to your team. People are diverse and have a variety of beliefs and values that might be different from your own.

By determining your beliefs and values, you can then discover shared values between you and your team. You must recognize and acknowledge different backgrounds and beliefs of your team if you want to lead them well.

Most importantly, you must practice what you profess. If your character is consistent this creates credibility. When credibility is present, trust is able to grow. Can your team trust your word? Are you the same person behind closed doors as you are in public view?

2. Inspiring a Shared Vision

When you inspire a shared vision, you are rallying your team around that vision to move forward cohesively. You all will be required to accomplish different tasks for the shared vision but will be moving in the same direction.

This shared vision should be others-focused and not leader-focused by bringing into consideration the capabilities and aspirations of the team. People are waiting to buy into a vision that’s inspirational and motivational.

Life is unpredictable and a leader must work to cast a solid foundation that people can grasp firmly. The vision should incorporate plans on how the team can work together using individual strengths to make a greater impact.

Sharing this vision is pivotal to inspire a team to stay focused on a common goal. If excitement is generated by the vision or goal, people become enthralled with seeing the work accomplished and seeking personal satisfaction.

Take the time to paint a picture of how the goal will benefit each individual team member. Show them ways they can take ownership of achieving the goal. Use your encouragement to build momentum and create a movement toward the future.

3. Challenging the Process

Complaceny and comfort is every leader’s worst enemy. When a leader challenges the process, he is seeking ways to improve himself or the vision. Leaders must take calculated risks that challenge the status quo. Every effective leader is someone who didn’t sit back and let life happen to him but looked for opportunities to blaze new trails or lay a fresh foundation.

Leaders encourage their team to push past their perceived limits and believe that growth is a neverending process. Some growth can only happen by stepping outside conventional wisdom and taking risks. You are responsbile for creating the change you want to see. Take initiative and sacrifice to make things happen.

A leader listens to feedback from his team, not matter their title or position. He is constantly looking for ways to improve processes that will benefit the team and the organization as a whole. Good communication is critical for a healthy environment where shared ideas are celebrated.

Don’t be so focused on the end goal, that you forget to celebrate the small wins along the way. Every step takes your team one step closer to the larger vision. Appreciate the value and contributions your team makes will shape the culture and their view of you as a leader. Even when mistakes happen, you can set the tone by reminding the team to fail fast and fail forward. It’s important to keep moving and not lose momentum on the journey.

4. Empowering Others to Act

An organization isn’t built with one man or woman. It’s a collective effort that requires the time and talents of multiple people. If you are in a traditional leadership role, recognize that your team is looking to you for validation and empowerment. Give them the green light to act on the vision. Reward them for their contributions in creating a collaborative environment.

A leader is tasked with building trustworthy relationships. If trust has eroded in an organization, the culture will suffer. You can repair trust by being considerate of team members’ needs and understanding relationships influence the ability to work and achieve successful results.

Creating a supportive and trustworthy culture is the key to making meaninful things happen. The team members should have mutual respect for each other that is also modeled for them by their leader.

A leader that can encourage others, make them feel valued, and boost confidence in their skills creates a place where people can truly thrive and make a difference. People become even more passionate about the vision and get to see that the impact they are making does not go unnoticed.

5. Encouraging the Heart

There are both life and death in the tongue. A leader can choose either to speak life into the team or use his words to deflate the team. Recognize that each member of your team has emotions, experiences and a life outside of the organization.

Rejoice during times of celebration and mourn during times of sorrow. Always choose people over profit. Be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on if possible. Remind your team that they can push their limits and overcome any obstacles set in their path.

Take the time to notice when a team member has gone above and beyond the call of duty and recognize that person through notes, public praise or other forms of gratitude. Make sure you spend a day in their shoes. Are you a leader that rolls up his sleeves and can be counted on to be in the trenches too?

Leaders gain more respect this way. Showing a sense of pride in everything your team has accomplished demonstrates your belief in the team. Most importantly, an effective leader leads out of love for his people, the work they do, and the desired impact.

Life moves at the speed of relationships. Healthy relationships produce positive results in an organization. When the discussed practices are applied by a leader, an empowered community is created.

If you are a leader or considering a leadership position, start by developing yourself and your beliefs and then begin sharing those with your team. Becoming an effective leader is the best way to build a passionate and productive team.

“Getting it Done,” courtesy of Cathryn Lavery, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Helping Hand”, Courtesy of Dane Deaner, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pray,” courtesy of Patrick Fore, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Communication”, Courtesy of Rawpixel, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

What Does God’s Forgiveness Really Mean?

In almost all human relationships, conflict eventually occurs since nobody is perfect. Unrealistic expectations, uncontrollable emotions, stress, or other difficulties may cause someone to react in the wrong way, damaging the relationship. This is why forgiveness is important to make things right.

Forgiveness, however, is easier said than done. Because of pride or fear, people have difficulty forgiving one another or seeking forgiveness which is why their relationship stays broken. Yet it is not only their relationship that is affected; bitterness and regret eat away at personal peace, affecting a person even after the wrong deed has been done.

Understanding More about God’s Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the action of making things right when something wrong has been committed. True forgiveness, though, is given at an unequal scale, since the damage done – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – is more than the one seeking amends can every hope to repay.

However, in human terms, the “forgiveness” people seek and bestow is more of a restoration of balance. If someone loses something of ours, they are “forgiven” when that something is replaced and a heartfelt sorry is offered. Without said replacement, the sorry is often not enough (unless what was lost did not cost much).

And many times, even after the “forgiveness” has been given, negative thoughts (e.g. anger, doubt, guilt, regret, shame, suspicion) may still persist on both sides as their hearts and minds are still holding on to the event. It is why the relationship may not be the “same” as before, especially if the transgression was very serious.

God’s Forgiveness

God’s forgiveness is deeper and truer than anything people can ever give. Scripture clearly shows us that because of our sin, the separation of humankind and God is so vast that there is nothing we can do to bridge it on our own.

As the party wronged, it is only God who can choose to forgive us and restore our fellowship with Him. It is a supernatural gift from Him to wipe clean our slates even if we are still sinners and undeserving of such forgiveness. So when God forgives, it is NOT that we were able to pay off the debt, not even partially; it is because God makes it so that our debt is no more.

God’s Continuing Grace

Though all should be now good between people and God, the problem is that everyone continues to sin. Thankfully, God chooses to continually forgive. In 1 John 1:9, it is said that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

As unfair as it may sound in human terms, simply confessing our sin to Him is enough for God to forgive again. And as we are cleansed of our unrighteousness, we are then able to live according to His righteousness until we stumble again, get up, humbly ask for His forgiveness, and try once more.

Why People Have Difficulty with Forgiveness

Most people struggle with forgiveness – both giving it and even receiving it. This is because forgiveness requires a humbling of the “self,” something that most people have tried so hard to build up over the years.

The Struggle to Forgive

As earlier stated, when a transgression has occurred, especially a major one, much has been damaged. The human ego often wants the offender to somehow satisfactorily repay all the physical, emotional, and spiritual hurt that has been rendered to them.

For example, if a laptop has been broken, it is expected that it should be fixed, and quickly! But even better, if a newer and better one is given instead, then definitely all will be good. In short, in human terms, it is from a position of power, pride, and even selfishness that a person may be willing to bestow “forgiveness.”

But “true forgiveness,” like the one God offers to us, means the offended party must step down from that lofty position and simply forgive, even if it means not receiving anything in return.

And that is really difficult for most people, particularly if the transgression hurt them directly like betrayal, assault, or abuse. Unfortunately, if such anger and bitterness still linger, the person may continue to experience that hurt internally even years after the wrong deed.

The Struggle to Receive Forgiveness

Although forgiving is a challenge to most, of greater difficulty is receiving forgiveness. In sincere situations of remorse, the transgressor sits in a place of shame. In their heart, the debt they owe is something they can never pay back.

So although they may have truly been forgiven by the one they wronged, in the transgressor’s heart they still feel ashamed, so the relationship that was broken is still not truly mended.

In some cases, though the transgressor may desire forgiveness, the one who was wronged cannot be found or has passed away. Though it may seem to most that the transgressor is now “free,” the heart again still feels much sorrow and disgrace, breaking the spirit of the transgressor themself.

What the Bible Says about Forgiveness

In the Bible, forgiveness generally comes from two angles: God’s forgiveness of us and our call to forgive others. In Ephesians 4:32, Christians are told, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

As mentioned earlier, when we ask forgiveness from Him (repentance), He wipes our slate clean. It is a gift of grace from God who chooses to forgive. This gift, however, is not something that we are to keep to ourselves. If God was gracious enough to wipe our slates clean, it is expected that we too must wipe clean the slates of others who have wronged us.

In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter approaches Jesus and asks, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus then answered, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Thus, just as God keeps forgiving us for our continual transgressions against Him, such continuous forgiveness must be extended to others as well.

Such forgiveness is not just a mere balancing of the scales, of paying back what was owed. It is true forgiveness. Impossible as it may seem, it is the standard that Jesus asks us to follow since God did even more for us. It has been said that “we cannot give what we do not have.”

Thankfully, when we receive God’s supernatural forgiveness through repentance, He then empowers us to be able to forgive the way He forgave us. It is this type of forgiveness that can truly restore relationships which is why everyone is asked to do so.

Accepting God’s Forgiveness

Just as people have difficulty receiving the forgiveness given by others, many have much difficulty accepting God’s forgiveness in their heart. Feelings of shame and unworthiness usually plague them, causing them to believe that such mercy and love are only meant for the “good” and “loveable.”

In 1 John 1:10, Scripture states, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” As one sin is already enough to label us a sinner, there is nobody who can claim to be sinless.

This is why God gives His supernatural forgiveness to everyone freely, not because anyone deserves such grace, but because He loves everyone and wants all to be restored to Him. So if one is personally asking, “Is God’s forgiveness meant for me?”, then the answer is “yes”.

Seeking Help from Christian Counseling

For many non-believers and even new believers, this concept of God’s forgiveness is very perplexing. It often takes time to wrestle with it in prayer before it becomes clear in the heart, empowering them to forgive the way He wants everyone to.

But in other instances, underlying factors like major depression, anxiety or other mental issues may be clouding the heart and mind, preventing the acceptance of what God has to offer. If this is the case, it helps to speak to a Christian counselor who will use the latest counseling methods to discover what internal issues may be preventing this.

But most importantly, the Christian counselor will connect the person to God through prayer and Scripture so that God’s love and mercy may be felt personally.

If you or a friend you know has been struggling with forgiveness in your life, believing that you are “unforgiveable,” then seek help soon from a Christian counselor. Inner peace may only be achieved once you have been forgiven by God, and have learned how to forgive.

“Forgive,” courtesy of Tony Webster, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Bible,” courtesy of Aaron Burden, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Empty Hands”, Courtesy of Jeremy Yap, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Asking God”, Courtesy of Daniel Reche, Pixabay.com, CC0 License

Sex Therapy for Married Couples: Does it Work?

Here’s a truth: Sexual issues are common in most marriages. It may be differences in opinion or disagreeing about physical intimacy. Many couples view sex as an indicator of health in the relationship, which is why a problematic sex life gives rise to concern.

Here’s another truth: Even happy couples can experience these complications. Sex incorporates psychology, biology, and sociology so more factors than simply “being a happy couple” determine your sex life.

Imagine marriage as a functioning human body with different facets and multiple factors that determine health. Checking your level of health can be done in different ways too. You can check heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, temperature and more.

The same goes for a marriage. Don’t use sex as the only way to determine your long term viability; complications don’t prove you have a bad marriage. But of course, it’s frustrating and can be damaging, just like an unchecked fever can lead to more issues. It could be a sign of deeper needs such as the desire to be understood.

Firstly, you should remove the pressure regarding the sexual act. There are other ways than this to experience intimacy and enjoyment. We may think sex should simply “happen” and always be natural and magical. In truth it’s complicated because it concerns these areas of the entire person:

  • History
  • Trauma
  • Expectations
  • Culture
  • Connection with each other
  • Biology

There are many areas for problems to occur and both people bring unique aspects to the table. You may feel that these problems are unique to your relationship, but most couples (even happy ones) need to work through these, including medical challenges such as hormonal issues or erectile dysfunction.

Since biology plays a big role you must consult your doctor regarding sexual problems so you can rule out causes or treat them. The same applies to psychology. The important thing is that you don’t see sexual problems as a death warrant for your marriage, but recognize that your relationship requires attention.

When to Consider Sex Therapy

After ruling out biological causes or if you want to have counseling during medical treatment you’ll need to know what to expect from sex therapy.

This is daunting but can lead to much more fulfilment and intimacy. Results aren’t guaranteed but couples counseling is worth considering if:

  • Individual work didn’t help
  • You want to consider it with your partner alongside you
  • You realize the problems aren’t limited to the physical
  • You want some help to move forward in building intimacy

It may help to know what it won’t be:

  • Physically intrusive
  • A beauty magazine
  • A Kama Sutra class

It is facilitated by trained professionals. You’re the expert on yourself, but you may need them to provide objective insight regarding causes, foundations, and problems.

What Will Happen in Couples Counseling?

Each experience will be unique because therapists differ, training differs and there are different schools of thought. You need to find someone you’re comfortable with. Therapy doesn’t happen in a prescribed, set-in-stone manner. It will take different directions based on what you, your partner, and your therapist prioritizes.

Learn more about your love languages

An important component is how each person gives and receives love. You may be on different pages, needing to realign.

Here are examples: “I always make sure his coffee is made every morning, and he doesn’t appreciate it.” “It’s not that I don’t appreciate it, but I really wish she’d cuddle with me more.” They speak different languages and during therapy, these expressions can be explored.

Discover more about your negative cycles

If you have negative patterns you need to identify them first and then break them. Think about the following:

  • “We just have the same argument over and over again”
  • “All of our fights end in the same way with no resolution.”

An objective third party will identify problems more easily and help you ve to break the cycle.

Learn mindfulness skills

Things such as deep breathing and meditation can minimize anxiety so you can engage with your own body, mind, and emotions. It’s also described as radical acceptance.

Explore what sex means to both of you 

When your ideas about the parameters of sex vary widely it can impact how you experience physical intimacy and fulfilment as a couple.

Broaden your definition of sex and physical intimacy

It could be vital to broaden both of your ideas about what sex is and how it’s experienced, especially when there’s sexual dysfunction.

Learn what holds you back from emotional intimacy

When you can’t be vulnerable or there’s no safe space for emotional vulnerability it can affect emotional intimacy. Your past traumas can also affect your ability to become emotionally aware and emotionally available regarding your spouse.

When you know which factors are at play it benefits healing. A professional can teach you to create safe spaces in your marriage where you can be emotionally vulnerable.

Learn how emotional intimacy impacts your physical intimacy

Many of these factors can impact your physical intimacy and sexual relationship such as libido changes. You’ll learn how a lack of emotional connection will influence this, so you can start fixing the problem.

Explore why your relationship has changed over time

Many people experience sex life changes over time, such as frequency and libido differences. You may think it relates to the health of your marriage but you’ll explore this to discover the true reasons.

Explore your roles in your sex life and in your marriage

If one partner initiates more often, chances are good that the other one never does. One partner may have a higher libido than the other. People step into these roles and believe they have to fulfill them. Because these roles have pros and cons you need to know if they’re adaptive or maladaptive. Also, realize why you take up these roles and see if they’re bringing fulfillment or dissatisfaction.

Explore past trauma

Your past trauma can impact your sexual experiences. If this is the case your therapist may want to explore this in individual counseling and ask a trauma counselor to help as well. If they affect your ability to enjoy physical and emotional connectedness, these experiences need to be explored.

Address differences in expectations

You may not agree about what you want from your sexual relationship such as frequency or type of sex. Acceptance, compromise, and working together to discover a mutually satisfying sex life may be one of your therapy goals.

Set boundaries

Having boundaries is a healthy aspect of any part of your life. Therapists help you to set and keep them.

Determine how sexual problems are impacting your marriage as a whole

Sexual issues can cause insecurities and resentment. It’s difficult to foresee their consequences so a therapist’s objectivity can help.

Address consent

Giving and understanding consent are important actions but you may need help from a therapist to get it right.

Learn how to talk about sexual issues

A therapist will help you feel comfortable talking about sex and physical intimacy. You need to build a language about this aspect of your marriage to help create safe space and work together better towards your goal, as you understand each other more.

Begin to create a comfortable space to talk about sex with your spouse

Topics may include:

  • Problem solving
  • When and where check-ins
  • How to discuss sex

Talk about how God created sex and His role for sex in the marriage

God created a beautiful design for sex inside of marriage but it can be difficult to understand. Your therapist can help discuss this and provide insight.

Explore topics about sexual satisfaction and what it means for your partner

It’s common not to understand what you or your partner likes or dislikes during sex. For mutual fulfillment, you need to discuss this topic together.

Explore how culture has impacted your ideas and expectations around sex

Culture affects how we think about sex and analyzing this can help you understand yourselves as well as your partner.

Alter the goals of sex

The idea of sex can be broader and more fulfilling than simply intercourse ending in orgasms for both parties. You can change your goals so they suit your current circumstances.

Possible Benefits of Sex Therapy

Important fact: No two couples are the same. Therefor your results and benefits will be unique and there are no guarantees from your therapist. But possible outcomes include the following.

Find your sex life more fulfilling

Compromising, working on frequency, and learning what you really enjoy can often lead to more fulfilment.

Understand your own and your spouse’s boundaries better

Communicating about boundaries leads to safety and vulnerability in your relationship.

Learn to problem solve together

When you can solve problems together you’ll overcome obstacles and use collective brainpower.

Learn what your partner likes

Knowing will affect your actions. Eventually, this can make both parties happier.

Understand how sex speaks to your partner

The different experiences of sex range from feeling connected to feeling loved to expressing desire. Learning to speak the language helps you understand what you’re saying and how your spouse receives the message.

Understand the impact of culture and prescribed roles

Roles may not be wrong and cultural viewpoints don’t have to change. However, when you understand these aspects you grasp your roles better.

Gain an understanding of your negative cycles and how to get out

Understand your conflict coping mechanisms and your negative patterns as a couple. Reaching your goal means you’ve problem-solved and found a solution.

Learn more about the physiology of sex

This leads to more understanding and pleasure for both parties.

Learn more about yourself, your partner, and yourselves as a couple

Understanding each other leads to more progress as a team.

Work towards learning an entirely new language

To discuss sex and intimacy you need emotional vulnerability and feeling comfortable talking about it. Learn:

  • How to talk about sex
  • What you like
  • What you want
  • What your spouse wants

Then you’ll speak the same language so you have better communication; this can lead to more fulfilment in your sex life.

Learn how sex can be a beautiful part of God’s plan for your marriage

When you know God values your marriage and intimacy within you’ll understand marriage in general. This also includes valuing sex as a vital part of our union.

Leave with a better connection

When you’ve dealt with sexual issues you’re bound to connect better overall and by working on communication, removing obstacles and being honest, you build a layer free marriage: No resentment or misunderstandings or unexpressed thoughts.

It will be complex and you’ll respond differently than others. Because there are no guarantees, nervous comments often include:

  • “We don’t need someone else involved in our business.”
  • “I know another couple who tried counseling and it just made things worse.”
  • “I can’t talk about sex with anyone. It’s so awkward.”
  • “Talking in a room doesn’t fix real life.”

Yes, this is very complicated. But as it can indicate how your marriage fares – such as checking your body’s heart rate – attending to the problem is vital. It can also help many aspects of your union.

Here’s another truth: Your marriage is worth this complexity and hard work.

Consider marriage therapy when you realize there are sexual concerns that aren’t getting any better. If you feel that it’s urgent and your doctor confirms that it’s not a biological issue, see a professional therapist for couples counseling.

Talk to your spouse to gauge whether he or she is comfortable visiting a couples therapist with you. Talk together about:

  • Preferences regarding gender
  • Preferences regarding the therapist’s background
  • Questions you want to ask about experience

When you’re ready, vet counselors to find one that matches your preferences. At San Diego Christian Counseling you’ll find many professionals who can assist with this process. Let’s start helping your marriage today.

“Feet”, Courtesy of Rawpixel, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Reading Material”, Courtesy of Zun Zun, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “In the Mood”, Courtesy of Sasint, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Adult Affection”, Courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels.com, CC0 License