Sexual Healing Calgary

How to find a marriage counselor in Calgary for sex and trauma counselling.

How might someone get over being abused as a child? How can I not be anxious in a relationship?

Was I sexually abused? How do I recover from years of abuse and the things it has caused?

Why do I sexualize every face-to-face encounter? Is there something wrong with me?

If these questions or similar ones are plaguing your life or relationship, then Henze and Associates: Counselling and Care can help.
For over nineteen years, our  Calgary Couples Sex Therapy has been helping couples becomemore connected, closer and masterful at love through our specialized Intimacy Counseling Services!

Read on to learn more about the sexual trauma and marriage counselling services we offer or click this link to request a Couples Therapy Calgary appointment today.

Intimacy Counselling Calgary:
Healing sexual trauma

Shape your life and transform your relationship through personalized couples psychological counselling services.

Every moment of our lives revolves around one quiet but essential centre: Our sexuality. From birth to death, we all are sexual beings and that sexual self powerfully impacts our lives and relationships with others.

When everything is working well, our sexuality can add incredible beauty and depth to our bondings with others. But, when abuse and trauma enters the world of our sexuality, the damage and havoc created is equally powerful and can impair and paralyze almost every area of our beings. 

Instead of acting as a gateway for love and intimate attachment, the world of sexual intimacy can become a theatre for Anxiety, Panic Disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other Critical Stress Injury, and it very often is.

We understand that pain! Our years of listening to couples as they address this most personal and deep level of pain has taught us one key thing: Every couple is different and the first stages of couples sex therapy always involves us learning together.

We learn about your hopes and dreams for your relationship while you discover what it means to undertake trauma counseling for sexual violation and abuse.

What is trauma counseling for sexual violation? It's first and foremost the creation of safety. It's the restoration of a sense of meaning in and control over one's sexual destiny. It's returning to the person a sense of order and continuity in intimate life and the provision of a safe place to retreat to deal with frightening memories, emotions or experiences. It's breaking the power of meaninglessness and helplessness by rebuilding a person's faith in their ability to connect and attach in safe and healthy ways.

The most important task of sexual trauma recovery is the reestablishment of ownership of your mind, your body and your sense of self so you can feel free to know your own truth and experience your own feelings without becoming flooded with guilt or shame, feeling overwhelmed or simply disappearing.

The things we hide from ourselves have incredible power. 

While the initial goal of the combined trauma therapy and sex therapy exercises we use is always the creation of safety, the second most important goal is the creation of understanding. Understanding always happens on two separate but equally important levels: Understanding of how our history shaped us and understanding our reactions to such.

For example, if you conceal from yourself the fact that your grandfather molested you when you were a child, then your reactions to the things that trigger you will exist both without context and without language to make sense of them that goes much beyond, "I'm anxious." You will, of course, be aware of how those explosive reactions and irrational behaviours will appear to others and will seek to control them, but that mostly means avoidance and inhibiting yourself.

Suppressing information and hiding core feelings is really you waging a war against yourself that slowly erases a sense of identity, purpose and even your sense of being a self.

Keeping secrets also drains an enormous amount of energy, kills desire for other life goals and leaves you bored, alone and awash with stress hormones which lead to aches, pains, bowel problems and a vast array of sexual dysfunctions.

Learning to allow yourself to know what you know allows you to identify the source of those trauma responses and begin to find a sense of order and meaning in them.

Gaining an understanding of our history not only allows us to understand our internal reactions, that understanding also allows our confusion to fade so we clearly see where we are trapped by our own responses to trauma and have become stalled in our process.

Understanding the Stages: There are four key stages of trauma response:

  1. NUMBNESS - The first stage of sexual trauma is a lot like blowing a fuse by overloading an outlet in your house. One minute, things are working fine, and then the juice just gets turned off. The human brain and nervous system is also an electrical system and, when overstimulated by trauma, our internal circuit breakers also trip: Our brains seem to function at about half speed, our emotions shut off, we feel symptoms of shock, numbness, a disconnection from our own bodies and a creeping sense of deadness begins to grow within our sexualities while strange and persistent physical maladies appear in our physical bodies. Fix it today!
  2. REENGAGING FEELINGS - The second stage of the intimate trauma response is often the first of the stages of trauma therapy. Memories and emotions begin to be brought up and experienced - often over and over again. Sometimes people need to revisit where the sexual assault happened to make it real enough to emotionally reconnect with the event and allow feelings to return. (Note: Some trauma counselling approaches strongly discourage this step, though it can be very effective for certain people.) Others paint, draw or feel the need to pound on a punching bag. Sometimes the feelings return one drop at a time. For other people they can come in bursts, waves or all at once. There's no right way to reconnect with your feelings - as long as you do.
  3. TAKING CONSTRUCTIVE ACTION - Sexual assault is a crime, and taking steps to report it to the police is certainly one of the trauma counselling strategies employed at this stage. But, it's not the only one, and many people choose to never take legal or police action. However, feeling and taking action are essential to each other and, unless they occur together, healing does not often happen. There are a wide variety of ways people take action after experiencing sexual trauma which may include writing a letter, volunteering/caring for other victims of sex crimes and working towards changes in the legal system or the social safety net where they live.
  4. Integration and reawakening to healthy intimacy: Contrary to public opinion, people do fully heal and recover from traumatic sexual experiences. But, they rarely do this alone. Dr Sue Johnson and other researchers have made it very clear that a stable couple relationship is essential to healing damage to sexuality. In this final stage of trauma response, people often learn and grow hundreds of times faster - and in every area of life at once. They come out the other end stronger, wiser, more intimately connected and deeply passionate people as a result of their courage in facing the pain. Their interaction with others through the process of recovery creates more authentic ways of sharing their hearts with others and achieving integrated, empowered and meaningful lives.

The above is a natural process that our hearts are wired to move through. Many people progress through those steps without any outside help. However, sometimes the wounds are too deep or the resources needed to heal them seem so inadequate that any forward movement seems impossible.

That's where our knowledge and experience can help with both the creation of a safe space in which to heal and then providing the resources needed so you can resume the journey towards health and wholeness that your heart was made to follow.

Usually, that starts with your primary relationship...

Sexual trauma focused marriage counselling Calgary:

As stated earlier, the best couples therapy Calgary has to offer in the area sexual abuse, intimate partner abuse and other trauma to our sexuality will always, first and foremost be about the couple relationship. Intimate violations are violations of trust, attachment and they damage not only our persons, they also damage our ability to relate to others in secure and trusting ways. Research has repeatedly shown that (Within reason) the skill of the therapist and the type of abuse and trauma therapy used actually matters relatively little compared to the impact of a secure couple or marriage relationship. As such, we first work to heal and relieve the relational damage of abuse.

Safe relational spaces heal sexual trauma

Marriage Mediation Calgary: Sexual trauma damages our ability to relate to others in a healthy and effective manner in a wide variety of ways including the creation of powerlessness, a constant fear of betrayal, ambivalence, sexual disfunction, addiction, compulsive disorders, diminished self worth and other direct alterations of our relational style. Obviously, it's unlikely that any couple relationship even could be a safe place within which to heal if the above list is not first addressed.

That's why we start by understanding, mediating and working to heal the couple relationship in these key areas so frequently damaged by sexual trauma:

  1. POWERLESSNESS - Powerlessness is the inability to stop the touch of the abuser, to silence the hollow screams of the heart and to end the relentless heartache. In everyday relationships, it starts in a doubt of the goodness of the other, moves through despair that one's needs will ever get met and finally results in a frustrated deadness of the soul. The result of continued frustration produces what is called a, "Learned helplessness," that has victims giving up on having their own needs met by their partner or meeting their partner's needs before they even try. The result is marriages of coldness and detachment. Fix it today!
  2. FEAR OF BETRAYAL - Violations of our sexual persons unlocks a world of suspicion and shame. Our memories of a world that has ignored our longings and abused our souls merge together into a heaping mound of mistrust in our heart. The shame based self incrimination that results when we are taken advantage of soaks that pile in a relational gasoline and, eventually, all it takes is a tiny spark of neglect to ignite the full bonfire of paranoia such that relationship is severed - often from those who love us the most selflessly.
  3. AMBIVALENCE - To a young child or an unwilling adult, sexual stimulation is both pleasurable and terrifying. While the heart and mind scream, "No," the body, particularly for the neglected child powerfully responds. What should be a taste of life becomes the most invasive betrayal of all: Being betrayed by one's own body. The experience of pleasure then becomes merged with the sense of being used, betrayed and powerless. Ambivalence means, "To be of two minds. Nowhere is that more clear than as the person then enters adult relationships where that which was despised is also that which brings pleasure and triggers off an innate inability to forgive one's own body for betraying the self.
  4. Sexual disfunction: Sexual violation and sexual problems usually come as a package deal and are usually described with terms related to disgust or a lack of interest. Simple lack of interest is a passive tool designed to avoid the cache of hidden memories and vague feelings that are stirred up during sexual arousal and climax. Disgust is a much more active approach and is directed towards an act, partner, gender or towards the self. Often, either stance is associated with a complete avoidance of sexual intimacy, but, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the person may be physically present to the sexual experience and experience climax. He or she may, perhaps, even perform with what appears to be a high level of passion and arousal, but the sexual act is soulless.
  5. Addiction: Addictions of a sexual nature are a bent way of replacing intimacy with a real person with an object and then using that object to generate a euphoric sense of numbness that mostly serves to dampen painful emotions, experience a safe substitute for real love/connection and re-regulate a dysregulated mental and physiological system. Ignoring the agony, for a moment, that this sexual, "Object," is often, a person other than one's partner, the loss that is experienced when your partner simply ceases to need you can itself be completely shattering.
  6. Compulsive disorders: We all have a need to make sense of and resolve past experiences of distress, and we unconsciously tend to replicate parts of past experiences to try and figure them out. Anorexia, Bulimia, Work Addiction, Substance Abuse and simple Perfectionism are just a few examples of the revenge-relief strategies victims of sexual abuse or assault often employ to simultaneously attempt to feel alive and then punish themselves for such. They are all ways we unconsciously attempt to experience resolution of the immense distress that comes from the feeling that our body betrayed us.
  7. Diminished self worth: Feelings of unworthiness and guilt have the ability to drain away every pleasure and create a life of self-sabotage. Picturing the self as a cheap whore, dirty, pervert, worthless, stained, stupid, naive or a slut tends to result in a life wherein one not only expects others to mistreat them, they may often engage in behaviours that trigger others to do so. Many times, an increasingly distressed partner feels forced to play-act such by way of BDSM scenes as their only means of bringing the one they love to climax.
  8. Alterations of relational style: A style of relating is a person's characteristic manner of both offering themselves to and protecting themselves from intimate relational connections. It is a flexible and habitually used assortment of strategies used to protect from inner pain and to manage circumstances and relationships. Intimacy only happens when we love passionately, boldly and selflessly and a self protective vow that, "I will never be hurt again," is anything but that.

Learning to live and love in a non-defensive manner is an essential foundation for healing from sexual trauma!

Not all of the above can be immediately changed - but much of it can be significantly moderated and the rest can at least be named and understood by both partners. Instead of each person viewing the other as an enemy who is punishing, depriving and controlling love, we help couples identify and unite against the real enemy. We then work together to defeat those things that stand in the way of the secure attachment and the safe place to heal that will ultimately give both members of the couple the love they want.

All of the, "Bad language," and, "Therapist Swear Words," psychologists use: Trust, vulnerability, desire, self awareness, self acceptance, passion, intimacy, relationship and closeness are hardly just an attempt to stress traumatized people (who often desire anything but the risks that those words require.) All of those terms rest on a core understanding that healing from sexual trauma absolutely demands a safe relational space.

Real healing never just focuses half of the problem and ignores the rest. It takes an integrated and individually designed plan that that includes all necessary elements of Couples Counselling or Marriage Counselling, Trauma Counselling and Sex Therapy to create a wholeness that extends to every part of the person.

If you'd like more than a bandaid and long to really live again, then reach out and book your first Sex Therapy Calgary appointment today!

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Sexual Healing Calgary: When tolerable recovery is simply not enough!  

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