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Dr. Michael Twohig joins Tony to talk about his early involvement in the then “new kid on the psychology block,” acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Dr. Twohig shares his initial hesitation in embracing ACT and what eventually led him to pursue his Ph.D. in clinical psychology by working with Dr. Stephen Hayes, the founder of ACT. He discusses the differences in using ACT to treat OCD vs. the traditional CBT-based model, and they talk about using metaphor in ACT. Tony shares his experience of how learning ACT changed his therapy practice and his general outlook on life. They discuss the differences between using diffusion in ACT to make room for thoughts and feelings vs. responding to the body’s cues concerning treating trauma. 

They talk about Dr. Twohig’s new online course on ACT and OCD https://praxiscet.com/virtualcouch and the challenges of marketing an online course. Finally, Tony challenges Dr. Twohig to a “try not to laugh” challenge.

Dr. Michael Twohig is a licensed psychologist, a professor at Utah State University, and one of the world’s most published scholars of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Dr. Twohig’s research focuses on using ACT across various clinical presentations emphasizing OCD and related disorders. He has published five books and more than 200 scholarly works and is the former President of the Association of Contextual Behavioral Science, the organization most associated with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy https://contextualscience.org/

You can find out more about Dr. Twohig via his Utah State University page https://cehs.usu.edu/scce/clinicians/twohig-michael or his private practice website https://junipermh.com/team/michael-twohig/

If you are interested in being coached in Tony's upcoming "Magnetic Marriage Podcast," please email him for more information. You will receive free marriage coaching and remain anonymous when the episode airs. 

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

Transcript

Mike Twohig pt 1

Tony: Okay, I will start with the former, I mean, you were so kind to say, call me Mike, but, Dr. Michael Twohig, welcome to the Virtual Couch. 

Mike: Yeah, thank you so much for inviting me. 

Tony: Yeah. I have you on this pantheon of my big gets, so I don't know if you ever get that vibe or, I mean, I don't know.

How do you feel about that knowing that you are one of these world renowned active researchers?

Mike: I don't feel that way in the slightest. So it's, yeah, let me think. Do I ever bump into that? I don't know. I feel like sometimes grad students applying here give me that feeling because they're all excited.

But no, really in my real life I don't really bump into that. And then one of the things about being a faculty member is your life really is kind of between your office and your lab. So that's all you really bump into. So whenever someone's like, oh, I like your work. That is kind of cool because you know, you don't really get to bump into that very often.

Tony: Okay, well, I sing your praises often, and so I'm going to try to be very calm and very collected throughout this interview. So what I'm really curious about, and this one is going to be personal, I just want to know, and then hopefully listeners will enjoy it as well.

I learned CBT out of grad school and I did CBT for a few years and then when I learned act, it really was like the sky's parted and the heavens shown down. And then it's changed my life, my practice, and then most of my podcast is all talking about act.

And then I'm curious, what has your experience been with it? I mean, you studied under Steven Hayes and so I would love to just hear your story about that.

Mike: Yeah, thanks for asking that question because it’s, you know, I feel like I was really lucky, because I didn't plan this, it just, right. Like sometimes things just happen.

So I'll tell you the story. I hope the listeners aren't bored because it's kind of fun. I'm working at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee with a guy named Doug Woods, who's the best. And we're treating people with Trichotillomania and I remember saying to Doug, you know, I was getting a master's in behavior analysis and I said, Doug, we're doing a good job teaching people how to stop pulling their hair, but they have all this emotion and urges and like there's all this internal stuff and behavior therapy's not like we don't really have a strategy for it.

And he said, you should learn act. And it was interesting because this is like 1999. And I really liked Steve Hayes at the time because he wrote a lot of good behavior analysis theory on language and cognition and how private events work. So I knew of him as kind of like a researcher of behavior analysis. So the two of us in 1999 flew out to Reno and did an ACT workshop and back then they were like 24 hour workshops. Right. It was just ridiculously long and not many people. So we went and I remember being at it and not really enjoying it per se, because it was a little too much.

Because I was a behavior analyst and this [ACT] is like watching your emotions and sitting there and seeing your thoughts floating by. It was out of the world that I lived in. But when I was finished with the workshop, an interesting thing I took away is you can have whatever thoughts or feelings you have, and that's just fine.

And that was what 24 hours taught me. We came back and we integrated act and behavior therapy for the treatment of Trichotillomania. And it clicked really well. And I remember at one point, it clicked well for the clients, I remember at one point Doug Wood says, Mike, you don't know what a good idea this is.

And he's right because I was like 23 at the time. Right? Like, I didn't know that this was a pretty wise career move. So the next step would be, I applied to grad schools and I'm not that great a student. But when I applied to work with Steve, I had done an ACT project in 2001, not many people had done an ACT project. So that's how I got into grad school. And those years from 2002 to 2006 at UNR were super fun years because Steve had just stopped being department head so he had more time. And that's when ACT was in Time Magazine. 

Yeah. And also if you look at like, when the study started coming out, that's when everything was happening. And it was super fun. I just felt like the whole time in the lab was really inspired. You know, we thought we were changing the world.

I never felt like I was at work ever. And then that was my world, behavior therapy and act and I guess it's always stayed that way. Yeah, it's kind of a weird thing because the only therapy I knew how to do was act. So most people I bump into learn traditional CBT then act.

So I had to learn how to do traditional cbt. 

Tony: Okay. Which is funny because, I don't want to talk much at all in this episode, but I really would love, can I lay out what I say about my aha moment of CBT versus act? And I honestly, Mike, I want, I kind of want you to poke holes in it because now I realize I have confabulated this narrative where now I think I've got everything figured out, which obviously means I don't.

So I was a CBT therapist. I was an intern working for my church non-profit. And I had a guy that came in and he was, he had lost like half of his weight and he had social anxiety and I was trying to do the CBT skills of, okay, he walks into a room and everybody turns and looks at him and, and then he feels shame and he leaves and so in the old CBT world those are, that's automatic negative thoughts. That's stinking thinking. And so what are other reasons why they might be looking at you? They might think you look great. They might just turn when a door opens and you know, he would leave and say, yeah, right.

And then he would come back and then he would say, it did not work. You know, and again, start doing the, all right, what's wrong with me? This sounds like a good tool. And then we would come up with other things or other reasons. And I literally then went to an ACT workshop and for me, oh, and I say this often, he's the only version of him that's ever walked the face of the earth with his nature, nurture, birth order, dna, abandonment, rejection, all that.

And so that's how he feels. So I love what you're saying. Right. So then, of course he's going to think everybody's looking at him because he walked around as a 400 pound 12 year old where everybody did look at him. So if he didn't think that it would kind of be crazy, you know? So I started off by, okay, acceptance, that's how you feel.

And then we got into the values, and he had a value of connection and social connection. And so then whether they're looking at him or not, doesn't matter. It's not a productive thought, and he can bring that along with him. And so it was like a game changer. But then I realize now all of a sudden I go black and white, and now I think CBT is horrible and it's almost doing damage.

And because, you know, it says you're starting with your negative thoughts now just change them, you know, just to be happy. And then when I feel like, here's the part I make up, so this is where I want you to poke holes, please. So then the third part is and then if I say to somebody, Hey, how's that working for you, champ?

Then they say, okay, well I already started with broken thoughts and automatic negative thoughts. I can't just change them magically, but that must be my problem. So then I feel like they say, no, it's doing pretty good. And then they leave and just feel like I need to figure this out. And then they leave therapy and then I feel like then they look for the next self-help book or whatever.

And so I felt like ACT was so, I think I've almost demonized CBT, but then I know what act is, what do we call it the next, CBT? So please tell me I'm wrong. So can you explain that and then, and either validate the heck out of me or tell me I'm wrong.

Mike: I think you're on a great track because, you said, here's the part that I'd like you to, double check. The, how is that working for you. And that question, like when you said it, the light bulb, you know, that went off for me is what does that mean to him? When you say, how is that working for you and what do you mean?

When you say, how is that working for you. Because yeah, clients will usually go, how is that working? Am I feeling better? I'm doing air quotes. And an act therapist would say, how is that working for you? Meaning like, how is this working in your life? Are you going in the directions you want to go?

Tony: Yeah. And that's what I feel like was so good. I like your question because if I was saying, how was that working for you? And meanwhile I'm handed a population, and this is funny because I didn't even remember that it was you that I read an article about that helped me here too.

But I was working with people that were struggling with turning to pornography as an unhealthy coping mechanism. And the training I was getting at that time was a lot of, you know, seeing him, do some pushups, behavioral, and then I felt like, ooh, that one's not quite working. And then I think I read something that you did there about, was it mindfulness?

Yeah. And that was, that was also a game changer. And so then it was getting people to start to just take action on things that matter. And right now we're going to not worry about the unhealthy coping mechanism. You know, nothing's wrong with you, you're human. And the more they started doing things of value, then the more they started to feel better and the less they turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

And so then, yeah. So I think my, well, how's that working for you? I think, right. I then had, I think the part with trying to identify people's values was a real challenge, you know? 

Mike: Yeah. I think the shift right there, you can say to a client or the two of you, you know, I don't know if this is a listener.

Actually, I told you, two of my friends said something about being mentioned on your podcast, and one is not a therapist and one is a therapist. So, okay. I'll say it for both people or both styles of people that we can work on altering how we feel, or we can work on altering how we live and we're whole human beings and whether you alter either one, it's going to affect all sorts of stuff. So if you change the way you live, you'll change the way you feel. If you could change the way you feel, you'll probably change the way you live. But from the kind of an act or behavior therapy model, we're going to lean on changing the way you live to affect, you know, without the goal of affecting how you feel but it will. So like this client, when he said it's not working. My question would be, well which one are we going to focus on? Are we going to focus on what you feel internally or how you're living? And I say this to clients a lot, that a lot of the things I really care about and a lot of things I work hard on don't feel good. You know, like parenting a team doesn't feel fun. But it's meaningful, it's important, but it's not like, ooh, you know, that was great. Or even the same thing like writing a paper, it's not the same as snowboarding, so like the feeling and the importance of it.

So yeah, it's orienting the client and you to what's meaningful. 

Tony: Well, and what I like about that so much, Mike, is sometimes I think in my head that if a client almost “breaks act” where I think, oh, that was well played. Where if maybe they don't hold a value of, I don’t know, if they almost hold a value of, I know there isn't necessarily in the values list codependency, but I'll get people to say no, my core value is helping everybody else and putting myself second and, and I want to say, but no, that, that one's not cool. But then you know it’s what it feels like to be them. And so I like what you're saying to yeah, that change in behavior, or living by one's, yeah, because I feel like, I don't want to sound arrogant, but I feel like, okay, that is where that person's at right now.

But if I go back to that, how's it working for you? Then sometimes I feel like, oh, okay, they're trying to just adapt or cope with this thing that they don't enjoy. 

Mike: Yeah, and I'll often, like that question, I'll be more precise. I'll say, how's that working to change these thoughts about your self image?

Or I'll say, how's that working to be part of the group?

Tony: Hey. Okay. So speaking of that too, and I know that this is going to feel like five minutes to me of talking with you. I really like the work you've done with ACT and ocd.

I had read Brain Lock I think when I was doing OCD work initially, and I feel now like maybe because I love act so much that I've almost had my own emotion and maturity, black and white, that oh that was bad, and this is good. But how does ACT and OCD stand out from traditional cognitive behavioral therapy?

Mike: So, and this fits with the conversation we were just having. Kind of the easiest way I've found to describe this is like, no matter your theoretical orientation for treating an anxiety disorder or OCD, I like to break it down to what is the outcome you're looking for. Like, how do you and your client agree things are better? What's the process of change? What is it you're trying to instill in the person that would help them be able to do these things? And then what are the techniques you use to instill that process of change? So in ACT, I think the main outcome that we're shooting for is that a person can live sort of a successful and meaningful life.

And I think for those who know ocd, what's missing from that, is any statement about what's happening internally. So I don't need the power or the frequency or the words in the obsession to be different. I just need the person to be able to effectively live when they show up. And then the process of change is psychological flexibility, which is being able to see thoughts as thoughts, emotions as emotions, sensations as sensations.

Allow them to be there and still move in the directions you want in life. Right. So again, nothing needs to change. We just need to not be overpowered by it. And then the techniques we use, what I tell my practicum students is, you know, we teach people how to be psychologically flexible until they kind of get it. And then we start practicing. And those can look like exposure exercises, but as you can imagine, the style is different. We're not watching intensity of internal experience. We're not watching habituation. It's more like, let's practice having what you have, and then we have our own style for doing exposure exercises.

Tony: And can you talk a little bit more about that too? Because I feel like the exposure for the sake of exposure to reduce anxiety and I, boy, I'm wanting to be so emotionally vulnerable here today as I realize, and maybe it's just I have created a narrative in my head of I've had clients that haven't had good experiences with just, okay, let's sit on a dirty floor because you don't like germs, you know?

Right. So can you explain the difference there in act? 

Mike: Okay, there's a couple things. Why don't we start with, when I think about doing an exposure, I would like the exposure to have some tied values. And either that's, that's obvious. For someone with social phobia, we might go talk to people or send a message to someone we haven't, or practice giving a phone call to someone they like, like you can make it values based.

Sometimes it's harder, but then even in that moment, we're going to help the client see how it could be value based. So if we're dealing with a germ phobia or ocd, we might go manipulate a garbage can or go to a bathroom, and then, let's practice having this stuff so that when the real game shows up, you're good at it.

And I'll use a sports analogy of we're just practicing being good at having what you have. And I'll remind the person a lot like when's the situation when this might happen, when you're going to go on a date or go out to dinner or something, and these things are going to show up. I think what stands out to those who maybe do exposure work is I have never had a moment where I would go above and beyond or do those sort of extreme exposures, because I kind of struggle to figure out where those tie to values.

Our outcomes are just fine, but I don't have to lick a gas pump or, you know, like rub my food on the toilet. And I did that work, you know, because I worked in an OCD clinic at the University of British Columbia.

And it can work if the person can engage, it works very well, but they have to be able to engage. Right. So, yeah, I always said, and I'm not knocking that work's great work, right? If you have 10 people, two will do nothing, five will get better. And the other three, kind of putter along, it's like those five who can't do this, they can't get behind the exposure work.

Tony: Okay. You know, I give a story that I think, again, maybe I swing to the extremes, but I've often said, okay, if somebody just lets a spider crawl over you to reduce anxiety, that's ridiculous, it might cause you to disassociate. But if your grandpa leaves you a $2 million spider farm then maybe that might be, you know, a value of financial security for your children, then maybe I'm willing to sit with the spiders. I mean, so is it kind of, we need to find some value if we can?

Mike: I think a value gives meaning to the work. Going back to raising kids, I remember sitting and doing homework with my daughter just many years ago, and she's essentially crying and trying to get away from the table and like everything about it's terrible.

And then I'm being sweet and nice and as helpful as I can be because I can find a value in this that is meaningful to me to help this kid be a decent student so she can do the steps she needs to do and go on and do whatever she wants to do with her career. Like I could find a reason, but if I didn't like this kid or didn't care, some kid screaming at me, it would be hard to find motivation to stay there and be nice.

Tony: Yeah. That makes so much sense. And man, I just, I want to go on a tangent, but I'll get back to the ACT piece, but when you mention one of the things that also I feel like dramatically game changer for me were the concepts of, socially compliant goal and then experiential avoidance. And maybe can you, as an expert in this field kind of speak to how those show up? 

Mike: Yeah. Rules, like when you said a socially compliant goal, rules are really interesting things. And this is a good point for a professional and non-professional that an interesting thing about humans is we decide the way the world works and then we follow that. And the truth is it's never fully accurate. Like it's always, it could be close to the way the world works or it could be totally far. But yeah, that's an interesting thing about human beings is that we'll make this rule about what we're supposed to do and then we'll just keep following it.

And lots of research has said it's really hard to help people do things differently. Like it's hard to create variability and behavior. If someone has a problem or like they have a way of living that's not really functional. Some of that is they've determined how it all works and they've been doing the exact same thing for 20, 30 years.

And part of the therapist's job is to create flexibility in different behavior patterns. And that is tricky. Now the experience of avoidance stuff is just that humans spend a lot of their time working to feel a certain way and I think that's in contrast with doing the things that are important to us.

So one of the lines I say is I think healthy, happy people are probably spending 80% of their day doing things that are important to them. I didn't say fun, I said important. And then people who are maybe less healthy are probably spending 80% of their day working hard to feel good.

And those are like the clients I see. If I say like, what was meaningful to you today? They don't have much. Their whole day was about dodging the anxiety and getting away from stuff that they're afraid of. 

Tony: Yeah. I can launch into a whole thing there where I feel like with the amount of things that we can use for experiential avoidance. Phones, games, unlimited access to downloads of things. I do feel like that's so difficult for people that aren't aware of what is important to them and why I feel like that values work can even be more difficult and yet even more important. And I even, you know, I do a lot of couples therapy, Mike, and I find that I will not do the individual, I won't do the values exercise with the couple in there because boy, you watch even the way that, let's say a guy wants to express that he doesn't necessarily have a core value of honesty. Maybe more of compassion because he grew up in a home where there was brutal honesty and that was harmful. But then if his wife hears that that's not a value. So I feel like just that example, I feel like the dynamic of even trying to get to one's core values or what matters to them can be tricky because I think people are still worried that, I don’t know if you hear this often, but I know I shouldn't care. You know, or I know I'm supposed to care about, I don't know. Do you hear that in the work you do? 

Mike: When I heard you talking about this, one of the things I was thinking about is with my clients, I worry less about having the right values just more like is your behavior about values? And then people get into like, well, I have so many things and I can't balance them all.

And to me that's more of that fusion and rule following that I'm supposed to do this right. And no, we're always wrong. You're always not living your values perfectly, but if you're at least living your values, that's pretty solid. And if you're too heavy in one area and too weak in another area, then you can work at it.

But I'll never,  I'll never balance this out totally. It'll always be a little heavy on work. Yeah. It's just how it’s going to be.

Tony: Yeah. And I like what you're saying because I do find that if I'm kind of bringing somebody from a, they don't know what they don't know to now, they know but don't know how to, in essence. And I love that you bring that, cause I feel like, okay, we have to figure out your values. But then I find that then often, oh, I still need to work on my values, becomes a story their brain is fusing to. I went to a training with a lady about act and she said that at that point she tells a client, just walk outside and begin. I see an animal, I don't like animals. Okay. Well note that. I tried to talk to a stranger, which was fun. Maybe there's, you know, there's something there and I just love that concept. 

Mike: Yeah. I think that's the rule stuff. If I'm going to do this, I need to do this right. Well, you'll never, you can't live right. It is going to be full of errors and mistakes and it's just like how it is being a person on the planet. I was giving a workshop and it's one of the moments it kind of stuck with me. This was a workshop just like a couple months ago, and I'm up there doing a role play and all my students are there and all these professionals are there and the role play is just like going really poorly and not really poorly, but you know, in the poorly category.

And it was in a weird way it was kind of nice. Because it was, that's how workshops will be, you'll be saying really fun, smart things at one point, and then you'll just be stinking and that's life. And I think in a way, it was like a good model for the group. Like yeah, well therapy will sometimes you'll like totally go into a dead end and you just have to walk back and go the other way. 

Tony: Oh I love that. Okay. Over back to the OCD treatment plan, which I love, you've got a course and I want to promote that, in the notes as well. But, you do a lot of metaphors and I have to, again, it's so nice. I feel like you're now my therapist for this. I don't know why I felt this insecurity around dealing with all the metaphors in ACT at first because there's a part of me that felt like this person's paying me large amounts of money for me to tell stories. And now all of a sudden, once I embrace act metaphors, oh my gosh, they're so powerful. And so what has that been like for you? Do you like metaphors? How do you feel they fit in? 

Mike: So what I think is okay, the idea of metaphors goes right back to our rule stuff. Like in act we like to teach experientially versus rules, because then people will originally follow what we said.

So we like to tell a story about it or use a personal example or use a client's life example and sometimes a metaphorical thing describes it better. Like just before I said, you know, I went the wrong way down the alley, and I had to realize, okay, wrong spot. And I had to back out that, that metaphors rich, because we've all felt that, you go down a trail and you're like, uh, this isn't right.

And then you have to like, literally, so there's knowledge that comes with our real life experience. So, I could say, your mind is picking on you like someone picked on you in grade school. It just has more meaning because people got picked on in grade school and they know what that was like and they can link the two.

And I think it's richer than me sort of lecturing on, you know, on what cognition is like. So I think that's the two parts. It's kind of rich and it's not so rule based, but you ask what it's like for me, I think at the beginning I had to use some from the book.

But then now it's just sort of my style and I've sort of also learned, I learned how to make metaphors that match the client's interests, but I've also learned how to use self-disclosure at that safe level. I've already talked about using my kids as examples and no one hears, oh my gosh, what a bad parent. You know? It's a metaphor that I think most people with kids can appreciate. And if you don't have kids, I think you can imagine.

Tony: Yeah, no, and it's funny, I don't think I've been doing this as long as you have, I'm at 17, 18 years. But I feel like even that concept of self-disclosure has been more embraced over the years that when I first started, that seemed like that was taboo, but I feel like it's more of that human experience. And I feel like act makes more room for that, I feel like, than my CBT days. 

Mike: Well, yeah, it'd be weird to be like, oh my gosh, you have these negative thoughts about yourself. So strange. 

Tony: Right, right. Hey, do you have a particular favorite of the metaphors though? I am curious, of course that's me wanting to say, because I do Mike.

Mike: What's funny, my students forever make fun of me that I lean towards sports ones. But that doesn't mean it's right. It's just like I can, I can find so many rich examples and actually we wrote a book and one of the editors was like, how about we take out just a handful of sports ones and we like mix in some other ideas. But with a client, I try to gauge what they're into. And then go that way. 

Tony: I'm laughing because have you ever had those fail? I mean, because I don't know, in the past I felt like I would talk and maybe give one about gardening and halfway through I realize I have no idea what garden, you know, but maybe you plant something and I don't know. You know what I'm saying? 

Mike: I do. I think there's a little skill in just assuming that things work under a natural order and this'll work. I like to have the client help me along. Your favorite, you said you had a favorite though. 

Tony: You're very good, Mike. Because I was going to say, I love the one about you've fallen in a hole and you have a shovel. I love that one so much because I feel like I work with people that are determined to then, no, right. The shovel is an amazing tool by itself, and I am a hard worker. And so I love being able to say, and have clients say to me, and then I went and grabbed my shovel and I dug a little bit more. And then my favorite ever is the, and then somebody hands you the ladder and you try to deal with it. And so that one alone to me was the metaphor that then allowed me to embrace metaphors.

Tony: So do you maybe want to talk about your course a little bit. I mean, have you done courses? Have you done a lot of courses? Is that something you enjoy doing? Or what was that like? 

Mike: Well, yeah, kind of a broader answer. . It's an interesting thing being a professor, because I really enjoy training my students how to do therapy and that includes act, but you know, professors, we're almost taught to not market.

So that's been like a weird thing because I feel like after all these years, I actually do know act pretty well and I kind of know how to teach people how to do it, but I have this like weird emotional reaction that happens when it's like, well, you know, come to my workshop or buy my book. And I've been able to let that go more and more in the sense that this work does good and people, like even if they're very good at therapy, we can get stagnant or stale and coming at things from another perspective can be really useful. ACT is getting big and people want to know, act is big, and people want to know how to do it. I'm really privileged to work at a university where they give me the time to sit and develop things. Like write a paper or writing a book. You know, like if you're a clinician, how do you find the time to write a book? And it's, it's really great that a university's like, that's why, that's what we want you to do. So something like this course, it took me a little bit to, it's an act for anxiety disorders and OCD.

It took me a little bit to sort of wrap my head around like, no, it's okay to create something that is going to get sold. And I think I had to find the value there, which is, I do think this works important and I've spent a lot of time understanding how to do this. And then I start feeling good about getting it out there. And it's a really high, high quality course. And that's another just, it's another great thing. I think it's worth what people have to put into it. 

Tony: And why I'm so grateful for the way you just shared that, Mike, I have a lot of therapists that do listen and I feel like I have a fair amount of life coaches, and I feel like there's a battle between the therapist and life coach, and I talk about this from time to time.

The guy that helped me create my magnetic marriage course, which man, I'm right there with you. I feel like I have this stuff I want to share and I know it can help, right? But then I feel anxiety around promoting it. I feel like I'm being prideful and boastful. And so I will often set the frame up by saying I'm standing in my healthy ego, which nobody else knows what I mean by that, but it makes me feel better because you know, a healthy ego based on real experience and work and that sort of thing, but here's what I think is interesting and I want, I would love your opinion, so I bought courses by other research, Sue Johnson, and I bought Steven Hayes's course, and I've got your course. And then as I was creating a course, I was struggling with the guy that's helped me. He's a very successful life coach named Preston Pugmire, and he kept talking about selling the destination. And do you know this concept? Okay. It's this, I fought him for about a year on this and so, you know, he would say that, okay, if you look at a Delta Airlines commercial, they show the family in Hawaii, so they're selling the destination. This is what you want. But they offer a plane. And basically what he said is what I was saying, well, I've got these, what I call my four pillars of a connected conversation based off of emotionally focused therapy, and here's the nuts and bolts, and here's the emotional bid. And so I'm saying, hey, forget the destination. Let me show you how cool my plane is because I've got these really cool nuts and bolts. Right. And that's what I felt like and then I realized, and I love this, like the courses I've taken from somebody like Sue Johnson and I feel like, oh, as a clinician I'm buying the nuts and bolts.

I want to see how the rivets go into the seats and that sort of thing. And so I found that if I'm trying to get a client to get excited about a course like that, they sit through maybe one section of it and it's like, eh. Yeah. Right? And so it's like, I found, it's a weird balance to try to sell the destination and have this person that I trust help me create it say, nobody cares about your plane. And that's where I'm saying, okay, I need to stand out in my healthy ego as a clinician and say, I think it does matter, but I will try to work some of the destination in the coolest plane that you can get there, you know. So I love your honesty around that because I feel like a lot of the therapists I work with, the first course I ever put out was probably just showing how to make up a bolt, you know, that sort of thing.

Mike: Well that's a really nice point because it's real values consistent because it's like, I don't love writing every paper but while I'm writing them, I usually connect to like, well, this is really cool. I want people to read this. I want this to be out there. And  same, I'm not trying to sell the course here, per se, but it's a neat sort of values analogy, that there's a lot, like, take trichotillomania and ocd, that the course is a non trick, but let's say you know, OCD and panic, if you knew how to treat those well, you will always be busy, you will always have a flow of people, which means there's that many people out there who are looking for therapists and my life, and I'm not knocking any therapists around me, my life is seeing people after they've seen other people. Because, and nothing against the person who worked with them before, sometimes clients need to be in a new spot, but hard panic cases, hard OCD cases, you probably do have to do the best of breed intervention, otherwise you're not going to get the movement. So yeah, that's a nice way of thinking about it. I'm not promising if you learn how to do act for anxiety disorders, you're going to win every time. But I do think this is where the data is today. Like this is well thought out, well researched, it's as good a bed as you can think of right now.

Tony: See, and I love that because I feel like that is healthy ego and healthy ego comes from our actual lived experience. And I had a whole career in the computer industry where I didn't realize, and I didn't enjoy it. It was not value based. I lived for the weekend, but then by the weekend I was so bummed from the week that I kind of didn't care. And I would say, well, next weekend or next, you know, that whole thing. And so I do, I appreciate what you're saying because I feel like from a healthy ego, it's more of like what we feel like inside and I am offering this, so I love that you just shared that because I think that'll resonate with so many people that are listening. And maybe, because I have to bring my insecurities and anxiety and fear of invalidation along with me, maybe, you know, while I put those things out there. So, no, I love that. So would you rather work with OCD than any, any other thing, or is it just something that you have found yourself really good at?

Mike: Okay. Interesting question. I started out working with Trichotillomania. 

Tony: Which by the way, you've mentioned that I know some of my clients aren't going to know, but, so talk about that. 

Mike: Yeah. So, it's a disorder where people pull their hair out and, if you're like, why? I'd say it's really self soothing. We call it egosyntonic. That's a very enjoyable behavior for people. And almost all my clients would say, you know, I would happily pull my hair and then if the next day I came back and all the hair had grown back, I would never be coming in because I enjoy doing it. Okay, but obviously they end up with bald patches and or huge hair loss, it can get pretty extreme and then one of the things that happens is as you pull a lot, the area you pull from starts kind of getting infected and stuff. So then it's almost like you need to pull, because it's like a little infected. So you pull out the hairs that are infected and it feels better.

So you get yourself caught in this trap. Wow. So where this ties into OCD is that was like one of the areas I started and then when I got to UNR to work with Steve, it was like, well, what's, what's the next step? It would be OCD. Like trick and OCD are what we call OCD and related disorders. So then I did my first studies on ACT for OCD, and what's slightly different is clients with OCD come in and they say, I hate this. My life is terrible. Please, please help me stop. And people with trick are like, uh, I know I should stop, but I don't really want to. So there's something about OCD clients that they really want it gone. And that's kind of enjoyable to have clients who are just on the same page as you from day one. I will, and I don't mean this to like pick on the clients, it is a little funny story, but I did an OCD trial followed by a marijuana dependence trial. And I have to, I have to tell you the difference in sort of clients like being on time and not canceling appointments. You know, it's another thing. My clients with ocd, it's kind of easy work. They're on time, they are ready to work and certainly there's hard times, so it's just, the other thing, if I can just kinda keep blabbing, the idea of sticky thoughts is really fun to me. 

So when someone has a really horrible thought and they just feel trapped, I find it really fun disentangling it and helping them find a way to not get pushed around by that thought. And I have a sort of a unique style to myself where that stuff doesn't bother me. So, you know, clients can describe all sorts of stuff, and I like am a hundred percent, that's just a thought. You know what? Whatever this thing is. And, that's been really fun. And learning that skill has generalized to other areas because like really sticky thoughts show up in other disorders. 

Tony: So what's an example, by the way, of a sticky thought? Tell the listeners. 

Mike: Oh. You know, I'll admit I even got caught in it, like, oh, do I wanna share one. So you're from Utah, so do you have some knowledge of the local religion?

Tony: Oh, absolutely, yes. 

Mike: Okay. So, one of the most predominant things in the local religion to Utah is like the importance of family and taking care of your family. So OCD is always going to attack what you care about most. So parents having thoughts about harming their kids is, I don't know, half of what I see. And, they come in and they're like, this is the worst. Like you can't get any worse than picturing seriously harming your own children. I can just hear that and be like, that's an obsession. Let me work with you on what we should do with that. And they're like, but I'm a horrible person. Deep down, I'm a horrible human being who needs to get off this planet? And I'm like, no, you have an obsession. We got it. We'll figure this out. Like, it's okay. And, when I hear someone say their obsession, like just nothing. Like I don't have an emotional reaction because I know it's an obsession.

Tony: Don't you feel like one of the, I love that, because I do talk about, one of my first episodes five, six years ago was on intrusive thought syndrome and at that time, right, I said, we all have them, just because you have them doesn't mean anything, doesn’t mean you're going to do them. And then, thought suppression doesn't work.

And at that time, I actually was speaking to a lot of relief society organizations and I don't know why I found it hilarious, but when I would open it up, I would say, I would kind of share that just for fun and say, how many of you thought about your driving? And man, I could just mm, right over into a tree and you would see the people like yeah, but I've never told anybody. And, I would tell a story about sharing this with my family, and we had a little yorkie at the time, and I was sharing this with one of my daughters. She's like, you ever think about just that you could snap her leg? And I'm like, I have thought that.

And then all of a sudden she's like, okay. And then we go all in on it. And my wife wasn't aware. And so then one night at the dinner table, we're talking about using a watermelon, melon baller. And one of my kids saying, you ever thought about like, that could just be an eyeball, you know, and I could see that, you know?

And my wife, I think she was not up to speed on the conversations, but, so I really like what you're sharing because I feel like being able to express it and having somebody just say, oh yeah. Or I have, or tell me more. There's some pretty cool research, right, that shows that, oh, the scary thing in my head and that person didn't react. Maybe it isn't scary, do you find that's the case? 

Mike: Well, I'll just give, this is a really interesting one. When I worked at the University of British Columbia, they were finishing an intrusive thoughts trial. So they were just treating it like sometimes what people call where you have the obsession and then the compulsion is something you do in your head. You say a prayer, you try to squish the thought, you picture something else. And, it was interesting because the control condition actually got a lot better. I don't know what they did with a controlled condition, but it wasn't supposed to be that useful.

And how we hypothesized it at the end was no one had ever said to these people like, this is just an obsession. This isn’t you. And like half of them walked in and they were just assuming this was a police sting. Like people who wanted to murder or kill or you know, whatever the horrible obsession was and they just assumed they'd walk in and the cops would be there and we were like, no, this is an OCD clinic. You have OCD, welcome to our world. And for a ton of people just hearing like there's a category of people who have really rough thoughts and the truth is the reason they have such rough thoughts is when they first had the initial ones, they tried so hard not to have them that it went out of control. Whereas if you would've been like, that's weird, then it probably wouldn't have grown into anything. But if you tried really hard to get rid of it, yeah, then it just kept growing.

Tony: Well, what I like about that too is one of the things that I, in your treatment program or for OCD, is you and I wrote down a note on this that I like. Can you maybe talk about 95% of life when you don't want it, you can get rid of it. And then that other five, that's, that's good stuff. So I don’t know, can you kinda explain that? 

Mike: Yes. Like in our life, this is you know, second session of therapy. In our life, if we don't like something, we can change it. If you need a haircut, you can get a haircut. If your room's dirty, you can clean it, your clothes look grubby, you can purchase new ones. So then, you know, as you grow up in life, you have thoughts or feelings you don't like, why wouldn't you try to get rid of them? Like everything else in life, if you don't like it, you could get rid of it.

And a lot of times our families are going to say, yeah, that's how it works. But, like right now, if I said, you know, don't think of a pineapple or a pineapple painted blue that someone wrote “you stink” on it. 

Tony: Done, done and done. 

Mike: Right. It doesn't work that way. But if I said, you know, don't touch your keyboard, everyone can do that. That's the difference between behaviors we do with our hands and our feet and attempting to control internal stuff, internal stuff doesn't work that way. And frankly, it might work the opposite way. And then one of the jokes I say in therapy a lot is, this is the reason I have a job. Like, if it worked, you wouldn't need me. But it actually goes backwards, so that's probably why you need me. 

Tony: Well and I find that a lot of things that I feel like in the world of mental health are counterintuitive, which is, I guess I would say that often too, that thank goodness, or I would be out of work but then I know that's humor and sometimes we have to use humor and people, if it's heavy for them, that might sound right. And then, and I feel like that's maybe part of their avoidance is, well I can't, this guy's being silly, or I can't, I can't look at it a different way or somebody, he doesn't understand what it's like. And I don't know, I feel like what do you do with those kinds of situations. 

Mike: Yeah, you don't understand what it's like. I mean, I don't get that as much. I know people get it with other disorders, and I will say from an ACT perspective, if I keep talking about that I have disturbing thoughts, I have frustrated thoughts, I feel overwhelmed. I don't feel good enough like that’s just part of being a human being.

I feel like it's probably nice for a client to see that, you know, my therapist who seems to have it together also doesn't feel smart enough and feels overwhelmed and feels annoyed. And like if he has it, then it may not be so weird that I have it. And I'll definitely stress in my work, it's way more what you do with it than what you have.

Tony: I like that. Yeah. Well, it's funny, the insecurities even, we had a technical glitch there, and we went silent for a while and oh, I was all in my head about, man, this is my one chance and I thought we were vibing and now Mike's never going to come back in and you know, and that whole thing.

And it's funny the way we do that and then I just had to notice that was the thought. You know, that was something. So really quick as well I like that part about trying to control, so we don't do that. I do have one, I have a hypothetical, not even a hypothetical, so I would love your take just as I view you like this world renowned act researcher and knows act so well. And I tell you one thing that my latest kind of aha is I've got somebody, so if I have somebody that is, let's say they're in a job and they don't like their job and I've done, I've had enough of the experiences where I can then maybe have somebody that they feel like they really can't do anything about it, we can work their values into their current job, and then, you know, they might insert a value of humor or a value of connection, or they might go learn other values of curiosity. And I've had some success with that. But then I've also had, you know, I do a lot of work with trauma and I don't if you're familiar with the book The Body Keeps the Score and it's amazing. And so over time, because our emotions are traveling faster than our logical brain.

And you know, that visceral reaction as our brain says, is it safe? And if it's safe, then what do I do with it? And so when people have felt unsafe, that emotional reaction can intensify and they're all up in their amygdala and that sort of thing. So then I'll have people that will be in situations where, in a work situation where, okay, but my blood pressure is rising and I'm starting to have different ailments and then, and in the trauma world we say, okay, that's your body trying to tell you something and we need to listen to it, and maybe that's not the right opportunity for you. And I've been doing so much of the act work where, oh, that's just, you know, these are stories your body, your brain's telling you. And so invite them to come along with you and insert your values.

And so I don't know if you have any thoughts, and I know I'm just springing this on you right now, but it's interesting because act works so well, and now I've had a couple of people that are like, man, I'm still trying to be present. I'm noticing, I'm meditating, I'm working, you know, but I am still, I am still having this visceral gut reaction. And, and so I feel like there's an interesting, I'm not sure which one to rely on, you know? 

Mike: Mm. Well, you tell me if I heard your question right. That if it's like the person's trying to be there for something but it's hard because their internal stuff is so loud. 

Tony: Yeah, well said. 

Mike: And what I'd probably say to that client is, you know, we may have spent 20, 30 years conditioning this to be at this volume. And now that we are not giving it the attention it needs, it's going to scream pretty loud. And I'd say, what do we want? Do we want it quiet or do we want to be in life? Because I'm going to be honest, it's not going to get quiet until you stop caring it's there. 

So if you're always trying to check how loud it is, it's like it knows to put out some noise. So it's like you really just have to shift the game and then, and then we'll see what will happen. Yeah. And it's interesting, the description you gave, maybe we're about the same age. I'm starting to get more and more clients who are like, where do I want my life to go? My career isn't quite what I'm hoping it would be.

Tony: And then I love that because and then when I'm putting out there on my podcast that yeah, I switched after 10 years and now I love everything I do and it's value based and passionate.

And then I'll feel like people will then say, well, yeah, but that was easy. You know? No, it was incredibly uncomfortable. But, I find that then those yeah buts, that's why I call them, the yeah buts from act where, okay, I'm going to take action on this value and then sit back and I'll listen to all the yeah buts. Because it's scary and I think that just people hearing that that's part of the human experience is pretty cool. Hey Mike, I am just grateful for your time. I really am. Thank you. I am going to be very honest and say that I have done something exactly one other time with an interview a few days ago. And I love humor and I feel like that is something that maybe you can identify with as well. Okay. So this is either going to be something I will delete and never use again. I would love to see if you cannot laugh and I'm going to read a couple of my funniest two line jokes ever.

Mike: Okay. Oh, I'm gonna be terrible at it. We'll try. 

Tony: Okay. Let me find one, let me get one here. I've got a couple of them that I think are just hilarious to me and let's alright, so, Dr. Michael Twohig, world renowned ACT researcher, try not to laugh. Just say no to drugs. Well, if I'm talking to my drugs, I probably already said yes.

Oh, that's good. Okay, next. I thought I could get you on that one. Don't laugh yet because this one, I’m Scrolling through them, here it comes. I feel bad for the homeless guy, but I really feel bad for the homeless guy's dog because he must be thinking, man, this is the longest walk ever.

Mike: Okay, you try. I have like two banked jokes.

Tony: Okay. Well this is my second experience and the first person texted me yesterday and said, oh, I want to do it to you now. So, alright, now, this is the first ever experience.

Mike: So there's two fish in a tank. One says, I'll drive you man the guns.

Tony: I don’t even know what that means.

Mike: In a tank.

Tony: Oh, that's even better. I just thought it was complete nonsense. Okay. All right. Okay. 

Mike: How does it go? What did the fish say that swam into the concrete wall? 

Tony: What? 

Mike: Damn. 

Tony: Okay. Okay. Maybe I need to rethink this. I thought I'd be able to do that. Okay. Well done. Those are good enough. So, alright, Mike, thank you so much for coming on and I hope that I can have you on again in the not too distant future. Sneak preview. I meant to even bring this up earlier, I work on some with scrupulosity, which I think is kind of a whole other realm and I would love your thoughts on that. Maybe as just a sneak preview.

Mike: Well yeah and being two Utah based guys, we just skipped right over the pornography stuff.

Tony: Yes.

Mike: Such an interesting,, yeah, I was like, oh, I want to tell you stories about that. Okay. 

Tony: So maybe next time? Okay. Yeah, yeah, we'll do that. So, alright. What a pleasure. I really appreciate the time. This is everything I had hoped it would be and more, so I can't wait to talk to you again. Okay. Right. Thanks Mike. 

Part 2 Tony discusses the challenges of modern-day parenting youth who have grown up with technology at their fingertips from birth. He reads a question from a disheartened mother of adult children who asks when the child needs to take ownership of their feelings, emotions, and actions and when will they stop blaming their parents? Tony discusses the family system and how mothers often fill the role of "scapegoat" for their children to avoid accountability. He talks about "masculine and feminine energy," aka "presence and radiance," and the need to "hold the frame" for expressive children. He continues to work on The Nurtured Heart Approach and his 4 Pillars of a Connected Conversation in parenting.

If you have parenting questions you would like answered on an upcoming episode; please email them to Tony using the contact form on his website http://tonyoverbay.com

If you are interested in being coached in Tony's upcoming "Magnetic Marriage Podcast," please email him for more information. You will receive free marriage coaching and remain anonymous when the episode airs. 

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

It’s true that the diagnosis of narcissism is being handed out a bit too liberally, but this toxic personality disorder definitely does exist, with some experts saying that it's clearly becoming more prevalent with each generation. There is a growing body of research that now shows how long-term narcissistic abuse affects the hippocampus, and the amygdala of the brain, areas that regulate memory, and control emotion. And while someone may not be your classic, malicious or malignant narcissist (there are several sub-types of narcissism), even someone with narcissistic tendencies, or “dustings” can do emotional, and physical damage to those they interact with. Tony also gives his 5 tips to surviving narcissistic abuse. Tony refers to the article “Neuroscience: The shocking impact narcissistic abuse has on the brain,” by Lachlan Brown from https://hackspirit.com/3859-2/

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Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and sign up at http://tonyoverbay.comto learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!

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Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to http://tonyoverbay.com/courses/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.

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This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

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Tony's new best selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

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Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

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You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

Tony tackles the topic of pornography today in a completely strength-based, hold-the-shame, become the person you always wanted to be way. He addresses the age-old question of whether or not pornography addiction is even a diagnosable condition...and better yet, does that matter? Tony shares his views on “the voids” in one’s life that typically lead to the brain wanting to cope, or check-out, by viewing pornography. These voids include the lack of connection in marriage, in parenting, not feeling satisfied in your career, not feeling good about your health, and feeling disconnected with your concept of faith. Tony reads from his book, “He’s a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions” available through the following links: https://amzn.to/33fk0U4 paperback https://amzn.to/38hRcx3 Kindle version https://amzn.to/2G30PDu Hardcover version

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Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and sign up at http://tonyoverbay.comto learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!

-

Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to http://tonyoverbay.com/courses/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.

-

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

-

Tony's new best selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

-

Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

--

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

Is Pornography Addiction Real - 2020-09-15
[00:00:00] Coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch, we're going into the world of compulsive behavior, specifically pornography or that word that must not be named. And I know for a lot of you, when you hear the topic, you're probably thinking hard pass. But stick around for a bit. And I promise you that we are going to learn something new today that will either help you or somebody that you put turning to pornography as a coping mechanism for I know you name it, stress, boredom, loneliness, anger behind them once and for all. That and so much more coming up on today's episode with the Virtual.

[00:00:39] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 223, The Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back, an online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you are anybody that you know is ready to put turning to pornography as a coping mechanism behind them once and for all, and trust me, it can be done and a strength based, hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be. We then turn to path back recovery dotcom, and there you will find a short ebook that describes five common mistakes that people make when turning to pornography as a coping mechanism or trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. How many times have I said that I just got it wrong, but I was trying to go off the cuff here, no script and that's what I get for that. So head over to Path Back Recovery.com and again, download that short e-book that describes here we go, five common mistakes that people make when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. Ganpat back recovery dotcom. And you can find me on Instagram at Virtual Couch and on Facebook at Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist and stop by TonyOverbay. com, completely redone website.

[00:01:45] And you can sign up there to find out more information about actually a path back reboot that is coming up soon that I am so excited about and the magnetic marriage course that is getting close. I will have a lot of announcements coming up in the next probably one to two weeks about how you can find out more about that. But the quickest way is to go to TonyOverbay.com and sign up to find out more information about all kinds of things. And then there's all right there on the home page. Is the parenting positively in the not so positive of times? That is a free course. It's going to remain free. And I highly encourage you to go there. The feedback has been great. The a lot of people have taken the course and there's even starting to be some nice feedback within the course of things that have helped people along the way of parenting. So let's get to today's episode. And I'm going to be real.

[00:02:29] I have wasted over an hour this morning. I got into my office a little after 4:00 a.m. trying to get a podcast recorded before I started seeing clients today at six and I had the camera up. I was going to put this episode on YouTube, actually recorded about five or ten minutes and then realized that there were some parts that I wasn't recording and tried to go back in and suck some audio out of a video file and then started recording again.

[00:02:52] And at some point I just felt, you know what, I need to reboot, I need to restart. And so I'm doing this, that this episode is not up on YouTube as a video. But I always put the audio episodes up there as well. There are some people that like to consume their podcasts on YouTube, so you still can find it there on the virtual couch YouTube channel.

[00:03:08] But I wanted to talk about pornography today, and I have been I deal with it on a daily basis. This is still as far as the clients I see during a week, I see a healthy amount of couples. I also see a significant amount of women that are trying to get out of relationships with people who may be struggling with narcissistic personality disorder. So helping women recognize trauma bonds and able to break free from their little of anxiety, a little bit of depression. And then I still see a fair amount of clients each week that are trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. And the mode or model that I take is a very strength based approach. And it's one where when I was going on the road interviewing, doing some interviews for my book, he's a porn addict. Now, what an expert and a former addict. Answer your questions. I like to say that so far I am 0 for I think fourteen hundred people that I've helped in having shame be a component of recovery. And I just I want to just talk off the cuff today about pornography and compulsive sexual behavior. And so forgive me if I'm going to sound like I'm going all over the place, but I think it's significant to say that even a decade or more ago when I was starting to do this work, working with pornography and compulsive sexual behavior, that there really wasn't as much of a strength based model. There's still a little bit of a debate in the professional realm of a more of this medical model or this 12 step model, this addiction model versus a a more of a positive psychology strength based model. And I have been working with this strength based model for a very long time. And that is what gets results, in my opinion. And I can again say after doing this for almost 15 years and helping about 14 hundred individuals and then people that go through my path back online recovery program, then the strength based approach has been very effective.

[00:04:54] What does that mean by a strength based approach? I like to tell the story that when I got into counseling and I was working at a nonprofit, I was working with people that were struggling with. And let me just tackle this right out of the gate. I'm going to use the phrase pornography addiction and I'm going to talk about compulsive sexual behavior.

[00:05:12] And I might or I might just say struggles with pornography and why. So one of the first questions that I get truly is, is my husband an addict? And I'm going to pull some things out of my book a little bit today, which is sounds so pretentious. I know it does, but I really am proud of this book. With that I did with Joshua Shea, it's continued to sell copies for professionals, for the betrayed and for the the betrayer. And I think it just really answers so many good questions about pornography, addiction, compulsive sexual behavior. But so here's chapter one. The first question asked is, how do I know if he's actually an addict? And here's my comment on this. So when a client comes into my office to talk about her partner, who she thinks is an addict, so usually begin to list all the reasons that she's sure he's addicted to pornography, and then she'll ask me the question, how do I really know? And so at this point, I recognize that she's doubting herself and questioning her intuition. And this usually happens for one of two reasons. Either one, she thinks that she's not qualified to make that diagnosis or most commonly, she doesn't want it to be true. And so I'll hear the client's entire monologue about her partner's behavior, a behavior that led her into my office in the first place, only to hear her say, but I'm probably wrong. And what I feel like she's really thinking is, please tell me I'm wrong. And chances are she's not wrong. But there is help and there's hope. And so there are countless definitions of addiction and each with its own little nuances.

[00:06:35] But for the work that I do, I like the definition proposed by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, which is ASTM.org and it state's addiction is characterized by the inability to consistently abstain impairment and behavioral control, craving, a diminished recognition of significant problems with one's behavior and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. So like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. And so without treatment or engagement and recovery activities, addiction is progressive and it can result in disability or, according to the ACM, even premature death, because we're probably talking there of drug overdose and that sort of thing. OK, but here we go, though. But to me, the exact defining of the word addiction is largely a matter of semantics. So if pornography is affecting your relationship negatively and you suspect that it's an issue that needs to be dealt with, the labeling of addiction or not, addiction becomes irrelevant. And if it's negatively affecting your marriage or your relationship or your family, it needs to be treated whatever you want to call it. So I have couples that come into my office and one is adamant that I label the other an addict, while the quote addict may be adamant that he or she need not be labeled. So we could spend the entire session worrying about labels and trying to define addiction. But that's just wasting crucial time that could be spent on repairing a relationship and overcoming the negative behaviors that brought them there to begin with. So this need to label or not label comes up in other areas of my practice as well in my dealing with clients who may or may not be, let's say, on the autism spectrum.

[00:08:10] Some come into my office and talk about not being good with social cues or having blind spots and the like and finding out that they are on the autism spectrum or being labeled autistic is a relief to them because it's finally an answer to explain their behavior. But others walk through the door and clearly exhibit classic signs of autistic behavior, yet repeatedly expressed that they do not want to be tested or evaluated for fear of being labeled because they're afraid that people will then treat them differently. So the labeling issue is a universal concern and the label doesn't change who you are. It doesn't change the behaviors exhibited and it doesn't change what needs to happen next on the path of dealing with the behavior. But if your behavior is causing problems in your relationship, whether or not you are clinically identified or labeled as an addict, then I feel that's when you need to seek professional help. So I just go off on that tangent because I will most likely use interchangeably the word pornography addiction or pornography, compulsive sexual behavior, or trying to rid yourself from pornography once and for all. And and I doubt that anyone is paying this much attention to my intro over the last three years. But I have shifted it from pornography addiction to trying to overcome turning to pornography as a coping mechanism, because I feel like that really is at the core. What most people are struggling with is this turning to pornography.

[00:09:23] It becomes this almost robotic or zombie like impulse and then it doesn't leave anybody feeling good after that. So they do want to put that behind them once and for all. So I hope that helps. But so back to when I started working in this nonprofit, I would get men that would come in to me and most of them were not honestly, they were not coming to me and saying, I am. I have a pornography addiction. Usually it's, hey, my wife wants me to come in or I got caught or my marriage is in trouble. There are some people that come in and say, I got to get this behind me. I really do. And part of that, I think, is the shame that even has to for someone to say I have a problem and that I want help with that. And that's a big reason why I did create the path back, because I wanted people to be able to address this regardless of if they are coming into a therapist's office or if they want to do that in the privacy of their own home. Because I feel like I do not meet with people who for the most part, say that they really enjoy looking at pornography and it makes them feel better after and it makes them feel more connected with their spouse. So I got men that were coming into my office and I recognize that the traditional training is a lot of behavioral modification.

[00:10:31] So when someone is feeling triggered, for example, or wanting to look at porn, then you're treating that. You're teaching them how to, I don't know, go run outside or do push ups or call a friend or that sort of thing. And so I found that most everyone coming in was almost looking for some silver bullet or some new thing that they've never heard before that would help them immediately get rid of pornography in their lives. But I identified quickly what I like to call this concept of voids. And so I found that I could teach behavioral modification all day and the person is going to do it at times or sometimes they're not. But what I really felt like was identifying that most people were turning to pornography as a coping mechanism wherever they felt these voids and identified five key voids. And one is when they don't feel connected with their partner. And that is why I dove into the world of emotionally focused therapy and did more couples work. The second one is when they don't feel like they are connected with their kids or as a parent or they're not being the parent that they always want to be. And that's what led me to my study with the nurtured heart approach, which is the at the foundation of my parenting positively course that you can go take for free right now, going tonyoverbay.com.

[00:11:41] Another one is people struggling with their faith. And so if you look on my podcast episodes, just go to my website and search for anything that has to do with faith journey, faith crisis or stages of faith. And I have episodes there where I talk about ways to really connect with your faith, where you aren't doing it just because you think that's what you're supposed to do, where you can really tap into your own values that are connected to your faith journey. So we've got the couples peace, the parenting, peace, the faith peace. And then I found that a lot of a lot of people aren't happy with their career. And I'm talking about whether it's their career. They always wanted to be, I don't know, an attorney, but they're an engineer or if somebody is a stay at home mom and they always wanted to have a career so it can go in any of those directions where if they don't feel connected or they don't feel passionate about what they're doing on a day to day basis, that can cause these voids and then wanting to turn the brain saying, OK, I want to check out I want to turn to pornography as just the just the like a little bump, a little dopamine rush.

[00:12:43] And then and then the fifth one/void is their health. And I feel like that's one where a lot of if we want to face it, most of us, I think, anticipated that we would be in pretty good shape when we were adults. But then the stress and life and incredibly tasty food comes into play. And it's really easy to turn to food as a coping mechanism as well. And so look at those five areas. And I don't want that to sound heavy. I want that to sound no pun intended after the food one, by the way. But I want that to sound like, oh, wow, that makes sense, that if we can get your marriage dialed in a little bit more of your relationship, if you're not married, if we can get your parenting dialed in. And of course, if you're if you're young and you don't have kids, then obviously that doesn't mean that we don't worry about that one. But your career, your faith and your health. And it's not that we ignore what to do when the temptation, the siren song of temptation hits. It's not that at all, but we address that. But we also go in and we talk about how to address these voids and how to get people dialed into more of a value based life.

[00:13:42] And and this is where I love acceptance and commitment therapy. So when someone's figuring out their unique set of values based on their life experiences, all of that nature, nurture, birth, order, DNA, abandonment, rejection, those sort of things, when someone figures out their value and then they're more likely to live this more purpose filled life when they're turning to their own value. I have a big value of authenticity. And that sounds clichéd. I know, but it's something I really didn't figure out until I was probably in my 40s, because up until that point, I really was a pretty big people pleaser. And so there were times where I would not speak my truth or my mind because number one, I felt like it would be abrasive or that it would be a negative thing. And number two, I just felt like I couldn't I felt like I needed to be so nice and that I couldn't be authentic and open. But once I recognized that value of authenticity, then I realized that, man, I feel so much more empowering to deal with that need to be authentic than it did to be a people pleaser and try to avoid conflict, because there's so much I could I could do whole episodes on those last two sentences that I said. But so treating the voids in someone that is struggling with pornography addiction is absolutely the way to go.

[00:15:00] Now, the problem is that people often say, OK, they've been caught or they want help. And so it is go and sin no more, never do it again. And the big problem with any kind of addictive behavior is that the person that is struggling with that addictive behavior has had so many go and sin no more moments in their own life so many times where this is the last time. And then when they have not necessarily dealt with these other areas of life and dealt with them over an extended period of time, then they find themselves falling again to the siren song of temptation and then beating themselves up and. Thinking what's wrong with me and often going on a bender and realize that when I talk to clients, sometimes they don't know what a binder is, a binder is just borrowed from the world of alcoholism. And it's where someone has a relapse with acting out with pornography. And then they just feel today shot. And if it's a friend on a Friday, they're like, there goes the weekend. And if it's the 16th of the month, they say there goes the month. And if it's August, they say there goes the year. And I'll work on this next on Monday or next month or I'll start on in January.

[00:16:07] And all of those are these experiential avoidance components where it's kicking that can down the road where, you know, absolutely to get control of an addiction or an addictive behavior. Let's not wait till Monday. That's just a story my brain is trying to tell me. Is that all right? We'll wait till Monday. Well, we need to deal with it right now, as a matter of fact. So I hope that makes sense when we talk about the concept of addiction in general and where I come up with these voids that we're trying to work on each one of those voids. And I think that does lead right into again, I'm going to read out of the book where the next question was, is there a difference between pornography addiction and sex addiction? And so I said similar to the answer to the first question, this one comes back the labels and whether or not they are relevant. So to be clear, until recently, there wasn't anything in either the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is called the DSM, or the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases, which is the ICD that talked about sexual addiction or pornography addiction. Now, recently, the WHO updated the ICD to include compulsive sexual behavior disorder, which is CSB D How about those four acronyms as a mental health condition?

[00:17:18] And so while this designation doesn't exactly meet the standard for addiction, it is definitely the strongest statement made by a body of experts in the field of sexual mental health. So I say, let me share a very 30,000 foot view of what's happening to the brain with doing pornography. So when a man and I'm going to say, man, it can be a woman as well. When a man is watching viewing pornography, when he watches porn, his brain releases the feel good drug dopamine. And there is some fascinating research and I've got some very early episodes that I realize now are almost three years old. So they're hard to find in the archives, but fascinating research around what is called the Coolidge effect. So the idea is that a male will mate with a receptive female once and then he can experience a period where he is not interested in mating. However, if you bring in another receptive female, he will then mate again and so on and so on until he, in essence, can no longer move almost to the point of death. So this phenomenon has been observed in many different species in the animal kingdom. So what's happening is that this, quote, lower brain or reactionary brain was designed to see a female who could possibly help the male bring forth kids to assist in tilling the land and harvesting food so his brain pours out dopamine in order for him to hyper focus on her, to do whatever it takes to convince her that he is her man.

[00:18:33] So what research now shows is that the lower brain can't differentiate between the real woman in front of him or the pictures and videos that it's seeing on a computer screen. So it will see another, "willing female" on the screen and pour out dopamine saying I got to get her to. But so now with this endless supply of willing females and you can probably see where I'm going here, the brain continues pouring out dopamine, basically creating this dopamine binge, which actually kills off many of the dopamine neural receptors of the brain. So this causes the brain to need to see more and do more to get that same rush as there aren't as many dopamine receptors there to receive that feel good drug. So the addict will start looking for more, sometimes shocking or twisted or taboo things to get the rush.

[00:19:18] And so sometimes this can lead to people experimenting with things that are outside their relationship or people outside of the relationship because they simply want that dopamine rush. And so typically there is a period of time before pornography, quote, addiction becomes a full blown sex addiction where the individual will begin to explore what it would take to actually find a partner to have sex with. It's like they become addicted almost to the hunt. The dopamine rush comes from that hunt or the exploration. So sex addicts aren't necessarily are not necessarily they are not looking for long term relationships. They just want a quick fix. And so I've had so many clients in my office explaining that the progression from just viewing pornography or even just images to then viewing pornography to exploring sites that will allow you to connect virtually with someone online and then ultimately finding ways to meet up with a real individual for the sole purpose of a sexual encounter. And again, this is that just trying to get that dopamine rush, whether it's only pornography or both pornography and sex, the outcome for the individual is the same that it's all about. It's all about satiating the evergrowing desire and obtaining the requisite dopamine rush that the user needs to feel satisfied. So much like the move from pictures and a magazine to videos or Internet pornography to strip clubs, to massage parlors, to meeting up with an actual partner, the addict is looking for the next rush of dopamine and keeps needing to push the bar higher in order to feel.

[00:20:38] Sexually gratified so with other types of addictions, you often hear the term gateway, so an example would be marijuana as the gateway drug to harder substances. But while your partner may not be there yet and may never get there, I have seen too many situations where pornography was the gateway for acting out sexually. So anecdotally speaking, I have never had a sex addict that hasn't been addicted to pornography. And I have also had clients with severe addictions to pornography that have never acted out sexually. And again, I realize that I'm using the term addiction, even though I already identified that we could even challenge that word addiction rather liberally. And I want to continue to read. I did not realize I would be reading so much from my book and I really would encourage you to get a copy, especially I know a lot of mental health professionals. Listen to the virtual couch tonight that is so flattering and it contact me for a discount on a copy or something, but or it's on Amazon. It was just on sale. But to get the book, the stuff that Josh Joshua Shay is addressed from the answering these questions from the addict perspective is phenomenal.

[00:21:42] And so we we get a question and we both answered it and we had no idea what the other person was saying. And I just really am grateful for the flow of the book. So let me there's a quote. There's a paragraph I want to get to here. And so the question the next one I wanted to address was, was he this way when we first got together? So my answer was, typically spouses ask this question because they want to know one of two things. Number one, how did I not see this until now? And number two, did I somehow drive him to this behavior? And I just say this. The first is a loaded question of how did I not see this until now? If you've been together for many years, there are so many ways that you're both different from each other in so many ways in which you have both changed over the years. And I'm not saying that is a bad thing. Is he the same person you fell in love with and married? Probably not 100 percent, but neither are you. And again, saying that in a very straight face, the hold the shame love you kind of way. And I can tell you, based on seeing hundreds of individuals and sitting with them collectively for thousands of hours, that this is not an addiction that pops up overnight.

[00:22:38] However, it is an addiction that is steeped in this is so key: guilt, shame, secrecy and isolation, all of which are developed over time as the addiction progresses. So if this addiction was there prior to when you met and were dating, then your partner probably hoped that the sex life that you would eventually share would be enough to take away any desire to view pornography. And unfortunately, unless addicts begin doing serious recovery work, simply getting into a monogamous relationship is often not enough to address the addiction. Now, again, I'm not trying to paint this just broad stroke, brush canvas, all these other art analogies. If you can tell that I'm not an artist, that is, if someone has struggled with this, then they are not. They will continue to do so in marriage. This is that thing where everybody's relationships are different, everybody's personal experiences that lead them to their relationship is different. And so, unfortunately, where I'm going with this is is the acting out sexually, whether in a committed relationship or a one night stand, won't satisfy the addictive nature of pornography. So if the person is actively trying to put this past them actively in recovery or and again, this is where it gets a little bit cloudy, but even if they're aware and trying to work with this, if they've admitted that there is an issue or problem, then we're on the right path. So I believe here's the paragraph I really wanted to get to. I believe that the addiction has very little to do with the spouse, although I can understand how difficult that might be for the spouse to accept.

[00:24:10] So this addiction began with the husband's early exposure to pornography, to him then becoming, quote, sexualized young, where the wiring of the brain began to view a lot of his life through a sexually charged lens and addiction. As I mentioned earlier, springs from this well of unmet needs and this lack of connection. So, again, he's most likely feeling disconnected from his work or his school or his health or his relationships and his faith and his brain is turning to pornography whenever he's not feeling good about himself or the situation. And so over time, turning to pornography has become habitual and instinctual. So sometimes I share with clients that no one typically picks up something like smoking in their 20s or 30s. And the concept is similar. With pornography, there is early exposure that leads to an addiction of turning to porn for stress relief or to numb out or to cope with problems. And by the time an addict is married, looking at pornography is how they may react to any and all of some of the above stressors. So and I'm not trying to paint this as a negative thing. I want to continue to have this conversation. And I want people to feel people that are hearing this. They're going to be men and women that are hearing this episode that I want them to recognize right now that you are OK, that you are normal, that early exposure to pornography is not your fault. No 10 year old or now the average age of first exposure is somewhere between 8 and 11. That is not something that that is that.

[00:25:35] I know you didn't wake up in the morning and say, I think I want to find some porn. It's something that has been put in your place to put in your way, it is something that whether it is by advertisers, whether it's too easy to access it on the computer, whether cousins or older brothers or dads or mom, I've heard every version of this that has left pornography up on the screen or people at school or showing things on phones or long gone is the day of IF a person sees, its WHEN, especially as youth. And so it is so important to have the conversations about not if I've seen pornography, but I would always bring up in our family nights. Hey guys, when's the last time you saw something pornographic and almost saying, how did they get that through? I would hear about people posting things on Pinterest or on Instagram or those sort of things. And I want you to know, parents that are listening to this, I just I plead with you to not have the reaction of an immediate. Oh, my gosh, give me your phone. Where's the hammer? Let me bust this up. You will never have that thing again because it is introducing this filth into the home, that sort of thing. We want to be able to have the conversations because your kids are going to be out in the real world, whether under your watch or down the road. And what we really want to do is give them these coping mechanisms. These tools or these safe places to be able to go to and talk to you about seeing pornography or if they have a hard time putting it behind them once and for all, or if in hearing this episode that you can help them feel their voids, that you can help them recognize that they are enough or they do have worth or you can find very productive activities for them to engage in.

[00:27:16] I've had people have their kids join individual sports. I've had them and somebody do competitive Pokémon. I've had people do chess. I've had people, do you name it, crocheting, artwork, teaching kids, tutoring kids, volunteering at an old folks home, learning to play music for the first time. Those are things that can be done to start to build this confidence and fill those voids and raise their emotional baseline up to a place where they can turn away from the siren song of pornography. So I hope that is something that is not as scary, but that I'm I want you to know that. Yeah, it's I wish it wasn't here. I really do. But we'll note that one of the first things in the book, The Road Less Traveled that I loved by him. Scott Peck says that life is difficult. And as soon as we recognize that life is difficult, the fact that life is difficult no longer really matters. Because once we've embraced that, OK, life is going to be difficult, then we can transcend the fact that life is going to be difficult. It no longer gets becomes a big giant wall in front of us.

[00:28:17] We know that's coming. That wall is coming. So now we're going to prepare for or going to run through the wall. We're going to climb the wall. We're going to go around the wall. Are we going to get some tools to break down the wall? Because the wall is going to be there. So we're going to run into that wall.

[00:28:30] We're going to run into those situations where our kids are going to have struggles or challenges with pornography. And we're going to look at that and say, hey, champ, thank you so much for telling me about this. Let's do this. What can I do to help? I'm we're on it. Not oh, my gosh. I was so afraid of this day. Now here it is. And what am I supposed to do? And I'm a horrible parent, because that's not the case. And there's a wonderful talk by a person named Dieter Utchdorf, and he talks about he's a pilot. He loves to tell stories about flying. And he talks about if you and I'm going to butcher this quote from the talk, but he talks about if you take off and then a plane is one degree off course, then over the span of, I don't know, hours or thousands of miles that you it will be so much further away from its intended destination. And so I liken that to early exposure to pornography. So when someone has seen pornography, let's say at 10 years old and I often give this example and I'm really thinking of one of my teachers, Mrs. Anderson, I don't know where she is these days, but I remember sitting in a class and I can remember the individual right now, real life example. I won't say his name, but I remember him saying basically, look at this Mrs. Andersen's figure, look at her shape. And I remember thinking, I can see Mrs. Andersen. She's annoying. I think she's got long hair.

[00:29:45] She's really mean. And I look back on that. And I learned later that he had he had definitely been exposed to pornography early. And so to him, Mrs. Anderson was a female that he saw, just like he saw the women that he saw on pornography. And I'm so old. That was probably a magazine that he saw, I don't know, maybe a filmstrip or something like that. But I look back on that now and it makes so much sense. So to me, Mrs. Anderson was an annoying teacher. To him, She was a sexualized being. And so that's what early exposure to pornography does. And that's where I feel like that now, where a few degrees off. And so at some point when someone then is exposed, then it's almost like the world changes a bit for them. And I don't want that to feel like, oh, my gosh, the world's changed. It's OK. That makes sense. And so now from that point forward, that person, that teenage boy, for example, who is a normal, teenage boy, he's going to have all those female hormones are coming, to procreate, replenish the earth, that's a built in part of a factory setting. And so then and seeing and having these sexual desires and that sort of thing, that it's almost OK that's been unlocked. It's been unlocked early. And so now that is going to frame a little bit of their experience to live a little bit, a lot of their experience from that day moving forward. I buried the lead in one of the reasons that I really wanted to talk about this, and I'll end with this story and I have so much more I would love to share on this, but I do want to try to keep these episodes somewhat short, short ish.

[00:31:10] But a couple of weeks ago, I was asked and I alluded or I talked briefly about this on an episode a couple of weeks ago, but I had been asked to come on a national radio show and talk about pornography in the pandemic. And the truth is that the use of pornography use has skyrocketed since people have been sheltering in place. And when people have been around their computers and they're bored and they have just too much time on their hands, because I really do believe the biggest trigger that leads to pornography use is not, oh, some guy sees a hot chick, that old cliche, it's boredom. It's I call them crimes of opportunity. It's where somebody nobody's home or they're by themselves. And there's the computer. And their brain is so used to saying, hey, I know what we can do. And then they turn to pornography. Then they feel bad. Then they say, I'm not going to do it again until the next time. And then they think, what's wrong with me? And it's just this continuing shame spiral. But I was asked to go on this national radio show and I really didn't know a lot about the host and turned out the way we traded some emails.

[00:32:10] And he was very complimentary. And on his own Facebook page, I said that I'm a friend of the show and he said, I'm a brilliant author, so I love that. I appreciate that. But when I went on and I totally I really I can understand where he was coming from, but he brought me on to talk about it, and then he just jumped right in and said, hey, I don't think pornography is a problem. And so I think that was supposed to rattle me. And then on my first time to that rodeo, not even my tenth time to that rodeo. And so I said, hey, that's fantastic. And if that's not something that you think is a problem or struggle with, then my I can't I'm not going to try to convince you of that. And I talked about the concept of psychological reactance, which is that instant negative reaction of being told what to do. So if someone doesn't feel like they have a problem or someone doesn't feel like something is a problem, me telling them that it's a problem is actually going to, you know, trigger this psychological reactance. The person is actually going to dig in a little bit deeper. And I disagree. And so I got a sense that was where the conversation was going. So I just said that if that if he didn't feel that it was a problem, then that's wonderful for him. And I said, but for the fourteen hundred or fifteen hundred people that I've worked with individually that have decided that they did not like pornography as a component in their relationship or that it was something that they were turning to far too often.

[00:33:26] So they weren't as productive as they could be at work or it made them less of feeling like a connected parent, then that's a problem. And I don't think he was prepared for that, because then he continued to say, I watch it with my wife. And I said, man, then you guys would not need my help. And that is fantastic. But for the people that I work with, the people that are turning to me that want to put that behind them, that feel like it, it has made them less present in their relationship than I can. I can help people with that. And and he was pretty funny at that point. And he said, I turned to cake. I think that with frosting is a coping mechanism. And I said that, my friend, I can help with that. If that is a coping mechanism you want to put behind you, then I can work with that. So I appreciated that. But it was really I really enjoyed getting on and talking about that. If someone is saying it is not a problem for them, then I will tell you it can be difficult to work with. So that's the hard part about if somebody is being told to get help, but they really don't feel like it's a big deal or they feel like they have it under control, then Number One, they're probably going to have a little bit of that psychological reactance.

[00:34:27] They're going to double down and say, well, it's not really a problem. Or and here's the part that I really wanted to end with. And I had a podcast I did for a group called Leading Saints, and it's talking to ecclesiastical leaders and I highly recommend it. It's called Taking Shame out of the bishop's office. And it's a way that when people are struggling with pornography, addiction or compulsive sexual behavior, they don't feel good about it. They don't. And I again, I know that's the case. And so when they come into my office, the last thing that is helpful is for me to say, man, do you know what this could turn into or do you know how bad this is? And we just have a tendency as humans that when a teenager or a spouse or somebody comes and confesses or gets caught, we don't say, hey, thank you so much for coming in or I appreciate you dealing with this because we've got this and I know that you're going to be able to make it through this. And that is the response we need. We need to be able to win again if our kids come to us honestly with any issue or problem, do some mindfulness work like crazy so that when they say, hey, I wrecked the car or I'm struggling with pornography addiction or I'm failing a class. That school that our reaction is, hey, I am so proud of you for coming to me.

[00:35:42] I really appreciate that that takes guts. And so we're going to figure this out. Let me know what I can do to help. Let me know if you need me to be an accountability, buddy. If you want some professional help when the world of the school, if you need a tutor, whatever you need. I am just so proud of you for coming to me. And we've got this because it takes a lot of courage and vulnerability to go to somebody and say, I'm struggling with anything. So that's my ultimate goal when dealing with pornography. Is it a bad thing? And it objectifies women and it warps sexuality and it's it's a component and well over half of divorces. Now, according to I think it's the American Lawyers or Attorneys Association. Yes, all of those are true, but it's individuals that are struggling with this. And so we need to treat them like individuals as well. And if you're hearing this and you are struggling and you've tried to put this behind you and have been successful, it's not too late. And there are so many people that I've worked with that have spent a fair amount of time literally like coming into my office and saying I didn't do the homework or relapsed again or so. And it's as if they want me to say, Oh, man, yeah, you're like super broken. Go ahead. You can go and just act out like crazy. And yeah, I guess I couldn't help. No, it's not the way it works. It can be a little bit of a journey.

[00:36:57] It can take more time than one would anticipate, but that's just the way that it works. The old cliche of it is what it is. But just being aware and seeking help and trying to put distance between thought and action, those are the things that are going to get you back on this path back to that person that you always wanted to be or a person that you dreamed you could be. And that is somebody that isn't turning to compulsive sexual behavior as a coping mechanism. So I appreciate you taking the time to stay with me. If you have questions I would love to do, I'm going to start now. Here's a sneak preview of the new revamped Path Back program is I am going to be doing some Facebook lives. I am going to be doing some Q&A. I am going to be doing as part of the Path Back program, some weekly calls and answering questions and working with individuals. And so I would love your questions. You can send them through my website at Tony Overbay.com. Just go to the contact page and just send me any questions you have about pornography, compulsive sexual behavior, any of that. And I'll try to get to those on a future episode or a Facebook live. Those are going to be archived. And I'm just grateful for you spending this time with me. And I look forward to seeing you the next time on the virtual couch and have a wonderful, fantastic day.

Tony reviews the life-changing book The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk M.D. https://amzn.to/2VUcMEd “Trauma is a fact of life…one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust.” In part 1 of many episodes on the subject, Tony talks in depth about what trauma is, how it effects our attachment styles and kids, and how that can complicate our lives, and relationships as adults.

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Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to http://tonyoverbay.com/courses/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help. And Tony is so confident that this program will work, that he's offering a money-back guarantee!

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This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

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Tony's new best selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

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Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

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You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

Title I had an amazing time on Rachel Nielson’s podcast 3 in 30 Takeaways for Moms. We talked all about parenting, specifically how to find the positive even when it feels like nothing positive is happening! Rachel does a fantastic job boiling down a topic to, in this case, 4 takeaways in around 30 minutes. 

Take a quick look around your room, your office, or even your car. What do you see? Do you find yourself staring at the same piles of paper, or half-completed projects that you've been working around for days weeks or even months? Do you feel a constant "low key" feeling of anxiety when you're in a messy room? And what if company suddenly decides to stop by? Do you panic, or party? If you’re feeling even a tiny bit of stress even thinking about the areas of your life where there may be an excessive amount of clutter, you’re not alone. In this episode, Tony references the article “A Cluttered House is a Cluttered Mind,” by Erin Cullum, as well as the article “Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies,” by Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201203/why-mess-causes-stress-8-reasons-8-remedies

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Tony also references the article “No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate With Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol” by Saxbe and Repetti https://undecidedthebook.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/saxbe-repetti-pspb-2010.pdf

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Tony's interview on Shawn Rapier’s Latter-Day Lives can be found here https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/latter-day-lives-talking-with-latter-day-saints/id1262984796?i=1000479049886

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Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to http://tonyoverbay.com/courses/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help. And Tony is so confident that this program will work, that he's offering a money-back guarantee!

-

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

-

Tony's new best selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

-

Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

--

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

Transcript:

EP 210 Mess causing stress-2020-06-23-375.mp3
[00:00:08] Everybody, thank you for tuning in the episode 210 of the Virtual Couch, I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful habit couch, a father for ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back and Online Pornography Recovery Program that is helping people reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you or anybody that you know is trying to put pornography behind them once and for all and trust me, it can be done in a strength based, hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be way, then please head over to path back recovery dotcom.

[00:00:39] And there you will find a very short e-book entitled Something to the effect of five common mistakes that people make when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. Again, that's passed back recovery. Dotcom and my free parenting course. Parenting positively, even during the not so positive times, is still, well, free. So just head to Tony Overbay dot com courses and you will find it there. A couple of other very quick items of business today. I'm recording this on a on a on a beautiful Tuesday morning in Northern California. And yesterday on Monday, an interview I did with Sean Ripia on his Latter Day Lives podcast is was aired. And it is very it's very fascinating to be interviewed and be in the hot seat and just have to tell stories about growing up and all of those sort of things. And I still try to turn it back around and an interview or do virtual therapy on Sean. He wasn't aware at the time, but he fell prey. So if there's that and if you want to hear more, it bounces sound silly saying, hey, if you want to hear more about my story, go over to Shandra Piers Latter Day Lives, interview his podcast and I'll put that in the show notes as well.

[00:01:51] Maybe a link there. That was a lot of fun. And I did a lot of a couple of other podcasts this week that are coming up soon. And I'll kind of keep you aware that doing a whole website upgrade, that's going to make it easier to find a lot of content, not only my own, but when I've been a guest on some other shows and that sort of thing. Which also leads me to I've alluded for a long time to go to Tony Overbay dot com and sign up there to find out more about all kinds of exciting new things. And one of those exciting new things is getting very, very close to a reality teamed up with with my business coach. He's a he's a motivational speaker. His name's Preston Buckmeier. And we are about to launch a marriage course. And honestly, it's it's incredible. I've wanted to do something like this for a long, long time. And I will be talking plenty about this in the next few weeks as we gear up toward the launch, revealing the name and where you can find out more information. But right now, just go to Tony Overbay Dotcom and just sign up there on my email list to find out more. Or if you go like or follow Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist on Facebook or follow me on Instagram at Virtual Couch.

[00:03:05] You will find out more information as it becomes available, but it truly is going to be incredible. He is really pushed me hard. I wanted him to to be able to really put a lot of these concepts of emotionally focused therapy, F.T. this couple's model that I love in very tangible what do I do next? How do I implement this weighs so again, so much more. You're going to hear about that in the next few weeks. But I can't wait. We've we spent a whole lot of time these last few weeks putting this together. And I really feel like we've kind of cracked the code, so to speak, on how to communicate more effectively with your partner, along with exercises on how to. And I wasn't even planning on talking about it today. But you can tell that I'm very excited and very quick if you have a second and you can subscribe or rate or review the podcast, that helps a lot. That's again, there's an odd algorithm. It's it's a mystery of how people find out more about podcasts. But I know that is one of the ways. And with that said, just a quick review that I received this week from someone named Polly Pocket, which I love that because my kids had Polly Pockets.

[00:04:10] And it's one of those things that we saved and hung on to, hoping that for some reason they would become collectibles. But I don't think that's the case. So I might need to get rid of them or I guess save them for my grandkids or something like that. But this person said, I love this podcast with all capitals and love. It's the first podcast they ever listen to, which is really an honor when I hear that Tony is interesting, he's captivating and informative. And when I listen to his podcast, I love that he's real and he doesn't hide it. You don't ever feel bored learning. So thank you very much, Polly Pocket. And please, if you have a second again, rate review, subscribe all that good stuff. All right, let's get to today's topic. This one is fascinating. And oftentimes my wife and I love this. She will just text me news articles that she sees throughout the day and we'll just say, hey, this might make an interesting podcast. And this is one that has been on my mind for quite a while because it has to do with clutter.

[00:05:01] And I will be so up front and honest that I am not the person that this well know. I'm the person that. This article has been targeted or is intended for, because I do find a lot of mental clutter when I am surrounded by clutter, but then even if I'm looking at my desk right now as I'm recording, there's clutter.

[00:05:20] There's a there's a lot of clutter. And I will find myself often even in therapy, looking around my office and thinking, man, I wonder if people just kind of step back and take a look if they would just wonder what's what's Tony's deal. I mean, if I just take a glance around right now, my desk with all my podcast equipment, I've got books on here, I've got a whole bunch of sticky notes. I've got some uncashed checks and water and keys and phone and all kinds of things. And looking around my room, I've gone through a candle phase. I'm now defusing essential oils to make my office smell good. I'm using fig, by the way, right now, which I didn't even know what a fig smelled like. But it's it's lovely. I really enjoy it. But all around my office, I do feel like one could say there's clutter. So I think I need to have someone come in and declare my office.

[00:06:05] But I know that clutter. I hear it often brought up. And it's one of those topics that people, even in marriage, can have really difficult conversations around because someone might have grown up in a house of order will just say that and someone might have grown up and not as much of a house of order. And so they both have different experiences when they are interacting with or around clutter. And I'm not talking hoarders kind of clutter, although if that's an issue, I'm sure that it would be even more exacerbated is what we're going to talk about today. And honestly, if you've never watched a Hoarders episode, a season, a new season was uploaded on Netflix recently. And it is that is that is my just kid in a candy store.

[00:06:49] If I just sit there and watch an episode of Hoarders because the psychological component is fascinating and then just to see how people get to where they are, it'll kind of blow your mind to see that. But the article that I'm I'm going to pull from today and actually go with a couple of them is one that my wife has sent me. It's by Aaron Culham and it's titled A Cluttered House is a Cluttered Mind. So I try really hard to stay organized. And and I don't really know of Aaron's background or credentials, but Aaron did a nice job putting this article together. But then it refers to a another article that I'm going to jump to by a clinical psychologist. And it and she also referred to a study that was a really in-depth study that is on words in how you describe the clutter in your home. So I'm going to talk about that as well. And I am going to tell a couple of stories that I have never told before that I'm very excited to talk about where it puts me not in the role of hero, but a bit in the role of the unaware husband. So Aaron starts the article by saying that she didn't always realize clutter has a direct effect on her mood. She said the daily grind of getting ready in the morning unwinding after a long day at work usually ends and dropping bags at the door, jumping into some comfy clothes, shedding any stress, seeing what's for dinner, taking time to relax.

[00:08:08] But she said for her, the sigh of relief since the call is impossible without a clean, tidy home. If the countertops aren't clear, she says, neither is her mind. Piles of paper, probably unnecessary mail cringe. And she says, and I've heard this one many times, Hoarders is a horror show. So she talked about this correlation or identifying a correlation between what her apartment looks like and how she feels physically and mentally. And she said that when you reduce that clutter in her home, that it really has made a difference in her day to day. So she says she tries to make a conscious effort in trying to clean while she goes or gets dishes done as soon as she can keep shoes out of the doorway avoids what I love is the clothes chair in her bedroom. That might also be the treadmill or the StairMaster or the weight bench. I know I've had a few of those in my day, but she says she tries to put things back after she uses it and avoids accumulating clutter in the first place, striving to create a minimalist space and all of those wonderful things. And so I'm skipping all over that because I think that there are people that are listening right now that either think, well, yeah, that's what you do. You put things that way after you use them and you pick up along the way and everything has a place. And I forget what that phrase is.

[00:09:20] My father in law used to say it. There's a place for everything and everything in its place. And so there are people that that just come so naturally. But when you interact with other human beings, especially those of the tiny variety that isn't always is easily is easily done is one once. So she said she recognizes not everybody feels this way about clutter and she talks about a boyfriend of hers who wouldn't bat an eye, things strewn across the counter. But so here we jump into one of the articles that we're going to talk about today, she said. In Psychology Today, Doctor of Psychology Sheri Borg Carter writes, Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important. That clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on. So simply put, mess equals stress, so I really like how simplistically Dr. Carter writes that clutter bombards our mind with excessive stimuli. And I'll admit I hadn't necessarily thought of that. I mean, if you go back and look at Charles Duhigg is the power of habit, that book, he has some pretty fascinating data of even looking at CEOs in the workplace and how they're there. I like to call it their brain sponge can be full by the end of the day and their people can get to the point where they just can't make additional decisions. And so I feel like there's a correlation here that as clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime, I'm sure that that causes some mental fatigue or exhaustion along the way.

[00:10:49] So the more that we don't have to deal with this extensive or excessive stimuli, the more chance we are going to have to be able to be present and be there for our partner or our kids, or to be able to show up a little bit more and not feel just overwhelmed. So the first story that I want to tell is a story of when when when we had little kids, when Wendy and I had little kids and we've been married and we're getting close to 30 years. My youngest is 16. So I've got 16, 18, 20 and 22. So this is many, many moons ago. I believe we maybe had one or two little kids at the time. And Wendy said a couple of things at one point that had changed my view that day that I've carried with me. I've used in sessions and you name it that as in let me kind of set the stage. So we had a toy room in the house and and I'm pretty sure it was when we had two little girls. I want to say that three and one or four into my my oldest two daughters and we had every toy known to man is I think a lot of new parents would do the kitchens and Barbie, their princesses and doll houses and and little cars and everything.

[00:11:56] We had everything. And we would try to put all of these things in this toy room, in the toy room would just be a disaster. And I remember how often we would clean the toy room. And I remember feeling kind of like, well, what's the point? Because the girls are just going to go in the next morning and just just mess up the toy room again. So wouldn't it just be smarter to keep the toy room in complete disarray? And my wife disagreed and I wouldn't give it a lot of thought at that time. I'm working in the computer software industry. I go off to work, I come home and and I can tell at times that she's pretty frazzled. The toy room might be a bit of a mess. And again, I would assume that, well, then we should just leave it because it's a lot of work to do. But she really wanted to clean up the toy room at the end of the day, and that would kind of extend out into the family room and other areas of the house of where she really wanted to. Just at the end of the day, I used to say this is probably a negative at the time, the way I would say it, that we wanted the house to look a bit like a model home. And then at the end of the evening and again, I wish I had my therapist skills back in the day of apologize, too, I think so many times because of this.

[00:12:59] And I was taught valuable lessons, but I remember one time to saying, hey, tell me why it's important for you to clean up the toy room at the end of the day, clean up the house at the end of the day, have things off of the counters when it's just going to get messed up the next day. And that was when she let me know that she said is a stay at home mom. She kind of felt like to a certain point how the home looked was a bit of a reflection on her so that when people stop by, for example, and we live next door to her sister. And so there were people in in her neighborhood at that time, I think that there were five or six stay at home moms and thirty something kids under the age of ten. And so people were kind of going in and out of each other's homes. So when people stopped by, she just felt like if the house had a semblance of order, that it was easy for her to feel comfortable welcoming people in. And and this is a deep marriage therapy principle that it was not my job to try and dispute her view of reality. You know, I was I mean, even if I wasn't going off to work every day and not being in the home, who am I to say, well, you shouldn't think that way or you shouldn't care.

[00:14:00] You just need to, you know, all those unproductive things that we find ourselves saying instead of saying, hey, tell me about what this experience is like for you. So she like that feeling. There's a semblance of order. But she also shared that at the end of the night, and I love this one, she felt like having the house picked up or in order helped her relax and allowed her to be able to turn off her brain a little easier and be able to go to sleep. And so to this day, cleaning up the kitchen, picking things up off the floors, the counters, loading the dishwasher, even putting the pillows back on the couch, finding the remote controls, which can be just a tedious nightmare of a task. Taking the dogs out to go potty, you name it, has become a nightly routine that we do together while talking about whatever topic comes to mind. And while I truly didn't find that, not doing it some fifteen years ago bothered me for so many years, I just have in doing so that it's a way for me to show that I can be there for my wife who I care about, that's my person, or, you know, it's all I needed to know. And so now I've grown to really appreciate it, not only as a time that we can connect, but there are also times where she'll have other things going on. And I know, hey, this is something.

[00:15:08] I can do for her to show her that I care or that I love her and and I've also grown to really appreciate it. Kind of a quick thing about this to a global pandemic. Note often want to come down to go on an early morning run or get to the office before the crack of dawn. It is kind of funny now because I'm met with dishes out the Top Ramen package on the counter as my older kids and youngest is 16 and I have my 16 and 18 and 20 year older in the home right now. They're keeping some pretty odd hours. So that is something that we could clean it at 11:00 at night and then maybe at two or three, there's still these kitchen elves or kitchen fairies that are messing things up. So it's so much easier to kind of clean that up really quick because of having it clean the night before. But again, I am not some person that that grew up wanting or expecting this order, but I've come to really appreciate it. And that's why I like this article where Dr. Carter talks about this excess, excessive visual stimuli that removing that really can help feel a sense of calm or peace. And and and I know that it lowers the cortisol levels or the stress hormone levels. And and speaking of dishes, you know, I'm going to say that story and I hope I remember to get back to it. Dishes in the laundry.

[00:16:20] I want to say remind me of those. Let's put a pin in those. So there's there's Authors' there's a study and this is one that Aaron Cullom, the original article that I'm referring to, she references the authors of a study called No Place Like Home: How Home Tours Correlate with Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin noted the way people even describe their homes may reflect whether their time at home feels restorative or stressful. So I did go dig up that that study out of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Home tours correlate with daily patterns of mood and cortisol. And this thing is fascinating and I won't go into too much detail here. I could put a link to this in the show notes as well. But I'll just read the abstract of this. This review, this study, the abstract is that the way people describe their homes may reflect whether their time at home feels restorative or stressful. And and I think this is fascinating. Are you going home and feeling like it is a restorative process or are you going home and feeling like it is a stressful process? So this article uses linguistic analysis software. So linguistic inquiry and word count to analyze 60 dual income spouses self guided home tours by calculating the frequency of words that describe clutter. A sense of the home is unfinished, restful words and nature words. So based on a principal component analysis, the former two categories were combined into a variable of a stressful home and the latter two into a restorative home.

[00:17:54] So over three week days following these home tours where people were describing their homes, wives with higher stressful home scores had here's the fun part had flatter diagonal slopes of cortisol, which happens to be a profile associated with adverse health outcomes. So people that took these home tours and described their homes as not being restorative or as being more as stressful, they had these flat or diurnal slopes of cortisol. So that that means that they had more more stress in their lives. And they felt that in describing their home, their home was full of clutter, whereas women with higher restorative home scores had steeper cortisol slopes. So these results held after controlling for marital satisfaction and neuroticism that women with higher stressful home scores had increased depressed mood over the course of the day, whereas women with higher restorative home scores had decreased depressed mood over the day. So that was this longitudinal, very nerdy sounding study that basically says when people feel like there is clutter in the home, that it can lead to more of a depressed mood over the course of the day. And women who felt like the home was more of a restorative place had decreased depressed mood over the day. So back to the article by your column. She says, I know what it's like to feel stressed out, feel like this UGH instead of a welcoming ahh when thinking about going home.

[00:19:16] And she said it was especially true when she lived in a small San Francisco studio apartment. So let me kind of refer now to this article that she had referred to, and this is by Sherrie Borg Carter, who has her doctorate in psychology. This is off of psychology today and it says, Why mess causes stress, eight reasons and eight remedies. So Dr. Carter then does go on to say clutter plays a significant role and how we feel about our homes and our workplaces and even ourselves, that messy homes and workspaces they do. They leave us feeling anxious, which somewhat can feel helpless and overwhelmed. And but yet rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives. So she goes over eight reasons of why mess leads to stress. So this is the one that was quoted in that previous article by Aaron Cullom. Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli, so visual, olfactory, tactile, so various stimuli that that can become a bit overwhelming. So this causes our senses to work over time on stimuli that isn't important or necessary. The second thing that she references is clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on. And I think that's a pretty interesting one. Just just give yourself a little awareness exercise today and just notice just notice when you might be distracted by a pile of something or by just something that you remember that you maybe needed to do that had to do in the realm of cleaning the house or becoming more organized.

[00:20:49] Third, she says clutter makes it more difficult to relax both physically and mentally, forth clutter constantly signals to our brain that our work is never done. That one that one spoke to me. That one resonated with me because I feel like I often think I just need to clean my desk. I just need to clean this particular corner of the office. I need to clean my side of the bed. I need to clean my side of the bathroom. Those things that you can just tend to see have a little more clutter. The fifth thing she references clutter makes us anxious because we're never sure what it's going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile. And man, that one's true. I have a hidden pile of stuff in my office and it continues to grow. And I have told myself many times that I need to take an hour and go through it. But if after I read that number five here, that never quite sure what it's going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile, I really felt that one, because I feel now like even my brain has said I just need to set aside a couple of hours and then even then I feel like it's probably gonna be a little bit longer than that. So there is this just great unknown. And if you've had the experience before where maybe once I jump into cleaning this this pile that I have, that it may not take as long, I mean, I really am kind of hoping that will be the case.

[00:22:02] But I understand this great unknown does cause a little bit of mental stress. Number 6, clutter creates feelings of guilt that I should be more organized. I can check that box as well. And embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes, our workspaces. So this secret pile that is in my office is not in plain sight of my clients. But every now and again, I'll have a client in my office and I maybe run to the restroom. And if they stand up and they're going over to look at my bookshelf, which I'm looking at right now, you can often see then where this secret stash of things are and it is embarrassing. And so I feel that one, that that clutter can create feelings of guilt and embarrassment. Number seven, clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brainstorm and problem solve. And so I think that just has a little bit of that, what I think of as clutter creep, where it creeps into all kinds of areas in visually, spatially. And then again, I think that that just kind of taxes our brains. And finally, she said the clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly. For example, files and paperwork lost in the pile or kee swallowed up by the clutter.

[00:23:11] I am one of those who likes to think that I know fairly well what is in my pile of stuff. But if I'm being very honest, vulnerable and authentic, then there are plenty of times where I have looked through my pile of stuff thinking I would find something and not finding what I thought had been there the entire time. So Dr. Carter says fortunately, unlike more other commonly recognized sources of stress, like our jobs or our relationships, clutter is one of the easiest life stressors to fix. A little bit of hope there, right? That's a kind of a positive statement, she said if clutter's invaded your entire house.

[00:23:46] Don't tackle the job alone. Get the whole family involved by starting with one room everybody uses and making each person responsible for a section. If you're on your own, start with one area at a time and finished cluttering that area before moving on to another. This will give you a sense of accomplishment, as you will see your success little by little. And I think there's a whole podcast that could be done there in the little by little. If we really look at the way habits are formed, if we look at the way the brain works, we we often want these big home runs, these massive turnarounds and changes. And we will even hear those stories in the media or on TV or movies are made about these dramatic 180 swings and attitude and behavior. But the truth is, we just make a little bit of progress and we need to just be patient with the process. So we we need to view our accomplishment by little by little success. Number 2, create designated spaces for frequently used items and supplies. You can quickly and easily find what you're looking for when you need it. However, try to make these designated spaces closed spaces. I really like this one because I have one of these drawers in the kitchen, she said. Close spaces such as drawers and cabinets storing things on open shelves are on top of your desk does not remove those visual stimuli that create stress and lessen the amount of open space that your mind sees. So it's OK to have that drawer.

[00:25:06] I was going to say junk drawer, but. Let's just say it's a drawer of treasures, that's what I'm going to call my my drawer. Now, this is a good one.

[00:25:14] Number three, if you don't use it, don't want it or don't need it. Get rid of it. You can toss it. Recycle or donate it. And she loves one person's trash is another person's treasure. I have a friend of mine who says often that I bought it and now I'm just holding it, waiting for the person who actually needs it. And honestly, reframing that way can be amazing. So she says, but don't don't keep it. If you're if you're not using it, if you don't want it or you don't need it, don't keep it if you use it, but only rarely store it in a box in the garage or if it's in your office in a high or low place to leave easy access space for things that you use more often. And I really like this one. Put a date on the box with rare exceptions. If you haven't opened the box in a year, whatever is inside is probably not something you need. And I've heard some really clever ways to do this with clothing. One that I have tried a time or two is turning things that I haven't worn the turn of the hanger or on the other side. So it's it's kind of go opposite of how you normally take it off of the the rack or whatever that would be called. And if it is still turned that way for a long time, then you can probably get rid of that. You know, that means you haven't worn something like that in a long time. Number four, when you take something out of its designated place to use it, put it back immediately after you're finished with it. And I love how she said that sounds simple, but actually takes practice and commitment. I am very bad at that one that I'll just usually set things down and so that I can put them away later and then later doesn't often come create a pending folder.

[00:26:40] This is one that I am going to do to begin today. A pending folder helps you clear off your workspace while at the same time provide you with a readily accessible folder to centralize and easily locate pending projects. And I think this is what I need to do with with male or with kind of letters that I need to get back to or those sort of things. Number six, don't let papers pile up. Random paper strewn everywhere. Could be public enemy number one when it comes to stressful clutter, were inundated by mail and flyers and menus, memos, newspapers and the like. And the key is to be conscious of what you bring and what others bring into your spaces in this one.

[00:27:13] Oh, this is hard for me. It is so difficult for me to go through papers as soon as you can, tossing what you don't need and storing what's necessary in its proper place. I, I am horrible about just piling up mail to the point where then it does seem a bit of an insurmountable task. And I find that just if I can just open it and deal with it when I get it, it's so powerful and often my wife, bless her heart, will kind of just gently bring awareness to the ginormous pile of mail that might be sitting in a certain area of our house. And and when I tackle it, I feel awesome and amazing and I can't lie. There have been a few times where I have found things that that that I've been owed a little more on lately, things like that, because it's I didn't open it. I have to own it. It's on me. It's OK. What can you do? You open it, you move forward and you try to learn from that experience.

[00:28:00] Number seven, declutter your primary workspace before you leave it. It's normal to pull things out while you're working in a space, but make a habit of cleaning off your workspace before you go. Not only this, give you a sense of closure when you leave, but also makes you feel good when you return to a nice, clean space. And that kind of goes along with that story that I talked about earlier in in our home. And number eight, this one, bless her heart, Dr. Carter, make it fun. She says you're going about cleaning things out, put some on, put your favorite tunes on, and the more upbeat the better. Not only will you enjoy the tunes, the time will pass faster and you'll probably work faster than you would without the music. That one is a bit of a challenge for me of making cleaning and declaring fun. So if you're able to do that, more power to you. Bless your heart. I may try that, but I can't count on just some some some happy tunes are going to make me feel excited to to clean and declutter. So I love that she dresses.

[00:28:53] It's just finally, clutter doesn't only apply to our physical environment. Mental clutter can be just as stressful, if not more stressful than physical clutter. And boy, can I speak to this, although there is an entire article she said at least of suggestions about mental cluttering. One of the most basic and useful tips that she offers on mental declaring is to focus on one project at a time without distractions, distractions, being things like cell phones and emails and other electronic gadgets. And she says you'll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish when you focus on a project without allowing anything else to get in the way. And she says, Well, I realize and recognize it's hard to accomplish in this day and age. It's doable. And she says that she thinks that we will agree it is well worth the effort. Dr. Carter, you are absolutely correct. It is definitely worth the effort. As far as you know, a lot of times my ADHD inattentive type, formerly known as ADD, can sure get in the way when there are tasks that I truly want to focus on.

[00:29:46] I promise talking about two other concepts, the dishes and the laundry. I am going to I've long joked on doing an entire podcast on parenting and dishes and marriage and laundry.

[00:30:01] So let me just try to do this off the cuff and hopefully it won't kind of go south. And if it does, then I will have already. Deleted it and edited it, and you'll never hear this part and won't even know that you didn't hear it. So let's let's let's do the laundry first. So often I have let's say it's a it is let's say it's a stay at home mom and a dad and he's off slaying the dragon and at work and that sort of thing comes home. Hey, I'm exhausted, I'm tired and and I will hear complaints in my office. Often that and laundry isn't done and that sort of thing. And so it is such a simple solution for this. And that is my wife is amazing. She she's very intentional about two days a week that are laundry days. And and I really enjoy if I get home and it's later and we've just cleaned up, the house is kind of mentioned and then we just like to dump the laundry out on the bed that needs to be folded. And I help and we fold and we talk. And it's amazing. And I love being able to be there for her. And and, you know, when people do the whole well, I've worked and she needs to do it. And what's the goal? Is the goal to have this perfect equity in responsibilities or is the goal to have a productive marriage? You know, is the goal to have just this magnetic marriage, this this, you know, what's your goal? And that's why I love it.

[00:31:16] If the goal is a magnetic marriage, a connected marriage, then the. Yeah, but things aren't equal. Exactly. Fair. Who cares? It becomes a story. My brain's trying to hook me to, you know, this path of least resistance. My brain's trying to say, well, yeah, but it's not fair. It's kind of what we're I don't care. I would rather have the relationship with my wife and I have learned to fold the heck out of some laundry. I'm not good at matching socks. I have to constantly be reminded of how many Folds Beach towel has versus a bath towel. But it's OK. I'm trying and I just want to to be there as much as I can for my wife. And I really appreciate that. So that one's a one on laundry. What's your goal? Is your goal complete equity? Or she should do this because I do this? Or is your goal the relationship? Are you both turning toward each other and trying to help each other get through life? Because there's a lot going on in people's lives. And that is the goal of a of a connected marriage, of magnetic marriage, is to have this this just dyadic union is Sue Johnson, founder of EFT, talks about where you can go out and you can fight the battles and storms of the day and know you've got this safe haven where you can return and process the events of the day.

[00:32:23] You can talk to your partner about anything and and they'll know they'll know that that they're there for you. They want to hear what what's going on for you. They want to be there for you. They want to show up. How, how, how, how, how you want them to show up and you want to do the same for them. So there's laundry, the dishes. The reason I said dishes and parenting is and I'm not I'm not joking about this. I have spent probably dozens, if not 100 or more hours in therapy talking about people and parenting and the dishes. So if your goal is to have the dishes done perfectly every evening, then I highly suggest that either you maybe think about having that be your responsibility or I don't know if you could hire somebody to do the dishes on a daily basis. And I'm sounding a bit a bit mean maybe right now, because I know that a lot of parents are going to say right now. Yeah, but they need to learn responsibility and they need to learn, have a work ethic and those sort of things. And I am not disagreeing at all. As a matter of fact, please go take my parenting course. The positive parenting, even in a not so positive of times, the parenting technique that I love, it's an evidence based model and it's called the nurtured hard approach that nurtured her approach. Your job is to build inner wealth. Your job is not to be the punisher.

[00:33:40] Your role is not to be the enforcer. If you say to your kid at any point in your life, Hey, champ, you can come talk to me about anything and then you're going to get just all over him about the laundry or about the chore chart or that sort of thing. Then you you truly are taking on the role of the Punisher. And and so if you have chores and dishes and all those sort of things are part of chores, then I believe as parents that's those are opportunities for us to express unconditional love and to to really hear our kids. You know, if it's if their job is to do the dishes every night and they haven't done them, instead of going in guns blaring and saying, why are you doing this? Like, look at all that I've done for you. And and this is all I ask of you that is not going to set anybody up for success. Hey, you know, I see you're sitting over there, you know, how is your day? Tell me what's going on. And it's busy or, you know, they've had a rough day at school or work or whatever. First of all, don't respond back with it or you think that's hard. Try working forty hours or whatever it is, because that's not going to make the kid go. Oh, man, you're right. Let me come do those dishes Dad. But instead, you know, they want to be heard. It's like, hey, thanks for sharing that and even it's a I'm going to take care of these that I know the dishes are your job.

[00:34:57] I'm going to take care of them because it sounds like you've had a you've had a day. If you want to help, you can. But if not, I hear you. And I know I just made it sound so overly simplistic because. Right now, there might be some pattern, some kind of dug in negative patterns between, let's say, a kid and a parent, but but in the long run, you know, that is going to build this inner wealth or kind of nurture a good relationship. So, again, if your goal is to have the dishes done perfectly every evening, then then then you can still throw the the guilt or the shame, the kid or that sort of thing. If your goal is to have a relationship or to show your kid that, hey, I'm here, then I might suggest listening to that parenting course I did. And you can come up with, you know, some consequences or that sort of thing if if these jobs aren't done. But I would say before laying that hammer down the seek first to understand and show them that, hey, this can be a time where we could do this together or if you are overwhelmed, son or daughter, then I got your back and I'll take care of this and an offer. I feel like that is the way where you are.

[00:36:01] Your son or daughter is going to then see that you care about them and and that's when you're going to see them typically get off the couch at some point and go to help you. And so but I feel like a parent is almost afraid to kind of make that move or that commitment to say, hey, I got this. It looks like you've had a rough day and fear of that their kid is going to walk all over them. So, again, I've oversimplified a very intentional parenting technique that I believe needs to be in place. Go check out my parenting course. It's based off of the nurtured heart approach. But those two things, dishes and laundry. If your goal is to have the dishes done, then you know, you're going to probably upset the relationship that you're trying to have with your kids or your teenager. If your goal is to have the laundry or a complete equity in the home, then then, yeah, sure. Then you can double down on you. Well, I refuse to do the laundry and, you know, I'm going to say, look at what you're going to get from that. It's not going to be a connected marriage or that sort of thing. Those are my two cents. And I know I've spoken many times about those in the context of parenting with the nurtured heart approach or couples communication through this emotionally focused therapy model. And again, about to come out with a marriage course that is going to address a lot of these things. All right. I have rambled. I hope this has been a helpful episode. It has helped me from a standpoint of what clutter can do to kind of just bring it brings those stress levels up in our brain and we want to kind of lower those stress levels so we can be more attentive, more present, more positive and all of the things that we do. Have a wonderful weekend.

[00:37:35] I will see you next time on the virtual couch

For most of us, we will do almost anything to avoid drama, even to the detriment of our personal and professional relationships. Yet at times, even the most mindful person may find themselves feeling like a victim who has no voice. While on other occasions, when seeing someone being picked on, we may attempt to rescue someone in that same victim role. And even crazier still, we may occasionally find ourselves trying to teach, or lecture or punish those who we feel are playing the role of the martyr, or victim. Stephen Karpman, M.D. identified these three roles, The Victim, The Persecutor, and The Rescuer, as part of what has become known as the “Karpman Drama Triangle.” Understand the drama triangle can not only help you recognize the negative roles that we tend to gravitate to in strong, emotion-filled interactions, aka “drama,” but also how to get out of these unhealthy situations.

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Tony references a wonderful summary of the Karpman Drama Triangle by Linda Graham, MFT  which can be found here https://lindagraham-mft.net/triangle-victim-rescuer-persecutor-get/ And for more information on Transactional Analysis (mentioned in the episode) click here https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/transactional-analysis.html

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Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to http://tonyoverbay.com/courses/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help. And Tony is so confident that this program will work, that he's offering a money-back guarantee!

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This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

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Tony's new best selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

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Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

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You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

Right now we need to be able to listen, empathize and understand our brothers and sisters more than ever...but why can that be so difficult at times? Even when many people stop to listen, why do their brains immediately go to, "yeah, I hear you, but you don't understand my..." Whatever comes after the "but" or "my" in conversations tends to be an "empathy-killer" at a time when we truly need to increase our empathy skills! Welcome to your Ego!

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In today's episode, Tony refers to an article by Mark Leary, Ph.D. Dr. Leary is the Garonzik Family Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University and author of The Curse of the Self. In his article What Is The Ego and Why Is It So Involved In My Life https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/toward-less-egoic-world/201905/what-is-the-ego-and-why-is-it-so-involved-in-my-life Dr. Leary does a wonderful job at explaining our egos, and why it can be so difficult to step outside of one's self and truly listen to others. Tony takes Dr. Leary's thoughts on ego and shares some things that you can do immediately after listening to move forward with an increased amount of empathy.

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Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to http://tonyoverbay.com/courses/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help. And Tony is so confident that this program will work, that he's offering a money-back guarantee!

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This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

-

Tony's new best selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

-

Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

--

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

In light of all of the events of the past week surrounding the horrific death of George Floyd and the protests and demands for change that have sprung forth from this senseless tragedy, I found myself contemplating my own views on privilege, race relations, empathy for my fellow brothers and sisters and how our views are formed, how they can change for the better. A large part of my own change has been through my relationship with Coach Charles Gazaway, who I interviewed on The Virtual Couch podcast back in June of 2018.

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In preparation for the episode at that time, I had reached out to the exclusively white parents of the basketball team that Coach Charles had been coaching for a few years at that time. There were wonderful comments from parents about teaching the kids hard work, determination, etc., but there were several comments by parents about Coach teaching that we're all brothers and sisters, and that basketball was a vehicle to bring kids together from all races to work, as one, for a common goal. Coach is the major reason my son now has a very tight, close-knit group of black friends who love him as the brother that he is to them.

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From the episode’s original description “Coach Charles Gazaway is a former professional basketball player from, as he puts it, “the hood, the inner city,” of Oakland. Coach started coaching my son, and a group of “lily white kids” from the suburbs almost 6 years ago and has taught them more about life, and people, through the game of basketball, than I could have ever imagined. A year and a half ago Coach suffered a serious medical setback temporarily losing his sight due to complications of diabetes, but he continued to coach through a kidney and pancreas transplant. He’s an amazing mentor, and role model to not just the kids, but to the parents as well. Coach led his team, in Cinderella-story-like fashion to qualify for the California games in San Diego.” As mentioned in the intro, you’ll hear a reference to donating for a trip to San Diego for the boys...that trip is long gone, but if you would like to donate to a charity of Coach Charles’ choice, you can do so here: PayPal.Me/TheVirtualCouch

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I also reference a wonderful article titled: What Can I Say to an African American Friend as Anger Rises by Terry Porter of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, you can find that article here https://www.cleveland.com/news/2020/06/what-can-i-say-to-an-african-american-friend-as-anger-rises-faith-you.html

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Our original interview in its entirety (with two old sponsors that I believe no longer exist...they were edited out of this new recording) can be viewed on YouTube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0fOAjYhxJw&t=1s

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#coach Charles Gazaway #kidneytransplant #pancreastransplant #survivor on #coaching youth, #aaubasketball and on being a #mentor Coach Charles uses #basketball to teach valuable skills on #race and #racerelations to kids. #rolemodel #blacklivesmatter

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