Tag Archives: jsj therapy

Room for Anger

Last week was tough for a number of clients. I got to thinking about how great it would be if Madison had an Anger Room (a safe place to express anger in multiple forms).  Navigating angry feelings can be confusing and when you have abuse in your past it can be even more difficult to know what to do. A place like the Anger Room provides an outlet for learning about different expressions.

One might think that we all experience anger so what is complex about the process? Many of us suppress it for fear that we will act out in a way similar to the abuse or abuser we experienced. It is a scary thing when one has spent their life being a good, caring, gentle person who wants to stay away from conflict and angry feelings. It almost seems logical to become someone who is on the opposite side of rage. However, because anger is a universal signal that something isn’t right, problems occur if we ignore or push it away. People that experienced abuse didn’t feel that they could express themselves properly (for whatever reason) and were also taught that it was not okay to have the feelings of anger. Hence, in many ways their system is taught that it isn’t safe to have a response of anger, even when it is a healthy reaction.

Any time we pretend that our emotions don’t exist or don’t honor them, they float back up in unpredictable ways. And this very thing is often what a person is trying to avoid by suppressing the emotion in the first place.  So what is a person to do if they are scared or unfamiliar with how to feel anger and express it?

One of the first things is to begin to identity when you think you might be having anger. You begin to be aware of when you feel angry and where it is in your body. This allows for grounding and a signal that you are accessing the situation beyond just a momentary reaction. Once you have basic identification of what you consider to be angry feelings, you can look at what the anger is about… the person/situation that is currently happening or a trigger to how you were treated in the past.  Once these beginning steps are in place, you can look at how to express the anger in a healthy way*.

People hold anger in different ways and that means that what works for one may not work for another in providing some relief from the intensity of the emotion. Some people need a strong physical outlet, others need to write, many need to express the anger with the person (in a safe way) verbally, and others might need a more creative way to share these feelings.

Anger isn’t a bad thing, it is an emotional response to learn and teach you about your system.  What is harmful is when you don’t allow yourself to express emotions in a healthy way. Your angry feelings are telling you to listen to yourself and look at the situation  around you. This is a powerful tool for the ability to set boundaries, create a plan, and act in a healthy way.

*Please seek help from a therapist if you need assistance with this process.


Avoiding planned obsolescence

Did you know that the light bulb was originally built to last much longer than it does? Apparently, the technology and lifespan was created to be more than 1000 hours pushed into the marketplace as the standard.  The Phoebus Cartel  put pressure on manufacturers to keep the longevity of the light bulb limited. They basically became rich by strong arming the industry into not allowing innovation and competition to thrive. The idea was to intentionally make a poorly designed product to stop working as a way to sell more units.

A term was coined for the concept of creating a product to become inoperable after a specific time period: “planned obsolescence.” The idea took hold and the 1950’s spawned a new generation of goods under a time constraint.  The demand for an item is inherent when the product will stop working and new one is needed.  Hence, this provided marketers with an essential way to spur on sales with the illusion of a better product always right around the corner.

Everyday we are bombarded with notions to replace the poorly created goods we already have for other poorly created merchandise, without a second thought. There is always a newer product that will help take away the inconvenience of the one we already have that doesn’t appear to function properly. Is it any wonder that we have no idea how to have lasting relationships?

I’m not saying that marketing or even planned obsolescence is to blame for our inability to connect on a deeper level. However, the world we live in does influence us and if we continue to substitute one bad item for another, well you can see how a slippery slope can be created within your psychology.

If a person has a personality quirk, makes a mistake, gets sick, older, or even just says something we don’t like, it is pretty deeply ingrained in American culture to simply find another person. We even have relationship concepts for this like “starter marriage. ” But the problem I have with this replaceable notion of relationships is the same that I have with planned obsolescence: where is the personal responsibility of the individual to make sure they are really getting something better?

It is one thing if you end a relationship (for just about any reason) and learn from it, grow, and integrate changes which allow you to pursue someone of higher calibre. It is another thing (read: unhealthy) to ditch one relationship only to find yourself in the exact same dynamic you were in the last time it didn’t work. This is essentially planned obsolescence in relationships.

Individuals are not taking the time to put in quality emotional work into understanding themselves, research their own patterns, and then seek a relationship that reflects a higher level of integration. Instead, they just swap one bad relationship for another and then complain about it. This is a lament we hear daily if it is not about a piece of technology equipment it could easily be about someone’s romantic partner.

Want to avoid planned obsolescence within your relationship? Here is what you do, it is simple really, it just requires a bit of self honesty and effort. You decide that what you expect from yourself and a relationship is of more worth and higher quality than before. You make a conscious choice to examine who you are and what you want, then you look at ways to better strengthen yourself and interactions, and then you actually get to know someone and see over time if they meet your standards. Finally you decide to more fully invest within the relationship.

It is a process and not necessarily an easy one at that.  It is easy to fall for the shiny marketing of a quick new alternative relationship. However, I assure you that waiting for quality understanding within yourself and taking the time to learn more about the other person will allow for a much higher level of satisfaction and longer relationship lifespan.

And just for information sake, planned obsolescence still exists today often seen in examples likes printers, ipod batteries, and yes… still for light bulbs.

JSJ Therapy joins Good Vibrations Sex Education

I was interviewed for the wonderfully sex positive  based group Good Vibrations.

I’m so proud to be a part of their  Sex Educators Organization.  It is an honor to be among such an amazing group of  individuals that care so deeply about advocating, empowering, and supporting sexuality in all its glorious forms.

Conducted by Dr. Charlie Glickman
What led you to become a sex educator?

Looking around, I originally faced an astounding lack of sex positive supports for alt sex practices. Most therapists truly want to help, but hardly any are actually familiar with alternative sexuality. Today, I get to be the one to share authentically with others hoping to speak freely about kinks, fetishes, non-monogamy, sacred sexuality and more.

What kinds of sex education do you offer?

I work with individuals, couples and multiple relationship formations to explore sexuality within full lives. When called upon to speak at conferences (of kink groups, of therapists) or at broader gatherings, I inevitably promote acceptance of alt sex options. My passion is helping others discover sexual identities.

Where did you get your education in sexuality?

Before grad school, I shopped for therapists to process my own experiences with and early ideas on alternative sexuality, and found no one truly confident and interested. So, it became best to just learn psychology much more broadly — and then build a lot of bridges to specific interests on my own. I chose my college, and an associated counseling “school” (systems therapy), as firm foundations for those bridges among decades of really impressive therapeutic experimental results.

Systems therapy is all about smoothly advancing on multiple fronts with each client instead of linear cookie cutter methods. I see much faster results (fewer sessions for more progress) than we could with any one approach. Even in the moments of focusing on alternative sexuality, my therapeutic approach uses many other factors in a person’s life — especially their own strengths.

What do you love about giving sex advice?

It feels amazing to empower each other to live life fully and incorporate sexuality as a part of core being. Even my earliest work revolved around alt sex clients, and naturally incorporating even the wildest fantasies is crucial to my mission.

What is your most common question?

“What exactly IS alternative sexuality?” I answer that it is any form of sexual desires or ideas that aren’t currently considered mainstream.

What is the most difficult or hard-to-answer question you’ve ever received?

“Why do people hate me for my desires?” This question breaks my heart. We all feel such turmoil when treated harshly. It makes me want to build stronger and stronger senses of self.

What is your favorite sex toy or product and why?

I recommend Astroglide, spare parts harnesses, magic wand, cb3000, and good quality leather cuffs/paddles, floggers. It all depends. I find I always recommend  different books as well.

How do you think your website is different from others out there?

I’m automatically different in the regular world of therapists, from the focus on alt sex. Beyond that, most new clients come to me mentioning that my blog seems otherwise honest, smart or unusual. I’m just a real person with a calling and passions for alternatives and acceptance — and I guess that comes through in every medium.

Most unusual panel or experience?

I had been “the therapist” at a number of alt sex conferences…but I could still be surprised to find myself on a public panel spontaneously musing on necrophilia.

What was the most interesting thing you learned in your exploration of sex?

That each one of us truly is a distinctive sexual being — and that its various expressions really tie to so much of how we see ourselves.

How has Good Vibrations helped you?

GV is great for my clients because it is so open about sexuality. GV seriously promotes acceptance of alt sex . GV’s simple existence on the net and at conferences does so much for the community in general. In our local community, I know GV takes roles in helping presenters, podcasts, and conferences provide explorations of products and ideas.

What would be your number one piece of advice for someone interested in a career of sex education?

Be authentic to your own passion. You’re probably drawn to this field precisely because you feel it crucial to speak from a place of real honesty and truth: so, if you are going to go into this field, know that plenty of others will dislike you for exploring threatening ideas. Make sure that the good you are doing far outweighs their fears.

What’s the best thing you’ve learned or best advice you’ve received?

That it’s a gradual and powerful series of achievements to accept yourself as a sexual being deserving respect, and no one can take that away from you. And, that you remain free to keep discovering and developing.

Where can people find out more about you?


JSJ Therapy In The Media

By Dickinson
Daily News staff writer

Technology and dating?

Not exactly a seamless combination.

In fact, many of us in the New Boomers generation wonder when to call? When to text and when is it appropriate to send a Facebook message?

Or, perhaps the most important question should be: What happened to old-fashioned face-to-face communication?

“When using other tools such as texting and Facebook, you’re not guaranteed you’re interacting with the person you think you are, and it also doesn’t give you a complete picture of who the individual is,” she said.

In fact, 93 percent of first impressions are based on what you see; just 7 percent is based on words, she said.

For some specific clients in long-term relationships, however, sending a text or a quick e-mail that says “I can’t wait to see you,” has been shown to light the fires of romance or intimacy that perhaps they were missing after being together so long, said Jasmine St. John, who specializes in relationships as a licensed therapist at JSJ Therapy in Madison, Wisconsin.

Also following a prospective suitor on a blog or Facebook can give you insight into how that person communicates and interacts with others, St. John said.

For example, it could be a red flag if the person is mean to someone on Facebook or it be an encouraging sign if you see the person is active in charity.

Instant communication is also a great way to keep in contact during the day for couples in new relationships who are experiencing brain chemicals that are making them crazy in love.

“We also have a bigger network to declare your love,” St. John said. “Before it was just the classic idea of a big airplane in the sky saying ‘I love you.’ Now you can tell the whole world.”

That community aspect where everyone in your Facebook network is updated on your social life can also be a detriment in situations such as when everyone finds out you experienced a break-up.

The constant communication may also be a negative because it can accelerate the relationship too quickly causing couples to burn out on the relationship, especially when the individuals begin to lose the brain chemicals making them infatuated.

Regardless, texting doesn’t make a great first impression because it is so casual and informal.

“But some clients have such anxiety about asking someone out in person that for them and the level they’re at even sending an e-mail or “hug” on Facebook is a step forward,” Jasmine said.

Nevertheless, if frustration ensues from a partner texting or e-mailing too much, Bockman recommends saying, “I enjoy hearing from you, but this isn’t the way I prefer to communicate.”