began as a vision of Nina Laltrello, Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, in response to marriages and families she observed impacted by our changing world of technology. Her mission is to create a healing place for individual adults, adolescents, couples and families and offer cutting edge resources and information for families impacted in our digital world. Click here for information on problems we treat.
With a strong history of treating chemical addiction in families on two continents since 1995, she began to observe a more problematic pattern emerging in marriages and families: the internet, mobile technology, and video gaming. She observed the impact of Facebook and digital cheating in the clients who sought help for their marriages. As parents would have concern about substance use by their children, Ms. Laltrello became more concerned for the dangerous activities these children engaged in on the internet unbeknownst to the parents who brought them for substance abuse screenings.
If you scrolled past this post and thought, “oh, we really don’t have that problem in our area”, then this post is for you. Recently, local news featured a story exposing the significant drug problem, particularly related to the deadly drug Heroin, in some very affluent areas in metro Atlanta. As is often the case with these types of news specials and documentaries, the special was eye opening and left many viewers wondering what they could do to help. This blog post features a few suggestions as to what you, yes you, can do to promote change as it relates to addiction and other mental health issues in your community.
1. Acknowledge that there is a problem, even in your neighborhood. Addiction is not a disease that just affects certain people. The research and evidence consistently shows that individuals from a number of socioeconomic backgrounds are impacted by addiction. By acknowledging that there is a problem that exists and avoiding judgment among your own circles of friends, families, and coworkers you can promote change.
Probably one of the most common things I hear people say in regards to addiction is, “I just don’t understand why they do it.” This is typically coming from the family member or friend who cannot seem to wrap their head around why someone would continue to engage in such harmful and self-destructive behavior. From a non-addict perspective, asking this question makes a lot of sense. The answer, however, is multi-layered and multi-faceted. There is rarely one thing that answers the question as to why individuals continue to engage in addictive behavior.
In fact, we find that in working with those struggling with addiction there are often a combination of factors that lead them to try coping with their problems or emotions with addictive substances or processes. In order to help answer the question of “Why do they do it??”, here are a couple of common reasons why people engage in addictive behavior.
In the fast moving world of digital technology, parents are frantically searching for the latest information and how to keep their children safe online. Trying to keep up with all the latest trends can feel like a maze, and leave parents feeling dizzy. In their dizziness, they may tend to go to extreme measures trying to do away with technology or lack concrete boundaries – just hoping for the best. While the tendency to resort to either of these options is tempting, we have compiled a list of our most commonly asked questions to help parents find a moderate answer to the challenges of technology with their teen or pre-teen. We hope these questions and answers help guide parents towards designing limits for technology that are appropriate for their unique families.
• Let your kids know the expectations up front and remind them when they leave home.
• Inform the other parents of your wishes and ask for their support
• Have a rule that devices do not go to other families’ homes
• Be prepared to follow through with consequences if the rules are not followed.
When we talk about intimacy most people think about sex, but that’s only one part of intimacy. Couples who say they want to know each other better are also seeking intimacy. True intimacy is achieved when you are able to see and be seen by another. I’ve often heard it said that the phrase “into me you see” is a great way to remember the concept of intimacy. In my work as both a couples and sex addiction therapist, I have helped many couples improve their connection and move into deeper intimacy. Many couples report wanting to feel closer; this is true for couples who are just starting out, and event those who have been in a relationship for a long time. They want to know each other’s dreams and desires - all of which is part of intimacy. By using a technique that helps couples focus on identifying and communicating their emotions, I guide them in becoming more in tune with each other. When couples feel as though they are seen and heard in a relationship, then they are more likely to share their hopes, dreams, and desires. Couples that are early in their relationship can often save themselves some heartache. And after years together, many couples develop a new depth of knowledge of each other. If you love your partner dearly, but often wish you were closer, then couples therapy focused on intimacy building could be the next step to take to get you there. Wouldn’t it be nice to share the desires of your heart with your life partner?
After attending a host of holiday gatherings over the past few months, I started reflecting on a pattern I noticed of a lack of attention that being paid towards young children at some of these events. What I noticed was not that children were being overtly neglected, but that there seemed to be some odd expectation that they would behave like little adults while the actual adults got on with more important and mature matters.
This observation inspired my thinking process, and thus this blog post, about reasonable expectations for children. The old saying that “children should be seen and not heard” is long since a thing of the past, and we have plenty of research to show that quite the opposite is true in terms of promoting their healthy development.
- Children are meant to play. In this process, they are meant to explore, make messes, and be spontaneous. This means that they will jump from one thing to the next without thinking, and yes, without cleaning up. This process is critical to their development. Their brains are not developed enough to complete one task at a time, clean it up, and then neatly move on to another one. (Let’s be honest, some adults can’t even do this).
A common complaint among parents these days is that their kids spend too much time on technology. In fact, it’s the reason why many families call our office. Parents often notice that their child seems disengaged and less interested in other social activities, and thus prefers the tablet or video games. After arguing with their child (and sometimes even their spouse) for days and months on end, they often seek therapy out of frustration. Here are a couple of strategies we offer to help families strike a balance with technology use and family time.
1. Avoid discounting technology all together. Taking extreme measures like banning all technology does not help teach balance. Of course there are sometimes when restricting privileges is appropriate, but those should be on a case-by-case basis.
“Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain.”
- Robert Gary Lee
The Ashley Madison data breach has caused quite the stir in our offices. For marriages impacted by sex addiction and compulsivity, it’s a trigger which sparks pain and trauma to those already in treatment with us. For others it is an initial awakening to the world of relationships impacted by the Internet.
Ashley Madison is a website created by Canadian Internet Entrepreneur, and now former CEO, Noel Biderman. The sole purpose was to create a “dating site” for married individuals to find partners to have extramarital sex or affairs. The company’s by-line is “Life’s Short, Have an Affair”.
"Nothing is worse than active ignorance."
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Have you seen the recent commercial of the family who just got the new iPhone 6s for their teenage daughter? The commercial is advertising new usage plans aimed at families who consume high volumes of data use. The family highlighted in the commercial is driving down the road with dad at the wheel, mom as passenger, and the daughter in the back seat, completely engaged in all the functions her newly acquired multi media device has to offer. The daughter is talking to her friend when the dad asks, “Is that an extra expense”? The mom assures dad “it’s in the plan”. Dad proclaims, “We are awesome parents”.
Next the daughter is taking a selfie capturing the momentous moment and texting it to her friend. Dad worriedly asks mom “Is that included in the package or an extra expense?” Mom confidently confirms, “It’s covered”. Dad replies, “We are awesome parents”.
Lastly, the adolescent daughter is seen wearing headphones and rhythmically bobbing and swaying with exuberance to which her father sternly quips, “What is going on back there?” She replies in a loud voice, “I am streaming my music, this is so awesome!” Dad begins to question mom when she interrupts with quiet assurance “its in the plan”. And dad repeats one final time “We, are awesome parents”.