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The Silent Struggle: Unraveling the Mental Health Consequences of Infidelity

Infidelity is a complex and emotionally charged issue that can have profound effects on individuals involved in a relationship. While the impact on trust and the relationship itself is widely acknowledged, the mental health consequences of infidelity are often underestimated and overlooked. In this blog, we will delve into the silent struggle that many individuals face when grappling with the aftermath of infidelity and explore the psychological toll it can take.

  1. Betrayal Trauma: One of the most significant mental health consequences of infidelity is the experience of betrayal trauma. The discovery or revelation of a partner’s infidelity can shatter a person’s sense of security and trust. Betrayal trauma often leads to symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including intrusive thoughts, hypervigilance, and emotional numbness. The betrayed individual may find it challenging to rebuild a sense of safety and security, impacting their overall mental well-being.
  2. Emotional Rollercoaster: The emotional rollercoaster triggered by infidelity can be intense and prolonged. Feelings of anger, sadness, confusion, and despair may cycle through an individual’s mind, making it difficult to find stability and emotional balance. The constant oscillation between different emotions can lead to heightened stress levels, anxiety, and even depression.
  3. Self-Esteem and Identity Crisis: Infidelity can inflict a severe blow to one’s self-esteem and identity. The betrayed individual may question their worth and desirability, leading to a profound sense of inadequacy. This crisis of identity can trigger feelings of shame and guilt, further contributing to mental health challenges. Rebuilding self-esteem after infidelity requires a delicate and intentional process of self-reflection and self-compassion.
  4. Trust Issues and Fear of Intimacy: The breach of trust caused by infidelity can result in long-lasting trust issues. Individuals who have experienced infidelity may struggle to trust others, even in new relationships. The fear of intimacy and vulnerability can hinder the ability to form deep connections, perpetuating a cycle of isolation and emotional distancing.
  5. Coping Mechanisms and Unhealthy Behaviors: To cope with the emotional pain, some individuals may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse, overeating, or excessive work. These behaviors, while providing temporary relief, can exacerbate mental health issues and contribute to a cycle of self-destructive patterns.

Infidelity is not just a breach of trust within a relationship; it leaves a lasting imprint on the mental health of those involved. Acknowledging and addressing the psychological consequences of infidelity is crucial for individuals to navigate the path toward healing. Seeking professional help, fostering open communication, and practicing self-care are essential steps in rebuilding mental well-being after the tumultuous experience of infidelity.

Written by Catherina Rosen

Breaking Free: 3 Tools to Transform Your Relationship Dynamics

Walking on eggshells in your relationship? Here are 3 tools to change everything.

We all want to feel free to trust and love our other half, but sometimes find it difficult if they’re controlling, scrolling on their phones during “quality time” or making us work hard for the scraps of love and attention we crave.

Sometimes we get to a place in our lives where we wonder how much longer we can be living this way. Most of us have lived enough life to know that yesterday might be starting to look permanent, causing us to wonder, “How do we change our tomorrow?”.

These simple tools, when used correctly, can help improve your relationship and point you on a
path to a greater sense of self:

Transform your habit of thinking:

We all have an inner critic that lives inside of us, made up of fearful thoughts that keep us feeling stuck. These thoughts are not who we are, but have been wired into our subconscious to keep us safe. Who we really are knows we deserve more than what we are getting, but somehow we keep moving back into our old habits. To get the relationship we want, we need to get curious about how our inner critic thinks it’s helping us through presenting the negative, fearful thoughts, and retrain our minds to replace them with faith in ourselves. You are not
your thoughts. You are the one who is aware of your thoughts and has the power to change them to create the life and relationship you know you deserve.

Change where you put your energy:

One of the most terrifying feelings we can experience is the feeling of helplessness. This is especially true in our relationships. To avoid this feeling, our human nature is to try to control external factors outside of our control. We sometimes put a lot of energy into trying to change (or control) our partner, leaving us feeling burnt out and resentful. The fastest way to reclaim our inner peace is by gaining clarity on what we do have control over, and what we do not. Once we realize we only have control over our own actions and choices, the magic begins to happen. Redirecting all of the energy that was once used to try and change our partner, we can focus on building the life we want, and if our partner is willing to come along for the ride, they
will rise to our level.

Train people how to treat you:

We all know the true saying “Actions speak louder than words”, but sometimes this idea gets lost when it comes to our relationships. We may tell our partner that we won’t put up with something anymore or we are going to leave… but then we don’t follow through. We may say, “That’s not okay”, but continue to give them what they want. To get the changes we require, we need to reward our partner with their love language when they show behaviors we want or desire. When unwanted behaviors show up, we limit any reinforcement of that behavior. With the help of a therapist to navigate the intricacies of relationships, we can make a healthy plan to limit our presence and/or attention in a specific way. Over time, if they truly are our person, their behaviors will shift into what we have been asking for but haven’t been following up with our actions until now.

Written by Kellie Hatch – Mental Health Graduate Student

CBT and The Cognitive Triangle

Cognitive behavior therapy is a widely utilized and popular form of therapy based on the cognitive model of psychopathology. CBT states that our emotions, body responses, and behaviors are influenced by our perception of events that we are currently experiencing or have experienced in the past. According to the CBT model, situations do not initially determine what people feel or how they behave. However, it reflects how our perception of these events determines the emotions we feel, resulting in patterns of behavior. In contrast, it is the interpretation of the event or situation that contributes to our feelings of distress which is referred to as the cognitive model triangle. According to this model, the cognitive triangle illustrates how thoughts, emotions, and behaviors affect one another. This idea forms the basis of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). In addition, an important aspect of CBT is centered around “automatic thoughts” which shape our perception of an event that is taking place. This implies that when we change our thoughts, we will also change our emotions and behaviors. By focusing on irrational or maladaptive thoughts, mood, and behavior can be improved, therefore shifting our understanding or perception of the events that have or are currently taking place. Educating a client on the importance of their automatic thoughts can lead them to understand how past traumas and significant experiences have shaped their current worldview. This realization can lead to the healing required to overcome past traumas and assist in the treatment of PTSD. CBT is known to be quite effective for depression, anxiety, stress, and trauma. In conclusion, the cognitive triangle shows how thoughts, emotions, and behaviors affect one another. This means changing your thoughts will change how you feel and behave.

Written by Dr. Jason-Anthony Prendergast – Doctorate in Pastoral Psychology and Registered Mental Health Intern

Therapy Goals

We have all experienced moments in which we felt we were at a loss for handling a situation or a feeling. It is during these times we seek outside assistance, be it from friends, loved ones or with a therapist. Because these are difficult and stressful times, problem solving, positive thinking, or solution finding can seem impossible. However, in therapy this is exactly what we strive for in the midst of these chaotic moments.

This first requires an individual’s awareness they have exhausted their mental and emotional resources and acknowledge the need for professional guidance through this process. Finding a therapist with whom you can share this space continues this process through the sharing of these experiences, feelings, and struggles. It is through this exchange of honest and often difficult information the therapeutic alliance is formed. This alliance between therapist and client is the foundation on which therapy goals are created and refined.

Many individuals do not have clear therapeutic goals at the outset of this journey. Taking the time and making space to sort through uncomfortable situations and emotions brings clarity to one’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and therefore, their goals. Therapeutic goals can and will change throughout the process but having a goal on which to focus allows us to see solutions, successes, and areas of improvement. Therapy goals could be considered the mile markers on the journey to wellness.

Working with a therapist to achieve these goals requires individuals, couples, and families to join together, taking the information and insight acquired in sessions into their everyday lives. This day-to-day application solidifies new skills, new ways to view or assess problems, and ultimately achieve goals. Once the goals for therapy are achieved, the skills and benefits of these changes can be applied to future issues and concerns resulting in lifelong improvements in one’s well-being.

Written by April Daniel MS, NCC, LMHC – National Certified Counselor (NCC) and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor

 

Walk + Talk Therapy by the Bay

Walk + talk therapy by the bay is one of my favorite approaches to mental health therapy. As a trauma-informed therapist, I utilize many different therapeutic techniques to best accommodate each client’s needs. I know that sitting on a therapist’s sofa doesn’t feel safe or comfortable for many people. That’s why I offer walk + talk. It’s just like going for a walk with a friend (if your friend was a highly trained mental health professional who knew therapeutic techniques that are clinically proven to improve your mood). ♡

For people who have experienced trauma, the idea of meeting an unknown person in a small office in a new building can feel paralyzing. With walk and talk, we are able to meet in a public park where we are surrounded with other people and beautiful views. While the name implies that we will walk the entire time, there are many seating areas along the route to enjoy the shade and the warm breeze from the bay.

Walk + talk therapy offers an opportunity to reduce stress, relieve body tension, improve circulation, breathe deep and clear the body-mind of intrusive, negative, and ruminative thoughts. These sessions can help you decrease anxiety, regulate mood, enjoy more restful sleep, and more. Additionally, you can receive the feel-good brain chemical benefits of exercise, mindfulness practice and eco-psychology. In session, you can enhance insight, release body trauma, and alter behavior patterns while verbally processing your authentic truth.

In urban planning, there is a concept of integrating waterscapes into cities called “blue spaces.

👫Studies have found that short, frequent walks along waterscapes (blue spaces) are good for your mental health.

👫There is a significant improvement in well-being and mood immediately after a person goes for a walk in a blue space, compared with walking in an urban environment or resting.

👫Waterscapes have healing effects that enhance psychological resilience to promote mental health.

👫Walk + talk therapy by the bay gives clients an opportunity to enjoy some blue spaces while boosting their mental health.

Similarly, when urban architects add nature elements to cities such as trees, plants, and grass, these are called “green spaces.

👫 Green spaces provide fresh, healing air to the body

👫 Some mental health benefits of green spaces include: lowered stress levels, reduced rates of depression & anxiety, reduced cortisol levels, and improved general well-being

👫 Enhance your cognitive functioning, improve your sleep, and increase your levels of physical activity.

👫Walk + talk therapy by the bay gives you an opportunity to spend some time outside connecting to nature while working on your mental health.

If you’re joining me for walk + talk therapy, here are a couple things to keep in mind:

👫We don’t have to walk the whole time!

👫There is plenty of seating along the route should we choose to sit by the water and/or stop to talk in the shade.

👫Walking shoes or comfy sandals are recommended.

👫Please bring a water bottle—we’ve got to stay hydrated!

Written by Kalli Portillo, IMH24576 – Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern, EDMRIA-Approved EMDR Therapist, Certified Prepare/Enrich Couple Counselor

To learn more, review the following open access research studies or google “blue and green spaces mental health benefits.”

Benefits of walking psychotherapy:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8892051/

Waterscapes for mental health:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8618438/

Importance of greenspace: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5663018/

Restore Your Relationship

“The first step to problem solving in a relationship is to simply take the rope and set it down.”
When working with couple’s in conflict resolution. The first question I ask them is: “what is one step you can take to work towards a solution?” Being able to work towards healing and restoration in a relationship means creating a mental shift from focusing on all the areas the other partner is lacking, and begin to focus on what steps are needed to take to make your partner comfortable in working together as a team. It is easy to fall into a “tug of war” battle where each partner refuses to let go of their own personal perceptions, opinions, and truths. While it is important to acknowledge your own thoughts and feelings, it is also important to show empathy and understanding towards the other partner. Taking accountability of your own actions and coming together to fight against the problem versus each other creates a sense of “partnership”. Partnership means you are no longer on opposite sides of the playing field but working together as a team.
Written by Jessica Sagastume, MH# 16756 – Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Bilingual and Immigration Counselor

Summer Loving ❤️

Summer… Even the word brings on a sweet smile!

This spectacular time of year comes after spring and before fall. Many agree that it’s the best season of all. A time where we can all use a splash of replenishment as the days grow longer and the soul longs for sunshine and the sea.

Traditionally, this special season suspends the 3 R’s of reading writing and arithmetic and sets the stage for 2 R’s that are far more gratifying and satisfying to our mental health, rest, and relaxation.

Have you put much thought into making this summer sizzle? If not, it may be time to turn up the heat and consider the following FUN and affordable activities:

stargazing
exercising
gardening
pleasure reading
dancing/movement
yoga/pilates/tai chi
visiting a park/ zoo/ museum/ planetarium
building a treehouse
creating/sketching/ drawing/ painting/sidewalk chalk
praying/ meditating
collecting seashells
building a sand castle
hiking
writing/ sharing your story
kissing
playing board games
playing cards
playing hopscotch
playing sports
serving others
volunteering
baking
floating/ splashing in the sea
cycling/skating/roller blading
caking an ice cream sundae
other

Can you think of ten additions to begin your Summer Bucket List?
FUN things to do that lift your spirits and make your eyes sparkle!
If so, add them to create your unique summer bucket list! Check off as you complete and add other activists as you discover all of the pleasures of summer.
Let’s make the most of this awesome season!
Summer… I’m loving it!!

written by: Ria Ruane, MA, RMHCI art work by: Alexa Ruane

Strategize for Success

We have all had times where our best plans get thrown off course. Things outside of our control – pandemics, inflation, layoffs, you name it – change our outlook from one moment to the next. It can be overwhelming and even disheartening when new hurdles make our dreams seem that much farther away. But when life presents setbacks and challenges multiply, it becomes more important than ever to strategize for success – in health, in relationships, in work, and in life.

Strategizing for success is more than repeating positive affirmations while waiting for a storm to pass. It is a decision we make to acknowledge the storm and plan a way through it. We do it when we sort things out in a journal before bed, examine our problems in therapy sessions, and find shared aspirations in conversations with those close to us. Moments like these are opportunities to step outside of our daily cycles and obtain a broader perspective on where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we’re going.

Strategizing takes focus, concentration, and brutal honesty. Often it requires that we willingly confront the things troubling us most. Taking stock of where we’re at, courageously envisioning where we desire to be, and charting a course to get there is how we renew our motivation to forge ahead when things get rough. Also, it has been said that a person traveling alone will go fast, but people travelling together will go far. Strategizing for success can solidify plans for personal wellbeing, but it is even more powerful when we include the wellbeing of those around us.

Success is an experience, not a material possession. It is a journey, not a destination. It is an inner change that we pursue in hopes of improving the outer world. It is not about getting one up on someone else. It is about becoming more today than we were yesterday. Whether we are pursuing better health through exercise and food choice, better mental health through therapy and self-care, better relationships through communication and action, or better contributions to the world through skill learning and meaningful work, success comes when we recognize how our intentions and efforts can lead to growth we never imagined possible.

What does success look like in the coming day, week, or year? How can the inevitable challenges ahead be overcome? How can we work alongside others to achieve success beyond ourselves? These are questions that require us to set aside our social media, our news, our work, and our duties for just a moment as we grab a pen and paper, enter a therapy session, or sit down with a close friend, and strategize for success.

Written by Louis Nicholas, Graduate Student in Mental Health Counseling

Speak Your Mind In Therapy

There are many issues that arise over a lifetime for which we may need assistance from a mental health counselor in working through. We are social creatures, but we can get lost or trapped in our own thoughts. This is when we need a trusted someone to help us see ourselves in a new way. Typically, we only share portions of our thinking, or depending on the listener, we share very edited versions of our thoughts. Depending on your situation, you feel your friends or loved ones don’t want or need to hear all that is going on in your head. This is where mental health counseling can help.

A mental health counselor assists others by listening and identifying areas of change. But something else is also happening during therapy sessions. You are speaking your mostly unedited thoughts aloud for someone else to better understand you. Focusing on yourself in therapy and without editing for the listener’s needs or wants allows you to better understand your own thoughts through this clarification process.

This happens with couples as well. In relationships, we may fall into communication styles that become frustrating cycles. These can become predictable enough for one person in the relationship to recite both sides of an entire argument routinely experienced with their significant other. The therapist can assist in recognizing and changing these cycles of communication. Here again, speaking these thoughts aloud is helpful because the couple works to identify how they are thinking and feeling in a clear way for themselves, for one another and for the therapist.

Families benefit from therapy through these same processes with the added benefit of shared insight within the family. When parents, separated or divorced co-parents, and/or stepparents and their children of all ages are included in sessions, there is opportunity for shared understanding and change. For example, parents may benefit from learning their fears or concerns for their children aren’t their children’s concerns. Children also see their parents making a healthy choice to seek assistance for issues that arise and watch as they model healthy coping skills for these issues within the family. What better way to change generational communication cycles that keep families stuck and repeating destructive patterns of behavior?

Whether you are interested in individual, couples, or family therapy seeking the services of a mental health counselor to discuss your needs provides an opportunity for sharing one’s most unedited thoughts and concerns. This new way of sharing and learning is the perfect opportunity to change yourself and your relationships.

Written by April Daniel

Toxic Has No Gender

Toxic Traits

A toxic relationship can leave you feeling mentally or physically exhausted and insecure. It is usually the topic that men are the toxic ones, but toxicity has no gender. Being the one in the toxic relationship makes it difficult to view the red flags. We get fixated on the months and years spent together and wanting to be the one to help heal your partner, but it takes a toll on our mental health. Family and friends are the first to see how negative a relationship can be to your health. A toxic partner can display the following traits:

  1. Gaslighting
  2. Manipulation
  3. Anger Issues
  4. Controlling
  5. Selfishness
  6. Arrogant

A toxic partner has actions and behaviors that will hurt, drain, and impact your life negatively. Constant pressure for perfection, it’ll feel as though nothing done is good enough. They will get angry when things don’t go their way, doesn’t matter if it is out of your control or not. You will slowly start changing, fall into depression, insecurities grow, anxiety, irritability, and experience irrational behavior. If you leave the relationship, you are left in shambles with self-loathing, self-doubt, and avoidance.

Detoxify

Acknowledging the toxic relationship is the first step, what follows after is up to you. Setting boundaries, asking for help, going to relationship/marriage counseling, or reinforcing positive social groups. It is important you find out what your boundaries are, what you want and don’t want in a relationship. A new life without them can be the answer to creating a better mental and physical state for yourself.

Written by Rachel Gonzalez