What is a Sex Surrogate Partner and how is it different from a sex worker?

A sex surrogate partner is a trained and certified professional that helps a client explore and overcome physical, emotional, and/or social issues around intimacy and sex.

The role of a sex surrogate is to help individuals with issues such as sexual dysfunctions, shame, negative body image, dysmorphia, anxieties about touch, sex, intimacy, disability, head, brain, spine injuries or other medical issues, autistic features, confusion about sexual orientation, lack of self-confidence, experience, pelvic and/or genital pain, or any physical, emotional, sexual trauma, as well as other triggers. A surrogate partner is utilized in conjunction with a sex therapist and always remains in communication with both the client and their sex therapist.

Sex surrogate partners provide a safe and structured environment and might help with relaxation, eye contact, sex education, body image, communication, sharing painful memories/vulnerabilities/insecurities, relating to another person, body mapping, nudity, giving and receiving touch, genital-to-genital contact, etc. Having said that, sex surrogacy does not always involve sex or any sexual interactions and is not necessarily genital focused. As mentioned before, it is about developing skills and enhancing healing according to the client’s boundaries and needs. When the therapy goals have been met, sex surrogacy therapy ends.

Unlike a sex surrogate partner, a prostitute’s goal is providing sexual stimulation, and satisfaction and one can revisit a sex worker, as they like. In addition, while paying for sex is illegal in most states, law does not prohibit sex surrogacy therapy.

Sex surrogacy therapy is not recommended to people that are engaged in a relationship. Instead, sex therapy (which is talk therapy with assigned exercises to do at home) is more beneficial for the individual and/or the couple.

***The movie “The Sessions” (2012) with Helen Hunt and John Hawkes tells the story of a client with sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen-Green.

Art Therapy for the Anxious Adolescent

“Art is restoration: the idea is to repair the damages that are inflicted in life, to make something that is fragmented – which is what fear and anxiety do to a person – into something whole.”

– Louise Bourgeois

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. However, anxiety can become overwhelming to the point of it being problematic. Pre-teens and teens are faced with many challenges in adolescence including changing schools, increased pressure around academic performance, and social and physical changes.

According to a 2017 report on children’s mental health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in children and adolescents. Nearly one in three adolescents (31.9%) will meet criteria for an anxiety disorder by the age of 18. Anxiety takes on many forms and may show up differently in individuals.

What anxiety may look like in adolescents:

  • excessive worry or fears
  • feelings of inner restlessness
  • high levels of stress
  • irritability
  • poor school performance
  • physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches or fatigue
  • sleep disturbance
  • isolation from social interactions
  • mood changes

Art therapy can help adolescents learn more about their anxiety and how to cope. Benefits of Art Therapy for adolescents include:

  • Non-Verbal Communication – Art Therapy promotes nonverbal communication of thoughts, feelings and unconscious images and symbols.
  • Safe Expression of Internal Conflict – Art therapy acts as a mirror of one’s internal state, providing an external representation and a physical record of one’s experience. Artwork can create a safe container to hold the client’s feelings while processing.
  • Fosters Self Awareness – Art therapy promotes creativity, self-discovery, insight, problem solving, and conflict resolution.

Increased Emotional and Sensory Intelligence – Art therapy challenges distress tolerance and impulse control. It builds emotional and sensory intelligence and promotes relaxation and sensory integration.

“The fact that we can recall adolescence better than other periods and that this is a time of change in many brain regions are two pieces of evidence that the brain is likely to be especially plastic at this time. Another indication comes from statistics on the average age of onset of serious psychological disorders. The adolescent brain is extraordinarily sensitive to stress.” – Laurence Steinberg

What is an Art Therapist?

Art therapists are trained in both art and therapy. The process isn’t an art lesson – it is grounded in the knowledge of human development, psychological theories and counseling techniques. Art therapists are trained to pick up on nonverbal symbols and metaphors that are often expressed through art and the creative process, concepts that are usually difficult to express with words. It is through this process that the individual really begins to see the effects of art therapy and the discoveries that can be made.

“Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.”   – American Art Therapy Association

Article by Katie Thies, LAC, Art Therapist

Katie Thies is a Licensed Associate Counselor and Art Therapist specializing in work with art therapy for anxiety and trauma. Katie works with children, adolescents, and adults. Learn more about how Katie can help you or your family by calling PCS at 480-947-5739 to schedule an initial consultation.

A Parable of Recovery

I have sat in many sessions with clients at PCS who express their reluctance to step outside their typical zone of comfort. They may even be sitting in the middle of an extensive and extended treatment process (the PCS Intensive) with others and seemingly having strong insights and meaningful awareness as it pertains to their particular addiction or situation.

Yet, these clients are expressly reluctant to plan on staying connected to their peers at the time, with whom they have been open and transparent. The peers, in turn, have been vulnerable and deeply honest about their pasts and painful choices. Equally these clients are adamant that back home they hadn’t been connecting with their peers outside of their regular recovery meetings either. These clients express various ways that they aren’t good at that sort of thing nor are they comfortable with that. Curious, I regularly inquire as to the hesitation to form bonds of support back home or with their peers in their present extended treatment beyond that current week? This is often a recommendation for increased likelihood of recovery and accountability. These clients state things such as they have tried inviting their peers to go out to eat or to hang out after hours. They are even certain that if their peers had gone with them they would be more likely to open up and exchange numbers for continued contact after the extended treatment process they were in. Due to their peers not taking these clients up on their offers, even for legitimate reasons, these clients will express that they had done their part and that was that, and nothing more could be done.

“Oh really?” I say to myself. And in many of those moments I am struck with a memory of an old parable that I feel prompted to recount to them. As best as my memory serves me, the parable goes something like this…

A lighthearted and precocious young man in ancient times desired to learn from a great and revered master guru all that the wise sage knew. So the young man went on a journey to find this respected elder in a distant land. He found the trek exciting and fun and eagerly anticipated his encounter with the wise man known to be a master teacher.

Soon enough he arrived at the peaceful ambiance of the wise man’s home. The young man knocked at the door but received no response. He knocked again and still no response. Frustrated he tried a third time. Again, no response. So, disappointed and annoyed, he turned and began to bemoan his situation. Thinking to himself, “What a waste of effort to come all this way and not be received by the master guru.”

As he sat there grumbling to himself for a spell, in time he was surprised to hear the sound of whistling nearby. He scanned and searched for the origin of this whistle. Soon enough an average looking fellow with a ruffled mane of silver and gray hair and a goofy grin emerged from a nearby grove carrying some wood in his hands. As both men made eye contact, the fellow set down the wood and smiled his goofy grin at the young man, who arose and skeptically approached this unassuming fellow.

The young man asked him if he knew if the master teacher would be home soon, and that he desired to learn everything that the wise guru knew. The fellow was happy to report that he could take him to the wise man if he liked. The young man said he certainly would and so off they went, the fellow leading the way and the young man striding behind him. After a bit the young man inquired if it would be much longer. That he was tired and hungry and didn’t want to keep traveling much more.

The fellow said, “Oh, no worries. Not much longer. But first I need to make a quick stop near here.”

The young man harrumphed his displeasure at the idea of any delay or interference with his desire to meet the master teacher. Just then they arrived at the edge of a glistening lake and the fellow said, “I’ll just be a moment.” And he then proceeded to wade out into the water, thigh deep, without removing a single article of clothing and stood there staring at the water by his legs.

The young man stared, confused and perplexed. After a number of minutes the young man grew impatient and annoyed once again. At that moment the fellow called to the young man and said “Come here, I want you to see this.” The young man, in his increasing cynicism initially refused and insisted that they continue on their way to get to the wise man. The fellow was unfazed and reiterated his request and added that if the young man would come to him to see what he desired to show him then he would take him straightway to the teacher he sought. The young man, though perturbed, agreed and removed his footwear, rolled up his pant leggings, and proceeded into the water, soon joining the fellow.

“So what is it you wanted me to see?” the young man insisted. The fellow pointed to a spot near his leg and said “Look.” The young man leaned down and began to say “I don’t s…” And in that moment the young man was seized by the back of the neck by the fellow plunging the young man’s head under the water, completely submerging it. Stunned and confused the young man attempted to free himself from the grasp of the fellow but found himself virtually helpless to free himself from the surprisingly firm and powerful grip of the fellow. Shocked at his situation and chocking in water due to this ill-prepared for moment of threat, the young man continued to struggle to free himself from below the water line, desperately striving to emerge above it and escape this unforeseen adversity. Yet the fellow didn’t release and his grip maintained its firmness and unrelenting downward force on the young man’s neck. Despite everything he tried the young man was unable to break free.

As his situation grew dire and his strength virtually depleted, the young man lunged back with all his remaining might and broke free of the grip spitting out water and heaving in oxygen almost simultaneously. Both enraged and scared the young man screamed at the fellow to explain himself. The fellow, calm and unaffected, simply stated… “When you want to learn everything from the master guru as much as you wanted to breathe just now… then I will teach you.” With that the master teacher strolled out of the water and back towards his humble abode, leaving the young man drenched, dazed, and deeply affected by his first lesson.

After recounting this parable I will look into these clients’ eyes and say, “When you want your marriage, your integrity, your family, your health, and your recovery as much as that young man wanted to breathe, that’s when you’ll do whatever it takes, no matter the discomfort or unfamiliarity. These clients will typically sit there at that point, quiet and pensive, and eventually say something to the effect of…

“Mark, that’s a hard truth to hear… and even harder to ignore. I know what I need to do. But how do I do it?”

To that I will say, “I’m glad you asked…”

By Mark Bell, LMFT, CSAT

Reflecting on the Dream

All of us are probably aware of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, “I have a dream.”  When I listen to that, it speaks to a passion in me in terms of justice and civil rights. That passion continues in terms of PCS outreach beyond the borders of our individual, couples, and family therapy. Our therapist Ken Wells has helped us create programs with point-counterpoint when it comes to social issues in our culture. Another passion is the integration of sound psychology and spirituality. My wife and I started PCS in 1973. I had been a psychologist who founded Ecumenical Counseling Services in Scottsdale and for two years a psychologist at Scottsdale OBGYN in a setting where we integrated psychology in an OBGYN practice.

It is the “PCS page” to continue working on the integration of sound psychology and spirituality with an openness to “new kids on the block” in terms of advances in the mental health work. I am personally blessed by the fact that we have 27 therapists, interns, and front office staff. We challenge each other as a PCS family to figure out how best to help individuals, couples, and families in pain. Currently, I am blessed by the fact that my son, Dr. Marcus Earle, is the clinical director and manager of PCS.

A major emphasis for the PCS family is constantly improving how we help others. This includes taking care of ourselves. Our intensive outpatient program provides and opportunity for people to get the kind of help that I needed at an early stage in my 58-year marriage to Glenda. I am grateful for the help I was able to receive and for the couples and family therapy our family went through.

I am also grateful to provide this kind of help to people now. From many different parts of the world, people come to PCS and take part in this opportunity. We do offer a very intensive program which is quite unique in terms of how much individual therapy people receive. We are always committed to learning from each other and from patients whom we are privileged know.

On April 2, I turned 80. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of a team whose mantra is to provide help above all else. It doesn’t matter which one of us is the most helpful to any client. We are a team, a family, and we make an impact on our clients lives through our joint effort. I am grateful to our referents around the world who believe in us in which we can be an adjunct to work done by therapists outside of PCS. And I am grateful to the many alumni of our program who sometimes come back for a “tune-up” and refer friends for help to PCS.

By Ralph Earle, MDiv, PhD, ABPP, LMFT, CSAT, PCS Founder

The Percentage of 12 Year-olds who admit being addicted to porn will shock you

It’s no secret that our generation is the first to be dealing with the ability to access the most hardcore porn imaginable on a device that fits into our pockets with the click of a button. Pornography is available 24/7, 365 by any man, woman, or child of any age with access to the internet. So what is this doing to our society? Read more…


Telling your boss about your addiction

How do you tell your boss you are addicted to alcohol, drugs, or something just as serious and as personal?  This clip will provide valuable tips. Consult with your therapist about the disclosure process to your boss.


Quebeckers mourn for victims of Nice attacks


The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Jul. 14, 2016 10:09PM EDT

Last updated Friday, Jul. 15, 2016 1:41PM EDT

In some corners of Montreal, home to more than 100,000 French citizens, Bastille Day is celebrated with nearly the same fervour as in the streets of Paris. Revellers typically gather in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal and drink the night away at local bars such as l’Barouf, a particularly popular spot among French expats.

U.S. travelers shocked, saddened by France attack (Reuters)

However, as news from Nice, where dozens of people were killed after a truck plowed through a crowd, surfaced on social media, Thursday’s festivities became an altogether more muted affair.

France attack: The latest developments

At a formal reception in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where the French consul-general, Catherine Feuillet, and Mayor Denis Coderre entertain members of the city’s French community, Mr. Coderre ordered flags at City Hall to be flown at half-mast and quickly released a statement in which he expressed shock over the scope of the deadly attack.

“In this difficult moment, Montrealers stand in solidarity with the French people and the people of Nice,” he said. “Liberté, egalité, fraternité. These values have never been as relevant.”

The reaction from politicians in Quebec City was equally swift. Lawmakers in each of the province’s three main parties wrote messages of sympathy on social media, and at a popular music festival at the Plains of Abraham, the city’s French consul-general, Nicolas Chibaeff, took the stage, urging the crowd to continue celebrating despite the unfolding tragedy in France.

“Tonight, the spirit of celebration that unites us was attacked in Nice. Tens of people, who joined together to celebrate, to watch fireworks, have died,” he said.

The speech was followed by a moment of silence commemorating the victims.

There has been no confirmation yet that any Canadians were killed or injured in the Nice attacks.

Global Affairs Canada said late Thursday the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa and Canadian offices in Paris stand ready to provide consular assistance to Canadian citizens and are endeavouring to determine if Canadian citizens have been affected.

Canadian citizens in Nice requiring emergency consular assistance should contact the Embassy of Canada in Paris at 33 (0)1 44 43 29 02 or call the department’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre collect at 1 613 996 8885. An email can also be sent to sos@international.gc.ca

Friends and relatives in Canada of Canadian citizens known to be in Nice should contact Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre by calling 1 613 996 8885 or 1 800 387 3124 or by sending an email to sos@international.gc.ca

Heartfully Speaking- Tips for Heart Based Living

Contributed by Terrina Picarello, MA, LPC

PCS Staff Therapist

The Heart Hears More Than Just Words

The lack of feeling heard can really put a strain on relationships. This is true whether it’s a couple, a parent and child, best friends, co-workers; any relationship.

Have you ever had a communication with someone only to realize what they said, and what you heard, were totally different? Even the simplest of interactions can get misconstrued if we only listen to the words.

Authentic communication requires both learning to speak from a genuine heart place and learning to listen more deeply. We call it deep heart listening because as we focus in the heart when someone is speaking with us, we can learn to hear more than their words.

Deep heart listening involves hearing on three levels. The words of what is said. The feelings or the emotions behind the words – and the energetic essence of what the words and feelings combined really mean.

Most of us pay close attention to the first level of listening – the actual words being said.

To practice the second level of listening we need to also feel the communication. That’s where we start to understand a person deeper. When listening, try and sense the emotions driving what the other person is saying. (ie: are they frustrated, are they worried, are they excited, etc.)

The third level is the essence of a communication. This is where we can discover the real meaning of what someone is trying to say. To do this we have to slow down what’s going on inside our own mind, put our own emotions in neutral, and remain open to the other person.

Practicing appreciation with others as they’re speaking and making a sincere effort to deep heart listen strengthens the communication bond with each other. Offering this kind of “safe zone” to openly communicate is a way of putting our love into action.

With Care,
Your Friends at HeartMath

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