Radical Self-Acceptance


Paradoxically, the more we try change ourselves, the more we inhibit change from happening. When we open ourselves up to experience who we are the more likely we are to change.

Often times when people come to therapy they have come to the conclusion that something needs to change. Although change is frequently the goal in therapy, an eagerness to change can actually be a block to moving forward. When radical self-acceptance is incorporated during your struggles you create a calm and confident starting point to move forward. Without radical self-acceptance during your struggles you add suffering to your suffering. Adding suffering to your suffering might look like judgment about your feelings, impatience with yourself, or frustration about having a struggle to begin with. Self-acceptance can be challenging when we face problems that are culturally taboo: Addiction, Sexually Compulsive Behaviors, LGBTQ issues, and more. These problems carry a significant amount of shame with them and radical self-acceptance can release you from the shackles of stigma.
Radical self-acceptance is about having compassion for yourself, being patient with yourself, and accepting your humanness. A stressful environment inhibits learning/growth and radical self-acceptance can create a safe inner space to gently move through challenges. This is a radical concept because it goes against the messages you may have received in your family or the beliefs you may have acquired from your political and social context. As challenging or as awkward as it might be at first you must choose to embrace who you are and where you are right now. Radical self-acceptance opens you up to your potentials. The second paradox of change is that the slower we move in therapy the faster we see change.

Cameron Reis, M.S., MFTI 96516


Do you want someone or do you need them? A question not commonly asked, but rather a statement most often made.

“I need you.” When hearing this, it is a common initial response to feel you are that individual’s highest priority or they have the deepest amount of love for you. Same concept with another popular phrase, “I need you like I need air to breathe.” These are highly romanticized notions. But have you ever taken the time to really understand what it would mean to need someone to that extent? It is one thing to romanticize this need, it is another to experience it.

If you need someone to this extent, that is a representation of dependence, a sign of codependency. If you need someone like you need air, then without them you will suffocate. Imagine, the same person attached to you like an oxygen tank, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Still feel like it is a sign of love and devotion to need someone?

Humans have basic needs. According to Maslow’s hierarchy there are 5 levels of need, beginning with food, water, etc…and ending with self actualization. You will notice, the first word is SELF. To be self actualized means to be self fulfilled and to know your own potential.

Wanting is entirely different. To want someone means you do not need them. You have met your basic human needs, as well as your emotional needs as an individual. At this stage, a partner is a choice; a decision one makes for the betterment of life. The goal is to have a partner that enhances the day to day and can be enjoyed for who they are.

This is not to say, because you want someone, life will be perfect every day. There will continue to be challenges, but it will remain a choice to continue the relationship or not. If the choice is to stay, then you know this person sees you for who you are and accepts you fully. If the choice is to terminate the relationship, there will eventually be peace in knowing you will overcome the loss.

Whereas, in a needed relationship, there is a constant fear to be alone. For if you are alone, your air supply will be non-existent. This shows up as entering into a new relationship immediately after one ends. Or staying within a relationship when you know it is not right for you. Both scenarios never allow you to know your own strength or potential. Instead, this constant state of need teaches people lessons or core beliefs such as feeling unlovable, unworthy, undeserving, etc.

Reflect back on your dating history and ask yourself again, do you want someone? Or do you need them? If you have a pattern of needing, but want to learn how to want, the Counseling Center for Sexual Health can aid you in that process. Thankfully, the brain is plastic and can be rewired and reprogrammed. Call us to learn how (805)308-9800.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

The Holidays


CCSH wishes you and yours a very happy holiday season!

Holidays typically bring a ton of emotions, especially towards the end of year. The people you see or do not see; the relationships that are missed; the family coming into town that you would love to avoid. The list of examples is endless and specific to everyone. But more often than not, there seems to be this overwhelming feeling of pressure and anxiety building up. It is important to have adaptive coping skills to help balance the equation out. Self care is unique for everyone (massage, a walk, spending time with friends or alone, quiet time, movie, etc.), and is especially important when the chaos of life is escalating.

With New Years right around the corner, ask yourself, “What do I hope to see for myself in 2016?” Reflecting back on 2015 and observing what worked and what could be improved or different is a great starting point. Once you find out what you would like to see change then ask, “How do I hope to accomplish this?” Then comes the most challenging part… follow through.

Creating a sequence of short term goals allows for progress and encouragement along the way towards a long term goal. Setting goals too large in the beginning can feel unattainable and discouraging. It is important to allow yourself the accomplishments of realistic short term goals to continue motivating you to the finish. Sometimes it is not always about the destination, but about the journey it took to get there.

If you need assistance with creating a plan, sorting through the holiday emotions, etc. CCSH is here for you. We have multiple therapists on staff waiting to help. Call or email today!

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

Intensive Outpatient Program


The Counseling Center for Sexual Health is pleased to introduce our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for adult males struggling with sexually related issues. This program provides ten hours of therapy a week for each client; including both individual and group therapy. Group sessions will be offered Tuesday and Thursday from 6-9pm, and Saturday from 9-12pm. Individual therapy will be scheduled per client.

There are many benefits for participating in an IOP. Perhaps the largest benefit is the continued support and treatment while individuals integrate life events (work, school, socialization) into a sober lifestyle.

CCSH professionals are sex therapists certified through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) trained and skilled in ways to assist people in gaining a deeper understanding of their own sexuality and how it affects their lives in relationships.

If you believe you or someone you know would benefit from our Intensive Outpatient Program or Psychological services, please call the Counseling Center for Sexual Health intake department (805)308-9800 Ext. 3.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

Ashley Madison Scandal

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First ask yourself, “What is Ashley Madison?” If you can confidently answer the question with anything but, “I do not know,” then you may have been affected by this site.

Ashley Madison is the second largest online dating website, second only to Match.com, with the slogan, “Life is Short. Have an Affair.” Recently a hacker group called, “The Impact Team,” threatened to release the “confidential” information for dating websites: Ashley Madison, Cougar Life, and Established Men. The goal behind the threat was to have these websites permanently shut down because the “cheating dirtbags,” according to the Impact team, were not worthy of discretion or confidentiality.

“Cheating dirtbags,” does not exactly insinuate the Impact Team is composed of men; and coincidently Christian Mingle did not get hacked. Does this information shed some light on who orchestrated the attack? Maybe, maybe not.

The more important questions are: What lead up to the affair?; Is there a history of similar sexually acting out behavior?;  What happens to the relationship now?; How do you cope with the onslaught of emotions ranging from fear to shame?

Millions of relationships and families have been affected by this threat of exposure. You are not the only one and you do not need to deal with this alone.

If you have been affected by the recent events involving Ashley Madison and other sites, the Counseling Center for Sexual Health can help. We work with individuals, couples, and partners of individuals affected. Contact us today (805)308-9800.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

Top or bottom

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Top or bottom? If your first thought went to what versus who, then you may not know the fun lifestyle of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sado-Masochism) yet.

In BDSM, just like in any community, there is a hierarchy composed of roles. The two main roles are Top and bottom. In each of these roles there are numerous types. To be a Top, means you could be a Master, Dominant, Owner, Daddy, etc. For every Top there is an equal counterpart. The equivalent bottom types, for the Tops listed, would be: slave, submissive, property, baby girl, etc.

Wonderful, but what does it all mean? In BDSM, there is a power dynamic. This dynamic includes two or more people and is based off an equal understanding of roles. Tops are understood to be in the power position to wield orders, punish or reward as they see fit. bottoms are inclined to meet such demands. In this extensively agreed upon, healthy dynamic, each party is equal, willing and consenting to safe and sane behaviors to be exchanged.

Part of the contract that is drafted between partners, to come to terms on what they will and will not do, is a safe word. This word is unique to each person, cannot be construed as ambiguous (such as stop), and has the full weight to immediately discontinue play between partners once spoken or indicated. The bottom role has the right to utilize their safe word at any time, understanding that it is not to be used as a toy, manipulative tactic, or joke. If done so, trust will be lost and that bottom will quickly turn into the bottom who cried wolf.

Because bottoms have the ability to stop play at any given moment, Tops are limited to play within the bottoms comfort level. Therefore, bottoms truly hold more power than the Tops, despite appearances. This is an easy concept to understand, especially when thinking about the dynamic between Daddy’s and baby girl’s.

Being a Top or bottom is not determinant upon your day to day living. There are several individuals who hold powerful employment positions, but consider themselves to be a bottom role within the BDSM community. A common explanation is, they spend all day telling people what to do. In the bedroom they find comfort and relaxation when someone else takes control and tells them what to do. It takes the thought process out of the equation, lessening the responsibility and allowing an open mental state to experience pleasure.

Whereas, others will demonstrate consistency. Some people are “people pleasing” in day to day life. They constantly seek approval and will continue to do so sexually. The opposite can be true as well. Where someone enjoys control on a continuous basis, both sexually and non-sexually.

Now with a taste and a hint of understanding into the roles of BDSM, I ask again….Top or bottom? If this remains a mystery and you are interested in becoming self actualized, the Counseling Center for Sexual Health (CCFSH) can aid you in your journey. If you know your role and are experiencing difficulty accepting it, CCFSH can help. We look forward to hearing from you.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI


infidelity picture

Infidelity can be simply defined as breaking a contract between partners in an intimate relationship. Not so simply put is the ripple effect it leaves behind. Each ripple brings its own impact: doubt, anger, sadness, loss, regret, maybe even relief; but at the center there is trust. This is the very foundation relationships are built on.

When a contract is broken by an unfaithful act, the least of the damage done is the act itself. It is the lack of trust from one partner to another; furthermore the lack of trust one has in them self. When this happens core beliefs are shaken. It is through the trust we hold in ourselves, that intuition, that tells us what the “right” decisions are to make daily. For example, “Do not touch the hot pot;” “Look both ways before crossing the street;” “Of course they love you.” This trusted intuition provides safety. When we lose trust; we lose intuition; which ultimately takes away our safety. This domino effect can make us feel lost and raw, like our nerve endings are exposed and leaving us vulnerable.

So what do we do next? Do we pick up the pieces and move on? What does that even look like? Only you can answer this, but the Counseling Center for Sexual Health can help.

For the individual that was unfaithful, there are most likely patterns of this behavior throughout their past. Perhaps it is not infidelity, but traces of abandonment; a need to sabotage relationships; fear of intimacy; etc.

For the partner that learned of the infidelity, they too most likely have a pattern of this behavior in their past. Again, it may not be through a history of intimate partners cheating, but instead patterns of: denial; rescuing people “in need;” trying to change someone; putting themselves in relationships doomed for failure; the forever nurturer; etc.

After both parties are aware of the violation, it really boils down to two basic paths. Path one, the relationship ends and both parties go their separate ways. Path two, both parties agree to stay and work on their relationship. Either way, intensive work is to follow and we at the Counseling Center for Sexual Health can help determine what that looks like with you.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

The Imperfections of Sex

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We all know that SEX sells and no one is perfect. Except that guy that just read this and said, “I’m perfect!” He may be right, but we have veered from the point. If no one is perfect and sex is everywhere, what happens when our imperfections and sex collide? …Trouble in paradise; which begs the next question, “Now what?” The options are vast and often break down into stages including, but not limited to: sheer panic, the blame game “it’s not me; it’s you,” abandonment, denial, grief, shame, anxiety, depression, etc. None of these emotions or stages sound appealing or paint a picture of health and it certainly is not what Hollywood is selling. Dang “fine print” can get you every time.

Wherever you may be in this cycle, the Counseling Center for Sexual Health is here to help. We treat a variety of sex related problems ranging from erectile dysfunction to addiction, infidelity, prostitution, compulsive masturbation, and online hookups.

It is a new day in the world of sex. The internet has made pornography more accessible than ever and having sex the easiest it has ever been to get. You do not even need to leave the comfort of your own home in order to have sex. But, even though we know that sex sells, there is another fun fact that “too much of a good thing is not a good thing.”

Suddenly a ritual has formed and before you know it, a routine ensues. For example, you come home from a stressful day at work. You need to unwind so you go through the paces of a hot meal or a couple drinks and some television. Next step, take a shower and get into some relaxed clothes. The computer sits at the desk, waiting for you to come join. The sound of the box fires up and the fan kicks in. A bright screen welcomes you to continue, invites you to begin the internet search. Your computer knows you so well, Google auto populates your search after a couple of letters entered. An abundance of images appear begging you to choose each one, but you skillfully and precisely select the perfect link for you and let the unwinding begin.

Night after night this continues, until it is no longer enough and the frequency increases. The location is no longer only the comfort of your own home, but it is the car, office and bathroom stall. The ritual has progressed, and not only has the frequency and location changed, but your physical health is changing as well with sores and chaffing from excessive friction.

This is no longer a coping mechanism for stress, but an impairment on your life. Masturbation is healthy, but history will repeatedly prove that too much of a good thing is not a good thing. The Counseling Center for Sexual Health can help you develop healthy coping strategies and remove the impairment. Call today and together we can work to build a healthier lifestyle.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

Bridging the Gap from Vanilla to BDSM

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Bondage; Discipline; Dominance; Submission; Sado-Masochism. For some these words describe sexual desires; for others a lifestyle. When brought to the root of BDSM there is a definitive power play. It is this concept of power people crave. Our society feeds off of it; whether in the bedroom or at the office. Even the most “vanilla” of couples exhibit a dimension of this play. Example number one: a heterosexual couple; man works, woman stays home. Society deems this couple “normal,” maybe even successful; a couple others should aspire to be. By default, a power play has emerged. The man is the sole provider and the woman is subservient. In this example, we can easily see the role of Dom and Sub. Regardless of whether they are engaging in sexual relations, a dynamic is formed. This style of kink simply defines these roles and adds play to the mix. It is this idea that intrigued the masses. Curiosity did not kill the cat this time; instead it saved Barnes & Noble. By the sheer volumes sold of the novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Barnes & Noble remains in business today. Looks like some people want to replace their skeletons with whips and chains!

You should be aware that, although “Fifty Shades of Grey” appealed to America’s sexual roots, it was not supported by the BDSM community. The number one rule when engaging in this specific type of play is “Safe, Sane, Consensual.” If those rules are not adhered to it is abuse. This number one rule was broken in the very popular novel. Logistics aside, the mass sale of the novel proved a point: That BDSM and what it has to offer is desired by many. But what happens when you want to talk about it? Who do you talk to? How do you even begin? Does a feeling of shame begin in the bottom of your stomach?

It may feel like no one will understand you or that you will be judged but, remember how many people bought the nationwide best seller? You are not the only one curious and there is a safe place to talk about it. Curiosity is perfectly normal and the Counseling Center for Sexual Health has registered therapists to answer any questions you may have.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

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