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

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

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

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