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

Ashley Madison Scandal

ashley madison pic

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

Attachment Theory

neglectful parentsecure baby

Baby making 101- a sperm must fertilize an egg in order to create life and thus we have biological parents. But that does not tell you anything about a child’s mother and father other than their ability to procreate.

When a baby first comes into this world they have very few basic needs. They want to eat, sleep, and rid themselves of waste. The one tool they have to communicate all of their needs is crying. When a baby cries, parents have options. They can consistently come to the aid of their child (HEALTHY); chose to neglect the child’s needs (UNHEALTHY); or use a combination of the two (UNHEALTHY).

Although little one’s have three basic needs for survival, they also have needs to improve their well being and brain development which stem from the level of attentiveness their caregiver provides.

A healthy baby will get the love and affection from parents who care for the child on an emotional, mental and physical level. This is portrayed when a parent consistently comes to the babies aid; meets all of their needs; makes consistent eye contact regularly; soothes and comforts the baby; etc. This young one has learned they have dependable parents and their needs will be met appropriately.

In a different scenario, a baby will cry and may or may not get their needs met; limited eye contact will occur; the baby will become stressed releasing toxins in their body; and thus they will not be able to regulate themselves. This young one has learned the world is an unreliable place where they cannot count on their sole provider to care for them.

When this happens, the infant’s brain holds this information as factual while it is still under going development and adapts it as truth. As this baby grows, the belief will transfer into emotions of feeling unworthy, unlovable, undeserving, etc. When children believe this about themselves, it will then begin to transfer to their adolescent and adult self, that others must feel the same way about them. In relationships, a race will ensue on which partner can beat the other to the punch and sabotage the relationship first. Inevitably, until the brain learns of a new way, relationships will be doomed for failure. Luckily, there is a way to rewire the brain!

To help aid in this process, the Counseling Center for Sexual Health uses an Attachment Theory model identifying the behaviors and lessons learned from early childhood to understand the behaviors of adults. Using this understanding, CCFSH begins a collaborative approach with clients to introduce new ways the brain can interpret information and carry out relationships to be successful.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

Top or bottom

top bottom switch

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

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