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Tony Overbay began his career in the high tech world but felt the call to become a therapist and help men. For the past 13-14 years, he has been a licensed marriage and family therapist with a practice in Roseville, California. While Tony grew up in Utah, he is an adult convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has been married 28 years, is a father of four, an ultra-marathoner, host of the Virtual Couch Podcast, creator of The Path Back, and currently serves on the Leading Saints Professional Therapists Advisory Board.
12:45 Men in therapy – the stigma, stereotypes
14:40 Treatment of pornography addiction – behavior modification, identifying triggers “crimes of opportunity,” then thought, which leads to action/behavior. Tools to put distance between thoughts and action, initially, then work on thought, but have to deal with core issues to heal.
16:30 Core issues—feelings of inadequacy, not feeling connected to partner, job, or faith, poor health—have to be dealt with to heal from addiction. Go-to patterns of behavior learned in youth
17:45 Men have a harder time connecting, less likely to go to therapy, need to find ways to connect with a therapist first before talking about emotions before talking about the elephant in the room
20:45 “The bishop is not the therapist” mentality brings shame to the table because it doesn’t bring the connection. How can bishops help build connections? Bishops need authenticity and vulnerability to build connection, to avoid shame spiral by pushing to get to transgression immediately. Don’t rush it, show gratitude, build relationships, meet with love. A relationship is more important – can’t go and find another bishop, like a person can go find another therapist
26:20 Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear – Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf April 2017 – many bishops over-emphasize shame – sprinkling shame glitter – to make them know they did something “really bad.” Have to give people hope and remove shame.
27:30 – Brother Tad Callister- guilt is the stop sign. Shame hangs around guilt and isn’t productive, is negative, and makes people feel horrible. Have to change the conversation because will lie when there are relapses
29:20 – Shame – leaders mix up shame and guilt. Shame is “you’re bad” and not “what you did is bad”. Pornography addiction – first exposure – 8 to 11 yo – early exposure to pornography is early sexualization, which changes the wiring of the brain because the brain doesn’t know how to process information. Changes their perception of the world, have to understand with it to work with, and will remove the shame.
32:30 – Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf – minor things take a person further off course over time. What not to say to someone when talking to them because it makes the other person view it as shame and more broken and not empathetic because coming from a different point of view.
33:45 Dr. Patrick Carnes – sexual addiction counselor, sex addiction and pornography can be harder to overcome than drug or alcohol addiction because addictive obsession can cause mood alteration. Sex addicts carry their own source of supply in their brain. Prolonged use alters the brain. Why can’t I get it under control? Bishop asks why and doesn’t understand the why of a person wanting it. Unintended shame happens.
37:20 Double down on the empathy when people share. Jesus saw sin as wrong, but as needs not met. Look into lives of others to see their shortcomings, unmet needs, etc, that aren’t filled that we’re trying to fill. Need to focus on the deeper reason of why we sin and the need we’re trying to meet to become better. Have to help people find something to replace the void. Easier to add things to life than subtract from life.
40:00 – EFT – Emotionally Focused Therapy to connect with a spouse, which fills the void and turns toward a spouse. A person is greater than their sin or addiction.
41:00 How to create a situation where a person never faces shame when they enter the bishop’s office.
- 1. Start with empathy. Have to connect to the bishop to get to applying to the Atonement.
- 2. 41:50 Respond with empathy. Confess the wrestle, don’t tell them how bad it, or know all the details. What it looks like, “Tell me more.” Seek to first understand and then to be understood. Focus on the feelings. No story time. You don’t know what this person is going through. No fixing and judgment statements.
- 3. 45:15 Seek the void. Don’t focus on the behavior. Therapy is there to help find the void.
- 47:35 Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) – you’re human and have feelings about what’s going on in life, it’s not productive to think “I shouldn’t feel this way.” ACT focuses on the story your brain is telling you, fuse to the story and no commitment to getting better. Brain fights hard to keep you where you are. Focusing on the behavior leads to shame. Focusing on the void leads to hope. Leads to connection and overcoming addiction.
- 51:20 Harm reduction – give them something to anchor to outside the void. Strengths-based model to provide hope and remove shame. Focusing on progress and there will be relapses. Keep the person engaged, feeling hope, and coming back to you rather than “how many days has it been?” Relapse doesn’t mean starting over. Strength-based modality – seeing the highlights and let’s talk about what you were thinking with the relapse. Therapists are important in this process.
- 4. 58:15 Church discipline used to influence people from their behaviors from informal to formal. Is it good? Stuck in a broken story, will continue in the addiction. Need to let them know that they’re not broken.
1:00:50 Christ’s Atonement in therapy – everyone has issues that have brought them to where they are. We fuse to the story of our brokenness and we don’t have to change. Church discipline has to be done when the person is not feeling broken for it be effective. Disciplinary councils are for renewal and redemption. Brokenness keeps us from redemption.
1:04:45 Purpose of the council of therapists at Leading Saints: talk through these kinds of topics with Tony and two other therapists on the council. Send questions to Leading Saints for future podcasts: leadingsaints.org/contact
1:06:45 Encouragement to bishops
The Virtual Couch podcast
Path Back Recovery
Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear—Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2017 General Conference
How Do I Know When I am Forgiven?—Elder Tad R. Callister
Excellent insights Tony! This message is desperately needed across church leadership. We appreciate your work!
This was fantastic! I absolutely love Tonys approach to overcoming addiction. The idea of harm reduction is powerful. What a great way to keep hope alive as we gradually change into a better self. I can’t wait to hear more from Tony! Awesome stuff.
I sent this podcast to all the bishops I know. Thanks for such good information to fight this tidal wave swamping our members.
I really love that there is such a focus on helping addicts within the church and I appreciate the efforts being made to help leadership respond better.
I struggle sometimes that most of the addiction information is centered around pornography addiction. I recognize it’s a huge issue within our church, but other kinds of addiction exist as well and it can feel very isolating when those addictions aren’t addressed …..,and in this case are slightly marginalized in comparison to pornography/sex addiction.
As the spouse of an alcoholic , I would love to hear some podcasts that address other serious addictions and the unique effects that each of those has on the addicts and their families.