Grounding for Partners of Sex Addicts

February 14, 2018 | Katie Sanford, LPCC, CCPS-C

by Katie Sanford, LPCC, CCPS-C


Valentine’s Day is here and it may be a painful reminder of the relationship you once had, thought you had, or wish you had. On a holiday that celebrates love and romance, many partner’s of sex addicts are overwhelmed with unpleasant emotions. On Valentine’s Day or any other day, do you have moments when you can’t stop crying? Maybe your chest is so tight it is difficult to get a deep breath. Is your mind racing and won’t stop? Do you feel like you are losing it? Maybe you’re ruminating over something that happened. Maybe you feel numb. Are you are having trouble leaving your house or taking care of your responsibilities? If so, when you are overwhelmed with emotions a technique called “grounding” may be very helpful to you.

Grounding connects you to the external world and helps you regain control of your feelings, thoughts, and physiological responses. It is a technique that helps you focus on the present moment, not the past, not the future, and not whatever you are thinking or feeling. Grounding can provide a much needed break for people who are going through pain related to a partner’s sex addiction.

Simply put, grounding is noticing and focusing on physical things in the world around you. It is easy and can be done anywhere, at any time, and without anyone even noticing that you are doing it. A simple way to use grounding, that many of my clients have found helpful, is picking a color and looking around you to count all the things you see that are that color. The longer you look, the more you find, and the less you are overwhelmed with whatever emotions you are feeling. It actually works!

There are also many other ways to do grounding. Let’s say, you are riding in a car. You could count the houses you go past or count the blue cars you see. Another way you can use grounding is to take note of what you physically feel on your body. What is physically supporting you (your legs on a chair, your back on a couch)? Can you feel your feet on the floor? Can you feel you shoes around your feet? Can you feel your socks/pants/shirt touching your skin? How many soft objects are around you? What do you hear around you? The longer you listen, the more sounds you will notice.

It helps to practice grounding when you are calm, so you are ready to use it when you are overwhelmed by emotions. Most of my client have told me that they didn’t think grounding would actually work, but then they were pleasantly surprised when it did. I hope that this technique will help you in your journey towards healing.

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