Bridget Haines, intern sex therapist and couples counselor
2401 Pennsylvania Ave, Suite 1a2, Philadelphia PA 19130
Bridget (she/her) is a third-year Master of Social Work and Social Research student at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and will be practicing as an intern sex therapist and couples counselor at The Center For Growth from Sept ‘22 through Sep ‘23. She carries with her a strong background in the fields of science, art, and behavior. Her most recent clinical work includes multi-layered support of students and families navigating a Covid-stirred world. She has diverse familiarity navigating the realms of eating disorders, complex trauma, sex therapy as well as relational distress in couples, anxiety/depression, and grief and loss.
Gravitating toward relational, attachment-based, and expressive arts therapy, her work is integrative and dynamic. Some of the most innovative minds of our time are churning out game-changing wisdom, and Bridget continuously draws these new understandings into her practice. Dedicated to expanding the integrity of her work, she is currently pursuing supplemental certifications in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Relational Life Therapy (RLT), and the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy.
Roles and responsibilities often act as suffocants. There is little space in our lives to approach the raggedness of emotions, let alone explore relational, sexual, and erotic health. In this form of silence, tremendous pain and isolation thrive. The lean toward sex positive therapy can be daunting, but the leap is worth it. Bridget assures a down-to-earth, collaborative, humor-hued consideration of a deeply meaningful and most often overlooked part of our lives.
Sexualized behaviors tend to be framed as part of a disorder, diagnosis, or psychological condition. This pscyhosexual framework is outdated, misleading, and can be destructive. Those experiencing sexual regulation difficulties deserve an infusion of curiosity. Bridget’s work seeks to tease patterns from the seeming turmoil. Frequently, relational yearning or fear of the same hijacks our sexuality. Those without knowledge of relational joy seek short-term gratification or shun intimacy altogether. Shame further amplifies these confusions of connection. In order to want, we need to feel deserving, and so, for Bridget, all sexual dysregulation is met with warm regard and acceptance.
Sexuality within both ourselves and our partnerships can become mired in solemnity and stagnation. Humor ushers in possibility. Possibility provides room for change, and change promotes healing. Interestingly, creativity and playfulness are sometimes left out of the therapeutic mix. These workings are integral to human survival, and they’re psychologically hard-wired. It is nearly impossible to engage in competitive states of being. When play and humor hold sway, fear and shame shake loose. Bridget knows them to crack doors, build sound relational bridges, and banish shame. When incorporated into the exploration of sexuality, Bridget believes that less important is the particular therapeutic intervention utilized, most important is the vibrancy and connection which creativity and humor provoke.
Laughter is the closest distance between two people. Victor Borge
The quality of our physical and mental health is determined by the health of our relationships. Although physical education is thrust onto the main stage as soon as we reach school-age years, relational health seems to have been locked out of the auditorium. How is it that physical fitness garners only increased focus while that of relational health shows up solely in therapeutic offices? Where are our relational role models? How are we to understand lasting, fulfilling relationships without attention granted to them? We are bombarded with misinformation and purposeful influence cranked out by media campaigns. Inexhaustibly filtered personal posts further muddle relational waters, for couples who do share their experiences offer stories at the extreme edges of the relationship spectrum.
Cliches can be irritating in their simplicity and overuse. However, they continue to exist for a reason. Often, they extoll an unshakeable truth. In connection to our intimate relationships, there’s one which shouts from the rafters of most households. Relationships are hard. And no one seems to know quite what to do about it. However, couples’ therapy has experienced a recent reinvention of sorts. There is new research investigating the science underpinning romantic love and offering historical and cultural contexts for much of our partnered conflicts. Multidisciplinary thinkers are throwing their weight into the arena of coupled bonding. Although it continues to be tough to be in them, and perhaps even tougher to be out of them, it is certainly an ideal time to seek help in strengthening them.
Strong partnerships resemble a dance, a balancing act between disconnection and connection, disharmony and harmony. This movement, when expected and better understood, is more invigorating than distressing. However, we typically let our less adaptive selves drive the relationship 18-wheeler. Bridget reminds her clients to settle that part of ourselves in the passenger seat for a while. Clip the seatbelt, let them check out the scenery, and make sure the steering wheel is beyond reach. Neurologically, we are designed to react to current situations based on old wounds. In other words, much of the blame rests soundly in science rather than in our partner. This reflexiveness can be circumvented but requires practice in holding each other with loving firmness even as our precocious toddler-selves tantrum in their seats. Bridget’s work helps clients recognize the contempt which builds between partners when ‘the kids’ sit at the wheel. Adventuresome even exhilarating road trips are possible, but the prep and planning needs tending first.
My experience is that the teachers we need most are the people we’re living with right now. Byron Katie
Sexuality is merely a constellation tucked within the boundless concept of eroticism. Interest in its mechanisms is overlooked, even discouraged. Arguably, our society, and the therapeutic field dedicated to its understanding, are erotically illiterate. The Center For Growth is quite unique in its commitment to not only provide progressive support to its clients but also offer that very same guidance to emerging clinicians. Typically, sex and sexuality enter converstational and clinical settings when deemed problematic. Most of us are well trained to view sexuality through a pathologically assumptive lens. Bridget’s practice is designed to dismantle this skewed viewpoint and shore up curiosity and self-acceptance.
It is not sexuality which haunts society, but society which haunts the body’s sexuality. Maurice Godelier
Eroticism fuels vibrancy, aliveness. It is unique to humans, and the original sparks fly within individuals rather than between partners. There exists an interplay of impulses, memory, fantasy, anticipation, and thoughts which are layered one upon the other. This landscape is the backdrop of our sexuality, and its linchpin is our ability to imagine. Upbringing or exposure to trauma can short-circuit imagination and with it our eroticism. An expert in couples’ work, Esther Perel, asserts, “Tell me how you were loved, and I will tell you how you make love.” Most of us are reluctant to investigate our own erotic wishes let alone share them with others. Bridget fosters disclosure of sexual desires which shame has stifled. She understands the visceral fear of rejection which accompanies this act of courage. To be abandoned by the person we love most is paralyzingly fearsome, yet to know well your own erotic world or that of your partner is to fully live.
We need to be able to connect without the terror of obliteration, and we need to be able to experience our separateness without the terror of abandonment. Esther Perel
There are many groups fighting to be included in the growing discussion of sexuality. One of which draws consistent controversy yet deserves a place in the grappling. Those who identify as male face pressures often unacknowledged. It has been said that under current Western patriarchal norms, men must choose between power and connection. To experience one means losing the other. Intimacy is discouraged, and those who openly seek it face emasculating judgment. Many forms of male sexuality are met with skepticism and mistrust, yet more often than not men are utilizing sexual behavior to fulfill yearnings for affiliation, vulnerability, acceptance, and safety. These attempts are ineffective and achieve only a greater sense of isolation and angst. It is also not uncommon for debilitating shame to surface when obscured sexual desires and needs are spoken aloud. This is the wellspring from which dysregulated sexual behavior flows, and Bridget provides room for it to be explored, demystified, and transformed. Frequently, men wrestle with self-contempt beyond their own awareness. Against the backdrop of broadening empathy, those who identify as male merit an act of compassion. For repair-oriented forward movement, it is essential for a self-identified man to speak of his sexuality in the light of day without uniform threat of criticism or ostracization.
Sexuality is the great field of battle between biology and society. Nancy Friday
The bond between partners provides boundless vibrancy, stifling pain, and all variations in between. Bridget helps clients recognize that more is being asked of our intimate relationships than ever before. Communities used to provide what we now expect from our partners, and this has become our relational downfall. Further, couples no longer remain together out of necessity but rather out of desire. Relationships have been placed under tremendous pressure to maintain an unfaltering level of erotic lure. Sexuality and the more expansive concept of eroticism must be part of individual and couples’ work. Desire is the new relationship glue, and Bridget helps clients mix up a different batch with some color tossed in for good measure. Within the context of relation and sexuality, her practice holds a protected space from which to venture and imagine.
Unshoulder some of the self and societal judgment. Explore your erotic life with curiosity, and let Bridget and her colleagues carry the load for a while.
Bridget is also a seventh-generation farmer who finds herself spending a frustrating amount of time cursing roof-threatening winds and pretending she can keep houseplants alive. The list of her best friends includes at least one tractor.