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PCBH News & Articles

> Avoid Valentine’s Day Disappointment

> Let’s talk about SEX

> Stigma and Mental Health

> Psychotherapy 101

> Speed Dating Puts Relationships on Fast Track

> Sex Talk: Certified sex therapist offers advice on Marshfield radio show

> Fox 25 News: Certified sex therapist offers advice to Rev Up Your Relationship

> Fox 25 News: Certified sex therapist offers Dating Do’s and Don’ts

> Fox 25 News: Certified sex therapist offers advice on Cheating, Dating, Marriage and Money

> Fox 25 News: Relationship challenges: Keeping the romance

> Fox 25 News: Can Social Media Cause Marriage Problems?

> Fox 25 News: Why Do Powerful Men Cheat?

> Fox 25 News: Teen Dating Abuse

Let’s talk about SEX

South Shore Women’s Journal – Health & Wellness

By Dr. Julie A. Johnson

How many times have women said, “Honey, not tonight, I have a headache” to avoid relations with their partners? Maybe we’ve had a long and stressful day and we’re simply tired. Or maybe there is an underlying physiological and psychological condition that is keeping us from being totally fulfilled. Forty-three percent of all women have some form of sexual dysfunction.

What are the symptoms of sexual dysfunction?

The most common kinds of sexual dysfunction are pain upon sexual intercourse, which is referred to as dyspareunia; a muted orgasm, one that takes a long time to achieve, or none at all; arousal issues – lack of lubrication or stimulation; and desire issues – an aversion to or no interest in sex at all.

What is a sex therapist?

A sex therapist is someone who has extensive training and expertise in helping people with sexual problems or issues, such as: sexual dysfunction, sexual addiction, gender dysphoria, abuse or trauma. A certified sex therapist is someone who has met academic and clinical standards in the area of psychology and sexuality and has passed a lengthy and rigorous process by the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). A sex therapist with AASECT credentials will have the appropriate knowledgeable and background to give the best advice.

How do I know if my sexual difficulty is from a psychological or physical problem?

Some women feel guilty about not being interested in having sex. Others feel frustrated about missing that part of their life and want it back. Some may not even know there is a problem unless their partner brings it to their attention. All too often women have been told that their lack of sexual desire is due to stress or they are told to go on a date to spice things up. That advice may work in some instances, but oftentimes women need their concerns taken seriously by a professional such as therapist, a medical doctor, or in the best case scenario – both.

Most sexual difficulties have psychological and physical components. Today, because of medical advances, physical causes are often discovered in the majority of cases. The psychological or emotional component may be a result of the sexual problem rather than the cause. Relationship issues can often emerge during any form of sexual difficulty.

What happens at my first appointment?

During your initial one-hour consultation, I will evaluate your needs and figure out how I can best help you. I try to put clients at ease by creating an open atmosphere to discuss these sensitive issues. Then, in most cases I will refer you for a physical evaluation with the team I work with at the Center for Sexual Medicine at Boston Medical Center. We will continue to meet for therapy on a regular basis at my office at the Plymouth Center for Behavioral Health, LLC, in conjunction with the physiological interventions prescribed. Although everyone’s situation is different, most people start to feel better in a few months.

Why is talking about sex important?

Sex can be a barometer of your mental and physical health and can indicate the status of your intimate relationship. Sex is a normal part of life and if someone is feeling upset about their sexuality they need to get help with that.

Who do you see in sex therapy?

I see a variety of people with different backgrounds. Oftentimes, I see mothers who experience a decrease in sexual activity after childbirth. This is very common and could be due to a decrease in hormones, stress, or other factors. Other people who can benefit from sex therapy are those with: internet/sexual addiction, transgender disorders, gays, lesbians, couples with sexual difficulties, victims of abuse/sexual assault, people living with STDs and singles without partners who want to work on self-esteem issues relating to sex .

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Stigma and Mental Health

South Shore Women’s Journal – Health & Wellness

By Dr. Julie A. Johnson

What are the reasons people who need mental health treatment do not seek mental health treatment?

Believe it or not, there is still a huge stigma when it comes to accessing mental health. Many people feel ashamed that they feel depressed or anxious. People feel that they somehow have control over their feelings and they shouldn’t need a “stranger” to help them cope with difficulties. Another issue is that in our society people don’t view physical and emotional pain equally. Most people are more comfortable going to the doctor if something is physically wrong but if it is emotional pain, some people would prefer to suffer for an extended period of time before getting help, if at all.

Why do you think that is?

Research indicates that people are afraid of the mentally ill. The media exploits certain cases that are very scary and crazy and not at all examples of what most people do when they are depressed or anxious. Like most things, mental health is based on a continuum. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. At different points in our lives, events may happen that cause depression, anxiety or some other problem emotionally. If that negative feeling continues for an extended period of time, it is very important to seek out professional help.

How does someone know that it is time to talk to a professional?

People need to think about how much their problems are interfering with their level of functioning.  If a person is depressed and having a hard time focusing, working, eating, or sleeping for a period of two weeks that is significant and needs professional attention. Other red flags are suicidal or homicidal thoughts, feeling hopeless, worry, substance use, teary, anger and irritability. Any significant change in behavior or appearance could be a cue that is time to get professional help.

Do you find that people keep their treatment a secret from family and friends?

Treatment is always confidential to a point from the provider’s perspective. As a provider I always make sure that the patient is aware of the limits of confidentiality and we discuss them to the patient’s satisfaction. It is up to the patient to decide whom he or she wants to tell. Some patients are very comfortable with being in therapy and most of their family and friends get to know me as an important person in the patient’s life (although I may never meet them). Other patients are very private and choose to keep psychotherapy to themselves. I have found it usually has to do with the issues people are coming in to work on whether or not they disclose their participation in therapy.

What do you think would make it easier for people to access mental health?

It would be easier if we lowered the cost and improved health insurance for mental health. I think it would be easier if the intake process went smoother for people and they didn’t have to wait weeks to be seen by a therapist or psychiatrist. Most importantly, I think we need to promote mental health. The public needs to know it is acceptable to get treatment and moreover that treatment works!

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Psychotherapy 101

South Shore Women’s Journal – Health & Wellness

By Dr. Julie A. Johnson

What are some of the reasons people seek out psychotherapy?

People come in for therapy for a variety of reasons such as depression, anxiety or loss. Other issues that may prompt people to seek support are major life changes such as marital problems, divorce, job change, family issues, health problems, or a difficult time functioning personally and or professionally.

How do people start the process of therapy?

It is always a good idea to see your primary care physician first to rule out any medical problems. Sometimes an over or under active thyroid can look like a case of depression or panic disorder. To find a therapist, many people choose to ask their physician, friend or family member for a good referral. There are several resources available to find qualified therapists such as the internet or your insurance company. If you decide to contact an agency you will go through an intake process. The intake process usually entails a representative from the agency asking questions about what your specific needs are and then passing your information on to a therapist who will contact you to set up an appointment.

What can I expect on my first appointment?

Often times there is paperwork to be signed and filled out. After the paperwork portion is completed, I take time to talk with my patients and find out what is bringing them in to therapy at this point in their life.  Patients generally feel a great sense of relief to tell me what is happening.  It is common for people to become teary or emotional when explaining why they have decided to come in for therapy. An individual therapy session generally lasts about 50 minutes. Toward the end of the session we will develop a plan as to the frequency of the sessions and what is important to focus on. It is important to find a therapist that you feel a good connection with. For most people, you can usually tell if you connect well to the therapist by the third session. If you are feeling disconnected try to bring this up and discuss it. Talking about it may help to resolve it. If it persists, you may want to change therapists. Your relationship to the therapist is important!

If I attend therapy, do I need psychiatric medications?

Not in all cases. It depends on the person and their symptoms. Some people’s symptoms are so severe that they have a difficult time functioning. In those cases, medication is an important adjunct therapy. Research does indicate that psychotherapy and psychotropic medication is the best modality to treat some forms of mental illness. At our agency we have a psychiatrist that works very closely with our clinical team.  This is helpful to the patient from a continuum of care point of view. It is all managed under one roof.

How long do people need to be in therapy for?

Therapy is about change. The hope from my professional perspective is that whatever the problem that initiated the patient coming in for therapy has been resolved. The patient has learned new ways of coping and feels more confident managing their life than they did prior to beginning therapy. There is no “magic” length of time. Some people’s symptoms decrease rapidly while others have more embedded issues. Some patients choose to stay in therapy longer because they feel as though they need the support in their lives. As long as patients are benefiting and that is exemplified in their self-report and behaviors, we are on the right path. Some patients choose to take a “therapy holiday”. They may take a few months off or even years at a time.  It has been my experience that most people who chose to come to therapy enjoy the process of getting to know themselves better. 

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Speed Dating Puts Relationships on Fast Track

By Matthew J. Gill

GateHouse News Service

Posted Apr 17, 2009 @ 12:26 PM

There was a good-looking gentleman chatting away with Gina.

Gina, of course, was even more attractive than he. This was all well and good, but the trouble was the gentleman’s time was up. The buzzer had gone off. People at surrounding tables were saying “nice to meet you” to each other, and moving on. Chairs were being pushed out, and then pulled back in by new occupants.

And yet he lingered.

You couldn’t blame him, of course. Gina was cute. View the scenario from my point of view – the next in line, that is – and I think you’ll understand how I felt.


With time being of the essence – this was Speed Dating after all – I waited a gentlemanly 10 seconds or so for this sailor to ship off. Then, in a friendly, fraternal gesture, one that was simultaneously understanding and yet firm, akin to Wayne’s daily dealings with Fred Savage’s character of Kevin on “The Wonder Years,” I put my hand on the gentleman’s shoulder, and asked him to continue his search, at least for the next several minutes,

He did, and for the next 7-1/2 minutes or so, Gina and I spoke about how the event was going, what we do for fun, what we do for work, our beliefs, and pretty much whatever else came to mind.

I have speed dated, my friends, and I have lived to write about it.

In February, WATD radio hosts Candita Mamet and Dr. Julie Johnson co-hosted a night of Speed Dating at Hanabi Restaurant in Marshfield. They held another in March, and a third this past week.

 “People are just having fun meeting new people,” Mamet, who hosts Sunday evening’s “Healthy Living” on WATD, said. “We want to match people in a healthy, safe way, where they could find true love.”

Married and the mother of three, Mamet said both she and Johnson – who’s show “Sex on the South Shore” airs Sunday nights as well – are often asked by callers where good people and good relationships can be found on the South Shore.

“I don’t think there’s really anything out there that helps people find healthy relationships,” Mamet said.

Through their Speed Dating events, Mamet and Johnson hope to create an atmosphere where locals can participate in “a dose of healthy dating.”

“Whether you’re looking for someone special or just want to broaden your circle of friends, speed dating is the best and most exciting way to meet new people,” Mamet said. “We promise you a fun night out in a cool venue.”

“It only takes one connection,” Johnson added, “to find true love.”


Eight-minute memories

Speed dating — whether of the five, seven or eight-minute variety — is a pretty simple concept.

The toughest part is actually getting yourself to the event, and I don’t mean transportation-wise.

Once inside, realizing that everyone’s there for more or less the same reason – to meet some sweet someone – the butterflies fade away.

Again, the rules are simple. The rest is up to the participants.

At the event I attended, the women sat at numbered tables in the restaurant’s bar area. When the games commenced, the men sat down across from the woman at a particular number table. As the night went on, the guys would move to the table with the next highest number.

At the end of the night, the participants turned in a list of names of those they might like to see again. And after gathering them all, the organizers sent e-mails to the participants, with the phone number of the people they “matched” up with.

While there was some disorganization the first night, Mamet and Johnson have been perfecting the program as they go.

Mamet said she’s heard back from a number of participants, and some have reported they found a match at the event. One couple – a plumber and a beautician – are now dating exclusively, she added.

Mamet and Johnson are currently planning additional Speed Dating events in June and July at CROMA restaurant in Plymouth. The cost to speed date is $10, and those who’d like to participate are encouraged to register online at

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Sex Talk: Certified sex therapist offers advice on Marshfield radio show

Dr. Julie Johnson, Sex TherapistBy Linda Thomas

For The Patriot Ledger

Posted Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:04 AM

Last update Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:45 AM

QUINCY — Dr. Julie A. Johnson is the South Shore’s own Dr. Ruth. Like the popular Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Johnson is a certified sex therapist who hosts a radio show, “Sexually Speaking,” on WATD-FM in Marshfield. She co-hosts the 30-minute show at 6:30 p.m. Sundays with Beth Kelley.

Johnson said being open about sex is still taboo for some folks, so she hopes the format will prompt people to listen and learn. The month-old show allows callers to seek advice anonymously.

“Even though I’m a sexual health professional, patients are still uncomfortable with their own sexuality and discussing it,” Johnson said.

After all, she says, “sex isn’t behind closed doors anymore.”

Johnson, 33, of Kingston, is founder and director of the Plymouth Center for Behavioral Health in Plymouth, a mental health clinic where she treats sexual dysfunction and mood disorders. Johnson is also affiliated with the Boston University School of Medicine and has worked at the school’s Center for Sexual Medicine for the past five years.

The job of a sex therapist is to help patients work on relationship issues and to cope with and understand their sexual dysfunction.

That’s why Nicki, a 46-year-old sales manager, sought out Johnson. Nicki (last name withheld) said she lost interest in sex. The desire was there mentally, but not physically. Married 20 years, Nicki said she went through the motions during intimacy with her husband.

“I wanted the desire to come back,” she said. “I didn’t understand why it wasn’t there.”

Nicki said she thought maybe it was an emotional change as her only child is leaving home this fall. Johnson is helping Nicki understand why and how she lost her libido. “She’s helping me take the stigma and embarrassment away,” Nicki said. “I’m already in a place where I feel validated and comfortable. I feel like someone is really listening, educating me – and willing to take the time as a way to make things better for me.”

Johnson said she gives out practical advice on the radio from a “solution-focused, cognitive behavioral perspective,” adding that she doesn’t ask callers pertinent information about themselves.

“Frank discussions about sex are generally good as long as the facts are correct,” Johnson said.

“Adults should have an awareness of their sexuality because it is a barometer of their overall emotional and physical functioning, meaning that you can tell how a relationship is going by asking about the intimacy.”

Some callers ask about how to manage jealousy. For example, one caller had a girlfriend whose ex-boyfriend was staying with her and that was upsetting to him.

Other questions have been about receiving text messages from the opposite sex.

A swinger called about developing feelings for one of the partners she swapped with.

Others call in to interject their point of view with Johnson – or if they have had a similar experience.

Johnson, who got her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Hartford, said she has seen many people who have not been properly diagnosed.

“Helping people and encouraging them to see their gynecologist (or medical doctor) and educating them about their bodies, especially when desire, orgasm and arousal aren’t there, is crucial,” said Johnson, who’s a member of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists.

Along with getting psychological support, Johnson said people also need to be evaluated physically. “If you don’t, you can spin your wheels for years without getting to the core issues. You don’t have to deal with them alone. Get help before it starts to affect your sense of self and your relationships.”

Johnson’s co-host Kelley, 31, has no medical background. She is a full-time party planner and event manager at a Boston nightclub.

“I’m young, single and living in Boston with lots of various and interesting experiences in the dating world,” Kelley said. “We complement each other.”

For more information, call Dr. Julie A. Johnson at the Plymouth Center for Behavioral Health at 508-830-0012.

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