Growing up in Ohio, Lauren Herman had plans to become an elementary school teacher. She…
An Interview with Justin Roll, Primary Therapist
First thing in the morning, as the sun rises, Justin Roll meditates on his front porch. With his focus sharp and his mind calm, he heads to The Ranch, where he serves as a primary therapist in the Center for Relationship and Sexual Recovery, the men’s sex addiction program.
Justin describes himself as a “player’s coach,” meaning he earns trust and respect by approaching clients with an understanding of what each person, as an individual, needs. He is positive, but realistic. And though he can be confrontational when needed, he’s also intensely supportive and encouraging.
“I believe that people are innately good, but they have learned maladaptive coping skills that worked at one point in time but now are destroying their lives,” says Justin, who is trained in experiential therapy, Brainspotting and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and uses those therapies to help clients process their feelings on a deeper level. “In treatment, clients learn new coping skills and begin letting go of the old ones.”
A Personal Struggle
Justin can relate to his clients on many levels. He grew up in a chaotic and abusive home in Indiana and struggled with drugs and alcohol throughout high school and college. It wasn’t until he hit rock bottom in college that he decided to turn his life around. After years of therapy, he learned how to embrace his authentic self.
“Like many of our clients, growing up I learned that it wasn’t okay to be me. I was whoever I thought people wanted me to be,” says Justin. “I have spent many years learning to live with integrity and authenticity. By changing my relationship with myself, I found that my other relationships became richer and more manageable. Now I can set boundaries and deal with issues without coping irrationally. This is the same type of process I help guide our clients through – a process of making peace with themselves.”
Addressing the Deeper Issues
During college, Justin worked as a technician in a 28-day rehab program. Then, in 2000, he moved to Tennessee where he counseled troubled teens at a wilderness program. After going back to school for his master’s degree, Justin joined the team at The Ranch in 2006.
“The Ranch had a different feel than the other treatment centers I had seen,” Justin explains. “They recognize that every individual has their own unique path to recovery, so treatment isn’t cookie-cutter. They go beyond the symptoms to address trauma and other underlying issues. As a trauma survivor myself, The Ranch’s approach resonated with me at a time when other centers weren’t really talking about the deeper issues.”
The Ranch provides a structured, therapeutic environment both during and after business hours. There’s a lot of “porch therapy” that goes on after hours, says Justin. For example, dinner is a special time at The Ranch. The clients fix meals for the entire group and sit down together for a family-style meal. Every once in a while clients invite Justin to stay for dinner, which is a highlight both for him and the clients.
“Group dinners give me a chance to get to know the clients on a more personal level,” he says. “My interactions with them, and their interactions with each other, give them practice in building healthy relationships with other men and restoring trust and intimacy.”
Justin also enjoys doing couples work. Spouses and partners are invited to family weekend at The Ranch and may also attend primary group, where they can work through issues with support and feedback from other clients. For those who do not live locally, Justin may set up telephone or Skype sessions to help the couple learn to communicate openly, to be congruent with themselves and one another, to address their goals within the relationship, and to heal from the issues stemming from sex addiction.
From Shame to Grace
Justin always had an interest in sex addiction, particularly after training with Dr. Patrick Carnes to become a Certified Sex Addictions Therapist and learning more about his own addictive patterns. What has impressed him most about the men at the Center for Relationship and Sexual Recovery is how quickly they bond with one another and progress in their recovery.
“There is so much shame around sex addiction,” Justin says. “When our clients hear that others are struggling with similar issues, they feel less alone. They learn that they deserve love and happiness, that they are not bad people, and that their shame is understood – and in so doing, as we say in Sex Addicts Anonymous, they move from shame to grace.”