Dr. April Brown – How to Bring Intimacy Back


Below is the transcription of this interview with Dr. April Brown. For more information about Dr. April Brown please click here. To contact her directly please call 239-565-6921.

Transcript from Interview

Christopher Bruce: Hi everyone. My name is Christopher Bruce. I’m a divorce lawyer in the South Florida area with the Bruce Law Firm. And today I have the pleasure of being joined by Dr. April. Dr. April is a licensed mental health counselor and therapist in the Southwest Florida area. And she’s also host of the live show Bringing Intimacy Back. And I had a great time being on her show with my wife [Ashley] recently, and we thought it’d be a great idea to talk about really what she does and what she talks about, which is how to bring intimacy back into a relationship. So, Dr. April, thanks for joining us and maybe just take a moment to tell everybody about yourself, and then we’ll get into the topic.

Dr. April Brown: Sure. Thank you for having me on the show and, of course, being a guest on my show. Just here I would like to thank everybody for listening. And just to give you guys a little bit of background about what I do, I’m a therapist in Southwest Florida that provides mental health counseling and relationship counseling. And my background is I’ve been doing this since 2005. I went into this field … I was actually an accountant, similar in your background, and I felt like [inaudible] to do something different to help people. And so I really was starting to [inaudible] that.

Dr. April Brown: What happened after that was that I felt like I was seeing that people sometimes are missing connections with one another, with their family, with the busyness of life, and this was of course prior to COVID-19. Everyone was just going so many places and not really having true connections. And so that’s why I decided to do this show called Bringing Intimacy Back. But also in therapy, when I’m working with couples, many couples get divorced because of loneliness, not connected. And so what I do is I help them provide that type of service to help them connect and find ways for them to connect.

Christopher Bruce: Gotcha. I never knew you were a fellow accountant by training. It’s very interesting, but this stuff’s more interesting. So intimacy, I think some people, they define it as sex or stuff like that, but I think it means a lot more than just intimate relations. And just before we get into talking about this topic, what is the intimacy that we’re talking about here? What does that mean? Just so everybody has a better idea.

Dr. April Brown: So intimacy really means strong bonds, intimate connection, into me you see. So when people are engaging in a truly intimate relationship, it’s not always just sex, because you can have great intimacy, not only with your partner, but with your kids. You both are there physically, mentally, spiritually. You’re in the same space and you’re having a connection. And it doesn’t, I know I said the same space, but the same time zone, you’re present. And I think that is really important. There’s a connection where when you’re in an intimate connection, we feel like each person has each other’s back.

Christopher Bruce: How do you see people typically losing intimacy in a relationship? I know there’s a lot out there that say, “Oh, well, things are great in the beginning. And then we fell out of love.” And you read some of the books, like the Five Love Languages, and it talks about how sometimes people become like two ships passing in the night. I mean, how does that happen, just from your viewpoint as a clinician? I’ll call you the intimacy expert too.

Dr. April Brown: Sometimes it happens just because basic life, that people get so busy and they don’t prioritize their relationship. Sometimes it happens because there is trauma that’s happened, whether it’s a death of a child and stuff, and a person feels like maybe the other person isn’t there for them. But sometimes it happens because when people get together, maybe very young in life and 40 years later, they change, someone’s changed, and they kind of grew apart. But I guess the main reason why it happens, to answer your question, is probably because people aren’t prioritizing their relationship as important, and that it takes time, it takes energy, because intimacy is also lost because people don’t have energy for one another. So it’s prioritizing.

Christopher Bruce: And I guess when it comes down to, for people that they feel like they’ve fallen out of love or out of touch with their partner, the intimacy meter is running on empty. I mean, from just what you do as a therapist and talking about this subject a lot, what are some of your best ideas for these people and trying to get the spark back in their relationship to regain the intimacy maybe they once had with their partner or loved one?

Dr. April Brown: Well, first is, of course, realizing this is something you want. And if this is something as a relationship that you want, then you’ve got to put the time, the energy, the commitment in. And relationships take, for sometimes it’s not always easy, but you got to be … I mean, I talk again about intimacy. It’s even having an intimate meal, having an intimate conversation, doing games together. It’s spending time together, connecting. Communication intimacy is one of the critical parts of intimacy and all the other aspects. It’s because that means you’re actually not just talking, but you’re actually listening and hearing what the other person is saying. I’m validating their feeling, and it’s a free flowing conversation. I think one of the struggles with intimacy that some people have is being vulnerable, because that’s really, really hard. If you haven’t had the right upbringing sometime in that and you’ve been hurt so much, you have these walls up, but breaking down the walls, being vulnerable, being able to really let the other person into your space, sharing the same atmosphere. So commitment …

Christopher Bruce: How can a therapist help with all of this and help a couple maybe a become closer with each other, bring back the level of intimacy?

Dr. April Brown: So a therapist can help because sometimes I said, as you remember, that sometimes people are hurt and there’s trauma or there’s disagreements. And so therapy can help because that sometimes brings the safe environment that you can go in front of a third party and learn how to communicate and learn how they can help you break down the walls in a safe environment. So you two can start back communicating.

Dr. April Brown: A therapist also helps you see the other person’s point of view, because sometimes we miss that. When you’re truly intimate on a connection, you’re actually hearing the person and not just in your mind thinking about what you want to say next, you’re actually hearing them. And then, of course, it gives you a variety of tools. There’s a lot of tools on how to create and increase intimacy in a variety of different ways.

Christopher Bruce: Okay. That makes a lot of sense. And I know one of the things that you do with your practice that’s pretty unique and seems like something that I could do just to see it is you do couples intensives basically at a property that you and your husband own over on the West Coast of Florida. And of course, I want to hear about the property, but maybe just also help people understand how can a couples’ intensive or maybe a weekend retreat with their spouse and somebody that has your credentials help them regain their lost connection with their spouse or significant other?

Dr. April Brown: Yeah. So that’s called Vacation Counseling. One of the program that we have. And many times when sometimes couples are doing well, they’re like, “Well, let’s just go on vacation.” They get away, which is great and does help because that does take you out of your comfort zone. And so you do sometimes better that way. But with Vacation Counseling, that’s one aspect. But the other aspect is you’re actually going to get help on how to communicate, on how to talk, not only help with intimacy, but also help with the relationship and individual counseling. So we bring you guys in a couple in a vacation rental. He manages quite a few. And in that vacation rental, you’re going to have therapists work with you individually, to work with you as a couple, give you communication tools, intimacy tools. We also do a variety of assessments, of course, to see where the lag is. How to build trust, but also how to create and have fun.

Dr. April Brown: So it’s not just, “I’m sitting here,” and it’s one couple at a time. We’re only going to work with one couple at a time. But also how to have fun, to go do activities, boating, swimming. We have golf courses here. So in this program, we’re also doing a new component where we’re also having it online, because we know that we’re in COVID-19 right now and that some people may not want to leave whatever. But in the same concept of Vacation Counseling, it’s not only just we’re working on helping bringing you guys back together, but also encouraging activities, shared things that you guys do together because that’s very important.

Christopher Bruce: I was going to ask you about that. How does, maybe I’m going a little off script with this, but how important is it to have things that you do together with your partner where you’re both having fun when it comes to having a close relationship with them in your marriage or just, I guess, your relationship in general?

Dr. April Brown: That’s very important to have some shared activities, shared meaning because that’s helping creating the bond, and it’s also helping in the process of learning what each other does best. But it’s also, when you create something, just like when we create babies and stuff, it’s beautiful, it’s that shared togetherness and that is what intimacy is, togetherness. It’s that connection. It’s that bond. So whether you share a painting together, paint together, or what a lot of people are doing now, it’s gardening together. Just doing some kind of activity together really does help.

Dr. April Brown: I do want to say that, because we’re in this COVID-19 and many of us are in the house together all the time and working together and sharing things together, that it is okay, of course, to have outside activities outside of the shared activity. And when I talk about intimacy, I do talk about it with relationships, but there’s a variety of type of intimacy. But you do also have to have some self intimacy, time alone for yourself to do activities too, because that brings back passion. If a couple is together all the time, there’s no air.

Christopher Bruce: That makes sense to me, especially right now.

Dr. April Brown: Yes, yes, yes, yes. So overall it basically means a harmony and balance of activities.

Christopher Bruce: Okay. And just one thing I wanted to ask you about, I’m a divorce lawyer and meet with people frequently that are considering divorce. And some of them just have really toxic relationships, but others are little, I guess, more of a hard story, at least for me to process, because they tell me, and usually it’s women, and they tell me, “Look, my husband’s a wonderful person. I know he loves me. He’s not a bad guy, but he just doesn’t seem to be responding to our cues. It’s like our relationship’s bland. And I keep trying to get him to maybe go to therapy or do stuff with me to make things better. And it’s not happening.” And they’re in my office trying to find out how divorce work. And maybe for those types of people, do you have any special advice as to what they might be able to do to give their loved one or spouse a polite kick in the rear to get them to pay attention and maybe reignite that spark?

Dr. April Brown: Right. Of course, there’s a lot of different books on that. One of the things that I [inaudible 00:13:26]. One of the things I try to help women understand is sometimes men are very logical and you’re great at feelings, but some men sometimes don’t understand feelings at all. So helping women talk to your husband in their language.

Dr. April Brown: And you might say, “What do I mean about their language?” Well, since many men are [inaudible] tied to their profession, talking to them in terms of their profession. Like you’re an accountant, right? So talking to you in the sense of the assets and liabilities and how that relates to relationships. Sometimes when you’re able to talk to someone and make them see it in their terminology, then they understand it better. In other words, if you feel like I’m not getting anything in this relationship right now. It’s just, you’re struggling, talking to an accountant and be like, “I think we’re in the red right now.” I think the expenses and the revenues are not matching up. But talking to them in their language, I think that’s one thing.

Dr. April Brown: The second thing, of course, which is a book of course, is the five love language, understanding each person’s love language. And maybe for sometimes with couples when you’re like, not screaming, but you’re talking, he’s sitting on the couch and you’re talking in the kitchen and all this kind of stuff, and the guy is tuning out, using his love language. If touch is his love language, why don’t you sit beside him? Touch his thigh, curl his little hair. Yeah. That helps, calms down the atmosphere in the room so we can start to have a conversation. Yes. Yeah. And so that’s another thing that can sometimes help with intimacy and with getting the people to talk. Does that make sense?

Christopher Bruce: It does. And beyond a brief flashback to accounting school, and then the time I read a book on tape of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, it makes a lot of sense. And basically it seems like what you’re saying is to try to relate to the person in the way they’re most likely to be accepting of the message because you might not have been doing that.

Dr. April Brown: Right. Right. And sometimes that does help when you go into therapy, you get to learn how to communicate. And if you’re having a spouse and they don’t want to go to therapy, they’re like, “I’m not going to therapy,” well, you can go. Start to work on yourself, and maybe it sometimes encourages the other person to also join you. Or you find tools on how to look at things from your other person’s perspective. So yes. And of course, talking with a person, try not to use “you” statements. Use the “I” statements.

Christopher Bruce: Okay. And this is possibly a more timely question right now as we’re in the middle of this Coronavirus pandemic, but for the people, the couples out there that are in stressful times, like it is for many right now, but there’s a lot of other stressful periods in life and the seasons of life, do you have any special advice for them as to trying to maintain their intimacy maybe when there’s just outside stressful influences, maybe the loss of a loved one or loss of a job or right now in the Coronavirus, anything special when the stress is influencing the relationship?

Dr. April Brown: Right. I think also setting time aside first to talk about it, because sometimes you may think, “Well, we’re home all the time,” but do you ever really set the time aside? That’s number one. Number two is to cut down on some of the TV watching, because of all the negativity. Yes. Because that can sometimes impact a relationship of that aspect. Number three is sometimes even just going out and trying to do something, whether it’s even you two driving in the car, just to get out, just to talk about it.

Dr. April Brown: Number four, realize that we all handle stress a little differently. So for some people who are very stressful, they become very sexual. They want sex all the time. Others who become stressful, they don’t want anyone to touch them. So let’s start talking about that. “How are you dealing with the stress that’s going on?” Talk with your partner about that. That’s very, very important.

Dr. April Brown: Number five, of course, is that whatever happened before COVID-19 in the sense of responsibilities and roles, it’s changed. It’s a different norm now. So helping each other out with different things at home, because now you have a lot of kids at home, and you’re trying to balance everything. So I think that helps. And with the kids and creating time for intimacy, it’s also teaching your kids how to self soothe themselves and spend some time by themselves. So not everyone’s running in the room all the time. Making time for intimacy is also critical too.

Christopher Bruce: So I’m here with Dr. April Brown, and she’s a therapist in the Southwest Florida area. And Dr. April, I guess, for the people that are listening to this and are really identifying with what you’re saying, maybe talk for a minute about your therapy practice and how you and your team help your clients, what you’re really good at, and maybe a little bit more about the geographic area you serve and your access to the telehealth network.

Dr. April Brown: Okay. Yes. Thank you. Yes. My name is Dr. April Brown, and we’re located in Southwest Florida in Cape Coral, Florida. I have a private practice that’s also called Cape Coral Therapists and a variety of counselors there. So besides the intimacy in relationship counseling, we provide a wide range from sports counseling to immigration counseling, to addictions, and a variety of different things. That’s one avenue we have.

Dr. April Brown: I also have a radio show and a podcast called Bringing Intimacy Back, which is a free resource about relationships that we love to have and do those kinds of things. And we’re also doing a special thing called 239 Real Talk. We do once a month that you can find information on our website or on my website draprilbrown.com. And that’s just to talk about what’s going on with this COVID-19, your mental health because it’s really important to take care of that and how to, we’re all going to bounce back.

Dr. April Brown: We will bounce back from this and we’ve got to keep the hope. And so one of the things about intimacy is also being positive and hopeful. And so one quick way of increasing intimacy in the whole house is to have like three things of gratitude. It’s just to be gratitude and be thankful for the family and the connection that you have. And take this time to enjoy one another. I know it’s like we’re all stuck together, but you’re not going to be stuck together forever. So take the time to get to know each other and to enjoy it.

Christopher Bruce: So now I know I have your information up on the video and your website and phone number, but I heard you say your website, draprilbrown.com, but just for the people that are hearing this and really want to get in touch with you or the people that hear this on the podcast recording, maybe just say your contact information one more time so we can make sure people know how to get in touch.

Dr. April Brown: Okay. Yes. So my website is www.dr., D-R-A-P-R-I-L brown.com so it’s Dr. April Brown. I also am a part of a group practice called Cape Coral Therapist and that’s www.capecoraltherapists.com, with an S. I’m also got a show, just a lot. It’s called Bringing Intimacy Back. And so that’s www.bringingintimacyback.com. And the couples retreat and intensive that’s called vacationcounseling.com. If you need to call me the phone number is (239)565-6921. And if you want to email me about any of that stuff, just email info@draprilbrown.com.

Christopher Bruce: Well, thank you very much. My name is Christopher Bruce, and I had the pleasure of being joined by Dr. April Brown on Bringing Intimacy Back. I really encourage you to check out her website, but also to see her show. My wife and I, Ashley, had just a really fun time being on it. It was almost like the experience brought intimacy back for us. It’s really cool. But in looking at some of the other shows, there’s some really good stuff and I think inspiring stories about how other people, other couples really find happiness together. So encourage everybody to do that. And Dr. April, thank you so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you here today.

Dr. April Brown: Yes. Thank you so much, Chris, for having me on the show and give my best to your wife.