Sex Addiction Therapy

I first trained in sex addiction therapy whilst studying psychosexual therapy. I have since gone on to specialize in sex addiction therapy which has many nuances which are importantly different to other addiction cycles. This I appreciate, understand and respect to be free from judgement when working with individuals, couples or partners of a sexual addicted individual.

 

 

What is Sex Addiction?

Whilst the use of the phrase sex addiction can be challenging to hear and may contribute to shame, it is currently the best way to describe a set of behaviours which have become or are out of control become and are causing harm. Sex addiction is an acknowledgement of this with how to overcome it. Sex addiction therapy, can involve working with partners of a person who has a sex addiction – as much has been written now about how to support the partner in their discovery of sex addiction (Click here to view the Impact of Discovery page).

An initial assessment will frame the course of sex addiction therapy to be tailored to the individual needs of the client. This is vital for support, guidance and helpwhen working with triggers, slips, lapses, at the beginning and through to recovery

Sex addiction, also known as sexual compulsion and sexual dependency is where there is a dependency which affects an individual’s health. They are unable to stop despite the severe consequences that may arise in their everyday life and sex addiction helps to frame and describe the sexual activities which feel “out of control”. Out of control can be when an individual feels compelled to seek them out and/or engage in them. The engagement in these behaviours is in spite of the problems it may cause to his/her personal life, the impact on their family and the impact on their partner (see above), as well the impact on their social life and work.

Sex addiction may cover single or multiple sexual behaviours and sex addiction therapy can treat these in a number of ways. However, no single behavioural pattern defines sex addiction. It is the unmanageability and control over one’s live which is important, as they feel self-destructive with an inability to stop or even stay stopped, let alone cease thinking about;

  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Compulsive use of pornography
  • Having multiple, ongoing affairs
  • Exhibitionism
  • Fetishes
  • Love Addiction
  • Dangerous sexual practices
  • Frequent use of paid sex workers
  • Cybersex
  • Anonymous (stranger) sex
  • Voyeurism
  • Telephone sex
  • Chat room/online sex
  • Illegal sexual practices

Essentially,it is how these behaviours feel out of control. This may include spending large amounts of time, or wondering where the time has gone when preoccupied and planning, engaging in and recovering from chosen sexual behaviours. This is in spite of the physical, emotional, relational and financial cost, which may also include a judicial cost to these activities.

I am a member of ATSAC; Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity and they have a self-assessment tool. If you, or someone you know, who you think may be a sex addict, please click here to complete.

What is Love Addiction?

Whilst sex addiction is a compulsive pattern of pursuing sexual arousal independent of emotional attachments, Love addiction is a little harder to define simply because by nature we are all addicted to love – meaning we want it, seek it and have a hard time not thinking about it. To survive we instinctively seek connection, especially romantic connection and there is nothing wrong or dysfunctional about wanting love.

Love addiction, is a compulsive, chronic craving and/or pursuit of romantic lovein an effort to get our sense of security and worth from another person. Within this, a person is attempting to get their needs met, as sense of worth from another person, through unhealthy attachments, romance and sex. During infatuation an individual will believe there is security, only to be disappointed and empty again once the intensity of the infatuation fades. The negative consequences can be severe and yet the love addiction continues to hang on to the belief that true love with fix everything.

An example of Love addiction, is repeated relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable. As someone in recovery once said when questioned who where they going out with? “You know, same person, different face”. It is the expectation from another to help solve problems, and when the unrealistic needs are not met, the individual can then find themselves becoming resentful. Which in turn may create conflict in a relationship. Intensity in a relationship may often become mistaken for intimacy. Resulting in negative emotions from an expectation of love.

What is Porn Addiction?

Opportunity to access porn is so much easier due to the widespread use of the internet and mobile phones.What starts as a harmless stress or sexual release may for some individuals, lead to compulsive usage where there is little or no control over their use of internet pornography. Somehow, the initial plan(s) to go on line for a short period of time fades and finding oneself on a porn website browsing favourite categories in search for new video, ends up consuming hours.

Porn may have escalated from viewing to escaping into a virtual world through enrolling on dating sites, meeting people online for cybersex, arranging one night stands with strangers or starting serial affairs.

It is an over use of sexual porn/fantasy which may then lead to changes about how someone then feels about partner sex, because it may even cause lack of desire and/orsexual dysfunctions i.e. delayed ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. If the use of porn is interfering on your life, by having a negative impact as it takes priority over partners, family and romantic relationships, friends and social life, then support may be needed.

One way of exploring if porn has become is addictive is reflecting on these stages:

  1. With opportunity now so prevalent, the older adage of early exposure can be and is true. However, this will not account for what opportunity can provides today through apps, mobile phones and continuous internet access. Early exposure to mags, VHS videos, dvd’s, someone’s private stash are still vital to assess in an assessment as is the simplicity of opportunity today.
  2. There’s something about why keep coming back to porn which morphs into becoming a regular part of daily life. Is this now addiction? When finding it difficult to stop and the thoughts that keep coming back.
  3. The search for more porn or more graphic porn, or favourite categories and lost with in these fields in search of the new image. Somehow, what began as curiosity has now taken over as what you watch now is a need for more excitement.
  4. It’s hard to know when the first images don’t excite and the current images also become numb. Finding a thrill starts to become more of a desperate pursuit, out of control.
  5. Acting out, sexually. Not always but it can lead away from clicks, control and images to the real. The acting out here as in the above stages, when discovered by a partner can be devastating in its’s impact, more than just infidielity.

I am a member of ATSAC; Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity and they have a self-assessment tool. If you, or someone you know, who you think may be a sex addict, please click here to complete.

Click here to see my “how we begin” section to understand how we begin the therapy process.

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