5 Different Types of Sex Addiction Therapy
Sex addiction is defined as a compulsive participation in sexual behaviors that are damaging to the individual and those in their lives. Some call this sexually compulsive behavior or out-of control sexual behavior.
Though some don’t see the seriousness if this problem, a compulsive engagement in either viewing pornography, engaging in excessive masturbation, or paying for sex work—and more—can be seriously disruptive to one’s life. In fact, Rory Ried, a research psychologist at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, talks about how some men spend “half their income on prostitutes, and office workers who surf the web for porn despite warnings that they’ll lose their job.” Sex addiction behavior puts one’s life at risk by disrupting their social life, risking personal relationships, risking their careers, and even harming their mental and physical health. Fortunately, there is help to be found in sex addiction therapy.
This type of problem requires therapists who have training and experience working with these issues. Looking for an untrained sex addiction therapist often increases imbalance in relationships. It’s common for these relationships to return to therapy with even more problems than when they first started seeking out help. Thus, this page is here to help you avoid this occurring for you.
What Type of Therapy Can Help?
Sex addiction therapy aims to help those living with sexually compulsive behavior usually by combing a variety of treatment options. Depending upon the severity of the addiction, the need of the patient, and the diagnosis from the therapist, the treatments can vary.
There are three different types of basic treatment.
- Individual Therapy: Considered traditional therapy, this option entails having a 30-60 minute session with a certified mental health professional who can help you through your problems. The therapist will have specialized training and focus on your sexually compulsive behaviors, no matter what they are, as well as any other co-occurring disorders. This therapy can help by offering a qualified “outsider” to offer a different perspective to your problem. Because they have no personal ties to you, you have no worry of feeling judged as you detail your problems. Finding a sex addiction therapist right for you can be difficult as there are various types of sex therapies out there. A good place to start looking is with the IITAP directory. IITAP is an organization that specializes in the treatment of sex addiction behaviors for therapists.
- Group Therapy: By using positive social interaction, group therapy aims to help patients by showing them that they are not alone in their addiction. The group is always lead by a one or more qualified therapists and aims to create a community where patients can feel safe and affirmed throughout their healing process.
- Couples / Marriage Counseling: Sex addiction can be especially detrimental if the patient is married or in a serious relationship. Stress can be put on their partner if they’re asking for too much sex, looking for sex elsewhere, or opening themselves up to venereal diseases, which then put their partner at risk. By holding therapeutic sessions with a licensed therapist and their partner, patients can work to get to the bottom of their sex addiction, especially if it has roots in feelings of inadequacy, boredom, or problems in the relationship.
- Partner Therapy: Partners of sex and porn addicts can deal with a lot of trauma. Unfortunately, trauma often stacks on top of itself and many people who are in these relationships also have past relational traumas.
Some common approaches to treating sex addiction.
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy): This therapy focuses on the driving mental aspect of most addictions. By focusing on behaviors, emotions, and thoughts that are all connected, this treatment aims to change negative, triggering thoughts into positive ones through self-talk and affirmations. Through this therapy patients can gain a better self-image. By engaging in self-talk, they learn how to identify their triggers, understand their thoughts and feelings, and accept themselves and their shortcomings throughout the process.
- Psychodynamic Therapy: For those who feel they may be suffering from sex addiction due to a past trauma or abuse, psychodynamic therapy is built upon the premise that repressed memories are a source that affect behavior. This therapy aims to uncover the hidden memories and conflicts from childhood or current stimuli that are fueling the addiction. Through this therapy, patients usually a gain a sort of affirmation that what they’re struggling with is not their fault. With sex addiction, there is often a lot of shame and self-loathing, but this approach shows the patient that they aren’t the one to blame.
- Mindfulness Approaches: It’s important for people who are dealing with addictions to become more aware of different experiences in their bodies. Most relapses occur because of how someone deals with difficult emotions. Mindfulness helps clients learn about emotions, but also helps them tolerate more difficult emotions.
- Sex Positive Sexual Reintegration: Unfortunately, sexual compulsivity can lead to a lot of shame around sex. But shame about sex isn’t only a consequence of sex addiction. It’s also often a cause. Therefore, a lot of recovery work involves acceptance of who you are and what you want. It also involves identifying boundaries for clients and their relationships. Finally this type of work focuses on helping clients learn how to better communicate their needs.
- Trauma therapies: Trauma therapies such as somatic experiencing, post induction therapy and EMDR can be helpful for sex addicts and partners of sex addicts. These therapies are usually utilized along with individual and narrative therapy to help people move past the past traumatic events, while also grounding and orienting to the present with boundaries.
What about 12 step groups:
12 Step recovery groups can be a nice resource for some individuals. They don’t resonate with everyone. However, it’s also important to recognize that this should be something that works along with your therapy, rather than something that takes the place of therapy. At the same time, sharing in these groups can also be supportive and help with shame resilience.
- 12 Step Recovery: Similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program, Sex Addicts Anonymous is a group focused on accepting the powerlessness in the face of addiction and their willingness to get help and live a life without it. Through this option, patients can gain a goal-oriented and structured treatment plan that has a clear outcome at the end.
- Side note for LGBTQ+ folks. Some of these groups have evangelical definitions of gender and sexual orientation. Sexaholics anonymous (SA) is one of these such groups. If you’re not out, I recommend asking about contacting the group facilitator to hear their perspective on various orientations and genders. If you’re not ready to share or ask, it may be better to talk with your therapist about other support group options.
It is important to understand that seeking sex addiction therapy is a very brave step toward recovery. It’s not easy to admit to an addiction of any kind, but accepting it and seeking treatment is the beginning of a better life. No matter what type of therapy you choose, you will gain peace of mind, a release from shame, and control over your life that you may feel you have lost because of your addiction. Each of these treatment options are effective and can help to heal the addiction over time.
Vantage Point Counseling offers various treatment options for different addictions and mental illnesses. With their help, thousands of people have been able to find healing and help for various mental health issues that may be fighting. They can’t wait to help you too. Visit them at their main site to learn more.