Sex addiction Counseling
Sex Addiction happens when thinking about sex, pursuing sex, or having sex become the main things a person spends their time on. Time spent on these comes at the cost of marriage, work, self-care, or financial well-being.
Like other addictions, sex addiction leaves you feeling isolated, ashamed, hopeless, and unsatisfied. Also like other addictions, you cannot beat it on your own. Remaining an addict can potentially cost you your marriage, your job, your relationship with your kids, and your legacy.
Successful Sex Addiction Counseling includes at least the following components:
- Individual Therapy
- Couple Therapy (if applicable)
- Group Therapy
- A Clear Approach
Porn Addiction is also Sex Addiction
Using porn is thinking about sex. Using porn is a pursuit of sex. When masturbation (sex with self) and using porn go together, using porn is also having sex. Even if you have never had sex with anyone other than yourself and your spouse, if you are a porn addict, you are a sex addict.
The Role of Individual Therapy in Sex Addiction Counseling
Individual therapy is where we explore what caused the addiction, what fed its power in your life, and how to stop it. This is also where we will prepare you for disclosure to your spouse or significant other, create a long term plan for your recovery, and adjust your recovery plan as needed.
The Role of Couple Therapy in Sex Addiction Counseling
Sex addiction has a huge impact on your significant other. Some spouses take the news of your addiction like a slap on the face. Others take it like getting run over by a freight train. For your recovery to be successful, you must understand the pain your addiction has caused for your spouse.
Sex addiction recovery is different from other addiction recovery because it has a direct impact on your marriage. This means that successful sex addiction counseling requires your spouse to participate. Your addiction and your recovery are your responsibility alone. Healing your marriage requires that your spouse participate in couple therapy during your recovery.
The Role of Group Therapy in Sex Addiction Counseling
In group, you learn through experience that you are not alone in your addiction. Other men have struggled with this addiction. You also learn how to build healthy, supportive relationships that do not include sex.
This is where you see and hear stories of successful recovery, which gives you hope for your own recovery. This is many times more powerful than your counselor telling you that recovery is possible.
If your therapist is like a trauma surgeon, your group is like the EMT team that gets you to the ER. Your therapist cannot be available 24/7. Your group can.
The Role of Spirituality in Sex Addiction Counseling
Spirituality does not require that you practice any particular religion. Religion is the main vehicle for spirituality, but it is not the only one. Spirituality is your sense of connection to something greater than yourself, and greater than humanity.
Successful recovery from any addiction requires spirituality. This is because addiction creates tunnel vision and feeds selfishness. Through spirituality we gain a proper understanding of our place in life, and become able to accept our brokenness.
Our Approach to Sex Addiction Counseling
We integrate the methods of the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy, Gottman Institute, and International Association of Trauma Professionals. into a three phase, nine step model that we call A Road Map to Recovery.
In this Road Map it is important to know that no step is ever truly complete. Just as you first build a house and then it must be maintained; so you will first "build" each step, and then "maintain" each step.
Phase One: Empowering healing from Sex Addiction
Step One: Understanding moves the sex addict and partner from a state of confusion to clarity.
Understanding of your addiction and its impact on your relationship is achieved by using objective assessments together with individual interviews. We will work from facts, not opinions, and we will understand you as a human being, not a formula. By the end of this step you will be clear on the challenges and strengths in yourself, your spouse, and your relationship, and you will have a clear path out of your sex addiction. Understanding parallels steps 1-3 in the 12 step process.
Step Two: Disclosure moves the addict from secrecy to integrity, and the partner from shock to safety.
In the disclosure step we help you and your partner learn to share feelings, facts, and validation. The ability to name and share one's feelings is often stunted in addicts, and is a key part of recovery. The ability to see, label, and respond to a partner's feelings is also often stunted. Story disclosure often happens later in the process, and generally happens with either the addict's sponsor or the counselor, not with the partner. These coincide with steps 4-5 in the 12 step process.
Validating disclosure is a key part of restoring trust and safety in the relationship. Validating disclosure is between the sex addict and the partner, and usually happens around step 8 in the 12 step process.
Step Three: Responsibility moves the addict from destructive autonomy to accountability.
In the cycle of sex addiction, autonomy leads to secrecy, confusion, isolation, and destruction. This makes accountability a required part of successful sex addiction counseling and recovery. The primary source of accountability is the group, not the counselor or partner.
In recovery groups, addicts learn through experience that they are not alone and that their pain is real and valid. Support groups are also key for partners, because they also need to have their pain and experiences validated.
During the Responsibility step, new behaviors are learned and practiced. Responsibility parallels steps 6-10 in the 12 step process.
Phase Two: Restoration from Sex Addiction
Step Four: Availability moves the addict and partner from being mentally and emotionally absent to being present.
In the cycle of sex addiction, mentally and emotionally disconnecting from people and situations is "normal." In recovery, it is critical to break this part of the cycle and become mentally and emotionally available.
Often, either emotions or addiction-driven thoughts are "buzzing" so loudly that they drown out anything else. Turning down the volume on this buzz allows the addict to be available to others.
Availability parallels steps 4-10 in the 12 step process.
Step Five: Responsiveness moves the addict and partner from being aloof to being responsive.
Simply being available is not enough. It is critical for our key relationships that we are willing to listen without an agenda, and willing to be wrong.
Fear of responding in the wrong way often keeps addicts from taking any action or saying anything. Defensiveness of past wrongs also creates distance in key relationships.
Responsiveness parallels steps 4-10 in the 12 step process.
Step Six: Engagement moves the addict and partner from being preoccupied to being helpful.
Part of listening without an agenda is learning to draw others out. We must be curious about their emotions and experiences. We must be supportive of their unique journey through life.
Engagement parallels steps 4-10 in the 12 step process.
Phase Three: Relationships after Sex Addiction
Step Seven: Identity moves the addict and partner from a place of insecurity to confidence.
A core belief that fuels sex addiction is that "I am unlovable." Constant self-criticism multiplies our insecurities. Having only a critical relationship with ourselves drives us away from others and toward addiction.
The identity step challenges the core beliefs that drive addiction, and parallels steps 4-12 (especially 10 and 11) in the 12 step process.
Step Eight: Family moves the addict from feeling unloved or loved less than they deserve to a secure sense of being loved.
As your family adjusts and responds to your new way of life, you start to feel loved unconditionally. Past love may have felt conditional or performance based. Getting to this point in the process takes a lot of work. Its foundation is all the steps that came before it. That foundation cannot be built once and then forgotten. It must be maintained.
If you ever loose your understanding, disclosure, accountability, availability, responsiveness, engagement, or identity, you are in danger of a relapse.
Cultivating family relationships parallels steps 4-12 in the 12 step process.
Step Nine: Community moves the addict from feeling isolated to feeling integrated in the community.
Experiencing Community brings facts and feelings into alignment. What we know matches what we feel, most of the time. This is where your individual communities of family, faith, and work most benefit from the work you have done in recovery.
Experiencing community allows you to pay forward the help that you have received during your own recovery. It also you provides opportunities to help others prevent addiction, and to be spared from its pain.