Sex Addiction Counseling: Help and Hope

Sexual addiction is a controversial diagnosis. Some people think that calling sex an “addiction” is a way to control people’s sexual behavior and judge it negatively, as in a “sex negative” way of judging behavior.

The people who come to me for sexual addiction treatment are usually in a great deal of pain over their behavior: they have lost money, relationships and prestigious jobs, and alienated friends and family members. Most of all, they are in a despairing state of self hatred.They feel guilty and don’t understand why they continue to do something that is so hurtful to themselves and others and goes against all that they believe in.

Do You Think You Might Have a Sex Addiction, But Aren’t Sure?  

Are you unhappy with the time you spend looking at porn? Do you try to not do it, yet just can’t help yourself? Are you spending more money than you would like to on strip clubs, lap dances, happy-ending massages, escorts, or even street prostitutes? Are you going online to look at porn even when you are at work? If you’ve been found out, do you swear to loved ones that you won’t do it again, but continually break your promises?

Sexual addiction is a debilitating condition that involves more than just the occasional  indulgence in porn. Sufferers might set aside an entire weekend for porn binges and sexual activities. They might be going on Craigslist for hookups with strangers and end up having sex with someone they aren’t even attracted to or find themselves in scary situations in which they could be preyed upon by others. Arrests can be made when there is a prostitute involved, and a client can end up in the public eye, possibly losing their license to practice their vocation. If their significant other finds texts or emails regarding setting up a hookup with a professional or even large amounts of missing money that was spent on the addiction, they may risk losing an important relationship in their life.

 

Sex Addiction Is Often Rooted in Childhood Trauma and Early Attachment Wounds

Sex Addiction wires itself early on in the brain; it becomes a way to escape the pain of trauma, loneliness, isolation from others and disconnection in your family as a child. If you didn’t feel loved or valued in your life, you may have turned to the world of online pornography as a means to encounter pleasurable feelings. Even thoughts of going online may start a sort of trance-like state that happens before you log onto the internet. This may feel like a safe space to you, a place where you can feel connected, wanted and desired without the threat of shame or rejection.

Addictions are often a way to self-medicate, whether it’s through activities like gambling, shopping or substance abuse. The effect is usually experiencing a momentary high, followed by feeling terrible about it afterwards.

 

Shame Related to Sex Addiction Counseling

Fear and shame might be stopping you from seeking help for these issues. However, with the help of sex addiction counseling you can begin to understand that your addiction has served as a coping mechanism for painful experiences and emotions and as a means of  managing anxiety. Through our sessions, you can begin to understand that it’s not really even about sex, but rather the endorphins created by thinking about what’s going to happen and the culmination of some kind of act – whether it’s looking at online porn or engaging in sexual acts with others. Hopefully, just understanding this will remove some of the shame that most people feel about their sexual addiction.

 

Comprehensive Sex Addiction Counseling Plan using EMDR

Sex addiction counseling with me will involve looking at the roots of your addiction. When, where and how did it start? I will be curious about your childhood; was there any trauma or abuse? Was there someone else around you growing up who showed signs of their own sexual addiction? Did you find refuge in sexual activities? In sessions, we will start an in-depth exploration into what it is that you are really looking for when you engage in these activities.

As a therapist, I am trained in the use of Feeling State Addiction Protocol by Dr. Robert Miller, who has been successfully working with addictions using this method for many years.  He is training EMDR practitioners around the world how to break the bonds to addictive cravings using a form of modified EMDR.  In sessions, we can make use of standard EMDR to clear old traumas that are usually the root cause of the addiction, creating a comprehensive treatment program. I will not require that you go to 12-step activities, and if treatment is successful, you will find that the urges start to lessen and even disappear. They might come back under stress, but will probably just need a “tune-up” at that point.

Sex addiction counseling and EMDR can also help you develop new skills such as using Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction to manage your anxieties. You can learn healthy ways to take care of your emotions and handle stress, healing your relationship with yourself and those people you love. Learning better self care habits and filling in and healing early developmental deficits or gaps will help support your healing journey. Learning alternate ways to calm your nervous system down will also help with urges and cravings.

You don’t have to continue suffering from your addiction alone. Please call me at 503-242-0233 for a free chat. I offer warm, nonjudgmental, down-to-earth help and would be happy to answer any questions you might have about sex addiction counseling or my practice.