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Sex Addiction Treatment: What works and who can be helped?

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Displaying patience with myself and with my family is difficult, and to date, there remains plenty of room my actions for my wife and children to witness additional growth.  I like when things work, whether that is my car that didn’t start in downtown Spokane today, or the recipe for a new type of crepe that I love to cook on a Saturday morning. It is also distressing to me when my plans don’t work.  That is a place of growth in my life.  There are small steps for me in learning how to manage my expectations…patience is required.  Sex addiction, or rather more accurately described as a disorder of intimacy, is an ongoing, out of control pattern of compulsive sexual fantasy and behavior that is causing problems in the addict’s life.  (Robert  Weiss, MSW).  By definition, it is compulsive and is out of control…not so easy to get to a connected place in relationship to self, to others, or to God.  Trusting in self is very difficult, in part because of the frequent promises to self and/or to others that the acting out will end.  There is significant isolation from others, and from God.  Some people have tried to control their cycle, and may have experienced some success in shutting down their sexuality for days, weeks, or even months.  Invariably though, the cycle of shame and guilt, and the necessity to numb those feelings returns through fantasy, preoccupation, and acting out behaviors.  As a Certified Sexual Addictions Therapist, I meet with adult men (this disorder is also present in women), who have been living in chaos, who are emotionally numb and out of touch with reality.  When we begin to plan our treatment, I frequently hear the questions, ” Will I always live this way?”, ” Is there hope for change?”

In these questions, I hear of each of them asking, “Can I be helped?” and “What is the way forward?”  First, let me highlight a few actions that don’t work for men and women seeking to end their cycle of shame and numbing.

  1. Neglecting to take time to know where the resources are that I need.  When I don’t have assistance from someone, I live into the isolation that is destroying me.
  2. Not connecting to the reality that recovery takes time…patience is required. You can experience change, and healing, taking one hour, one day at a time.

Here are actions that do help you in your journey.

  1. Find a Certified Sexual Addictions Therapist that you can work with who can help you connect to the resources that you need.  Take time to be assessed and discuss your options for treatment..
  2. Find a Support group that you can attend regularly.  These can be 12 step groups like SLAA, SA, or SAA, or other church support groups like Pure Desire (and others).
  3. Commit to a journey into and through recovery, one day at a time.

Ultimately, anyone who has been facing the uphill battle of sexual addiction, and losing, can be helped and can see huge changes in themselves and their relationships.  However one of the most significant struggles of this disorder is an inability to face themselves and the truth.  Telling half-truths, omitting information, telling white lies, and just regular deception are hallmarks of this compulsive disorder.  It frequently requires weeks or months to begin to seeing the amazing web of lies that prevents you from intimate relationships, and longer for healing to take hold.  The more honest you can be with their therapist and group, the more you can face your shame and disrupt the cycle that has been keeping you from having a connection to yourself, others, and God.

Other actions that are helpful in moving forward are:

  1. Assessment from a Certified Sexual Addictions Therapist (CSAT).
  2. Support through a group.
  3. Therapy group with a CSAT and other people you can relate to.
  4. Patience, it will take some time.
  5. Openness to a new spiritual journey.
  6. Gentleness with yourself.
  7. Accountability with your therapist and your group.

Finding what works and giving yourself enough time to change are key components of your healing journey.  If you desire to engage in the transforming work of addressing your sexually compulsive thinking and acting, please connect with Journey Counseling as we desire to walk with you through your recovery into restoration and a hope-filled life with renewed healthy sexuality.