Do You Have A Sex Addiction?
When we become stressed in our lives for various reasons, we look for opportunities to relieve our anxieties or fears. Much like vacations, athletics, shopping, eating or drinking, sex is another form of release. Sex is a natural part of life. We all have an innate desire to have sexual experiences. However, when our desires for sexual gratification interfere with our jobs, relationships, responsibilities, or consume the majority of our daily thoughts then we might have a sexual addiction. Sexual addiction can be seen in many different ways, from internet searches and videos to more risky sexual behaviors such as unprotected one night stands or prostitution. There are varying degrees of sexual addiction. However, more important than defining the addiction, counseling is about discovering the root cause of the problem. When did my addiction begin? Was the start of the addiction in my adolescence, defined as sexual conquests to impress those around me? Or has the addiction manifest due to prior sexual abuse that is a secret from others? Whatever the origin, we are attracted to sex for different reasons. Through childhood / adolescent experience we shape our sexual expectations, which gives rise to our ultimate satisfaction or misery.
You have several options for your recovery. The first option is group therapy. Group therapy is an opportunity to hear other people’s experience and learn how they have been able to overcome their addiction. Much like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Sex Anonymous (SA) provides a similar format. SA usually uses a 12-step Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach. The 12-step program was established on Christian principles and integrates a belief system of looking towards God or a higher power to assist in the recovery process. 12-step SA groups are effective for some, however I believe groups allow you to only go so far with your treatment. Time is usually limited to a handful of participants. If you are looking for an opportunity to hang back and listen, this is a good option for you. SA groups are also a good option if you are on a limited budget. Much like AA, SA groups are provided mainly by donations. Good for the participant, not so good for the depth/ quality of the clinician that might be providing the group. SA groups usually have a set time each week and are open to public, so you can drop in to check it out.
Another option for sexual addiction is inpatient treatment. Programs are usually structured with individual therapy sessions as well as 12-step groups. Some programs are set-up to incorporate nature environments (i.e. camping, hiking, etc.), which is a good option if you have vacation time saved up and would like to get away for a period of time to work on your treatment. Such programs are designed for more severe paraphilliac disorders (i.e. voyeurism, exhibitionism, etc.), however, all forms of sexual addiction are addressed. Be prepared, the cost is expensive and most insurance companies don’t cover the cost of such treatments.
The third option is individual psychotherapy. Individual psychotherapy is more personal and client focused. Working with an individual clinician allows flexible schedule options for a busy life and doesn’t break the bank financially. We can talk more about the best treatment option for you and your goals. As a clinician, I work everyday with people such as yourself who are struggling to make sense of their addiction, to gain insight and restore balance and control to their life. The process of recovering from addiction is not easy, however worth the time and money to discover a new way of respecting not only yourself, but those whom you view as a sexual object of desire.