Sex Addiction in Couples Therapy
When you learn that the partner that you trusted and cherished more than anyone in the world has been living a secret life as a sex addict, it can shatter your relationship. Sexual addiction is an intimacy disorder that affects millions of families. In our sexually saturated culture, most people will be affected by sexual integrity issues during their lifetime. Men, women, and children are now experiencing the struggle with the Internet and other forms of sexual acting out.
A COUPLES TREATMENT APPROACH
I offer integrated treatment for the addict and the partner. The fallout from sex addiction is different than a one time affair. The partner often bears the brunt of the initial trauma and will experience traumatic symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, hypervigilance, an inability to sleep and other emotional discomfort. I will support BOTH PARTNERS as we break the cycle by addressing the physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational roots of the problem.
Through an intensive program of therapy, primarily based on the work of Patrick Carnes, PhD, a leading expert on sex addiction, the following treatment steps may take place:
A full disclosure process will be planned out. It should be built on an understanding of the vulnerability of each family member so wise decisions can be made about which family members need to hear what information about the specific symptoms and behaviors.
Individual counseling for the partner of the sex addict is critical so he or she can receive support in processing the information that is disclosed during treatment. The non-acting out partner usually comes to understand that acting out behaviors were not designed to intentionally hurt the other partner; rather, the acting out is a sign of emptiness, deep pain, and the need for a numbing mechanism.
A focus on the health risks involved for both partners and how to address these in a continuing care plan.
Education about sexual addiction and compulsiveness that debunks misconceptions about this highly misunderstood set of behaviors.
Support and comforting while facing the guilt, shame and depression often associated with this illness.
Help for the sex addict to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy sex, and assistance in understanding the emotional cues and circumstances that trigger sexual thought and compulsive sexual behavior.
Foundational couples therapy that allows the couple to work on intimacy (first emotional and eventually sexual) in their relationship. The restoration of intimacy in the couple is critical in the addicts healing journey.
With dedication to this process, the cycle of sexual addiction can be broken and a journey of healing for the couple can gradually take place.
Johann Hari's TED talk provides a helpful way to think about what causes addiction.
Discussions of porn are very common with couples. I don't tell you whether to watch porn or not but we discuss if and how it is impacting you. These videos are good conversation starters:
SAME SEX ATTRACTION:
When one partner in a heterosexual relationship is experiencing same sex attraction, it can cause confusion and a major disruption of trust. I work to support the couple in processing this experience and restore their relationship. You can start learning more about this situation by reading this article by Joe Kort.