SEX ADDICTION RECOVERY FOR COUPLES.
From ISOLATION to INTIMACY.
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 sex-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 work with well-trained individual therapists (usually CSAT's) to offer an integrated couples treatment approach. The fallout from sex addiction is different than a one-time affair. The betrayed partner often bears the brunt of the initial trauma and will experience traumatic symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, hyper-vigilance, 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 therapeutic disclosure (FTD) process will be planned out. It should be built on an understanding of the vulnerability of the betrayed partner so wise decisions can be made about what should be shared. The FTD will be prepared in individual therapy by the acting out partner and then shared in couples therapy. Being able to have a productive conversation about WHAT happened can allow the couple to start focusing on a meaningful healing process..
Individual counseling for the betrayed partner critical so she or he can receive support in processing the information that is disclosed during treatment. Then, the hurt will be brought into the couples counseling as a safe place for her or his pain to be freely expressed and received by the acting out partner.
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 behavior 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. This starts in individual therapy but must be understood by both partners so secrets and shame will not re-enter the couple's lives together.
Deep work for the couple to understand the reasons WHY the acting-out partner chose the harmful behaviors in the first place. These are first uncovered in individual therapy but then processed as a couple in couples therapy.
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 and a good therapy support team, 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. will not tell you whether to watch porn or not but I often discuss if and how it is impacting you as a couple.
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.