As a sex addiction therapist, I have seen the impact of sex addiction first hand, many times over. Most people come to therapy for sex addiction when they have hit rock bottom. They have become embroiled in out-of-control downward spirals of self-destruction and devastation for their families. Often, their partners have discovered their addiction and their relationship may be hanging on by a thread. Others may have already lost their marriages, become estranged from their children, racked up enormous debts and even lost their homes. Some people may have been discovered misusing work resources for sexual activities and lost their jobs as a result. For others, they may be a gradual realisation that the life they are living is not satisfying any more. There is a desire to change, but somehow they keep slipping back into the old behaviours, despite the harm they are causing.
The psychological impact of sex addiction is extreme, both for the addict and their partner. The addict is often consumed with shame and self-loathing, as he faces up to the true extent of his addiction and the consequences of it. If his addiction has recently been discovered, he will probably be terrified of losing everything that he holds dear, be that his family, his partner, his job or his home. The partner is often in complete shock, her whole world turned upside down by her discoveries. Trust is destroyed and she may feel that she no longer knows the man with whom she is sharing her life. The relationship is in tatters and neither person knows whether it is possible to repair it. This is the point at which many people seek professional help.
I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of sex addicts to help them to stop their destructive behaviours and repair their relationships. Together we have developed an understanding of how they ended up living a life so different to the one they intended. In my experience, sex addicts are not ‘bad people’, but rather people who are struggling: they have developed unhelpful behaviours as a way to cope with these struggles, but ultimately these behaviours have made their situations far worse.
If you recognise yourself in these descriptions, you may well be struggling with sex addiction. I can help you to identify whether you have a problem with out-of-control sexual behaviour. If we discover that you do, then I can help you understand how this has developed and can help you tackle the root causes and change the behaviours. Ultimately, this can help you move towards living a more meaningful life, based on fulfilling relationships with others and a healthy relationship with sex.
What to Expect from Therapy
Individual therapy is an important cornerstone of the recovery process. This is not something to be attempted alone. While general therapists and counsellors may be able to offer you a helpful listening ear and empathic support, as a specialised sex addiction counsellor, I am armed with a whole host of tools to actively support you – and challenge you – in your recovery process. Good sex addiction therapy will help you to stop acting out, identify the underlying reasons for your behaviours, implement healthy coping strategies and deal with slips and relapses. If utilised well, it will also allow us to have an honest, transparent relationship, in which you will not be judged and will be accepted for all that you are. For many clients, this will be a completely new experience. At a time when it may feel as though everyone in your world is judging and condemning you, it is important to have somewhere to go where you can feel accepted and cared about. This does not mean that I will not challenge your behaviours; I will pull you up on slips and help you to hold yourself accountable for past behaviours, but I will endeavour to do so in a way which still prizes and values who you are as a human being.
Coming to sex addiction therapy for the first time can feel like an enormous step to take, and it is important to know what to expect from the therapist. We will spend the first few sessions exploring the extent of your addiction and putting in place immediate strategies to stop any harmful behaviours. I will help you to set specific goals for the work together, and will work with you to reach these, using talking therapy, teaching psychological techniques and setting practical exercises for homework. We will identify the triggers that make you susceptible to slipping back into the unhealthy sexual behaviours and find new ways to cope with these. Over the next few sessions, we will focus on your personal and family history, gaining an understanding of some of the factors that may have led you to develop unhealthy sexual coping strategies. We will work on developing new healthy strategies for dealing with difficult emotional situations. If you are in a relationship, we will also focus on how to try to repair that relationship and rebuild trust.
Most people find that they need to engage in sex addiction therapy for at least six months, in order to ensure that the changes in behaviours are properly embedded. You will be expected to make time for a regular weekly therapy session during this period. Some people find it helpful to remain in weekly therapy for much longer, while others will then reduce the contact to bi-weekly or once a month. I still work with many clients who first came into recovery five to ten years ago, who find it helpful to have an accountability partner who they check in with from time to time.
The relationship with the therapist has been shown to be one of the most important aspects of successful recovery, so it is important that you work with someone with whom you feel you can be open and be yourself. In order to help you decide whether I am the right therapist to help you with recovery, we will have an initial consultation session, with no commitment to continue in therapy afterwards. After that session, you will decide whether you feel ready to start the work of recovery.
If you would like to book an initial consultation session to see whether we are a good fit for each other, then please contact me.