Sex Addiction Counseling, Therapy, & Treatment

What is a sex addiction? Sex addiction is best understood as a form of an intimacy disorder. Addicts typically experience compulsive sexual thoughts and/or actions. For example, sex addicts compulsively masturbate, view pornographic material, surf the web, engage in phone sex, swing, have affairs, attend strip clubs, frequent massage parlors, engage in voyeurism and–in the extreme–rape people. The common element among people struggling with sex addiction is that they feel powerless to stop / control their behavior. It’s as if the behaviors are controlling them. Frequently, the sexual behaviors are progressive. Even as sex addicts suffer the natural consequences of their behaviors: poor self esteem, depression, loss of interest in things not sexual, financial problems, relationship troubles, health risks, job loss and possible arrest, addicts are still unable to listen to their rational self. They are unable to stop.

People living with a sex addiction organize their world around sex. Sex addicts interact with people as a way to facilitate their ability to obtain sexual pleasure. Sexual addiction takes up a lot of energy. As their energy investment increases, a pattern of behavior tends to emerge. Specifically, the sex addict begins to engage in ritualistic behaviors as part of their “acting out.” Though it’s different from person to person, the ritualistic behaviors may be flirting, masturbating, cruising online, having one-night stands, swinging, engaging in sex with a prostitute, and even raping someone. Sex addiction is not about the actual sexual behavior, but about the anticipation of sexual behavior, the temporary relief felt during sexual behavior, and the denial of feelings while being sexual. Most notably, after the sexual acting out, there is usually some combination of: remorse, guilt, depression, despair, shame, hopelessness, confusion and resolve not to do it again. Then the cycle repeats itself.

While the treatment process is different for each person living with a sex addiction, at the Center for Growth / Sex Therapy in Philadelphia we have noticed the following themes. Treatment typically involves the following four categories: 1) Detoxing; 2) De-traumatizing; 3) Centering & Healing; and 4) Sexual Health. We, at Sex Therapy in Philadelphia define Detoxing as stopping the behavior and learning to tolerate the uncomfortable feelings: boredom, discomfort, anxiety, emptiness, pain, and sadness. De-traumatizing is best understood as identifying and exploring past events that have contributed to the uncomfortable feelings that the sexual addiction masks. Centering and Healing refers to learning to be comfortable with self and identifying new coping mechanisms to reduce negative feelings. Sexual Health is defined as learning ways in which to express one’s own sexuality. Full recovery is not celibacy, but rather developing the skill set needed to be sexually intimate with self and others.

To schedule an initial evaluation at Sex Therapy in Philadelphia / Center for Growth, please call us at 215-570-8614.

Here is a collection of sex addiction treatment articles written by different sex therapists at Sex Therapy in Philadelphia.  Our hope is offer people living outside of Philadelphia a way to create their own sex addiction treatment plan to help them recover.  There is no “right” way – only “your” way.  We hope that you find these sex addiction treatment articles helpful in your journey towards sexual health.