Treatment of Sex Addiction: Goals and Objectives

by on February 11th, 2015
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Fifteen years ago, people didn’t even know there was such a thing as addiction to sex, never mind how to get sexual help. Patrick Carnes’ groundbreaking book “Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sex Addiction” began to offer a way for addicts to get support in sex addiction recovery. Since then, recovery from sex addiction has received tremendous attention from the media and a whole new group of therapists trained in the treatment of sex addiction.

The field, however, is still developing. People who seek help for this debilitating addiction often don’t know how or where to get help from a competent clinician. Moreover, the path to recovering from addiction — the goals and objectives that one should strive for — is still sometimes muddy and confusing.

Treatment of sex addiction should be individualized for each person. However, so you know what you’ll be getting into in as you commit to a sex addiction recovery program, here are some of the general goals of a comprehensive treatment plan.

· Diminish/eliminate shameful, compulsive sexual behaviors.

· Learn to deal with urges/cravings by understanding that they are transitory and that they are not imperatives to act out.

· Know triggers and have behavioral strategies for dealing with them.

· Develop a caring support system and identify individuals to contact when relapse is about to occur and as a support for getting dependency needs met.

· Reduce denial, justification, rationalizations, minimalization and other distorted thoughts and beliefs.

· Replace negative core beliefs about the self with healthy self-esteem.

· Heal the shame that both precedes and follows acting out.

· Reframe slips/relapses from a sense of failure to an opportunity for learning new coping skills.

· Develop an understanding of the psychological factors driving sexual behavior.

· Better self-regulation (of moods, feelings, behavior) through the gradual internalization of the nurture, containment and structure of various treatment modalities.

· Improve capacity for interpersonal relationships.

· Improve capacity to reflect on thoughts and feelings, with a resulting increase in inner control and a decreased need to act out behaviors resulting from the addiction to sex.

· Integrate split-off aspect of the self.

· Explore of what functions the sexual activity is serving (relief from anxiety, momentary intimacy, master feelings of powerless and helplessness from the past, etc.) so more constructive strategies can be developed to get needs met.

· Explore how addiction to sex is an enactment of dysfunctional relating patterns from the past.

· Develop a clear definition of healthy sexual patterns vs. shaming and self-harming activities.

· Reduce marital/relationship conflicts.

· Increase understanding of need to control intimacy as a function of long-standing early neglect and violation.


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