Although there are many steps involved in treating sex addiction, three phases have proven, with my clients, to be especially critical. Those three phases are 1) stopping unhealthy behaviors, 2) getting to the root cause or need for those behaviors, and 3) learning new skills to manage life.
Although these three seem simple, they are anything but easy. Stopping unhealthy behaviors is a very difficult task for most addicts. Whether it’s viewing online pornography, acting out sexually with others, exhibitionism, voyeurism, prostitution or any other form of compulsive acting out, stopping a behavior that has become a coping mechanism or significant habit can be difficult. Having someone along with you to help build strategies and hold you to your plan is critical. The IDEAL team for this includes an individual therapist, your therapy group, your 12-step group, your sponsor and a supportive spouse. Obviously this “dream team” doesn’t come together without very intentional actions. Your therapist can help with this, too.
Finding the root cause for your addiction is often a painful, freeing, and empowering experience. Working with a therapist who is trained in and understands sexual addiction, you’ll understand not only sex addiction, but also how it manifests in your life. These become the knowledge base to change.
Finally, as you stop the behaviors that have become troublesome you’ll need new coping skills and tools to manage life in a better, more healthy way. (Addictive behaviors are often used as coping mechanisms. Stopping them robs you of your old way to cope – new skills are needed.) Once again, working with a therapist, your group therapy team, and your 12-step sponsor it’s time to develop new skills – from what others have found that works, from what therapists know works, from what your sponsor has found that works, etc.
It’s not a complicated solution, but it’s not easy. Addiction is a way of life. Recovery is a way of life. Which will you choose?