Therapy for Compulsive Sexual Behaviour.
If you are questioning your sexual behaviour, and it feels out of control, is unsafe, requires dishonesty or stops being pleasurable, it may suggest a problem. At this point therapy can be very supportive in helping you make the changes that you desire.
Sexually compulsive behaviour may be associated with risk-taking behaviours, which could be putting your emotional and physical health at risk.
Sex addiction' is currently the most frequently used term describing out of control sexual behaviours, or problematic use of the internet. At the moment, many people are confused as to what 'sex addiction' actually is. If you think you are having problems controlling your sexual behaviours, or internet use, you might call yourself a 'sex addict'.
There are a few important things for you to know before you engage in treatment:
Although Sex Addiction' is a term that has been used to describe a range of behaviours since the 1980’s it is not an approved or recognised mental health diagnosis in the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). It is not a recognised condition in the field of psycho-sexology either. The term has been used to judge behaviours, that do not live up to society or religious beliefs, or are judged to be promiscuous or non-conforming. The reason for this is that robust clinical research in the field is poor, despite what many books are preaching. Many books are based on clinicians’ opinions rather than clinical research.
The clinical term that has been agreed by ICD-11 (International Classification of Disease) is Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder. Its classification is under Impulse Control Disorder, not Addiction. The clinical criteria to meet the diagnosis for the disorder are very specific: it is rare for people to meet the disorder. Therefore, most people who struggle with their sexual behaviours do not suffer from a disorder, but they struggle with a sexual health behaviour problem.
Most people who struggle with compulsive sexual behaviours do not qualify for the disorder diagnostic, yet they still need help to address the sexual behaviours that cause them problems. My opinion is based on my extensive knowledge of human sexuality and my experience of working with many clients who present with compulsive sexual behaviours.
Examples of the issues I work with include;
Compulsive masturbation (self-stimulation)
Sexual rule breaking
Problematic use of the internet
Sex work or use of sex workers
Voyeurism (watching others) and/or stalking
How can therapy help?
The approach to this work is educative as well as therapeutic.
I provide a safe and non-threatening environment providing support and understanding, rather than condemnation and vilification. Being able to talk freely, will not only bring relief, but also allow new perspectives to be found, that will reduce shame. I will help you gain a better understanding of your sexual behaviours. Together we can make sense of your desires, and your relational needs. I adopt a sex positive approach
Challenging the deep-rooted reasons for shame and self loathing that follow problematic sexual activity is a priority.
A focus of the work will be to develop trust in relationships as an alternative means of support when experiencing difficult feelings such as guilt, shame or low self esteem. My approach is open and positive, promoting sexual health, not a prescription for right or wrong.
There is often a limiting set of beliefs that have grown at the same time as sexual development. Part of the work will be to understand the role of those beliefs in maintaining the behaviour.
The aim of the treatment of compulsive sexual behaviours is based on the six principles of sexual health. These principles form the focus for my approach to the work, and are considered necessary for a healthy sexual self
3- Safe from HIV, STI and unwanted pregnancy
5- Shared values
6- Mutual pleasure
Therapy for couples
For couples, it is often easier for a therapist to ask the questions that are difficult for you to ask each other. This is especially true in relation to issues of trust, anger and problems of a sexual nature. My role is to support understanding ,rather than to establish blame. The work may include establishing new boundaries that work for both partners.