Fifteen years ago, people did not even know there was such a thing as sex addiction, never mind how to get help for it. With Patrick Carnes' groundbreaking book "Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sex Addiction", people who suffer from self-destructive sexual acts had no hope of knowing what aged them. Since then, the disorder has received tremendous attention from the media and a whole new group of therapists trained to treat sex addiction.
The field, however, is still developing. People who seek help for this debilitating addiction often do not know how or where to get help from a competent clinician. Moreover, the path to sane sexuality – the goals and objectives that one should strive for – is still sometimes muddy and confusing.
Treatment for sex addiction should be individualized for each person. However, so you know what you've been getting into sexual recovery, here are some of the general goals of a comprehensive treatment plan for sexual recovery.
* Diminish / eliminate shameful, compulsive sexual behaviors.
* Learn to deal with urges / desires 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.
* Reduction of 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 internal factors driving sexual behavior.
* Better self-regulation (of moods, feelings, behavior) through the gradual internalization of the nurturance, containment and structure of various treatment modalities,
* Improve capacity for interpersonal relationships
* Improved capacity to reflect on thoughts and feelings, with a result increase in inner control and a decreed need to act out unwanted mental states
* Integration of split-off aspect of the self
* Exploration of what functions the sexual activity is serving (relief from anxiety, momentary intimacy, master feelings of powerlessness and helplessness from the past, etc.) so more constructive strategies can be developed to get needs met.
* Explore how the sexual compulsion is an enactment of dysfunctional relation patterns from the past.
* Develop a clear definition of healthy sexual patterns vs. shaming and self-harming activities.
* Reduction of maritime / relationship conflicts.
* Increase understanding of need to control intimacy as a function of long-standing early neglect and violation.