Sex addiction treatment – myths vs truth
I happen to refer to this type of treatment as “Sexual Misbehavior Treatment”, but other practitioners refer to “Sex Addiction” treatment. I like my naming of the issue better as it removes the endless debate about whether the behavior is an “addiction”, while a person breaking agreements, and creating consequences for themself is less debatable as to engaging in “misbehavior”.
Many fields of study have myths that either by design, or by misunderstanding, exist. The sex addiction model for treating compulsive sexual behaviors is no exception. The mental health field, like many fields, has professionals that propagate lies and misinformation, mostly out of a professional territorial dispute where persons less capable to treat these sexual misbehavior issues would like this part of the field to be under their domain, rather than under the actual most qualified persons such as “sex addiction” specialists. I will go over some myths, as well as the factual truth that we should replace the myths with.
Myth #1 – Sex addiction is a 12-step program
Truth: The twelve step programs have been very successful in helping in the addictions field, especially substance abuse, most famous being alcohol. That said, any of the 12-step programs where abstinence is not concrete and absolute, and therefore hard to define, such as eating, codependence, sex, love, the programs work less well. It is not my intent to offend anyone, but my program is not 12-step, many others are not, and in my experience 12-step does not work so well for sexual misbehavior, although many persons have found solutions through 12-step programs whose focus is sexual misbehavior and I wish those persons continued success.
“The mental health field, like many fields, has professionals that propagate lies and misinformation, mostly out of a professional territorial dispute…
Myth #2 – Sex addiction treatment is homophobic
Truth: There are unlicensed “coaches” in this sexual misbehavior “space”, who not only do not belong in this space, but also have no ethical code or licensing body that prohibits homophobic practice.
I am speaking here of actual licensed professionals, and no licensed therapist should be overtly homophobic, although that is the ethical code, and attitudes and behaviors are another matter.
There are some religious based licensed mental health professionals that do have some homophobia baked into their “helping” persons with “same sex attraction”, which is basically conversion therapy, trying to make gay persons straight, but that practice is by practitioners not accepted into the professional mental health world, and is diminishing with people reporting that particular unethical practice to the relevant professional board. Unless you are trying to make yourself “not gay” you will be able to avoid these unethical practitioners, that are mostly confined to highly religious communities, and whose homophobic practice is pretty clear in the encoded language that they market with.
Myth #3 – Sex addiction treatment “anti-sex”
Truth: Other mental health fields, much less capable and experienced at addressing sexual misbehavior, created the myth that clinicians trying to help their clients not create consequences for themselves with sexual behavior were “anti-sex”. This is not true, has never been true, and is an intentional lie.
I for example only take issue with sexual behavior that does or will likely create concrete and significant consequences for the client. The other practitioners I have met in this field feel and act this same policy.
For example, a man who sends workplace a subordinate unsolicited pics of his genitals, gets fired, and a therapist helping that man not create that same consequence again, is somehow “anti-sex”. The “anti-sex” accusation is a transparent effort to disqualify the most qualified persons to address this particular issue.
Myth #4 – treatment providers suggest people with non-conforming sexual behaviors stop those behaviors.
Truth: Professionals who help persons not create consequences for themselves with sexual misbehavior have no interest or motivation to make their client more sexually “vanilla” than that client may already be. Professionals who help persons not create consequences for themselves, by definition, have the goal of helping the consequence creating misbehavior not occur, the lie about this field is again deliberate, entirely false, and unfair to those in need of help for these behaviors, as a client acting out sexual misbehaviors ending up with a therapist experienced in helping couples improve their sex life, will as expected, receive help very inexperienced in these specific matters.
There is no debate that the behaviors described by the term “sex addiction” create major hurt for the individuals acting out, often for their families, and sometimes even creating consequences for their employer. When a person has thinking and behaviors that create sexual misbehavior, it impacts their daily life.
Myth #5 – Sex addiction professionals ignore Mood Disorders such as Mania.
Truth: Any licensed mental health professional had to learn about mood disorders, including Mania, and any statement otherwise is essentially slander. Mood disorders are the most basic and obvious part of any therapist creating program, and this slander against persons helping clients not create consequences for themselves with sexual behavior is another example of simple lies being used on the most qualified professionals who could address this sexual misbehavior issue.
Myth #6 – Sex Addiction Treatment is about reducing unfaithful persons sexual interest in others.
Truth: Sex Addiction Treatment is about helping a person fix self destructive and self deceptive lies and falsehoods they tell themselves. The client has to learn how to counter those self deceptions with accurate rather than self deceiving versions of how this choice will work out. It’s not that persons in need of Sex Addiction Treatment find too many people attractive, it’s that they lie to themselves about their ability to act out without consequence. Although many of us would like to think we are always honest and faithful because of our inherent morality, as people, we mostly follow the rules because we are so well aware of what will happen if we ignore the rules. Persons with “Sex Addiction” have a part of them that circumvents this awareness that most of us have without any effort.
“It is a scarcity of self awareness and an abundance of self deception that creates the behaviors that bring the pain.
Myth #7 – Sex addicts have a super high sex drive compared to others.
Truth: Some do, but usually they don’t. Sex addiction treatment is usually about correcting the clients thinking regarding their thoughts and behaviors. One does not have to have much sex drive, or even sexual functioning, to create life changing consequences for oneself. It is not an abundance of desire or physical ability that creates consequences, it is a scarcity of self awareness and an abundance of self deception that creates the behaviors that bring the pain.
Myth #8 – sex addiction isn’t real.
Truth: Sex addiction is being debated as a diagnosis, but the behavior is real, the distorted thinking that creates the behavior is real, and the consequences are real, concrete, and measurable.
Mental Health professionals such as Psychiatrist’s and LCSW’s are still debating whether sex addiction really is a “disease”, but there is no debate that the behaviors described by the term “sex addiction” create major hurt for the individuals acting out, often for their families, and sometimes even creating consequences for their employer. When a person has thinking and behaviors that create sexual misbehavior, it impacts their daily life.
Mostly out of the politics of territoriality that affects professional fields in the USA, “sex addiction” does not have a diagnostic code in our Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Conversely, “sex addiction” is recognized in the less politicized “World Health Organization” (WHO) who gave it diagnosis of “Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder.”
Myth #9 – Sex addiction should be treated by “sex therapists”.
Truth: If you have this issue, you are best off seeing a licensed clinician such as a Psychiatrist or LCSW, who devotes all, that is 100%, of their practice to sexual misbehavior of some sort. There are Psychiatrist’s and LCSW’s who focus mostly on legal but chaos making sexual choices such as affairs, and those that focus on sexual choices that are illegal, but either way, spend your time and money on a mental health professional that spends their entire day helping others with sexual misbehavior, as that will result in seeing a clinician who knows your issue well.