“Sexual addiction is best described as a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts. Like all addictions, its negative impact on the addict and on family members increases as the disorder progresses. Over time, the addict usually has to intensify the addictive behavior to achieve the same results.
For some sex addicts, behavior does not progress beyond compulsive masturbation or the extensive use of pornography or phone or computer sex services. For others, addiction can involve illegal activities such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, child molestation or rape.”
“Drugs and alcohol are not my problem — reality is my problem.”
– Russell Brand
As a certified sex addiction therapist, I help people understand addiction as a disease rather than a moral issue. I help the addict see that they didn’t choose to become an addict, that addiction is like any other disease. I educate about sex addiction and multiple addictions. I treat both the addicted and the spouses, families and friends of the addicted, and treat both from a place of complete empathy, compassion and non-judgement.
I understand addiction on many personal levels and it has affected me and those around me. In studying multiple addictions, I realized almost everybody in our culture struggles with addiction, whether being an addict or having close personal relationships with an addict.
Living with addiction is like walking a tightrope, trying to balance life on restricted terms, always needing to self-medicate – with whatever substance or activity – to feel better. Freeing oneself of addiction is climbing down off the tightrope and being able to plant your feet firmly on solid ground. After planting your feet, my goal is to help you walk with determination, dignity and grace. And, to figure out what your goals are and how to achieve them.
In an initial session with me, the atmosphere is very relaxed, I take a few notes, and I listen. I voice my concerns in a direct, compassionate way, reducing shame associated with coming to see an addiction therapist. In working with sex addicts and their spouses, shame and isolation have become a way of life for fear of feeling rejected, dejected, embarrassed and vulnerable. I encourage clients to be vulnerable and provide them with a safe environment to explore their feelings of anxiety, fear and hopelessness.
I use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, shame reduction, and mindfulness-based treatment to help each individual in a holistic manner. I provide testing, including sexual dependency inventory – revised (SDI-R), partner sexuality survey (PSS), post-traumatic stress index (PSTD-IR), and Money & Work Adaptive Styles Index (MWASI). I am able to provide these tests through my training at the International Institute For Trauma and Addiction Professionals.
Having one addiction puts you at a higher risk of having multiple addictions. I educate and treat all addictions as a possible precursor to multiple addictions. I help people see which other areas in their life are imbalanced and have an addictive quality to them.
My approach with couples and families of an addict is to see the individual, couples and partners of the sex addict as having their own identity. My main objective is for couples and individuals to find meaning in what’s most important in their lives, and to proceed after a life-changing event, which includes betrayal, in their most authentic way. All sessions are customized to each couple, as one prescription for one couple doesn’t necessarily fit another couple.
In treating the spouse of the addict, I help the spouse sort through the betrayal and accept the reality that their spouse is an addict, and what that means. And if they plan to move forward, the commitment that they’re going to need to make. I help the spouse come up with “bottom line behaviors” (COSA) for themselves and what they can live with authentically. I believe that this is a process, and bottom lines are flexible, fluid and can change.
Spouses learning about their addicted spouse go through grief and despair as a death. Post-traumatic stress disorder is quite common amongst those who find out that their spouse is leading a double life. Once we decide on which way the relationship is going, I will incorporate ways to handle finances, children, co-habitation, separation, and divorce.
Addiction is akin to having an allergy to the present moment. I take a gentle mindfulness approach to the fundamental problem in addiction: aversion to our reality, and the substances and behaviors that help us continue that aversion. I teach patients how to pause, and eventually build hobbies and networks that are sustainable instead of destructive to themselves and others. Connection and relationship to other human beings is not only a survival instinct, but is necessary to thrive. I offer support while people take risks in their relationships and help them be present in the moment.