IS THERE REALLY SUCH A THING AS “SEX ADDICTION”? DO I HAVE A SEX ADDICTION? IS MY PARTNER A SEX ADDICT?
These questions become urgent when your or your loved ones’ repeated sexual behaviour cause you acute distress.
It may be that you feel empty, frustrated, anxious, depressed or ashamed by your behaviour. Or you may be a loved one who suddenly discovers their partner is sexually acting out, and you feel betrayed, angry, raging, resentful, humiliated, confused or depressed; and have nagging doubts about your own adequacy as a partner. You may be worried for your children and your family life. Your health – or your finances – may be in serious jeopardy.
Not all sexual behaviour that causes you or a loved one suffering is a sex addiction – even if the suffering is profound and long lasting, or the behaviour is considered by others “deviant” or even “risky”.
However, if it amounts to an sex addiction, there is a solution in recovery, and a loved one can play an important role.
It is therefore important to know – is it an addiction?
Once sexual behaviour is persistent, it sometimes becomes impossible for a person to know whether their behaviour has become compulsive, obsessive, impulsive or even dangerous or intrusive.
People can become confused.
“There is a way through – and that is to take a clinical assessment and discuss the results with a professional therapist, trained in interpreting them. “
Is the behaviour continuing because they consciously choose not to change? Is it just “normal”, “natural”, “justifiable”, or “cultural”? Is it the loved ones or others who are mainly at fault, because they can’t or won’t give the sexual intimacy needed? Is it just “temporary” or “a one off”.
Is it just a product of some unusual circumstances – such as being in a new country, starting a new job, having a baby, going on business trips, or feeling bored, stressed, anxious, lonely, isolated, neglected, or depressed?
If the behaviour has been persistent for a period of time, a person may think that it is safer than it really is, or that the risks of being found out, and the consequences, are minimal, manageable and within their control.
Sometimes a person my think that their chosen sexual partners are freely consenting, or that they enjoyed the experience – but the truth is otherwise.
Sometimes a person may lie, cover up, tell half truths and keep silent about their behaviour, because they want to protect their loved ones. They may not be willing to admit to themselves or others that they mainly wish to avoid the painful consequences of their behaviour.
After a while, they may even become confused or uncertain about what the real truth is. Being persistently deceitful and living a double life, can become a crushing burden.
There is a way through – and that is to take a clinical assessment and discuss the results with a professional therapist, trained in interpreting them.
There are a number of assessments available online. However, some are not thorough or confidential enough, or they cause unnecessary alarm. Many do not provide a clear interpretation; and some do not provide a path towards a workable therapeutic solution.
The International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) provide Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (CSATs) with an anonymised, online questionnaire, called the “Sexual Dependency Inventory – 4.0”.
It takes a client 2 hours or so to complete, and a confidential, detailed client report is automatically generated for the therapist to view online – and subsequently share it with the client.
The report compares the client’s responses with the responses of many thousands of other respondents, both with and without sex addiction, to gauge whether the sexual behaviour and preoccupation are likely to indicate a sex addiction.
The report provides the client and therapist with a thorough review of the client’s: sexual behaviour and preoccupations; the consequences; the possible origins of the behaviour; and the potential future course and direction of the behaviour.
The report also helps the client articulate their motivation to change their behaviour.
This report is coupled with a subsequent clinical interview session, that assesses: sexual, medical and psychiatric history; family of origin history; education and employment history; intimate and social relationships; and other information. Together, this information permits clients and the therapist to determine the next steps.
If the client’s behaviour is likely to amount to an addiction, the recovery path has been clearly mapped by the IITAP programme; and CSATs are trained and skilled in helping client’s navigate through their recovery using workbooks, videos, books, articles, and other therapeutic interventions.
The recovery path engenders great hope for those who start on it. Life gets better quickly, and keeps getting better with each recovery step that is conscientiously taken.