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call 202-596-6036
in Alexandria, VA

Treatment for Sex Addiction

Assessing the Problem

Good treatment begins with an accurate idea of the size and nature of the problem. Not everyone who comes in actually has a sex addiction, though many do by the time they get to me.

 

During our clinical interview we will gather history and your behavioral and subjective experience of the problem. For starters we utilize one or more of three tests that you can take on your own if you wish before coming in.

 

  • The Sex Addiction Screening Test (SAST) can be taken any time for free by clicking here. It is a simple, short screening test that was developed by Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., whose seminal work began the field of sex addiction treatment. It takes only a few minutes to complete online.
  • The Internet Sex Screening Test (ISST) is a free questionnaire you can take on your own by clicking here and printing it out. There is some overlap between this questionnaire and the SAST, but it can be helpful. The ISST was developed by David Delmonico, Ph.D. (You will find links to both Pat Carnes' and David Delmonico's websites in the column to the left.)
  • There is one more test you can take on your own. It's a little more in depth, provides a written report, and cost $30. It takes under 30 minutes to take, and has a variety of safeguards in place to protect your identity (since a credit card is required). It's called the Sex Addiction Risk Assessment (SARA) and is available here.

There is one final test that I find helpful at times, and it is called the Sexual Dependency Inventory. I have been specially trained to use this test, and it is not available to the general public or to therapists not trained in its use. A fee is involved, but it is not large.

Forming a Treatment Plan

After this assessment we will jointly design a basic treatment plan that addresses your concerns. This plan will include how to communicate with your spouse or partner about your concerns and how to inform them about your treatment in a way that reassures them that you are taking concrete steps to address the problem behaviors.

 

Basic Recovery Concepts

Making Progress

Treatment for sex addiction begins with curbing the out of control sexual behavior. The overall process is to start with the outside behaviors and move inward to the deeply felt areas life that impact ones ability to be intimate with self and others and reclaim sexual wholeness. It involves several aspects:

  • Therapy begins with psychoeducational and cognitive/behavioral material to orient one to the nature of the problem and the overall course of recovery. As progress happens we address emotional difficulties and trauma using techniques that have been specifically designed to help safely resolve trauma and promote emotional growth.
  • Engaging in a culture of support, often through 12-step and other support groups is also an important part of treatment. The experience, strength and hope found in support groups helps make recovery possible.
Facing the Shadow
  • Homework assignments from workbooks designed especially for sexual addiction add to your awareness of the steps needed to be successful in recovery. "Facing the Shadow" is the first one we will use. The materials were developed by Pat Carnes to take individuals through a series of tasks effective at establishing and maintaining sobriety. Backed by research, much of the work of these tasks is done out of session, providing spouses and partners with the opportunity to observe your recovery actions.
Recovery Zone
  • Some clients are interested in a special set of materials called the "Recovery Starter Kit--The First 180 Days." It includes three books with daily readings, exercises, and a chance to grow and learn through your addiction. In addition, it includes 4 CD's of recorded talks, a DVD of Patrick Carnes and John Bradshaw, and planner pages for your notebook. This is available through me at a reduced price.
Start Kit

 

As you can see, there is lots of structure available to get recovery started in a healthy way. Material is also available to help spouses cope with the presence of sex addiction in their relationship. Click here for information for spouses.

 

Help Along the Way

  • Coping With Urges
    Very helpful ideas about how to cope with cravings and urges. This article was originally on the web at HabitSmart.com. However that site was removed and this is a PDF of it.
  • Cognitive Distortions
    Working through cognitive distortions is a basic skill needed for recovery. Here is a list of common errors we make in our thinking.
  • Tips for Trips
    Here are some first-rate suggestions for staying sober while traveling.
  • Long Term Acceptance
    What one has to accept about sex addiction for the long haul...and what one doesn't.

Planning Relapse Prevention

Recovery isn't a process that typically has an end point. It must be maintained through time, and relapse is a real possibility. Part of good treatment involves making a relapse prevention plan, which should be a final stage in treatment. Click here for some ideas about what can be included.

Special section continued: Click here for

information about support groups