Filling the Gaps in Porn and Sex Addiction Treatment

I want to start off by saying that in battling my own addiction to porn, I was profoundly helped by both traditional talk therapy and a 12-step program. I learned a lot from each, and I often hear from others who have been greatly helped by these approaches as well.

However, for me, there were unfilled gaps in my recovery. I knew I needed to address these gaps before I could move past my addiction and into a life with more fulfilling and meaningful relationships. I knew that I needed more help understanding true intimacy. Just like any other recovering addict, I have a personal journey and story to tell. I want to share with you what worked for me, just in case it sounds like something that might also work for you.

Something Just Wasn’t Clicking

When I say that I’ve used both talk therapy and a 12-step program, I mean that I really used them. I was in talk therapy for more than twenty years, and indeed, this approach helped me make progress. To a certain point. As for the 12-step program, I’ve been involved for thirty years. In fact, I’m still involved. I’ve sponsored people through the program, and in doing so, felt the calling to pursue my career as an addiction recovery counselor.

However, despite everything I learned, and all of the useful techniques gained over these decades of hard work, I wasn’t completely free. Underneath it all, I was still trying to white-knuckle my way out of my sex and porn addiction. I was still trying to beat it through sheer willpower without fully addressing the underlying issues. I got to a certain point in my recovery and then could go no further.

I needed to get over that final mountain in order to truly heal.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is What Finally Clicked

Regardless of how long I stuck with talk therapy and the 12-step program, I still needed to change my thinking around sex. I continued to objectify women and can now see how that was preventing me from experiencing true intimacy.

During my Master’s program, I was introduced to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness techniques. These included one particular concept that sounded a bit out there to me at first: “You are not your mind.” As I began to integrate that concept, I began to gain some separation from my addict self and the spiraling thoughts that had been running the show for most of my life. This perspective allowed me to begin to dialog with this addict self, literally talk with him, and to begin figuring him out. Once I did that, I saw him for what he was: a scared, immature kid who was hurting. I began using the dialoguing technique with him, and in doing so I learned about the real me. I was finally able to observe what had previously been unseen automatic imperatives leading again and again to the promised soothing of acting-out. And with this recognition came the freedom to make a different choice. I didn’t have to continue living in reaction to my history if I didn’t want to. And I definitely didn’t want to.

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This is How I Treat My Clients Now

Recovery has been a long road for me, as it is for any addict. But I’m happy to say that my road has brought me to a much brighter, more peaceful place where I am able to help others. I walk my clients through the same process I walked through, and get to watch them come to similar realizations.

Here’s the sad truth about my prior attempts at recovery: I would sit in talk therapy sessions and my inner addict would be laughing at my attempts to gain control. It wasn’t until I learned how to develop an inner observer who could turn and face the addict part of me that he lost his power.

If you are feeling frustrated by your own clients’ progress with talk therapy or a 12-step program, you are not out of options. These approaches can help, but some clients need more. Please reach out to us anytime to learn how you can better serve your clients with specialized therapy options and resources for sex and porn addictions.

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