What Does a Sex Addiction Therapist Do?

Sex addiction therapist treat individuals who struggle with compulsive sexual behavior, often to the point of harming their own relationships or their personal and professional lives. They can teach coping skills and help identify the underlying causes of the behavior. They may also recommend specific therapies to treat co-occurring psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression, which can often accompany this disorder.

While many people enjoy sex, most don’t engage in sexual activity that’s considered “addictive.” Sexual addiction often involves compulsive behaviors that lead to serious negative consequences. It can include promiscuous and impulsive sexual behavior, excessive masturbation, or an obsessive attachment to one or more partners. The therapist will work with the client (sometimes with their partner, sometimes without) to better understand how these behaviors developed and to learn effective coping strategies.

Frequently, problem sexual behavior is motivated by unresolved psychological needs or traumas. These can range from the big T traumas like a car accident, witnessing violence or the loss of a loved one, to the little t traumas such as childhood sexual abuse, early porn exposure, emotional neglect and insecure attachment. The therapist will help the client to understand their behavior, resolve any unresolved traumas and develop new ways of meeting their psychological needs.

In addition to individual and family therapy, a sex addiction therapist might use trauma specific psychotherapies such as EMDR, somatic experiencing, or post induction therapy. They might also recommend 12 step recovery groups, though they should not be seen as a replacement for therapy.

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