sexual addiction Articles

Sex Addiction Counseling: The Answer To Your Private Prayers

More than any other addiction, sex addiction has the most potential to dial up shame. This is what can make it so hard to talk about, and therefore too often it stays hidden.

Unfortunately, as they say in 12-step programs, we are only as sick as our secrets. What this means is when we do things we know are wrong and then hide those behaviors from our loved ones, we gradually poison our soul, and the longer we wait, the worse it is when our behavior comes to light. The good news is that God does not think we are disgusting or hopeless. We are loved and worthy of redemption, no matter what.

Understanding Sexual Response

Our bodies are created with the capacity for sexual response, and at the physical level that response is involuntary. People in scientific studies who are shown photos of animals mating often respond with disgust, but almost without exception their bodies display the physical attributes of arousal. This is important to understand when beginning to think about addiction.

We are created to be in relationship, to bond, to join, to procreate, and these needs are interwoven with our deepest emotions of hope (to be seen, known, and loved as we are) and fear (that we will be judged, found inadequate, and be rejected). Addictive behaviors are activated by t...

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Sex Addiction: Effects on Partners

This article references the book, Mending a Shattered Heart, edited by Stefanie Carnes

Finding out your partner has been unfaithful is devastating. If the behavior proves to be the result of a sexual addiction, there can be even more overwhelming feelings of shame, confusion, loss, and pain; sometimes there are symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), such as hypervigilance and intrusive thinking.

Sex Addiction Criteria

Following are ten key criteria for sex addiction. If someone meets three or more of these ten criteria, he or she would be considered a sex addict. These criteria need to be present over a prolonged period of time (e.g., six months) and not be part of a major mood swing, such as in bipolar disorder.

1. Recurrent failure to resist sexual impulses in order to engage in specific sexual behaviors

2. Frequently engaging in those behaviors to a great extent or over a longer period of time than intended

3. Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to stop, reduce, or control those behaviors

4. Inordinate amounts of time spent in obtaining sex, being sexual, or recovering from sexual experiences

5. Preoccupation with sexual behavior or preparatory activities

6. Frequent engaging in the behavior when expected to f...

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Help for Sexual Addiction for Women

This article on help for sexual addition references the book, Ready to Heal, by Kelly McDaniel.

Love and sex addiction is a double bind. If we seek a relationship, which we are all designed to do, we will experience pain. If we then avoid relationships, which seems logical when we’ve been hurt, we will also experience pain – usually the pain of being isolated. When we are lacking healthy role models in our formative years, we may arrive at adulthood without the tools to navigate pain.

With repeated betrayal in relationships, we may end up with some of these feelings:

  • I am not at “ease” or at peace.
  • I rarely know a moment of comfort in solitude.
  • I have difficulty being alone or still.
  • I have disordered eating, sleeping, and/or spending patterns.
  • I grow increasingly confused and tired.
  • I have difficulty trusting people.
  • I become more isolated while pursuing sex or romance.
  • I lose interest in friends, hobbies, family, and work.
  • I can’t seem to identify or live within my value system.
  • I experience more and more episodes of irritability, rage, and restlessness.

Shame sets in when we can’t seem to free ourselves from choosing destructive...

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Overcoming Porn Addiction By Changing Your Mind

At the emotional root of every addiction is a good desire. We want to be seen, known, and loved well, and when it doesn’t happen, the pain can be intolerable. We want to be free of our stresses and free to enjoy life. Good desires. The problem with addiction is that it masquerades as a solution, masking our symptoms while our condition slowly worsens in the background.

I once heard a pastor say, “Only dead things float down stream.” You’ve got to be swimming at least a little bit just to stay in one place. Addictions are like floatation devices that keep us from having to face our emotional pain and make difficult choices that might actually bring growth and change. Pornography addiction is particularly insidious, because it can seem like a “victimless crime” and it masquerades as bonding to our unconscious mind, while gradually building an addiction to our own neurochemicals. Add to that the guilt and shame which often go along with it, plus the underlying emotional structure driving the behavior, and the dynamics of pornography addiction become a complex puzzle that can take some time and effort to unravel.


Recent studies in neurobiology have shown that thoughts that are repeated actually create stronger neural pathways in our brain. Re...

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Treatment for Sex Addiction Explained by a Christian Counselor

Most people who struggle with sex addiction appear outwardly as normal in vocation and lifestyle as anyone else. For instance, many sex addicts are doctors, lawyers, writers, pastors, priests, teachers, and successful business people. They occupy trustworthy vocational roles all over the world. Sex addicts can also be very committed husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends. They often also  have very high levels of spirituality and concern for others. So, why do many sex addicts cause so much damage in their sexual and relational acting out? That is a really good question that can only be answered as each addict processes and works through their own life story and discovers what helps them to be safe and caring towards themselves and others throughout their life.

Sex Addiction and Issues of Intimacy

Most individuals with addiction issues generally struggle with intimacy, and with building and maintaining a healthy relational attachment or connection to someone significant in their life. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that the key struggle of the sex addict is concerned with healing, establishing, and maintaining intimacy, and with healthy attachment or connection. This is where most of the therapeutic work is focused. Many people who stru...

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Christian Counseling’s Role in Retooling the Man and Rewiring the Brain

Porn and Power: A Christian Counselor Explains
Part 3 of a 4-Part Series 
I’ve positioned the solution-oriented parts of this series (Parts 3 and 4) at the end – on purpose. Because waiting, and holding the tension of waiting, is critical to healing soul, body, and brain.

Many guys are already prone to a quick “fix-it” persona that conveniently bypasses the need for a deeper, more disciplined attentiveness to their inner life, to the emotional core Self. As men, often we want a 5-step plan for efficiently calculating and conquering the problem (or concealing it).

But that’s what made porn so appealing in the first place: it’s just a few pre-packaged steps or clicks towards “managing” an anxiety that’s often unnamed, even unfelt.

The Brain on Porn

Pornography hijacks normal brain functioning by artificially stimulating a neurochemical cocktail. Naturally interacting levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and oxytocin become highly combustible when experienced outside of relationship – profoundly restricting our emotional bandwidth for genuine connection with another person.

The brain’s delicate reward-gratification circuitry goes haywire, which can lead to numbing depression, anger, anxiety and decrea...

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Visiting a Therapist for Sex Addiction

Cybersex, Part 2 of a 3-Part Series
In my previous article in this series, I introduced the phenomenon of sexual addiction, and outlined its effects on both men and women. This article builds on that discussion by providing a vignette of a first-time visit to a therapist by a couple who have been affected by sex addiction.

The following transcript is a compilation of what may typically occur in therapy. It describes a first-time appointment for a couple who are struggling with pornography use by one of the partners, in this case the husband as that is the most common scenario.

Sex Addiction in the Counseling Room

Therapist: Why are you both here?

Sally: We came because I am angry and can’t go on any more like we are. He spends hours on the computer looking at who knows what. He never initiates sex. And he’s distant to the kids.

T (to husband): Why are you here? Now I know why she is here.

Phil: It’s really not that bad. She’s exaggerating. Yeah, I spend some time online, but I’m doing okay.

Sally: Do you really think that…?

T: Let me interrupt for just a moment. Phil, it’s obvious she is extremely frustrat...

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