As a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT), I have had the honor and privilege of training with Dr. Patrick Carnes, the pioneer of sex addiction treatment in the country, as well as: Dr. Stefanie Carnes, Rob Weiss (leading expert on cybersex in the country), Dr. Ken Adams (Author of Silently Seduced), Debra Kaplan (expert on trauma). All of these amazing experts are CSATs and CSAT-Supervisors. The approach to treatment that Dr. Carnes has created supports one of lasting and longterm recovery. As a recovering sex addict himself with 40 years in recovery, he has taken his own personal experience of recovery from this brain disease as well as extensive research to create an effective task based approach.
His research indicates that individuals that participate in weekly (or twice weekly) individual therapy, group therapy, and an on-going support group have a higher likelihood of having lasting recovery. Individuals with sexual addiction who enter treatment with their partners, who also get treatment, have a a 96% success rate (Carnes, 2009). This is great news!
In my practice I use an integrative approach of incorporating mindful therapy with the task-based model, with an emphasis on trauma treatment to assist people who have sexual addiction and/or sexual anorexia in healing longterm. What my associates and I see is significant improvement longterm.
So what is the process of sex addiction/sexual anorexia treatment?
1. The Assessment Phase: This phase lasts approximately 3-5 sessions. Clients entering therapy for sexual addiction/sexual anorexia have an initial in-office intake assessment with myself and/or one of my associates, who are also trained or in training to treat these intimacy disorders. During this time, we gather as much bio-psycho-social history as possible to begin to conceptualize what you need, what your diagnosis (or diagnoses) may be, and begin to treatment plan.
Part of the assessment phase entails having clients take 2 (or 3 depending on the issues) assessment measures: the SDI-4 (Sexual Dependency Inventory), the PTSI-R (the Post Traumatic Stress Inventory-Revised) and if appropriate, the MAWASI (Money and Work Adaptive Scale Index). The first two assessments are given to all clients coming to therapy for sexual addiction; the PTSI-R is given to clients coming to therapy for trauma; the MAWASI is given if clients have financial and work disorders and/or sexual addiction/trauma.
Taking these assessments often elicits much anxiety and distress for clients, so I have clients take these a day or so before we meet to ensure they have a safe space to process whatever arises. I remind clients in session that these assessments can create discomfort, especially when we are reviewing them. However, these assessments provide a wonderful and thorough client profile that assists in accurately diagnosing and treatment planning. Therefore they are essential to our treatment process.
2. The Treatment Phase: This phase lasts 3-5 years. Treatment for sexual addiction and sexual anorexia is longterm. After all, many clients entering treatment have been struggling with their intimacy issues since they were very young. Therefore, in treatment our goal is to assist clients in creating new neural pathways that assist them in lasting recovery. I always tell clients: 2 people enter therapy; 1-The Addict and 2- Who You TRULY Are. Teaching new, healthy coping skills at times can feel slow, long, frustrating and laborious. And, Relapse is an unfortunate but likely part of the process. However, as clients who have been coming to therapy at Namaste Consulting, LLC for 6 months to 2 years will attest: by practicing the tools, doing the homework and assignments, accepting feedback from your therapist(s), attending individual and group therapy consistently, and having their partner (if applicable) involved, healing happens sooner than later. As one client tells new clients that come to his group, "Coming here is the fast track to recovering from this disease."
Our no-nonsense, direct, yet very compassionate approach encourages clients to be accountable and authentic, thus challenging their "addict" self that wants to keep secrets, manipulate, act out, control others, and lie. For some, this can be very difficult, especially since their "addict" has been in control for most of their life. However, with the support of their individual/group therapist and group members, shift happens and fast.
A Mindful/Task Based Approach to Treatment: We incorporate a Mindful Approach to healing along with Dr. Carnes Research Based Task Model to assist in longterm healing. We teach mindful tools from both my workbook: Mastering the Trauma Wound and EMDR such as guided imagery, creating a safe space/safe container, and deep breathing to assist clients in managing their anxiety (which most clients have). We use specific assignments to assist clients in gaining insight into their addiction as well their recovery. Some examples of assignments include: Exploring Problems, Secrets, and Thinking Errors; Trauma Egg, Cycle, Shame Core, Decision Table, PCI, healthy/unhealthy sexuality (i.e., courtship issues).
I also offer a quarterly intensive weekend workshop where I use my workbook: Mastering the Trauma Wound to assist clients in healing any unresolved childhood/adult trauma that may be interfering with their lasting recovery. (Note: All of our clients that come to heal from addiction have histories of some sort of trauma from being bullied to having a disability to being sexual abused/physically abused/neglected).
We understand that treatment for an intimacy disorder can be overwhelming and terrifying. There are a lot of unknowns for people coming for help (i.e., am I going to lose my spouse due to my actions?). However, we remind all of our clients that there is Hope for you and your partner! If you or your partner is struggling with what you believe is sexual addiction or sexual anorexia (see FAQ for details of each), know that you both CAN recover. We are here to guide you. Call or email today for an assessment. Namaste~