Sex Addiction is thought to affect between 6% and 20% of the UK population. Sex addiction occurs when sexual behaviour is preoccupying and out of control. The sexual acting out behaviour is pursued in spite of devastating and harmful consequences where work, relationships, health, finances, social lifestyles and integrity are seriously compromised.
Sexual behaviours that can become addictive are masturbation, pornography, internet chat rooms, use of webcams, social networking sites, sex texting, phone sex, visiting prostitutes or escorts, multiple affairs, sex with strangers, pursing a fetish or even sexually offending behaviour. The emotional consequences with feelings of isolation, guilt and shame can often re-ignite the addiction and send the addict spiralling back into the behaviours as a way to cope. Shame if often one of the most difficult emotions to manage, with shame being thought of to sex addiction like oxygen is to a fire.
Many people with sexually addictive behaviour are desperate to stop, try to stop but find they cannot stop. This is partly because of the mood-alternating experience of the sexual activity where a powerful cocktail of chemicals are released by the body. These chemicals from within the body can 'hijack' the mind bringing about a sense of euphoria similar to 'the hit' of other addictive chemicals taken from outside the body such as alcohol and illegal drugs.
The function of sex addiction is to anaesthetise painful feelings which cannot otherwise be coped with. Sex addiction is therefore a copping mechanism for boredom, depression, profound loneliness, sadness, anger, stress and pressure fear and anxiety and feeling empty or dead inside.
It is not unusual for those affected by sex addiction to have other addictive problems such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, money and work. Effective treatment can assess and address how these addictions interact with each other.
In therapy in treating sex addiction an assessment is made. Following that, treatment is mapped out to both understand the behaviours and offer ways to change them. Some of the goals for treatment are to help clients to stop, gain insight into why the behaviours happen, restore integrity and develop a healthy relationship with sex.
If you are unsure whether you have a sex addiction you can click on Am I a Sex Addict? and answer the questions.
Sex Addiction Counselling Testimonials
I called Karen when I was at my lowest. I'd been living with a secret most of my life and at the age of 36 my life was unraveling. I reached out to Karen and after a short wait we arranged to meet. I can honestly say that I am a different person. I've never felt so at one with my mind and emotions, thanks to Karen I feel in control"
After more than 10 years of failing to deal with my cycle of addiction, I sought the help of a professional (Karen) Throughout my life I was always reluctant to speak to anyone about my problems let alone a stranger. However Karen from day 1 did not judge me, through her genuine interest and concern allowed me to explore and deal with issues of the past that were fueling my addiction. Most of all Karen allowed me to more fully understand that my addiction did not make me a 'bad' person. Even though I can still struggle, Karen taught me ways to identify and prevent triggers, to stay free from my addiction.
I started counselling from a low point in my life though luckily my relationship with my partner was still ongoing. I didn't really know what to expect from counselling but I knew I needed to do something to stop my acting out. The initial counselling sessions gave me hope that it was possible to work through the sexual addictionand move my life onto a different path. Some practical solutions helped deal with day to day life.
As the sessions progressed, the counselling moved onto more in depth self-reflection of my past, particularly childhood. At times, it was difficult to see how this had any relevance to my acting out but as the sessions progressed it became clear that issues from childhood were the underlying reasons for acting out. One year on and with the knowledge that these core feelings were leading me to act out and how to deal with these feelings differently (and the practical tools also learnt), I believe I am well placed to move forward with a healthy life (with a much stronger relationship with my partner).
I found Karen via the Internet and chose her because of her qualifications in the field of my addiction. From the beginning I was treated with respect and kindness as she was able through careful questioning to uncover my issues.
She was able to start at the beginning of my addiction and show me how it has affected my whole life. Her detailed psychological questions are made softly that you hardly notice. I was able to go through a sixteen week course that has changed my life. It has resulted in conquering my sex addiction and rebuilding my marriage. I will return to another therapy session in about 3-4 months. I hope and pray that I never have those thoughts again and remain free from my addiction. I am willing to share my experience with others with the confidence the therapy from Karen had given me.
I tried other counsellors to overcome my sex addiction only to find I relapsed. On the verge of giving up that I would ever recover and the possibility of the collapse of my relationship and loss of my children, I discovered Karen and decided to give counselling one last try. I am really glad I did.
Recovering from sex addiction wasn't easy and I had some slips and lapses along the way. Karen was always encouraging me to 'get back on track'. Even when I lapsed she helped me understand why and gave me practical tools to cope. She was forever patient and at those times I always left counselling feeling not as wretched as when I came in. Now in 'being clean' for over a year I see life very differently. It's hard work in staying clean but it's worth it as I have a far better relationship with myself and with people who are close to me.
I had been a sex addict for over 15 years and one of the things that stopped me from seeking counselling from my sex addiction was my guilt and shame. Right from the beginning Karen set me at ease that she wasn't going to judge me, or, find fault. In counselling, Karen was able to explain things which eased my guilt and shame. Together we worked through my 'sex addiction cycle' and 'why' I was acting out. With that knowledge and insight and because Karen didn't judge me, I was gradually able to forgive myself. I not only can live with me now but can say I actually like myself. I would never have thought I could value myself as a man again.
A few years ago I was going through a dark period in my life and with the help of Karen talking things through really helped me get through it. Karen was a great listener and helped me verbalise what my problems were, something that I really struggled with. She wasn't afraid to challenge me telling me what she thought. I needed this as my addiction was making my life out of control and I needed to focus and not avoid things. I can't recommend Karen highly enough.
I tried other counsellors to overcome my sex addiction only to find I relapsed. On the verge of giving up that I would ever recover and the possibility of the collapse of my relationship and loss of my children, I discovered Karen and decided to give counselling one last try. I am really glad I did. Karen's assessment soon got to grips with the 'why' of my sex addiction which was missing from my other counselling. In getting to the root cause this helped me to understand myself better and make sense of why I did what I did. Having not acted out now for over 2 years I and my wife are much more confident about the stability of my recovery. I still every day have to keep my addiction in mind but this and my understanding of 'why' means that I can do everything I can to stay stopped.