Is there a behavior you do that you don’t like that you do?
Is there a behavior you do that causes you to feel shame?
Is there a behavior you do that causes other problems?
Have you tried to stop, but keep acting out anyway?
Have people who matter to you expressed concern about what you do?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may benefit from a more in-depth assessment around patterns of disordered substance use or out of control behaviors.
I have training and experience with drug and alcohol addiction, and most of my counseling career has included a recovery component. I am further developing a specialty in out of control sexual behavior, particular pornography.
My approach to addictions is integrated, non-shaming and non-pathologizing. What this means is that, I take both the embodied and intangible components of addiction very seriously.
Addiction often arises out of a particular disordered brain function, thus I consider it useful to recognize the disease component of addiction. I also tend to see addiction is symptomatic of other underlying issues. We become addicted to a substance or behavior for a reasons, and often that reason has something to do with a mental health disorder, past trauma, or significant environmental stressor.
An integrated approach to addictions recognizes the importance of all these factors and attempts to address them all together. This approach also recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of all individuals, even the ones caught up in uncontrolled compulsive behaviors. Addicted people are not “Sicker” than any other type of person; they just require a particular set of supports to succeed.
A Sex Positive Approach to Sex Addiction?
Conversations in our society about sex and sexuality can be among the most animated, emotionally heightened, and at times, even hostile. In an increasingly sex positive society, a term and concept like “Sex/porn addiction” is often scrutinized. The concepts of sex addiction and sex positivity are often seen to be at odds with each other.
I attempt to counter this trend and build a bridge between the two ideologies.
Informally, I do use terms like “Sex addiction” and “porn addiction.” I do this because, just as with a chemical addiction, my first look is at the patterns of behavior surrounding the behavior itself. If the behavior patterns bear certain characteristics and are experienced by the individual as distressing, I feel that approaching the behavior as an addiction is warranted.
Ultimately, the problem of addiction is not the substance or behavior, but in the individual’s reasons for and manner of use. I tend to regard most addictive behaviors as symptomatic of deeper issues.
At the same time, I endeavor to approach the topic of sex addiction in a sex positive manner. Sex is a good thing. (A really good thing!) Sex and sexuality have been shamed, stigmatized, over-hyped, repressed, made taboo and made overly exotic and I believe all of these trends are unhealthy. I advocate clear and accurate education about sex, sexuality and sexual relationships. I also advocate for removing shame around sex in any way possible. I also hold the hope for all my clients that they will discover and develop healthy practices of sex and intimacy. From my perspective, these ideals are more readily achievable in the absence of compulsive, out of control behaviors.
Growth. Change. Hope