What Is Sex Addiction Therapy: Your Guide

what is sex addiction therapy

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In this blog I am going to help you understand sex addition better. Helping you seek sex addiction therapy to get help, you do not need to do this alone.

For most of us, it seems like we’re continuously changing, evolving, and learning more about ourselves. That’s just what we as humans do! And for some of us, that includes understanding more about our sex lives and any issues or concerns we have pertaining to sex.

You may feel confused or guilty about some of your behaviors surrounding sex. Maybe you’ve heard the term “sex addiction” thrown around before but aren’t sure if it applies to you. If this has been on your mind for a while, know that there are ways to learn more about what addiction looks like so that you can get an idea of where to go from here.

Sex can already be a difficult topic for many to think about and discuss. When it comes to sex addiction, it can feel stigmatizing, embarrassing, and confusing for those who are or think they might be struggling with it.

But we want you to know that no one is immune to sexual addiction, and there are no judgments here — only answers.

If you feel like you have lost control of your behaviors or need help understanding what’s going on, this blog post will give you the information you need.

In this blog, we’ll discuss what sex addiction is, what causes it, how to recognize the signs, and how to get help for yourself or a loved one if necessary. We will dive into the topic of sex addiction therapy specifically, because the most important thing is you get on a productive path toward healing and recovery.

What Is Sex Addiction Therapy?

Sex addiction therapy, also known as hypersexual disorder therapy, is a form of treatment designed to help individuals who are excessively consumed by sexual thoughts and behaviors. This condition, also referred to as compulsive sexual behavior, can significantly disrupt their daily functioning.

Unlike simply having a high libido, sex addiction goes beyond a normal interest in sexual activities. People with sex addiction continue to engage in sexual behaviors despite the negative consequences it may bring, and it can have a detrimental impact on their personal relationships. They invest a substantial amount of time and resources in fulfilling their sexual urges.

Sex addiction therapy aims to address this compulsive behavior and its associated consequences. Through counseling and therapeutic techniques, individuals can gain a better understanding of their condition and develop strategies to regain control over their sexual thoughts and behaviors. The therapy sessions may explore underlying factors contributing to the addiction, such as emotional issues or past traumas.

Overall, sex addiction therapy provides support and guidance for individuals struggling with excessive preoccupation with sex. By seeking professional help, they can work towards healthier and more balanced lives, free from the disruptive effects of sex addiction.

What Is Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction is defined as sexually motivated behavior where one lacks control of sexual thoughts, impulses, and urges and acts out on them regardless of negative consequences.

Sexual impulses are normal for all humans, but it becomes problematic when behaviors become excessive and significantly impact one’s life. Someone with sex addiction has a compulsive need for sexual stimulation that interferes with their ability to live a normal life. That includes their physical health, social life and relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

Sex addiction is sometimes also referred to as sexual compulsion or sexual dependency, and it’s estimated that anywhere from 12 to 30 million Americans experience some form of sexual compulsion.

Typically, the only effective way to treat sexual dependencies is through sex addiction therapy, which can also help improve one’s relationship with intimacy and sex overall.

How Can I Get Therapy For Sex Addiction

If you seek sex addiction therapy, you can always start by searching online for sex addiction therapists near you or therapists who offer virtual services. The same goes for other treatment programs and support groups.

Before you pursue sex addiction therapy, it’s important to note that sex addiction is not defined by the amount of sex someone has. Instead, it is characterized by how one’s sexual behaviors and compulsions affect their life and wellbeing. This means that responsible and consensual sexual behaviors concerning sexual encounters, BDSM, or pornography do not indicate sex addiction.

In other words, you do not have sexual compulsions unless your behaviors become out of your control and disrupt your emotional health.

That said, you may not have a sex addiction, but if you feel that you could benefit from a healthier relationship with sex or intimacy, some form of counseling or therapy is a great thing to consider.

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What Can Cause Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction may develop as a result of a complex interplay of individual and environmental factors. Some sex addicts may have been victimized as children or had an overbearing sexual upbringing. Some individuals become sexually compulsive to escape from or cope with emotional pain or stress from it all.

So, while there is no single known cause of sex addiction, there are a few common contributing factors.

1. Mood

Research suggests that certain moods are the most likely cause of sex addiction. As mentioned, some people experience sexual compulsions as a coping mechanism, and some of the most common mood triggers include sadness, depression, loneliness, and even happiness.

2. Hormones

When a person’s body produces too much androgen (a sex hormone that impacts libido), it increases their risk of developing a sex addiction.

3. History of abuse

Many individuals with sex addiction have a history of abuse, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

4. Brain Chemistry

Sex addiction is not considered a diagnosable condition according to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). However, research suggests that sexual behavior and sex addiction can develop due to neurochemical differences in one’s brain’s reward center.

Like a chemical addiction, during sex, the body releases chemicals including dopamine and oxytocin, which can give someone a “high” similar to one from alcohol or drugs. Someone can become addicted to these pleasureful feelings, needing more sex to continue feeling that way.

Sex Addiction Signs

A person suffering from sexual addiction may present with a variety of symptoms, both physical and emotional. Although a healthcare professional is needed to make an accurate diagnosis, some signs can indicate whether a person has sex addiction:

1. Spending excessive time on sex

When someone spends excessive amounts of energy and time on sex, whether having sex, seeking sexual partners, or being sexual, it can all indicate sexual addiction.

2. Obsessive sexual thoughts

An individual with sex addiction may find themselves constantly thinking about sex. Their persistent thoughts of sex or sexual daydreams and fantasies can become obsessive, getting in the way of their daily life and responsibilities.

3. Masturbating excessively

Excessive masturbation is not the same as a normal expression of sexual drive or exploration of sexuality. When someone has a sex addiction, they may masturbate compulsively, to the point of physical pain or discomfort. They may also masturbate at inappropriate times.

4. Feeling shame or depression

Sometimes an individual with sex addiction feels shameful over their sexual urges and their trouble controlling them. Anxiety, social anxiety, depression, and regret are other feelings and conditions that are sometimes experienced along with sexual feelings.

In some cases, there are signs of clinical depression or thoughts of suicide involved.

5. Engaging in risky or inappropriate behaviors

One’s sex addiction can lead them to engage in unhealthy, inappropriate, and/or unsafe sexual behaviors. Sex without protection, sex with prostitutes, public sex, and exhibitionism are all examples of inappropriate sexual behaviors. Some of these can also lead to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV.

6. Regular one-night stands and/or cheating on partners 

Sex addiction can cause someone to seek sex with new partners frequently. Their sexual compulsion may drive them to seek out one-night stands, even if it means cheating on their partner or having an affair.

7. Excluding other activities

It can be a red flag when someone prioritizes sex and sexual behaviors over other activities and responsibilities. Suppose one fixates so much on sex that they have trouble engaging in other hobbies or become socially withdrawn. In that case, they are likely to have trouble maintaining healthy relationships with partners, friends, and family.

8. Committing criminal sex offences 

While there isn’t evidence that sexual addiction can cause someone to commit sexual offenses like stalking, rape, or child molestation, some sexual criminals may be sex addicts.

How To Overcome Sex Addiction

The good news is that it is possible to overcome sex addiction, and there are several types of sex addiction therapies someone can seek.

The best treatment for an individual will vary depending on the underlying cause of their addiction and how it affects their personal life (for example, one may seek marriage or couples sex addiction therapy rather than one-on-one therapy if they’re in a relationship).

6 forms of sex addiction treatment also include:

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  2. Group therapy
  3. Support groups
  4. Psychodynamic therapy
  5. EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) 
  6. Inpatient treatment

To overcome sex addiction, some individuals may need medication alongside therapy to deal with any underlying mood or anxiety disorder.

Couples Therapy When A Partner Has A Sex Addiction

If an individual with sex addiction is in a relationship or marriage, it can lead to various problems. Whether it’s the stress a partner feels when too much sex is being asked of them, or they become susceptible to STDs because their partner is having sex with others, sex addiction can be incredibly harmful to relationships.

Couples therapy or marriage counseling can help if sex addiction is sabotaging a relationship. Through sex addiction therapy, both partners can get involved, which is helpful if there are underlying problems in the relationship contributing to the addiction.

Different Types Of Sex Addiction Therapy

1. Individual therapy

With traditional, one-on-one talk therapy, a therapist with specialized training in sexually compulsive behaviors can help you address your problems. Through individual therapy, you can find new perspectives to those problems and get to the root of them to effectively cope.

2. Psychodynamic therapy

As mentioned earlier, there are many instances where past trauma or abuse can contribute to one’s development of sex addiction. Psychodynamic therapy is a form of therapy that focuses specifically on suppressed memories and conflicts from one’s past to uncover what’s fueling their addiction.

Through psychodynamic therapy, many patients can release any shame or self-loathing they might have as they come to understand that they are not at fault for their struggles.

3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a form of therapy focused on the notion that emotions, behaviors, and thoughts are all connected. With that, this therapy type focuses on the driving mental aspect of one’s sex addiction, helping individuals identify and change triggering thoughts, understand and accept their feelings, and cultivate more positive self-talk and self-image in the process.

4. Group therapy

Group therapy is an ideal setting for helping people see that they aren’t alone. Through the guidance of a qualified therapist and positive social interaction, group therapy patients can begin to feel safer and emotionally supported as they recover and heal.

5. Sex addicts anonymous

Sex Addicts Anonymous is a program that helps individuals find acceptance of their powerlessness concerning their sexual addiction. Like the structure of Alcoholics Anonymous, this 12-step program is a goal-focused treatment plan that helps patients focus on working toward a clear objective.

Other 12-step programs for sex addiction include Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous.


A sex therapist focuses on helping individuals and couples with various aspects of their sexual well-being and relationships. On the other hand, a sex addiction therapist specializes in treating individuals who struggle with compulsive sexual behaviors or behaviors that have become problematic and disruptive to their lives.

Sex addiction, also known as compulsive sexual behavior or hypersexual disorder, refers to a condition in which individuals experience an intense and uncontrollable urge to engage in sexual behaviors. These behaviors may include excessive pornography consumption, frequent sexual encounters with multiple partners, compulsive masturbation, exhibitionism, or other sexually-oriented activities.

Although sex addiction isn’t listed as a diagnosable condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), research indicates that excess sexual behavior can develop, like a chemical addiction.

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