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Why I Am No Longer A Sex Addiction Therapist: Treating Out-of-Control Sexual Behaviors

In the 1980s, addiction models were becoming increasingly popular, and the sex addiction model tagged onto that wave. Twelve-step groups on behavioral addictions were forming everywhere. The groups, as well as the information, were easily accessible, and clients understood the concept immediately. I became a certified sex addiction therapist, and fully embraced the model until 2010 when I began to see some serious flaws. For instance:

* Sex is not as simple as I had learned. It is far more complicated and messy psychologically, both very ordinary and very weird in everyone. Sexuality is a kind of mystery to us all, and may take us in all kinds of unexpected directions.

* The definition and treatment of sexual addiction is complicated by values, morality, and religious overtones of treatment providers. In the sex addiction model, sexual recovery is left to the therapist’s and spouse’s moral judgment and discretion. It lacks an informed, educated and research-oriented basis to assist the client to achieve his own sexual health.

* As our understanding of the range of human sexuality has expanded, many within our profession have ceased to pathologize certain sexual behaviors, recognizing that, practiced in safe and consensual ways, such behaviors often not only enhance people’s happiness and well being, but are neither “unnatural” nor “abnormal.” Rather they are part of the panoply of pleasure available to us as sexual beings.

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