What Are the Different Types of Therapy for Sex Addiction?

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  • Written By: Gregory Hanson
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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The concept of sex addiction is moderately controversial among psychologists who study sexual behavior in humans, and because of this, there is no single standard therapy for sex addiction. Some treatment programs employ a process similar to that used by programs designed to aid patients in recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. Other treatments focus primarily on the social and family context of sexual identity and seek to foster healthier interpersonal relationships. Still other programs emphasize the examination and treatment of any underlying issues that cause sexual addiction. A number of treatment programs supplement these treatments with medications.

No single definition of sex addiction is universally accepted, and not all experts believe that such a condition exists. Among those who do acknowledge this condition, definitions tend to focus on involuntary actions. In other words, patients are apt to be diagnosed with sexual addiction if they have difficulty in controlling their impulses and if that lack of control hinders their ability to meet their social and professional obligations.


The most common types of therapy for sex addiction rely on possible parallels between compulsive sexual behavior and the behaviors shown by other sorts of addicts. These programs often employ multiple-step recovery programs designed to gradually modify behavior. They frequently make use of community-building techniques, such as those used by Alcoholics Anonymous, which are designed to provide advice and support in a group setting. A more extreme version of this sort of therapy relies on an initial session in a rehabilitation facility in order to begin breaking old behavior patterns.

A second variety of therapy for sex addiction hinges on the role of healthy social and sexual relationships. This sort of therapy examines family relationships and involves both individual and family counseling. Such treatment can help to work out existing issues and can also serve to highlight the potential consequences of a sex addict’s behavior.

Individual therapy for sex addiction may focus instead on the link between thought and action that is at the heart of an addict’s behavior. This style of therapy works to break harmful patterns of thought and action. Healthier patterns are then fostered to replace them.

Some doctors employ medication as part of a program of therapy for sex addiction. Anti-depressants are most commonly used for this purpose, and serve a double purpose. On the one hand, it is thought that many sex addicts are motivated by depression and that treatment of the underlying depression might aid in treating the addiction. This class of drug often produces side effects that dampen the libido, and this reduction in overall sex drive is felt to be helpful as part of therapy for sex addiction.


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