There are two primary perspectives when it comes to therapy regarding sexual issues. One school of thought is the sexual addiction approach, and the other is the sex-positive approach. At Total Health Guidance, we use a unique and integrated model. We have a sex-positive attitude while at the same time recognize that sexual addiction or out-of-control sexual behaviors are a real struggle for many people.
What is the sex-positive approach? It starts with removing all shame and judgment associated with sex, including sexual thoughts, acts, and identity. A shame-based view of sexuality will only perpetuate any undesired sexual activity and lead to an unhealthy self-image and decreased intimacy. Sex-positive therapists work with clients in a patient and accepting manner to help them develop, and fully own a healthy sexual perspective. There are no sexual thoughts, desires, or actions which are considered wrong, unhealthy, or dysfunctional as long as the sex is consensual.
What is the Sexual Addiction approach? Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (C-Sat’s) define sex addiction as any sexually compulsive behavior which impacts you or your family and friends. Sex addicts are seen as no different than other types of addicts. Those addicted to alcohol or other drugs develop a dependency with their “drug of choice” which takes priority over all other aspects of their lives. They feel like they need their drug just to feel normal. Sex or pornography is substituted for alcohol, food, or drugs and provides the “high” that the addict needs to feel normal. They often seek instant gratification rather than the satisfaction that comes from more intimate relationships. Sex and porn addiction is viewed as progressive in nature just like other addictions. Sex addicts fail to control their behavior and experience great shame over their constant failure to do so. Their self-esteem plummets which provides greater fuel for the need to escape more into their sexual behaviors.
What is the Total Health integrated model? We start with the patient and accepting perspective of sex-positive therapists. We do not shame or judge people for their sexual beliefs, attitudes, identity, or activity. With that said, we do recognize that many people do struggle with “out of control sexual behavior.” This does not mean that someone who has a lot of sex or lots of different sexual partners is a “sex addict” or is “out of control.” We use 5 main principles to help determine if sexual behavior is addictive or out of control. They are:
- Is it mutual and consensual? (Adult to adult, not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, etc.)
- Is it safe? (Not putting yourself in high-risk situations)
- Is it honest? (Not lying to your partner or lying about your age, health status, etc.)
- Is it non-exploitive? (Not sex for financial gain, voyeurism, revenge pornography, etc.)
- Is it consistent with your core values? (If not, then either your behavior or your values will need to change.)
If your sexual activity falls in line with these principles, regardless of the type of sex or amount of sex, then we would consider it to be healthy sexuality. If it is not congruent with these principles, then you may be struggling with sexual compulsion or sexual incongruency. If so, please call our office now at 321-332-6984 to schedule your free, confidential consultation with a therapist specializing in sexual behavior.
Sex therapy appointments can be in-person, over the phone, or online. We help clients with sexual related issues in Orlando, Miami, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Gainesville, and throughout the state of Florida.
While a diagnosis and treatment plan for sexual compulsion should only be determined by a trained sexual therapist, the following behavior patterns suggest an individual should seek counseling as out of control sexual behavior may be present:
- Having severe consequences due to sexual behavior and not being able to stop in spite of those consequences. Examples can include the loss of a spouse, severe relationship issues, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, etc.
- Increase in depression or anxiety because sexual activity is not in alinement with core belief system.
- Sexually obsessive thoughts as a way to escape from relational or emotional pain.
I was so tired of trying, failing, trying harder, failing again, and so on. I had finally hit bottom when I reached out for help. The sex addiction counselor at THG gave me hope. I was given a practical approach that was different than anything else I had tried. When I followed the plan – it worked! While I lost my marriage and my job because of my addiction, I have gained freedom and peace from my journey of recovery. Total Health Guidance was a huge part of my healing journey. Thank you! B.D. – Ocoee