Are Sexual Impulses Wreaking Havoc On Your Life?
Are you constantly preoccupied with or overwhelmed by sexual desire? Perhaps you spend an excessive amount of time online viewing pornography or searching for potential sex partners, while missing out on quality time that could be spent with your friends and family. Maybe you harbor a fear that your compulsive sexual behavior or pornography addiction will be found out by your loved ones or coworkers. Maybe relationships are already suffering, especially if you withdraw and feel irritable when you’re unable to pursue your next release. It may feel almost impossible for you to repress your sexual compulsions, even when you know you’re risking your relationship or job. Alternately, perhaps you just found out about your partner’s secret sexual behaviors and the shock and feelings of betrayal run so deep that you’re wondering if you’ll ever be able to trust them again. Do you wish you (or your partner) could control urges and foster a healthy relationship with sex?
Harboring shame and secrecy about sexual feelings and experiences can be a confusing and isolating experience. And, out of control sexual behavior can ripple into all aspects of your life and gravely impact your job, relationships and sense of self-worth. You may secretly seek the services of a sex worker or have conceived an unwanted pregnancy as a result of risky sexual behavior. Common emotional consequences of compulsive masturbation or pornography addictions include feeling like you’re betraying your loved ones, divorce or separation from your family, financial loss, depression and anxiety. Even if you feel like you’ve got it under control, you are likely distracted and distant and have difficulty staying connected to those you love in meaningful, nourishing ways. You may have tried to stop engaging in compulsive sexual behavior in the past, but the excitement and anticipation of sexual release is too overwhelming, leaving you feeling out of control.
Sexual Desire Is Normal, Natural And Healthy
Many adults—of all genders and sexual orientations—experience sexual issues, including compulsive sexual behavior, pornography addiction and difficulties with intimacy. We live in a sex-negative culture where having a lot of sex, having a high sex drive or engaging in sexual behavior outside the monogamous, hetero-normative trope is often criticized and stigmatized. Insomuch, it’s common for people who have sexual experiences or desires outside of the traditional model to feel isolated and experience guilt and shame, especially if sexual urges are new or have been repressed for a long time. And, many turn to pornography, hook-up and fetish sites and other sexual outlets to fulfill those needs. While viewing pornography and engaging in fetish practices for many individuals and couples is simply part of their healthy and enjoyable sexual experience, alternative sexualities are still rarely openly talked about. But, with approximately 4.2 million active pornographic websites in North America—which make up roughly 12 percent of all of cyberspace—and 25 percent of daily search engine inquiries made by people seeking cybersex/pornography services, we are viewing and engaging in a lot of sex whether it’s talked about or not.
The sex industry is one of the most successful in the world because it is a marketplace for satisfying the normal desires most of us have. If you are engaging in consensual sexual practices or behaviors that you fear are “abnormal,” therapy can help you sift through those emotions. Sexual preferences and desires are often fluid and can change throughout the course of your life. However, if your sexual behavior is causing health problems, feelings of depression, isolation or shame and/or if persistent lies and manipulation of others or is compromising your ability to function normally and maintain healthy relationships, sexual therapy counseling can help. An open-minded, supportive, empathic sex therapist can help you learn how to foster healthy relationships with others, yourself and your sexuality.
Sex Therapy Can Help You Heal And Transform Your Relationship With Sex
Therapy for out of control sexual behavior can be incredibly effective in helping you learn more about the nature of sexuality and establish a healthy relationship with sex. My approach to therapy is non-pathological, meaning I don’t believe anything is inherently wrong with you. Furthermore, in many cases, people with out of control sexual behavior have experienced some form of trauma or dysregulation in their system and use sex a way to cope. As you learn more about your sexuality and how to express it in healthier ways, I can also help you examine contributing stressors as well as develop new coping strategies that can transform your life and provide ongoing relief.
When people experience trauma or dysregulation of their system, it’s common to develop coping mechanisms that don’t necessarily serve your body or psyche in the long-run, but provide short-term relief. For many of the clients that come to me identifying as a sex addict, sex is simply a primary coping strategy for a larger issue. Throughout sex counseling sessions, I can help you learn why you behave the way you do. With this awareness, you can reframe your relationship with sex and begin making choices that feel nourishing and positive.
As we identify the why of your behavior, we will also create a sexual health plan that honors your unique sexuality, in alignment with the pioneering work of Douglas Braun-Harvey, creator of Out of Control Sexual Behavior counseling. Although sexuality is different for everyone and can change throughout the course of your life, there are a few universal lessons that can help you avoid undesired or unhealthy outcomes, which may include the following principles:
It is essential that both partners can experience sex without coercion or violence.
Using a sexual relationship to advance a personal agenda, at the expense of someone else, can be hurtful and problematic. It’s necessary to work toward honoring the agreements you make with your partner(s).
- Protection from STIs, HIV and Pregnancy
Ideally, questions (and answers) about STIs and HIV should be openly explored with your partner.
Being honest with your partner(s) is really important, as open communication about sexual desires, fantasies and feelings is a key ingredient to fulfilling sex and intimacy. When people become disconnected from what brings them satisfaction, they often deny aspects of their sexuality due to shame, fear and vulnerability. An important element of my work involves helping clients identify and overcome barriers to the authentic expression of their sexual self.
- Shared Values
What does sex and sexuality mean to you? How did you develop those values, and are they compatible with your relationship? Conflicting attitudes about sex, specifically with desire discrepancy, is a major reason why many seek professional guidance.
- Mutual Pleasure
Lack of mutual pleasure is a concern that often brings people into my practice. Sometimes this is related to difficulty expressing sexual needs and desires honestly. Another common barrier is a preoccupation with “performance” during intimate encounters, rather than enjoying the various physical sensations and emotional connection that can be created. Good sex is more than a series of precise maneuvers; it has the potential to promote growth and integration of heart, body, mind and spirit.
I don’t believe that having a high sex drive is a problem, but the inability to foster a healthy relationship with sex by harboring pent up guilt and shame and/or not feeling in-control of your behavior may be. Through sessions with me, you can begin to feel more empowered to seek out what it is you truly want and need.
There are always opportunities for change and to make things better. I support everyone as an individual, and I do not prescribe to the traditional sex addiction treatment model. Rather, my work with you will be focused on untangling the conflicts between your values and your erotic pleasures. There is so much potential and possibility to get your needs met in healthy ways. You can discover what healthy sexuality looks and feels like for you and start living more fully and freely.
You may still have questions or concerns about sex addiction counseling…
I’m worried that there is something really wrong with me.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with your uniquely expressed consensual sexuality. However, your sexual behavior may have become problematic and distressing. Your relationship with sex doesn’t need to be all consuming, and I can help you discover what you truly want and how to attain your desires in healthy, honest ways.
Is there such a thing as having too much sex?
No. And in my theoretical perspective, sex addiction is rarely about the amount of sex you have. Rather, compulsive sexual behavior is about your relationship with sex interrupting your ability to function and feel well.
My wife just found out about my behavior and is threatening divorce. Does sex addiction counseling really work?
As you claim your sexuality and learn to express it more in healthy and honest ways, you can discover whether or not your relationship is fulfilling your needs and how to move forward.
You Can Honor Your Sexuality
If you’re struggling with compulsive sexual behavior in Boulder, CO, I invite you to start the healing process by scheduling a free 20-minute consultation. I’m happy to discuss your specific needs and to answer any questions you have about sex therapy for individuals or my practice.