There are widespread misconceptions about sex addiction treatment, and unfortunately these inaccurate beliefs can keep some people from getting the treatment they need. Some of these misconceptions are connected to stigma and prejudice against sex addiction itself, while others are due to misunderstandings about how treatment of sex addiction is different from other forms of addiction treatment.
Sex Addiction Treatment Is Sex Positive
One of the most widespread myths about sex addiction treatment is that the process is anti-sex and meant to discourage sexual behavior or certain kinds of sexual practices. Part of this misconception is the pervasive idea that sex addiction itself is about having “too much” sex or about engaging in certain kinky sexual activities. This misconception also arises from the fact that treatment for other kinds of addiction, particularly substance addiction, tends to emphasize total abstinence.
The idea that getting treatment for sex addiction will translate to extended or lifelong abstinence definitely scares some people away. However, sex addiction treatment acknowledges that sex is an integral part of life for most people, and that abstaining from sex indefinitely is not a realistic approach to recovery. Instead of counseling people with sex addiction to give it up entirely or to abandon certain sexual activities, certified sex addiction therapists will help their patients to integrate sex into their lives in a healthy way.
Sex Addiction Treatment Is Not Biased
Some people also believe that sex addiction treatment is prejudiced against individuals and couples who are not heterosexual. However, sex addiction has nothing to do with sexual orientation and affects people of all orientations. The problem is not with any particular orientation, preference or practice, but with the way that an individual’s sexual behavior has become compulsive and seriously detrimental to the rest of that person’s life.
There are also many people who continue to question whether sexual addiction is real, and suspect that sex addiction treatment is just about exploiting patients. They believe that sex addiction therapists are not knowledgeable enough to recognize when something other than sex addiction is causing compulsive sexual behavior.
However, many people who become certified sex addiction therapists (CSATs) have personal experience with the illness, either as patients or as partners or loved ones of people dealing with sex addiction. Their own experiences have motivated them to become certified in this field and to help other people in similar situations.
Furthermore, CSATs have to be practicing clinicians before they can become certified in sex addiction treatment, and they have a great deal of training when it comes to recognizing many kinds of psychological disorders. A qualified therapist will have the training and experience not only to recognize when the problem is sex addiction (while those who are not trained in this specialty may not), but also to realize when another disorder is the true culprit.
Treatment Is Not a Free Pass—It Takes Work
Perhaps the most pervasive myth about this disorder is that a diagnosis of sex addiction and subsequent treatment is just a way to let people escape responsibility for their bad behavior. In reality, undergoing treatment for sex addiction is a challenging and lengthy process of regaining control and taking responsibility for past and future actions. For someone in sex addiction treatment, the slate of past wrongs does not get wiped clean; instead, every transgression is brought to light, and patients have to acknowledge and confront the consequences of their past behaviors and take the major steps necessary to avoid them in the future.