8 Hints and Helpful Advice for Helping Clients With a Sex Addiction

If you work with clients who are dealing with a sex addiction it can be difficult, and a little awkward, to know how to provide them with proper treatment while maintaining the comfort level of everyone at hand. The following pieces of advice will help you to navigate the often complex web of treating a client struggling with a sex addiction.1. Help the client find their primary support system. Whether it’s their great-grandmother or their best friend from their high school years, clergy, partner, fellow or sponsor, helping the client to identify their strongest and most trusted support system will help them to realize they aren’t really alone. Some people feel like they’re alone no matter what, but making a point of identifying their strongest supports and keeping this recognition alive will help the client believe that they really can ask for help from other people.2. Identify the questionable influences in the client’s life. The client may have a certain group of buddies that make jokes of their behavior, or they may have a very enabling friend who supports them in trips to strip clubs, bars or objectifying others. Helping the client to identify the people who don’t have such a great influence on them can be a vital step in stunting the growth of a sex addiction. By no means does the client have to cut these people out of their life completely; they just need to find the resolve, create healthy boundaries around the unwanted behaviors and have the assertiveness to tell these people that they aren’t helping and to ask them to modify their behavior.3. Don’t be afraid to talk about sex. Talking about sex can be incredibly awkward, especially if the client is vastly experienced and ashamed to speak about it. Talking may feel wrong and dirty, but the root of their addiction is sex and sexual desire, and allowing them to talk about it freely without fear of judgment is one important way they’re going to get those feelings out. Clients are extremely unlikely to divulge such experiences or thoughts to friends, coworkers, family members, or significant others. You need not reply extensively or identify with their experiences, but let them talk and try to keep the awkwardness to a minimum. You’ll find a sex addict will lie about their behaviors as they believe the behaviors are very shameful. It’s advisable to help them slowly share their secrets and behaviors with no judgment on your part.4. Encourage (temporary) abstinence. To expect a person to remain abstinent forever is somewhat ridiculous, but encouraging a period of abstinence in conjunction with treatment is important. This time of temporary zero sexual activity will help the addict to realize that although sex is nice, they can live without it somewhat comfortably. It is important for the addict to first develop a strong relationship with themselves before bringing in another person. This abstinent period will also force the addict to find other ways to cope with their urges and feelings, mainly through doing productive distracting things like what are called outer-circle behaviors; hobbies, meetings, developing same gender healthy relationships with other recovering addicts, exercise, reading, painting, or cleaning.5. Provide sexual education. Everyone is supposed to receive sex education at some point in their school lives. Many sex addicts are likely to have either forgotten this entirely, or ignore what they’ve learned or never received proper healthy sexual guidance. Bringing the message of sexual education home in a way suited for adults is imperative to helping the sex addict understand healthy sexual behaviors in contrast with the unhealthy ones. Sex education should include lessons on sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, safe sex, and appropriate partner intimacy.6. Encourage family or marital therapy. You may not personally be legally able to provide it, but encouraging some dynamic of marital or family therapy will help to eliminate some of the lies and excuses that are characteristic of sex addicts, while helping to build positive and effective relationships within the family unit, hopefully eliminating the need to use such lies and excuses in the future. Honesty is the best policy, and although it hurts sometimes, getting it all out there can help the rebuilding process go a lot more smoothly. Just as you wouldn’t want to build a new house on an old crumbling foundation, people struggling with a sex addiction need to build their own new foundation as well.7. Don’t allow those excuses and lies to be used in your sessions. If you want to nip a sex addict’s problem in the bud, you must be firm in not allowing excuses and lies in your meetings with this client. This doesn’t mean that you have to be harsh on them by any means; rather, you should be understanding and empathetic, yet firm in your resolve to not let excuses and lies affect the work you’re trying to do here.8. Encourage working a 12 step program of recovery. You’ll want your patient/client to work a 12 step program of recovery from a sex addiction. SAA, SA or SLAA will help them develop relationships with other recovering sex addicts while attending meetings, getting a sponsor and working the 12 steps. As they work their steps, you can assist them with the issues that will surely arise as they begin to turn their life around from one of shame, suffering and pain to one of joy, happiness and right living.