What Is Sex Addiction? Part 2

Intentional Warriors is pleased to feature guest blogger David Janvier, MA, LPC, CST, a licensed Christian sex therapist to describe pornography addiction through the eyes of a clinician who regularly treats men with this problem.  Yesterday we began learning about John, one of Janvier’s clients, who was deeply involved in an addictive pattern with pornography and masturbation. Today, we conclude his story.

In college, John discovered massage parlors where he found for a fee, the female masseuse would provide additional “services”. This led John to a pattern of “hook-ups” and “best friends with benefits”. Eventually, John found himself sexually acting with men. Not because he had same-sex attraction but because he found that he could get a quick and easy hit with men who by-passed the typical social nuance of relationship and head right for the physical act. Spiraling to this depth caught John’s attention and he began to question his sexual behaviors. At the same time, he was questioning other aspects of his life. He was realizing that his sexual acting-out was no longer medicating the nagging void. He was no longer being fulfilled in the sexual behavior but still felt compelled to engage sexually somehow.

At the same time John was questioning his meaning and purpose in life, his roommate invited him to a campus ministry function. Accepting Christ brought a whole new lease on life. John felt a high like no high that sex could offer. Through the ministry, John met his wife, Nancy. The two married shortly after graduation. John believed that marriage would fill his void and stop all his sexual acting out. The high of becoming a new Christian and having a new wife wore off and John’s distorted sexual urges resurfaced. He began viewing porn online and on business trips he would pursue prostitutes. Buying sex had been an expensive endeavor. To keep his addiction a secret, he fabricated receipts and embezzled money from his work’s expense account. Eventually, the accounting department became suspicious and John was investigated-thus, the reason for his arrest.

Impact on Family

Nancy was devastated. Shock was the state she lived in for weeks after she heard John’s confession at the police station. Hearing John’s disclosure was surreal. Nancy explained it was like watching someone else’s life or viewing a movie. At times she felt she was viewing her life outside of herself or she was in a perpetual nightmare where she could not wake. Later she would learn in her own therapy, she was experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It was hard for Nancy to digest this label. However, after coming to the realization that her whole married life was a lie where she questioned whether any of her past was true, she readily agreed that she had experienced significant trauma. In therapy, Nancy learned skills and tools to manage the triggers of trauma that would haunt her for a life time.

Once Nancy gained some sense of her own identity and she became emotionally stable, it dawned on her that her children had been greatly impacted by their father’s addiction. In addition, she realized, as a result of her trauma, she had not been emotionally present and available for her children. Witnessing their father being arrested and their mother emotionally unstable, the children would not survive unscathed. The addicted family dynamics circumvented critical developmental stages which will have a long-enduring impact on the kids.

Why Use the Label Sex Addiction

As I began to work with John and as his story unfolded, it was clear that John’s thoughts, actions, style of relating and the impact of his actions on others behaved very much like an addiction. The sexual addiction model of treatment was an effective approach. As a Therapist, I am presented with depravity and I see the impact that compulsive/addictive sexual behavior has on individuals, families and communities. Whether or not it is proven to be an addiction doesn’t change its destruction and the need for some modality to bring strugglers through a healing process. This is the tension for Clinicians who are mired in the mess and who are first-hand witnesses to the destruction of out-of-control sexual behavior. Whether researches determine if sex addition is legitimate or not, that doesn’t matter to me as a Therapist. The bottom line for me is what is helping those enslaved? What do you do with the wake of destruction that remains in the path of the one with out-of-control sexual behavior? The sexual addiction model provides a road to healing and recovery.

Help, Hope & Healing: The Road of Recovery

John’s road was long and hard. His recovery was not much different from his fellow substance addicts. Individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, twelve-step meetings and a deep abiding, authentic relationship with God are all a part of transformation and long-term recovery success. If you are struggling or know someone who is and you are not sure if you really have a problem with sex, a good place to start is to take the “Sexual Addiction Screening Test”. This free instrument can be found at sexhelp.com. It is important to connect with the appropriate form of help. Frequently, I have clients who have worked with other Therapists who are not trained in sex addiction. As a result, more damage has been done to the client and the recovery process had been set-back significantly. Sadly, this happens often in many Christian Therapy settings. In seeking help, make sure the therapist has the appropriate training and credentialing that includes a period of supervision.

Janvier Counseling & Associates offers intensive therapeutic weekends, which are workshops designed to provide a kick-start to the therapy process, as well as traditional counseling services. For more information about David Janvier and Janvier Counseling & Associates, LLC, visit Janvier Counseling or email David Janvier at david@janviercounseling.com


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