Sex addiction is treated based on two general assumptions. The first, practiced by Sex Addicts Anonymous and other 12-step programs modeled an Alcoholics Anonymous, treats sex addiction as a spiritual disorder.
12 Step Approach
The intent is to rely on a higher power to overcome the compulsion directly. They stress abstinence and a reliance on group unity to aid in times of crisis. Similarly, church-based counseling focuses on the religious and moral tenets of the person’s faith teachings.
Mental Health Approach
The second approach, practiced by the medical community varies depending on identifying underlying disorders which can be treated specifically. Therapy may revolve around feelings of self worth, depression, or even pharmacological treatment for bipolar disorder (when the manic phase leads to sexual behaviors).
A Certified Sex Addiction Therapist is someone trained to treat sex addiction and associated disorders. The treatments are based on the premise that sex addicts have incorrect core beliefs, including lowered feelings of self worth and difficulties dealing with emotional pain in a healthy way. The therapy is meant to help patients change their underlying belief structure.
Out-patient, in-patient and private counseling programs are available and may include working with a 12-step group. The advantage of an in-patient program is forced abstinence along with intensive treatment. However, because this is a psychological problem, long-term follow-up care is warranted.
Combination therapy may also have a spouse or significant other, who has been harmed by the addiction included. Marriage counseling or therapy can be helpful.