Over many months I worked with a couple following discovery of what at first seemed to be an affair but which, during the ensuing counselling, emerged as a sexual addiction acted out both online and with sex workers. I referred elsewhere for a specialist programme for him and a specialist support for her but continued to see them together. This was the weekly space in which they could look at the couple dynamic as they tackled the fallout from the revelations and shared the progress of their separate programmes, one for the addict and one for the partner. We finished recently ……
“Mig exhibited great compassion and care at every stage. Also a flexible approach tailored to our needs and situation. I am very grateful for this help.”
“Mig has been a huge help to us as a couple. She has helped us develop a much better relationship, taught us how to communicate our thoughts and emotions (and for me fears) with each other and importantly how to listen to each other and empathise with each other. I will miss our sessions.”
The emergence of sexual addictions is reaching the couple counselling room far more than it did 25 years ago when I started. Like gambling, the means to act out this behavioural compulsion can now be accessed from the smartphone in our pocket.
Sexual addiction is NOT about having a high sex drive. It’s about an out of control behaviour that causes a problem in someone’s life. It’s not about sex per say, just as eating disorders are not about hunger and out of control gambling is not about money.
Addiction has always been a subject I encounter in relationship counselling and working with this couple suggested to me I might learn more about this particular compulsivity and work towards obtaining Diploma Level qualifications.
I am grateful to Anthony and Lottie (names changed) for sharing their most difficult moments and their experiences with me and, in learning as I went with them, I have now expanded my expertise.
If reading this raises any issues for you I’d suggest that good basic paperback reading matter would be by Paula Hall (ex Relate counsellor):
Understanding and Treating Sex Addiction.
Sex Addiction: The Partner’s Perspective.
Note of interest: The group on the Partners’ Programme, attended by Lottie, was not entirely made up of women.
Please note, while the scenarios are real, the names and identifying information have been changed to protect my clients’ identities.