Sex addiction is often secretive and the person is normally consumed with shame and guilt. This can even make the assessment difficult as the client takes time to trust the therapist. Sex addiction can take several forms and in most cases means that the person is involved with compulsive acts; these acts could be – chat rooms, pornography, masturbation, voyeurism, exhibitionism, cybersex, multiple relationships, dating agencies, escort agencies, massage parlours, sex workers and prostitutes. The use of “virtual worlds”, a growing addiction, allows the person to enter the world of fantasy and adopt a false persona.

The secret nature of sex addiction can mean a double life; the person can run great risks using the internet secretly at home or at work, covering tracks.

When a partner discovers that their loved one has been sexually acting out there is often the promise of “I will never do that again” however, this promise is rarely kept. The partner of the sex addict is often manipulated and rendered powerless as they themselves do not want to admit to friends and family what has been happening – they too have shame and guilt.

In all of the above, the sex addict is confusing the intensity of acting out with the intimacy that they desire on a human level.

Counselling of sex addiction starts with the client understanding that abstinence does not mean not having sex or a relationship; it does however mean having sex and relationships within natural and healthy boundaries. The client needs to identify natural needs and source these within a healthy partnership. These needs would involve open and honest sharing and the ability to allow intimacy within the relationship. This journey is started with counselling with our experienced sex addiction therapists. Any acting out beyond these healthy partnerships would be seen as a return to old behaviour.