On Nov 29, 2016, the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists released a historic position statement about the sex addiction model. I was a key member of the committee assigned to draft the statement and it comes on the heels of a previous statement I facilitated in which AASECT officially depathologized all forms of consensual sexual activity, found here.
I have much to say about this process, and I've written extensively about sex addiction in this column before, but for now in this article I will share the official release of the sex addiction position statement, along with additional commentary provided by Ian Kerner, Chair of the Public Relations, Media & Advocacy Steering Committee, on how the statement was created. Enjoy
As Chair of the Public Relations, Media & Advocacy Steering Committee (PRMA), I was recently tasked to oversee the development of a position statement on the topic of sex addiction. As you may know, AASECT already has a policy of not offering AASECT CE credits for sex addiction programming, nor does it accept CE credits towards AASECT Certification or renewal in the area of sex addiction, and we wanted to draft a statement that would further articulate AASECT's position on this topic. Additionally, many AASECT members have been asking for such a statement for quite a few years, and we wanted to capitalize on the energy of our recent Summer Institute, which focused on out of control sexual behavior that was attended by dozens of professionals with diverse perspectives and practices (including practices focused on sex addiction) and that provided a forum for an extremely vibrant dialogue.
In order to fulfill the charge, I put together a small team, which included Doug Braun-Harvey, Michael Aaron, Michael Vigorito and Russell Stambaugh. The dialogue at the 2016 Summer Institute influenced the first draft of the position statement. This team then worked diligently for many weeks to finesse the draft statement. They then sought feedback from a dozen AASECT members for further feedback. (Each member of the drafting committee approached three AASECT members for feedback at their discretion.) Two members abstained from comment and the feedback of the other ten members was considered and integrated into a revised draft that was then submitted to me. From there, I submitted the draft to other Board members, Committee Chairs and various committee members for additional feedback, particularly in regard to how such a statement might impact their various areas of oversight. Altogether, the statement was influenced by conversations with dozens of AASECT members, and more than 30 AASECT members were involved in either its draft or review.
While it was made clear to me that there was no rush to review or vote on such a statement, by the time our semi-annual Board Meeting arrived this month, we felt that the position statement was indeed ready for a vote. It was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors with Doug Braun-Harvey (Treasurer) recusing himself from voting and one other member abstaining. On the evening of November 18, Board members stayed after the meeting to host a Meet and Greet , organized by AASECT's Vice President of Membership Sally Valentine, with Chicago area AASECT members. At this meeting, Board members shared more about the process of how position statements are developed through the work of AASECT members and committees, with the present statement as an example.
Below you will find the position statement on sex addiction that was approved by the Board and which will join other AASECT positions statements on our website alongside our Vision of Sexual Health (with which this statement is consistent). To clarify, this is a statement about sex addiction therapy as a treatment model and educational pedagogy, but it is not a statement about individual members. It is a position statement and not a policy statement, which means, for example, that those with dual membership in AASECT and, say, the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP), may still remain members of AASECT. Additionally, we will not discourage individuals who subscribe to the sex addiction model from seeking membership or certification within AASECT. We will, however, continue to offer opportunities for trainings that utilize models that we feel are more consistent with AASECT's Vision of Sexual Health and with the scientific and clinical scholarship in this area.
I would like to offer my personal thanks to our current President, President-elect and entire Board, as well as all those who played a role in drafting this clear, concise statement. Additionally, I would like to thank everyone who participated in the recent Summer Institute on out of control sexual behavior, as well as those who have been patiently (and in some cases not-so patiently) waiting for AASECT to issue a statement on the topic of sex addiction. And finally I would like to thank those few, but strong, voices who had the conviction to express their opposition to such a statement.
We understand that not all of AASECT's position statements will be consistent with the views of every single member, and we are committed to remaining an organization that fosters conversation and respects difference.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will do my best to either respond or forward your inquiry to the appropriate Committee Chair.
Ian Kerner, PhD, LMFT, CSC
Chair, PRMA Steering Committee
AASECT Position Statement - Sex Addiction
Founded in 1967, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) is devoted to the promotion of sexual health by the development and advancement of the fields of sexual education, counseling and therapy. With this mission, AASECT accepts the responsibility of training, certifying and advancing high standards in the practice of sexuality education services, counseling and therapy. When contentious topics and cultural conflicts impede sexual education and health care, AASECT may publish position statements to clarify standards to protect consumer sexual health and sexual rights.
AASECT recognizes that people may experience significant physical, psychological, spiritual and sexual health consequences related to their sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors. AASECT recommends that its members utilize models that do not unduly pathologize consensual sexual problems. AASECT 1) does not find sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder, and 2) does not find the sexual addiction training and treatment methods and educational pedagogies to be adequately informed by accurate human sexuality knowledge. Therefore, it is the position of AASECT that linking problems related to sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors to a porn/sexual addiction process cannot be advanced by AASECT as a standard of practice for sexuality education delivery, counseling or therapy.
AASECT advocates for a collaborative movement to establish standards of care supported by science, public health consensus and the rigorous protection of sexual rights for consumers seeking treatment for problems related to consensual sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors.