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What do sex addiction therapists do?

Therapists who treat compulsive sexual behavior will work with the patient—sometimes with a partner, sometimes without—to better understand the nature of their behavior to manage or change it. This process may involve exploring the patient’s background and beliefs about sex, how their compulsive thoughts and behaviors developed, if alcohol use, substance use, or other mental health conditions play a role, and strategies to curb sexual impulses.

Who can diagnose a sex addiction?

A mental health professional can diagnose sex addiction, also referred to as hypersexuality or compulsive sexual behavior, by assessing mental and physical health, medical history, and symptoms such as the ability or inability to control sexual behavior and the resulting consequences. Sex addiction is not classified as a mental disorder in the DSM-5. However, a therapist who specializes in sex addiction, addiction, or compulsive behaviors will likely have experience assessing the condition.

What is the best therapy for sex addiction?

Different therapies help different people; cognitive behavioral therapy, which identifies negative patterns of thought to change one’s emotions and behaviors, is often used to treat sex addiction. Other therapies for sex addiction include acceptance and commitment therapy (harnessing psychological flexibility and mindfulness skills), motivational interviewing (leveraging the person’s motivations to change), support groups (participating in a 12-step program), and occasionally outpatient or inpatient treatment programs.

Can you overcome sex addiction with therapy?

Yes, therapy can help people overcome compulsive sexual thoughts and behaviors. A therapist can help a patient explore the reasons for their sexual impulses, learn to manage them, address relationship problems, and develop strategies to cope with the distress that sexual impulses may have emerged to subdue. In addition to individual or couples therapy, treatment for sex addiction may incorporate medication or a support groups.