Porn Addiction Therapy: What You Need to Know

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The following is intended for readers 18+

Seeking treatment for addiction to pornography is one of those uncomfortable topics people tend to avoid discussing. The issue is too big to ignore, though. More than 200,000 Americans are addicted to porn. The American Society of Addiction recognizes porn addiction as a legitimate health issue. Every day, mental health professionals use porn addiction therapy to help people relinquish their dependency and develop a healthy sexual mindset.

Porn addiction therapy often focuses on issues around shame, denial, loneliness, fear of intimacy, and sometimes social anxiety. It can shine a light on issues that “exist in the shadows,” said therapist L. Gordon Brewer, who has experience treating clients for sex and porn addiction. Brewer added that providing unconditional positive regard is especially important when helping people with addiction.

Therapists who treat clients for porn addiction commonly use cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT] to address the issues behind the addiction. This form of psychotherapy attempts to change the client’s beliefs by showing them how their thoughts are irrational or detrimental. They also help clients understand how their excessive consumption of pornography is preventing them from living a full life and having a healthy mindset about sex, relationships, and intimacy.

People often become addicted to pornography because it allows them to escape into fantasies rather than coping with reality. Porn is also a distraction that enables people to put off dealing with problems or painful emotions. Therapy addresses these issues and explores why the client wants to overindulge in fantasies.

Porn addiction therapy recognizes how pornography can change the brain and tends to have more negative effects on men than women. Therapists who treat the addiction are typically well-versed in the latest research.

Clients ultimately decide what the goal of porn addiction therapy will be. Some want to stop watching pornography entirely. Others only want to reduce their consumption of it and ensure it is not negatively affecting their lives.

Sometimes there are incremental goals. People who are addicted to porn spend at least 11 hours a week viewing it, according to Relativity (formerly known as the Sexual Recovery Institute). A therapist might task a client with reducing the consumption to eight hours, then six, and so on.

The goals and processes in porn addiction therapy also vary depending on whether the client is in a monogamous relationship. If the client is single, he or she will most likely focus solely on individual issues or past relationships. Clients in relationships sometimes enter therapy because the pornography addiction is limiting their intimacy or making their partner feel undesirable. Sometimes the partner urges the client to seek therapy or participates in couples counseling sessions.

Some clients sign a “sexual sobriety contract” to further motivate them to change. This is more common for clients who have multiple addictions related to sexual activity.

Therapists usually encourage clients to augment their lifestyle and seek additional help from support groups. Regularly exercising, meditating, and socializing can make the therapy work faster and decrease the chance of a relapse.

If you are struggling with an addiction to pornography and want affordable treatment, consider trying Talkspace online therapy. It is confidential, and you can access it anytime and anywhere. Many clients have connected with our therapists to beat their addiction.

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Published by

Joseph Rauch

Staff Writer at Talkspace