Resources for partners of sex addicts

I recently spoke with Lili Bee from PoSARC after the completion of the first Certified Clinical Partner Specialist traing by APSATS.  For those of you who don't know PoSARC, it is a great resource center for partners of sex addicts.  Take a look at the interview and the helpful resources they provide:


Other resources for partners of addicts can be found on APSATS (Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists) website.  Our first training for therapists was a big success, and more are on the way!


How an addict's behavior(s) affects his partner

Here's a powerful, yet disturbing video about the impact of addictive behaviors on partners:

Though not easy to watch, this video dramatically shows how our addictive / compulsive behaviors are never done in isolation - there is always an impact on our loved ones.  Often times, that impact is traumatic and destructive.  Let me know what you think about this video.


Is it Multidimensional Trauma or is it Co-Addiction?

A fellow APSATS (Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists, Inc.) board member, Richard Blankenship, wrote a great blog on the trauma model of treating partners of sex addicts.  Partners of sex addicts often experience debilitating trauma symptoms as a result of all the complexities of being in relationship with an individual addicted to sex. 

Here is the link to Richard's article:


So how do I start this recovery thing?

How time flies...  I've been wanting to write this blog for months but haven't had a chance until now.  Because I get a lot of emails asking about the basics of sex addiction recovery I wanted to write about how to create a solid foundation: from sex addiction to recovery.  While this is by no means an exhaustive list; if you do the following you'll be well on your way to laying that cornerstone.

So what are some elements of a good recovery foundation?

1) Determine if You Have a Problem

Just because you are engaging in certain behaviors, doesn't automatically make you an addict.  Take this quick screening to determine if your behaviors really are compulsive.  You can also look at the PATHOS screening test.  I've posted it in a previous blog.  If those two screening tests show that your behaviors are NOT addictive/compulsive, I recommend that you talk to a therapist or spiritual advisor who might help you with issues around shame and/or around your sexuality.

2) Gather More Information

If your behaviors ARE compulsive/addictive, a good book to start with is Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes.  This was the first major book written about sex addiction, and I really find that it remains relevant across the years.  It’s a foundational book to help you learn more as you start the journey of recovery. A workbook that goes along with Out of the Shadows is Facing the Shadow.  This workbook helps you personalize for your own life what you’ve read in Out of the Shadows.  There are many more great books that have been written over the past 30 years on sex addiction, but those are a couple of books to start with.  I've included several other resources here.  

There are a lot of great sites that can help you gather more information about compulsive sexual behaviors.  Some good sites include and The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health.  One site in particular that shows the impact of internet pornography on our brains is  I've listed others here, including sites for individuals of faith.

3) Build Community

It's really important to reach out and build a supportive community to help you stop compulsive sexual behaviors.  Addictions, particularly sex addiction, is an intimacy disorder and is often characterized by isolation.  It sounds strange to think that an individual engaging in a lot of sex or sexual behaviors could feel isolated.  Yet if you are indeed addicted, it's likely that the sexual behaviors you're experiencing ultimately leave you feeling empty.  For that reason, building a supportive community where you can learn to be vulnerable and authentic is vital to recovery.  This is an extremely difficult step, particularly because you'll have to risk shame, embarrassment, and/or stigma.  Yet, healing through community is invaluable.

12-step meetings are a great way to build community and healthy dependency upon others.  As an added bonus, they're free.  Most of us have heard of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.  Just like AA, those that are struggling with compulsive/addictive sexual behaviors also have meetings they can attend.  I've listed some 12-step programs here and have talked about some of the different programs available in a previous blog.  Depending on your state or country, some programs have a bigger presence.  Check your local area and see which program (SAA, SA, SLAA, SRA, SCA, COSA, S-Anon, etc.) have the best attendance and track record.  In more rural areas or countries that don't have any strong "S" programs, programs such as SAA offer meetings via telephone or the internet.  These programs can help you build support, reduce shame, and help stop compulsive sexual behaviors.

4) Find a Sponsor

Attending meetings is important, but true sobriety and recovery happens when you start to build accountability.  Accountability requires relating to others, particularly those who have walked the path before you.  A sponsor is one of those individuals.  In any of the 12-step programs I mentioned above, you can find a sponsor who will help you walk the path of recovery.  This person is a vital resource to help you when you need support, to help hold you accountable to your commitments, and most importantly to help you work the 12 steps.  If you've never been to a 12-step meeting, this might all sound foreign to you, but give it a shot - You can always find a temporary sponsor who can help you break the isolation.  As they share their own experience, strength, and hope with you, you can begin to heal from your compulsive sexual behaviors.

5) Find a Therapist

Finding a local therapist in your area who specializes in treating sex addiction is really important as well.  You might find that 12-step meetings such as SAA, SA, SLAA, etc. are enough for you to find and maintain sobriety.  If so, great!  However, sex addiction is about so much more than sex.  Like someone who turns to alcohol or other chemicals, addictive/compulsive sexual behaviors similarly arise out of a need to manage pain, trauma, fears, inadequacies, intolerable feelings, loneliness, etc.  For that reason, it's very important to find a therapist who can help you not only build and maintain sobriety but who can also help you get to the root of what led you to the behaviors in the first place (and what will ultimately KEEP you from continuing to engage in those behaviors).  A great place to find a therapist who specializes in treating sex addiction is:  There you will find a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) who can help.

I hope that helps you start this journey.  These steps are very helpful in starting this process.  Again, this is by no means meant as an exhaustive list, but my hope is that it can help you get on the right track towards finding help and health in your life.  I'd like to hear from you, so let me know if you have any questions or comments.


To disclose or not to disclose: Do I tell my partner all my dirty secrets?

If you’ve been around sex addiction meetings long enough you’ve no doubt heard people talking about “disclosure.”  While there are many different ways to go through the disclosure process, I thought I’d spend a few minutes discussing what disclosure is all about and why you might consider going through it.

First, what is disclosure?  There are two different types of disclosure: spontaneous and formal disclosures. 

Spontaneous disclosures are those disclosures of information that are offered up, particularly after a spouse or significant other finds some evidence of their partner’s sexual behaviors.  These disclosures are raw confessions that are done without therapeutic or professional guidance.  They are typcially done in the spur of the moment when caught by a partner.  Frequenetly unplanned, they often involve the individual giving either too much detail or withholding important details.  Spontaneous disclosures of sexual behavior are often motivated by fear, remorse, or relational anxiety and can be very painful and even traumatizing to the partner, the relationship, and the individual giving the disclosure.

A formal disclosure is a professionally guided process, where an individual works with a therapist to prepare a document that lists his or her history of sexual behaviors.  This process is done in conjunction with the addict’s partner to determine what information he/she wants to know and what he/she does not want to know.  The addict then shares this disclosure in a professionally guided disclosure session with rules and parameters that both the addict and the partner are prepared for in advance.  I can’t emphasize enough how important the formal disclosure process is – It is common for addicts to err on one side or the other: sharing too many explicit details that can be traumatizing and trigger the partner, or as typically the case, withhold some painful details.  Because addictive behavior is conducted in secrecy, it is common for addicts to want to withhold certain pieces of information they feel would be too painful for their partner.  Yet, if a partner believes he/she has heard all of the details and discovers additional information later (which DOES happen), they become further traumatized.  Additionally, trust is further eroded.  The formal disclosure process helps provide a level of safety to both the addict and the partner.

Having briefly described spontaneous vs. formal disclosures, here are a few reasons why the disclosure process can be so important for men and women healing from sex addiction:

  1. A full disclosure of information in a professionally guided session puts the partner on an equal footing with the addict.  Many partners decide to stay in the relationship, even after sexual betrayal.  At the same time, it is only fair to the partner to allow her/him to have all the facts.
  2. The only true way to build back intimacy in a relationship is to eliminate deep secrets withheld from the partner.  Intimacy is based on vulnerability, authenticity, honesty, and trust.  Deep secrets will erode any chance couples have to rebuild intimacy.  At the root of sex addiction is a problem with intimacy, so one critical way to address the problem is to build intimacy through honesty and truth.
  3. The disclosure process enables a partner to find her/his footing again.  Discovering a significant other’s sex addiction can feel like the floor was ripped out underneath a partner.  Partners frequently assume the worst, so a disclosure helps a partner know where the bottom of the addict’s behavior lies.  While extremely painful, feeling grounded allows opportunities to move forward. 
  4. The disclosure process can be an extremely valuable component of the addict’s recovery as well.  Exposing secrets to a loved one in a guided manner can be very freeing and can actually help the addict integrate the secret and shameful parts of their lives with the part of themselves they want others to see.
  5. Trust, particularly towards the beginning of this process, comes through action not just words.  Going through the formal disclosure process is a significant step for addicts in moving towards relational healing.

These are but a few of the reasons for going through a formal disclosure process.  I caution you again – Though it can be invaluable in a relationship to go through the formal disclosure process, it will bring up pain.  It should NOT be attempted without the guidance of a professional who can help you through the process.  This process is not for everyone, so it should only be considered with the careful guidance of a professional trained in the formal disclosure process.  Think of it like this:  When you have a seriously infected wound, you need medical assistance to open up the wound, clean out the infection, and stitch you back up.  While that process is painful in the moment, it is the best way to keep the injury from causing even further damage. 

I hope this was a helpful introduction to the disclosure process.  If you have any questions feel free to email me or call me at (310) 415-5732.