Psychology has made great inroads towards the treatment of sex addiction over the last few years and what was previously seen as an untreatable addiction, now has specialist care and treatment plans available.

In the past, society saw sex addiction as a moral issue, one that showed a person’s failure in willpower towards their libido and desires. But as research became more available, it became apparent sexual addiction disorder is not gender-specific, and can occur in men and women from all types of socio-economic backgrounds.

When untreated sex addiction is defined by the inability to control sexual impulses, escalations of sexual acts, thoughts, and cravings, and by the addict’s inability to curb their behavior, despite them knowing that negative affect their addiction is having on those around them.

Initially, treatment for sex addiction usually focuses on two main issues and then deals with the individual’s personal history.

The first step is to often move you away from the potentially harmful sexual behavior, just like an alcoholic should be moved away from alcohol, or the same way drug addicts need to be separated from drugs.

The second and sometimes, most difficult issue for many addicts, is facing the damage done and the guilt, shame and depression that goes with their compulsion. It can take time to learn to trust your therapist to be able to work through these emotions. In some cases of sexual addiction, other psychiatric disorders may underlay. A dual treatment approach is recommended in such circumstances, and can include treatments with specific prescription medication to alleviate symptoms of mood disorders, anxiety and depression, and a specialist sex addiction counseling and psychotherapy program involving trauma treatment, healing the past, short term and long-term relapse prevention plans, and developing relationship and connection skills, and healthy boundaries to intimacy and sexuality.

There are several treatment options for sex addicts. There are traditional treatments such as:

12-Step Programs

Twelve-step programs, such as Sex Addicts Anonymous, uses principles like in other addiction programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Sex Addicts Anonymous focuses on abstinence, from destructive sexual behavior that can put you and others in danger. There is a focus on God in this treatment but you can replace God with whatever higher power you may believe in.

Cognitive-Behavior Therapy

This is a type of therapy that looks at what triggers and reinforces your behaviour around sexual addiction, and helps you to seek other ways stopping the process or train of thought that leads you to action. By teaching addicts to stop sexual thoughts by thinking about something else; and substituting sexual behavior with some other behavior, such as exercising or working out; it can prevent relapse of sexually addictive behavior.

Group Therapy

Group therapy usually consists of a trained professional working with a group of between six and ten patients, all of whom have the same addiction.  Sharing your experiences, successes and worries with the group can help you see you’re not alone


At Sex Addiction Australia we choose a clinical approach to treating sexual compulsive behaviour based on modern international brain research. We combine sexual health therapy with sex addiction counseling, trauma counseling, cognitive behavior therapy, and psychotherapy. We provide intensive relapse prevention plans that are adapted to our clients personal circumstances. Furthermore, we offer caring counselling to spouses of sex addicts overcoming their emotional pain and sex addiction induced trauma, and facilitate healing though sex addiction focused relationship and marriage counseling; all conducted in our friendly outpatient private practise setting as intensive one-on-one sessions, without disrupting normal life unnecessarily.

Interpersonal Therapy

Sex addicts can often have a traumatic early childhood history, leading into their teen years and young adulthood, which have influenced their sexual addiction development. Specialist sex addiction counseling, including trauma counselling, is helpful in alleviating emotional pain and increasing self control and self awareness, and in treating any mood disorders and effects of past trauma.


In some cases of sexual addiction disorder, counsel from a psychiatrist and treatment medication may be considered. Some people may develop addiction disorders due to other underlying and unrecognised psychiatric problems. A dual treatment approach is recommended.

There has been much research into antidepressants and their effect in treating sexual addiction. Not only does it help mood disorders, which are common among sex addicts, they can help reduce sexual obsessions and thoughts. And there are modern therapies, which are a mixture of proven counseling techniques, sex therapies and adapting to the specific needs of the recovering sex addict.

It is important to remember that throughout any treatment process, the goal is to be able to live a normal life, with a normal sex life. Clients develop the tools needed to understand their compulsion and triggers for acting out, and to set healthy boundaries, working toward genuine self-esteem and stable intimacy with their partner.

Heide McConkey, Director