The Restoring Intimacy program helps individuals struggling with sex and love addiction by using a trauma lens to treat underlying compulsive behaviours and unhealthy intimacy.
Sex and love addiction is understood as an intimacy disorder or intimacy avoidance.
Underneath sex and love addiction is the impacts of developmental trauma, such as the inability to feel safe and loved in relationships. Core beliefs develop that others are hurtful, others cannot be trusted, or others cannot be depended on. Thus, the fear of intimacy begins.
A fear of intimacy, or intimacy-based trauma, is marked by an inability to form healthy closeness within relationships. As a result, people may turn to compulsive sexual behaviours to get their needs met and protect themselves.
The Restoring Intimacy program treats sex and love addiction through a trauma lens to address intimacy disorders, while targeting the underlying sexual compulsive behaviours.
WHAT IS SEX ADDICTION?
Sex addiction can be understood as an unhealthy relationship to any sexual experience (thoughts, fantasies, behaviours, activities) that a person engages in despite adverse consequences. Sex addiction is progressive – it increases in severity, becomes uncontrollable and unmanageable.
Sexual behaviours become compulsive, obsessive, and interfere with daily responsibilities such as work, school, and family/friends. Sex addiction causes profound shame, guilt, and remorse that leaves the person feeling despair, fearful, and desperate to stop the cycle.
Examples of sexual addictive behaviours can include:
WHAT SEX ADDICTION IS NOT
Sex addiction is not a moral problem, nor an excuse for infidelity or to be unfaithful. Sex addiction is not just a high sex drive or an insatiable sexual desire. Sex addiction is not just about having sex.
Sex addiction is different from sex offending.
SEX ADDICTION AS A TRAUMA
& INTIMACY DISORDER
Sex addiction can also be understood as a trauma-based intimacy and attachment disorder.
Many people experiencing sex addiction have experiences of trauma and adverse childhood experiences such as abandonment, emotional neglect, physical/sexual abuse, rejection, and/or unhealthy attachment with one or both parents.
As a result of this trauma, a person may be unable to form healthy intimacy. Individuals learn to use sexual behaviours to escape emotional pain and protect themselves.
Symptoms of an intimacy disorder can include:
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and mental heath
Many people experiencing sex and love addiction also struggle with substance abuse and other behavioural addictions. Alcohol is the number one co-occurring substance abused with sex addiction. Process or behavioural addictions such as gambling, gaming, spending/shopping and compulsive use of food can be commonly present alongside sex addiction.
Additionally, people struggling with sex addiction may live with other mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. Sexual behaviours are often used to cope with mental health symptoms. However, after momentary relief, symptoms tend to intensify and worsen, causing a painful cycle.
SEX ADDICTION ASSESSMENT
Do you think you might be struggling with a sex addiction? Ask yourself the following questions:
THE ROLE OF CYBERSEX
Cybersex is often referred to as the crack-cocaine of sexual compulsivity.
Cybersex is a term referring to online sexual activity where the internet is used to engage in sexually gratifying activities. Such activities can include pornography, sexting, webcam sex, virtual reality sex, and apps to meet people for anonymous sex.
Cybersex has increasingly become problematic for many people. It is estimated that about 70% of sex addicts report problematic online sexual behaviours.
There are several reasons that make cybersex so addictive:
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Pornography has become problematic for many people. Pornography significantly impacts three main areas that makes it so addictive.
1) The brain – Pornography has substantial impacts on the brain and leads to overstimulation and the release of dopamine (the “feel good” chemical that creates pleasure). The more someone watches pornography, the more dopamine is released. This reinforces the behaviour, increases cravings, and creates an unhealthy feedback loop.
2) Escalation – The feedback loop leads to an escalation of the behaviour, and triggers a need for higher intensity pornographic content. This causes greater challenges in developing healthy relationships.
3) Emotional bonding – Pornography use creates an emotional bond with the internet world, furthering disconnection.
Do you think you might be struggling with a pornography addiction? Ask yourself the following questions:
Love or relationship addiction is similarly understood as a trauma-based intimacy and attachment disorder. Unresolved trauma and deeply engrained negative core beliefs, can lead to chasing the “happily ever after” and fantasy of romance.
A love or relationship addict spends significant time preoccupied and fantasizing about the potential of love, a desired person, or a fairy-tale relationship. In a romantic relationship, intensity is often confused with intimacy, which inevitably pushes people away.
On a deeper level, this creates a belief of not being worthy of love. Individuals become fearful, anxious, and paranoid about losing a relationship or never being able to sustain one. Love addicts are often attracted to unavailable people or people with avoidant attachment styles, which ultimately perpetuate their fear of abandonment.
LOVE AND RELATIONSHIP ADDICTION ASSESSMENT
Do you think you might be struggling with a love or relationship addiction? Ask yourself the following questions:
TREATMENT FOR SEX
AND LOVE ADDICTION
Just like with any treatment, recovery from sex and love addiction is very possible.
JACS offers comprehensive, best-practice sex addiction treatment programs with Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (CSATs). Our therapists have successfully completed professional training qualifications to support individuals with sex addiction.
The Restoring Intimacy Program includes:
Description: Individual therapy provided by a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist for client’s who are concerned about their sexual behaviours and unhealthy relationship patterns. Sessions allow clients to begin discussing problematic areas related to sex, gain more in-depth knowledge of the origins of their behaviours and develop an individualized therapeutic plan to move forward addressing these areas.
Who: Men or women
Where: Virtual via Zoom
Cost: $175/session (sliding scale available)
Description: This 5-day intensive program for men addresses unhealthy sexual behaviours, love and relationship concerns. The program will help participants understand their compulsive sexual behaviours, while breaking through denial and shame, as well as developing an initial recovery plan.
When: Every 3-months
Time: 10:30am to 2:30pm Monday-Friday
Where: Virtual via Zoom
Description: This is a weekly therapeutic group offered for men who have concerns about their sexual behaviours and/or relationships and would like to begin exploring options to make changes. This group focuses on men learning why their behaviours have become problematic, gain insight, make healthy changes, and receive support from other men who share similar experiences. It is facilitated by a Certified Sex Addiction therapist who uses a combination of group therapy skills, psychoeducation, and specific sex addiction task exercises.
Day/Time: Wednesday’s at 12:00pm-1:00pm
Where: Virtual via Zoom
Cost: $100/group (sliding scale options available)
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have questions about our Restoring Intimacy program, find the answers here.
Participants of this program are not eligible for a tax receipt for program costs. Donations made to JACS beyond the cost of this program are eligible for a tax receipt.
Various private insurance policies may cover portions of the costs of this program. Speak with your insurance provider to understand what benefits you may be able to take advantage of to cover the cost of this program. Unfortunately, OHIP coverage will not cover the costs of this program.
Prior to entering the program, all participants will have an individual session with a therapist to discuss with the program expectations. Some of these expectations include attending all groups, actively participating, completing assigned exercises, maintaining group conduct, being open and honest.
To enroll in the program, you can click on the “get help” button below. A JACS clinician will reach out to you to schedule a consultation call. During this call you will receive more information about the program to begin your admission process. You may also call JACS directly at 416-638-0350 to speak with an intake counsellor.
During the program, clients will work with their individual therapist to develop an aftercare plan. This plan will assist clients transition from the program to other resources for support such as CSAT therapists, 12-step meetings, SA-specific group therapy. Additionally, all clients who complete the program will be eligible to participate in weekly aftercare groups with JACS for continued support.
The Restoring Intimacy program therapists are here to support you and see you successfully complete the program. If you are struggling to live up to the expectations of the program, your therapists will work with you to develop a plan to assist you in working within the program expectations. If there are reasons that prevent you from continuing in the program your therapists will support you to find alternative resources that meet your individual needs.
If you are unsure if this program is the right fit for you, please click here to take take our assessment questionnaire. This will help determine if the program is right for you. Alternatively, you may email/call to schedule a consultation call with the intake counsellor to discuss if the program is the right fit.
Success in treatment looks different for different people. Within sex and love addiction, effective treatment means the person has stopped compulsively engaging in sexual behaviours, has developed skills for managing underlying issues, and is maintaining a healthy relationship with their sexuality.