SEX ADDICTION? Should you be Concerned?
An in-depth conversation with experts Alex St. John & Natalie Cournoyea
The numbers are in: 6% of population in the U.S. identify as
having a Sexual Addiction. 27,000 people search Google for "sexual
addiction" every day. This is a huge number, yet it is still an
issue that we don't talk about or understand in the general
population or within the therapeutic community.
Unfortunately, at this time there is no significant research
on this topic in Canada and experts in the field are few in
According to our expert panel, virtually all people struggling
with a sexual addiction also have a noteworthy trauma history.
These interweave to further undermine recovery and frequently
re-ignite the traumatic past.
Alex St. John an M.A. in Counselling Psychology says that
sexual addiction is a "...problematic behavior that you engage in
NOT because of a primary desire but because of deep drives imbedded
in shame or self-blame that reverberate after the act, leaving the
individual unhappy... with themselves and yet compelled to act in a
similar way again in the future".
Natalie Cournoyea also a M.A. in Counselling Psychology explains
that sexual addiction occurs because "In many situations people
have experienced early life trauma (i.e., sexual or other) and as a
result struggle with their emotions and turn to sexual acts (in
some cases) to mask strong emotions that might surface in
So how would someone know if they have a problem with a
sexual addiction or are in a relationship with someone who is
struggling in this way?
You have been discovered by a partner as acting out in a sexual
way (outside of the relationship) that then leads to shameful
feelings and consequences (i.e., divorce). Or you have found
evidence of your partner acting out in a sexual manner that once
confronted has led to shame or remorse.
Beyond being discovered this will lead to Impairments or
interfering with day to day life, as a result of obsession or
compulsions towards sexual addiction.
Experiencing a cycle of recovery and repeat. Engaging in the
behavior, disengaging from the behavior and then cycling back into
the sexual addiction and once again feeling shame, remorse, and
So many questions will arise during these conversations...
What can you do now or to help someone you
Reach out to the right therapist with skills in
specifically addressing Sexual Addiction.
Recognize that it is potentially risky to address sexual
addiction with a couple's therapist who is not trained in sexual
addiction or utilizes a "tell all" policy that is not a good fit
for couple's therapy where there is sexual addiction.
Engage in a Consensual Non-Monogamy framework for the
relationship – if this seems like a solution that is right for your
relationship. This means being in a relationship where there
is an agreement that sexual relationships outside the structure of
the primary one is accepted by both parties.
Why is this conversation important? In my practice this is
something I see fairly frequently and have yet to meet a client
with a sexual addiction who did not also have a history of personal
Barbara will reflect from the lens of her own tragic
loss and personal experience.
What do you do when your father dies by suicide while you are in
the hospital awaiting the birth of your triplets? What do you do
when you can't attend your father's funeral because physician
orders include complete bed rest? What do you do when you realize
that you experienced a devastating loss and that you are not alone
in that experience? You write a book and dedicate your life to
helping others affected by suicide.