There’s a school of therapists that believe that sex addiction actually doesn’t exist. Can you speak to that a little bit?
Charlene: I can. You know it’s kind of difficult for me sometimes because I am on, like I said, I’m a certified sex therapist through AASECT and I’m also a sex addiction therapist through CSAT and there’s a lot of rift between those two entities. It’s a struggle, but I really believe that we’re all treating the same thing and I think when the client is in front of us we are, I hope, you know, listening to the client and working on his or her behalf and looking out for their best interests.
What happens a lot of times is some people can be afraid that sex addiction will kind give a negative spin and go into being sex negative and making sex taboo. That’s not at all what’s going on. We’re treating the addiction like anything else. Really, what we’re all getting down to the core is the anxiety, the attachment disorder, the adjustment disorder. The sexual acting out is just the behavior, which has to stop in order to be able to get to any of the other stuff.
I think a lot of it is semantics. When some people say I don’t believe in sex addiction, I mean we didn’t believe in alcoholism seventy years ago, or however long ago it was. Until the 1950s where the AMA said, okay, yes it is a medical condition, it didn’t exist, it was a thing of willpower. I have hope that the same will happen with sex addiction. I think a lot of therapist have some fear around the homosexuality piece with sex addiction, because there tends to be a different view of sex amongst the gay population.
Any talk of you can’t be sexual, I think is kind of taken personally. I think we talk a lot about, you know, gay reparative therapy and how that used to be in the DSM, that being homosexuality, being gay, was a disorder and then now it’s not. I think when we start talking about therapists that don’t believe in sex addiction, I think it has a lot more to do with a lot of the background stuff then the actual sex addiction. I think it has a lot to do with fear of going back to a time where you couldn’t have sex, sex was taboo.
I get it, because they did a lot of work to get to where they’re at today and be sex positive, so any inkling that a sex addiction therapist is going to say, “Sex is bad,” brings a lot of fear up. I think that’s where a lot of the conflict comes in, but I think if we can get past the fear and really look at the client that we have in front of us and if they’re distressed, then my job, as a clinician, is to try to help them with that distress. It’s not my job to judge whether they are or they’re not. That’s basically how I see it.