Review by Laurie Sanders, LMFT

The March 2013, Sierra Foothills CAMFT workshop on Sex Addiction Treatment, presented by George Peckham, LMFT & Amy Schepcoff, LMFT, was factual, comprehensive and compassionate. Attendees were able to share viewpoints, experience and ask questions. LIFESTAR, a sexual addiction treatment program in Fair Oaks was highlighted. The presenters defined sexual addiction as: a compulsive or psychological need for a sexually related experience that has become habit forming. Like other addictions, the sexual behavior becomes more important than family, friends, and work. Sex addicts frequently deny that they have a problem, even to themselves, and frequently use compulsive sexual behavior as a means of dealing with pain. This denial often leads them into living a double (or secret) life, creating more shame, pain, and isolation.

Some things we know:

  • Sexual addiction is on the rise, as pornography has become easily accessible on the Internet.
  • Most addicts are men, ages 12-­70+.
  • Treatment works if the addict and partner stay committed to full recovery.
  • Most addicts do not initiate treatment, their partners do.

Recommended treatment includes the following 7 aspects:

  1. Individual therapy over a 2-­3 year period.
  2. Group therapy (123-­150 hours).
  3. Regular attendance at Twelve Step meetings.
  4. An ongoing relationship with a sponsor.
  5. Completion of Steps One through Nine of the Twelve Step program (the more the better)
  6. Partner participation in therapy (preferably individual and couples) and group therapy. 7. Family members seeking recovery for themselves.

The Life STAR program offers all these aspects of treatment, and uses Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy with the couples.

We learned that the spouse of a sexual addict would be deeply affected by the discovery of the addiction, even experiencing PTSD symptoms related to betrayal by their partner. They are often hypervigilent and may experience other symptoms from the crisis. In addition, they must deal with other issues such as STDs, financial problems, self-doubt, and shame. The partner will need therapeutic treatment in conjunction with the addict. Many resources were listed, including a screening test for sexual addiction that can be found at

Some of the many books recommended were: Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addictions by Patrick Carnes; Facing Shame by Merle Possum and Marilyn Mason; Cybersex Exposed by Jennifer Schneider and Robert Weiss and Deceived by Claudia Black.

Thank you Laurie for this wonderful review!

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