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Problematic Sexual Behavior

Also Known As: Sex Addiction, Hypersexuality or Compulsive Sexual Behavior

"I know what I'm doing is harmful to my relationship... I just can't seem to control it."

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Man on therapy couch covering face in despair
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What is it?

Problematic Sexual Behavior is just as it sounds...feeling your sexual behavior(s) have become problematic and feel out of control. And it is a common thing among many people, across all genders and sexual orientations. It can often feel/look like:
-Lying to your partner about the behavior
-Strong feelings of shame and/or guilt thinking about or engaging in the behavior
-Spending time doing the behavior instead of spending time on other things (i.e., work, school, spending time with loved ones, etc.)
-Feeling like you're living a "hidden life" 

-Masturbation or the other sexual behavior is how you cope with stress, discomfort or other uncomfortable emotions and states
-Despite negative consequences (to life or relationship) you cannot seem to stop

Problematic Sexual Behavior (PSB), according to Doug Braun-Harvey, the founder of this modality, define PSB as a "sexual health problem in which an individual's sexual consensual urges, thoughts, and behaviors feel out of control" to the client. Even further, it is believed that PSB is not necessarily about the sex, but rather unresolved issues within a relationship, untreated mental health issues, untreated abuse/trauma, and problematic habits. This removes it from traditional "addiction" models, in that the behaviors are not seen as a disorder or the client is powerless to them, rendering them having lost control over their sexual behavior. Reframing this focus allows the client and their therapist to focus on the underlying reasons for the out of control behavior, which then allows room for the client to create a  new sense of sexual health for themselves (without judging or mislabeling a specific sexual behavior/expression as an addiction) and upholds the World Health Organization's definition of sexual health (found here).

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Hand reaching up for help
Group therapy members showing hands

How do we treat it?

Being that PSB is seen as a function of a deeper rooted cause, our sex positive therapists work on understanding the family of origin and other areas of influence in your life that could possibly contribute to the root cause (often done within the intake session). Your therapist will then process at greater length the ways in which the specific sexual behavior(s) are causing difficulties in your life and then help you to create, with the insights gained from the deeper processing, your personalized version of "sexual health" that you feel brings you to a place with your sexuality that honors yourself, others, and brings guilt-free pleasure. Focusing on, and upholding, the World Health Organization's definition of sexual health helps you to redefine your sexual behavior(s) to those that reduce harm and create more fulfilling experiences with yourself and your relationship(s), as they are often not laced with guilt and/or shame. 

It is often treated through individual and/or group therapy, which Obsidian Counseling offers both.

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