Sexuality Concerns:

Problematic Sexual Interests or Behavior

This can be one of the most difficult things to discuss with anyone—even a therapist. In many cases, we have such strong feelings of shame or embarrassment that we can keep these behaviors and interests a secret until they get so far out of control that they put us and/or our loved ones at serious risk to experience painful physical, emotional, or legal consequences.

Taking action to address these concerns before they become too serious can be an important, life-altering decision. Read this section to see how we can help.

What constitutes a “problem?”

In two words? It depends.

Certainly, a behavior is problematic if it causes significant harm to you or another person. We can also safely say that a behavior is problematic if it breaks the law. But beyond these two criteria, what constitutes a “problem” is a very personal thing.

In some cases, a behavior may be problematic because it puts an individual at risk to harm someone or break the law. In other cases, it may be problematic because it puts a great deal of stress on relationships, job performance, finances, or other important areas of functioning. Finally, we may encounter problems because our behavior and interests cause strong feelings of shame, embarrassment, or other distress.

If you believe your sexual interests may be causing problems in your life, we can help.

Shame and the “Strengths-based” approach to treatment

People are often hesitant to come to therapy around problematic sexual concerns because they are ashamed of their behavior, thoughts or feelings. Some people fear that since their interests are uncommon, culturally frowned upon, or even illegal, they will be perceived as a “pervert” or a “sex maniac.”

But shame doesn't do anything except make you feel worse. It doesn't help you understand your feelings, and it certainly doesn't help you to change. In fact, feelings of shame can even reinforce our unwanted behaviors. Shame is unhelpful, and has no place in therapy.

Instead, we approach these behaviors from a strengths perspective. We believe that even behaviors and interests that cause serious concern started out as an effort to feel good—to make your life better. They just didn’t work, or came with harsh side-effects. They were a bad fit.

Changing those things requires more than just criticism or condemnation, and it requires more than just will power.

Changing requires that we understand how and why these behaviors and interests developed, and then use the strengths you bring to the process to manage the consequences and side-effects that developed from that old strategy. Finally, and most importantly, we will work together to develop new, positive, and effective ways to help you feel good.

Confidentiality, Safety, and Respect

In any psychotherapy, the issue of confidentiality is extremely important. This is even more critical around issues that sometimes cause feelings of shame or embarrassment, or even issues that have the potential to put us in legal jeopardy.

If we worry that our private thoughts and feelings might be handled indiscreetly, passed on to partners or family members without our consent, or even passed on to law enforcement, then it's only natural to think twice before disclosing to anyone—even a therapist.

While many people are familiar with the confidential nature of psychotherapy, we publish our policy here to stress how important your comfort, safety, and confidentiality are to us:

As mandated reporters, we are bound by law to tell the authorities in cases where we have a reasonable suspicion that someone in our care will commit acts of homicide, suicide, or abuse of a child, vulnerable dependent, or elder. Thoughts and fantasies alone are not "reasonable suspicion." We are also compelled to answer questions in court if we are subpoenaed.

Beyond these very specific situations, anything you disclose in therapy will remain private, unless you give us informed, written consent to disclose it to others.

You and your information will be treated with respect.

Sex and Porn "Addiction"

When sexual behavior gets out of control, it can cause gravely serious problems in relationships, at work, with money, and—surprisingly often—even with the law. Feeling ashamed doesn’t help. “Will power” doesn’t help. The right treatment can help.

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“Love Addiction”

For some of us, the feeling of falling in love is so powerful and seductive that we find ourselves making poor choices again and again, only to be caught in yet another painful, unhealthy relationship. Changing this pattern doesn't mean giving up on love.

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