Finding a therapist who is knowledgeable about sexual addiction is critical. Because of the relative newness of the field, locating an informed counselor may be difficult. A Christian counselor trained in sex addiction is the ideal choice, but unfortunately, such professionals are rare. Because more resources are available to provide spiritual support, look first for a clinician who understands sexual addiction. If that person is also a Christian, that’s a plus. But no ethical counselor will do anything to challenge your faith, and someone who doesn’t understand sexual addiction can do more harm than good.
SPECIFIC PLACES TO LOOK FOR TRAINED PROFESSIONALS:
www.SEXHELP.com – lists therapists who have fulfilled the requirements as a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT), a program developed by Patrick Carnes.
www.SASH.net – lists therapists who are members of the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health, an association for professionals who treat sex addiction and trauma.
Finding a Counselor
2. Check the listing of counselors who are CSATs: Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (Patrick Carnes’ certification) trained through the International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals. Visit www.sexhelp.com or www.IITAP.com for a searchable database.
3. Check the listing of therapists who are members of the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health, which is the secular professional organization for clinicians who treat sexual addiction. Visit www.SASH.net. 4. Ask other mental health professionals or physicians for counselors trained in addictions.
5. Contact your local drug and alcohol council for referrals.
6. For Christian counselors, check the listing of therapists who are members of an organization like the American Association of Christian Counselors. Understand that this is a general listing and members may not be familiar with sexual addiction. AACC does sponsor a CSAS designation: Certified Sexual Addiction Specialist through the AACC Board of Christian Professional & Pastoral Counselors (www.bcppc.net). However, the certification is in its infancy and the basic level means that an individual has simply watched a video series about sexual addiction. At present there is not a database available for CSAS.
Ask the Counselor
It’s wise to interview the therapist to see if she/he seems to be an appropriate choice. Following are some suggested questions.
- Are you trained in treating addictions?
- Are you specifically familiar with sexual addiction?
- Have you heard of Dr. Patrick Carnes?
- Do you recommend the 12 Step program of recovery?
- Do you work from an attachment-based model in treating addictions?
- What’s your approach in helping partners of addicts?
- How many sexually addicted clients have you treated?
- Are you able to help facilitate a formal disclosure?
- What about couples? How do you work with them?
Professionals can have a variety of educational backgrounds and practice emphases. Here is a brief synopsis of some the more common ones:
Doctoral degree – These clinicians have achieved the most advanced level of education available, which is usually signified by the initials Ph.D., Ed.D., or PsyD.
Master’s degree – These clinicians have completed a graduate degree, usually identified as a M.A., M.Ed., M.S., MSW or MFT.
Type of Counselor
Psychiatrist – This person is a medical doctor who has completed advanced training in mental and emotional disorders. This professional may prescribe medication and typically is more focused on managing medication than on providing talk therapy.
Psychologist – This person has a doctoral degree but isn’t medically trained. He/she may be specifically trained in testing but will also conduct traditional therapy.
Licensed Professional – These clinicians have at least a master’s degree and have completed supervision requirements for licensure in their field. Different types include Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Pastoral Counselor.
Unlicensed Counselor – Either a trained counselor who for whatever reason hasn’t completed the requirements for licensure, or a lay counselor or minister who doesn’t have professional clinical training.