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Sex Addiction Therapy

Overcoming Sex Addiction: How Therapy Can Help Men in Toronto and across Ontario

You may be here wondering if:

  • am I a sex addict?

  • what are the symptoms of sex addiction?

  • what causes sex addiction?

  • can I heal from sex addiction?

  • why do I struggle with compulsive sexual urges?


We understand and work a lot with compulsive sexual behaviour! 

Have you experienced difficulty resisting impulses to engage in sexual behaviours?

Have you tried to stop, control, or reduce these behaviours?

Do you often find yourself preoccupied with sexual thoughts?

Do you worry that others will find out about your sexual behaviours?


Compulsive Sexual Behaviour is becoming increasingly problematic for men

Sex Addiction, often referred to as compulsive sexual behaviour disorder, refers to one being unable to stop repetitive sexual behaviours, sexual obsessions, fantasies, or urges. Many who struggle with sex addiction find themselves preoccupied with sexual thoughts and urges and experience a significant amount of distress and unmanageability within their life and with those around them. In many cases, individuals may lead double lives and carry secrets as a way to mask the pain and shame they feel for their behaviour. 

How do I know if I am struggling with compulsive sexual behaviour (sex addiction)?

One of the quickest ways we use to assess for compulsive sexual behaviour is PATHOS:

PATHOS is a brief sexual addiction screening questionnaire developed by Dr. Patrick Carnes:

  • Do you often find yourself preoccupied with sexual thoughts? (Preoccupied)

  • Do you hide some of your sexual behavior from others? (Ashamed)

  • Have you ever sought help for sexual behavior you did not like? (Treatment)

  • Has anyone been hurt emotionally because of your sexual behavior? (Hurt others)

  • Do you feel controlled by your sexual desire? (Out of control)

  • When you have sex, do you feel depressed afterwards? (Sad)

Typically, an answer of 3 or more indicates a potential issues with compulsive sexual behaviour. 

How is sex addiction diagnosed? Is there a diagnosis for sex addiction/compulsive sexual behaviour?


While there is no formal diagnosis for sex addiction, we have some tools as Certified Sex Addiction Therapist's that can help us better understand problematic sexual behaviour. Compulsive Sexual Behaviour has been recognized internationally by the WHO's International Classification of Disease under Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder. There is still professional debate on the topic of sex addiction in the psychology/mental health community.


What we do know is that for those suffering with problematic sexual behaviour, it can have devestating physical and mental health concerns. This might include stress, shame, irritability, difficulty meeting daily obligations, STD's, pregnancy, depression, anxiety, and difficulty functioning. 

I am into kink/BDSM and fetishes (feet/underwear). Am I a sex addict?


It is important to note that kink, fetishes, and other types of sexual preferences are not indicative of problematic sexual behaviour. While you may struggle with incongruency of moral/societal views on some of your behaviours, they typically are not considered problematic/addictive unless they cause unmanageability or impairment to functioning (losses, consequences, withdrawal etc). 


Sometimes compulsive sexual behaviour can also be linked to other medical/mental health concerns


Studies have shown than compulsive sexual behaviour has comorbidity with attention-deficit disorder (ADHD), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), anxiety, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


How can First Step Men's Therapy help me recover from compulsive sexual behaviour?


At First Step Men's Therapy, we treat sex addiction from a holistic perspective. While we do want to tackle and treat the problem (sex addiction), it is also important for us to look at and explore the root causes of sexual addiction. Some of the root causes may be attachment injury during childhood (neglect/abuse/abandonment), trauma, self-esteem, and difficulty forming close intimate bonds with others.


What are some examples of sex addiction? How do I know if I just have a high sex drive or have an addiction?


Some of the common examples of sexual activities that can be compulsive or destructive include: 

  • Paying for Sex: (sex workers/sexual massage establishments/girlfriend experiences (GFE)

  • Anonymous sex: sexual pleasure driven by high-risk encounters with total strangers

  • Seductive sex: sexual pleasure derived from the chase and hunt, without the ability to achieve or develop intimacy (also known as conquest sex)

  • Fantasy Sex: involves escape and avoiding intimacy/connection

  • Voyeurism: sexual pleasure through visual stimulation

  • Exhibitionism: gaining the attention or shock from others for sexual gratification

  • Intrusive Sex: touching someone without their permission

  • Exploitative sex: sex that requires one to have power or dominance over another person 

​It is important to note that the key ingredient for the determination of an addiction is unmanageability. Unmanageability might look like: loss of time, repeated efforts to stop, withdrawal, compulsive behaviour, and consequences. 

Like many men before you, there is hope that you can change and recover

Recovery is a process, and takes time. Recovery can actually be classified into stages, with each stage requiring its own time to process, heal, and understand. From the discovery/crisis stage to shock and grief to repair and growth, each stage offers the individual a chance to learn, grow, and heal. 

What types of therapy are offered? What is your approach like?

There are several ways to treat compulsive sexual behaviour. As Certified Sex Addiction Therapist's, we are trained to use a 30-task based model that helps the individual learn and grow through a series of tasks, exercises, and reflective opportunities. Some Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for sexual addiction is used, partially due to the fact that compulsive sexual behaviour is a cognitive and behavioural issue. Impaired thinking, also know as denial, is a major component to problematic sexual behaviour. Other modalities include narrative therapy, trauma therapy, Internal Family Systems, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

I think my partner is a sex addict? What should I do? 


We get a lot of partners that reach out to us for help. One of the ways you can help is to be supportive in the partner seeking help through therapy, 12-step groups, and reading/researching ways to find help. As a partner, it can also be difficult if you are experiencing betrayal trauma, however, as a united couple recovery and healing is possible provided there is willingness and desire for change on the part of the addicted partner. 

Many of our therapists are trained as Certified Sex Addiction Therapists with the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). 

Founded by renowned therapist Dr. Patrick Carnes, the CSAT® (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist) program was developed after years of extensive experience in the field of addiction. CSAT therapists are trained to identify, assess, and treat individuals struggling with compulsive sexual behaviour. Using both a person-centered and 30-task model approach, among other modalities, CSAT therapists integrate their training and knowledge to help support individuals who have sex/porn addiction. 

The CSAT training process is comprehensive and includes 4 training modules over 2 years, with topics ranging from sex addiction treatment, partner betrayal trauma, cross addiction, trauma, and neurobiology - to name a few. Additionally, each CSAT therapist is required to have 30 hours of CSAT supervision, allowing therapists to gain knowledge and support on client cases to help develop better tools and resources to help clients. 

CSAT Therapists are also trained to deliver and assess the Sex Addiction Screening Test, Sexual Dependency Inventory, Sexual Digital Media Inventory, and the Post-Traumatic Stress Index - among others.

Adam Gelinas, Mirela Kovacevic Smith, and Sara Stalker are currently completing their training with IITAP and are Certified Sex Addiction Therapist - Candidates while Omar Waheed is a full Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT).

I want a sexual addiction therapist near me and I am ready to start!


If you or a loved one is struggling with sex addiction in Toronto or across Ontario, First Step Men's Therapy is here to help. Our team of experienced sex addiction therapists offers a range of services to support men and their partners in overcoming sex addiction and achieving lasting recovery. To learn more about our approach and how we can help, we invite you to schedule a free 20-minute consultation with one of our therapists. Simply call us at (289) 216-5075 or email us to get started. We look forward to supporting you on your journey to healing and wellness.​

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