February 28th, APSATS has approved the following certification process for those therapists or coaches who have completed the 4 Day APSATS Certification Training program. If you are interested in working with partners of sex addicts, this is a great o
As a profession, the field of sexual addiction treatment is still relatively new (about 30 years old.) The treatment of spouses/partners of sex addicts is even newer and the information can become outdated very quickly. We are learning more about the impact of sexual addiction on spouses/partners and the implications for treatment. Early pioneers in the field of sexual addiction treatment searched for ways to treat sexual addiction. Understandably, they looked to the 12-step model, which has helped drug addicts and alcoholics manage their addictions for decades. Sexual addiction has been partially managed through 12-step groups, though experts recognize that by itself, 12-step work is limited in its effectiveness.Spouses and family members of alcoholics eventually developed Al-Anon, a 12-step program that would address the needs of spouses. 12-step fellowships for sex addicts eventually developed S-Anon for the spouses/partners of sex addicts. The assumption that the spouse can be treated as though they have their own “disease” has traumatized many who have sought help. Under the 12-step model, spouses/partners are assumed to be addicted to their addict and “sicker than their husbands.” Labels such as “co-addict” and “codependent” are applied with frighteningly little thought and consideration of the impact upon the partner. This has led to what some now call “treatment induced trauma.”
It does not matter that many partners knew nothing of the person’s addiction prior to making a commitment. Nor does it matter that the partner may not have seen recognizable signs of the addiction’s existence. The theory holds that partners develop co-addicted traits and characteristics over time due to the fact that they are in relationships with addicts. In Barbara Steffens research, found repeatedly that partners of sex addicts “described disclosure in word pictures filled with violent imagery, I knew they must be experiencing trauma and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have heard women say that disclosure left them “shell shocked,” “violated,” “totally disoriented,” “emotionally raped,” and it was “like being stabbed repeatedly.” Such destructive descriptions generally accompany traumatic events. Most startling was that 70 percent of the women met the symptomatic criteria for PTSD, in response to the disclosure of sexual addiction. In working with hundreds of spouses/partners of sex addicts through the years, we have seen people wounded beyond what words can describe. Many well intentioned friends, family members, therapists and churches inflict harm on spousesof sex addicts through harmful advice. The levels of trauma in partners of sex ddicts are scary.As a spouse, you are not to blame for the choices of the addict. You are profoundly impacted by them. We are wounded in relationships and we heal in relationships. The closer the relationship the more potential harm can be inflicted.At the same time, the closer the relationship, the more potential for life-giving intimacy exists.
I invite you to join me in this controversial discussion. I appreciate your feed back. Are you a co-addict, co-dependant, sicker than your husband?
Have you been betrayed by your significant other? What you are experiencing is a relational trauma. An attachment injury from the most important adult relationship you have. The trauma model for partners of sex addicts exsist because of the psychological and psysiological impact on your mind, body,and spirit. The symptoms below will vary from person to person and depending on your personal history. Dr. Barbara Steffens discovered in her research on the effect of partners of sex addicts that 70% developed symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after dscovery.
PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped
into three categories:
1. Re-experiencing symptoms:
Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experienci
2. Avoidance symptoms:
Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.
3. Hyperarousal symptoms:
Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating. It’s natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event.Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months (National Institute of Mental Health).
If any of these symptoms resonate with you, please join me and others as a resource for telling your story, and validation of what your expeience has been. I have written a workbook that facilitates experiential excercises and intergrates mind, body and spirit. I will be implementing some of the assignments on a weekly basis, along with other sources that can be a part of your healing journey. Please join me, and I invite your comments as a way of helping others from what you have learned and want to know from partners that are in the process of healing and recovering. -francoise-
And Still I Rise, Maya Angelou. Rising above our circumstances, "and naturally, there I go rising"......believe in yourself, the spirit of truth lies withing your deepest self, and wants to set you free.
You may be questioning whether or not you are a partner of a sex addict. Please take a moment with the following checklist. It may validate some of your own fears and confusion about sexual addiction and the devastating effects it has
had on you. The following checklist is adapted from S-Anon, a Twelve-Step group for partners of sex addicts and taken from "Spouses of Addicts Healing and Recovery; Hope for the Journey Workbook; francoise mastroianni
Have you felt hurt or embarrassed by your spouse’s sexual conduct?
Have you secretly searched for clues about your spouse’s sexual behavior? ·
Have you lied about or covered up your spouse’s sexual conduct? ·
Have you had money problems because of your spouse’s sexual behavior?
Have you felt betrayed or abandoned by someone you loved and trusted?
Are you afraid to upset your spouse for fear that he or she will leave you?
Have you tried to control your spouse’s sexual thoughts or behavior by doing things like throwing away pornography, dressing suggestively or being sexual with him or her in order to keep him or her from being sexual with others?
Have you given into sex to try to keep peace in a relationship?
Have you tried to convince yourself that your spouse’s sexual thoughts and behavior
shouldn’t bother you?
Have you doubted your attractiveness, your emotions and your sanity?
Have you felt angry and/or stupid for not knowing about your spouse’s acting out behavior?
Have you engaged in uncomfortable, unwanted or physically dangerous sexual behavior?
Has your preoccupation with your spouse’s sexual thoughts and behavior affected our relationships with your children, your co-workers and/or other friends or family members? ·
Have you neglected your physical and/or emotional health while in a relationship?
Have you blamed other people, such as friends or sexual partners, society in general, his or her job, religion or birth family for your spouse’s sexual behavior?
Have you felt confused about what is true when talking with your spouse about his or her sexual thoughts or behavior?
Have you avoided painful emotions by using
drugs, alcohol or food or by being too busy?
Do you find dealing with your spouse’s sexual behavior or mood swings makes you
Have you become a private investigator in your own home? ·
Do you spend more time thinking about your spouse than you do yourself? ·
Do you go through cycles of loving and then hating your spouse?
Have you felt alone in your relationship or too ashamed to ask for help?
If you answer yes to any one of these questions, you may have been impacted one way or another emotionally, psychologically, physically or spiritually by being in a relationship with a sex addict and you will benefit from seeking the help you deserve. Seek the counseling of a therapist who adheres from the frame work of a trauma model, when helping partners of sex ddicts. Look at the resources for help on my web page
Francoise Mastroianni, lcpc.,ccsas.,cpts