Thank you for your inquiry and email. Great topic you have chosen! I will try to answer these questions as complete as possible.
I am a Clinical Psychologist and Sex Therapist with a private practice in Fullarton and Adelaide. I am offering counselling and guidance for people with these issues.
What is sex addiction?
It's not an official diagnosis. There is quite some controversy about using the term sex addiction. We should refer to it as uncontrolled sexual behaviour. It is commonly used to express a person's inability to control their sexual desires or behaviours which is causing stress and negative outcomes for the person, such as fights, relationship problems, procrastination or other negative outcomes. The sexual behaviour can vary from masturbation, excessive porn use to visiting people with sexual intent or messaging/chatting about sexual content.
Have you dealt with clients experiencing this? Yes. There a quite some people, mostly men, coming to search for support and guidance to improve their concerns.
How common is this with youth? In youth/adolescents it is hard to talk about sex addiction as such as the levels of sexual desire are naturally quite high as this is an age in which adolescents start to discover their sexuality. I would classify this a problematic and 'deviant' when it is out of control and causing negative effects to the person.
How does sex addiction occur?
There can be several factors contributing to 'sex addiction'. A common factor is stress relief: quite some men are using masturbation (with or without porn) as a way to cope with stress or negative emotions. Some men are experiencing a very low self esteem and are trying to improve their confidence by sexual activities. Some men are very fearful of being in a sexual encounter with a real person that they prefer to go 'solo' with someone they can't disappoint.
How can they be helped/treated?
People who are experiencing difficulties in this area will be supported in various ways. In our practice we focus on strategies to improve self-esteem, learn stress coping skills and if necessary we talk about dating, talking to a person you feel attracted to and other social skills. Gaining control over undesired behaviour starts with understanding the triggers, the effect of these triggers and how to behave in a better way.
What support can be accessed?
We offer psychological support on a individual basis. There are group programs available as well, for example through SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous). They help people by providing group support based on absence and building strength. It depends on the preferences of a person whether they would prefer group work or individual work. Within our practice you can receive Medicare rebates by being referred on a Mental Health Care Plan by the GP or you could use private health funds to cover for the sessions.
How does this affect the family?
In many cases the 'addiction' has been ongoing for many years before people open up about it. This can be due to feelings of guilt or shame or not being ready to acknowledge the problem. In many cases relationships have failed because of the obsessive nature of these behaviours. Whether a person opens up to their family is up to the individual and their relationship with the family. Often we do recommend people to open up about their behaviour to at least someone they trust so they have a person to talk to outside of the sessions. On top of this, social support can function as an additional way to cope with stress. If family members are confided in, they sometimes feel the need to talk to someone about the behaviour and their feelings. In our practice we offer support to the person and their family to overcome the challenges and move towards an improved situation of openness, trust and confidence again.
Hope this will help in the assignment. I wish you all the best in this project and thanks for asking me to answer these questions.