Trauma: The Root of Sex Addiction and Intimacy Disorders

sex-addiction-main-image-1050x403Many addictive and mental health disorders can be traced back to early attachment trauma, evoked by experiences like emotional neglect and enmeshment, as well as physical and emotional abuse. This is particularly true of intimacy disorders and related sex, love and relationship addictions. To recover from these experiences and move beyond the shame and isolation accompanying sex addiction and intimacy disorders, an approach to treatment that tackles the root causes is needed.

Past Trauma, Present Pain

Ironically, the behaviors that are causing you so much pain right now likely stem from necessary but ultimately self-defeating survival skills learned at an early age to cope with dysfunctional, traumatic experiences. Whether the source of trauma was a one-time impactful event or an ongoing cycle of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect, you learned that intimacy was a fearful, shameful, disappointing or inconsistent experience and naturally did what made most sense at the time – learned to avoid it.

How Trauma-Focused Care Can Help

As an adult, the trauma you’ve carried with you over the years is deeply ingrained in your psyche and behavior. Issues such as substance abuse, compulsive sexual behavior and problematic relationship patterns are the coping skills that help keep that which is most feared – vulnerability and honest intimacy – at bay.
Trauma-focused treatment delves under the surface of your addiction or behavioral issues to address the underlying causal factors so you can work toward long-term recovery without symptoms creeping back up over time, or just taking the form of different, destructive patterns.

Trauma-focused approaches may include:

• Cognitive behavioral therapy with a specially trained clinician
• Trauma-specific therapies.
• Psychodrama, equine therapy, and other experiential therapies that allow you to explore past trauma in a safe, accepting space
• Shame-reduction methods that support vulnerability and embracing your authentic self
• Group therapy and healthy social skills building
• Creative approaches such as art and music therapy that allow you to explore emotions you may have difficulty verbalizing
• Evidence-based medication as appropriate

Break the cycle. Get help for long-term change.