Growing up, Tiger Woods probably did not think he would someday make sex addiction a household word. Ironically, his personal drama playing out on the public stage has helped to educate people about sexual addiction and treatment resources.
I did a telephone interview with Jamie Hersch of WKOW 27 in Madison on February 19, 2010 in response to Tiger Wood's press conference in which he made a public statement about his problematic behaviors. Reactions to his statements ranged from disbelief and suspicion of his motives to empathy and forgiveness.
I do not know Tiger Woods so I cannot evaluate his sincerity on a personal level. In his statement I did note language that can reflect the beginning steps of recovery. When I hear my clients start to speak in these terms, it usually mirrors progress in their recovery work. Of course words are not sufficient; behavior that is consistent with those words has to follow in order to count as real change.
Tiger acknowledged the continued "irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in" and stated responsibility for the damage he caused. He made it clear that this was his fault not his wife's. "I was unfaithful…I had affairs.""I cheated…what I did is not acceptable." "I am the only person to blame."" He identified that he had stopped living by his own core values. He named his distorted thinking in which he "knew my actions were wrong but I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply".
He acknowledged the boundaries he had crossed and his mistaken sense of entitlement due to money and fame. He recognized the destructiveness of his isolation from family, friends and his spiritual base. He identified the need to develop his spiritual life, strive for balance with his professional life, and rely on other people for help as necessary factors to make and maintain healthy change. He acknowledged how hard it is "to admit I need help but I do".
Tiger reported that his wife told him his "real apology to her will not come in the form of words, it will come from my behavior over time". This is what I say to my clients who are struggling with sexual addiction and to their partners. In therapy we work to make these words be meaningful.
Living in recovery enables the potential to build integrity and trust in a relationship. Here's hoping that Tiger Woods is able to be as successful in taking these steps in his personal life as he has been in his professional career.
Shari Cohn, LCSW, CSAT is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist providing Sex Therapy, Sex Addiction Therapy and Psychotherapy to the Madison, Wisconsin area for over twenty years.
Shari specializes in helping sex and porn addicts, partners of sex addicts, abuse and trauma survivors, ptsd and sexual problems.
"Reclaiming Sexuality…Reclaiming Your Life…One Step At A Time"
Visit Shari 's website and blog at www.ShariCohn.com
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