I hear it in their voices on the phone. They are scared and alone. They don't know who to call for help. They don't know what and how much to say. They are afraid of the response they will get. Will they be judged? Will their concerns be minimized? Are they making "a big dealover nothing"? I feel very moved when I talk to people with problematic sexual behaviors, sex addicts, partners-spouses and concerned family members. That first call is especially hard. They have taken the courageous step to ask for help as they never have before. Or they have realized that they are not getting the assistance they need in the services they are receiving and are looking for further help.
Sex addicts usually are calling under duress. They have been given an ultimatum by their partners. Call and get help or the relationship is over. The partner has had enough deception and lies. She or he is finally drawing the line. The sex addict is often scared and ashamed. Sometimes they are indignant. They are afraid of losing their marriage and their families.
Partners-spouses are scared. Often they have been desperately searching the internet. They have gone into research mode trying to get accurate information to help them cope with their nightmare. They feel overwhelmed with data but are not getting the guidance and concrete resources they need for themselves and their partners to see if they can save their relationships, families and themselves.
They are missing the human connection. I hear it in their voices. Relief that they are finally talking to a person who "gets it". Someone who knows what they are talking about and has tools to help them and the person they care about (even if they are really upset at the person right now, they do care or they would not be calling).
What can you expect when you call me? I will ask questions about your situation. I will listen. I will give you specific suggestions. I will tell you about the training I have received in assessing and treating sex addicts and partners, in sex therapy and psychotherapy. I will inform you about specific research-based clinical strategies to assess and provide therapy for these issues.
I will work to help you find the resources you need whether it is with me or with someone else who can provide the services you need. I have a very strong professional and personal ethic to make referrals to other treatment providers if I am not the most appropriate fit for a client.
I will not minimize what you say to me or give you meaningless platitudes to make it feel better. I will also not be shocked at what you are telling me. I cannot say I have heard it all before but I have heard a wide range of sexual and non-sexual behaviors that people do. I will respond with respect as you describe what you or your partner are doing, have done, or what has been done to you . I will have compassion for you as a person even if you feel shame about your behaviors.
My hope is that you will get off the phone feeling that you have been heard, have specific strategies to help you and your loved one, and feel that there is help available. I want you to know that you are not alone and there is hope as you struggle with this major life challenge.
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
Find Shari on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SexTherapyMadisonWI