Many who struggle with pornography use may need to seek the help of professional counselors and priesthood leaders in addition to their own efforts. If you or someone you care for demonstrates the following characteristics, it may be necessary to seek professional assistance:
- Feeling like the ability to stop using pornography is out of his or her control.
- Continual pattern of “stop-start” behavior with frequent or consistent relapses.
- Continued pornography use in spite of potential consequences and losses. These losses may include time, money, job, education, marriage and family relationships, and Church membership.
- Escalation of need for increased stimulus. More time spent seeking harsher and more graphic forms of pornography.
- History of lies, secrecy, and deception affecting areas of life related to more than just sexual behavior.
- Demonstration of a “double life” existence—maintaining an appearance of righteousness while participating in pornography and other inappropriate sexual behavior.
- Feelings of guilt, shame, and extremely low self-worth related to one's sexual activities.
In selecting the appropriate professional resources, the following questions and suggestions may be helpful:
- What kind of training has the therapist received in dealing with problematic sexual behaviors and addictions? Therapists dealing with these problems should receive extensive training and education. You may want to ask the therapist if he or she is a member of a national organization dealing with these issues and if he or she has received any certification for training in this area.
- How many years of experience does the therapist have in treating these problems? Experience is essential.
- Does the therapist or clinic specialize in the treatment of problematic sexual behaviors? If the clinic provides a wide variety of counseling services, make sure the therapist assigned to your case has this extensive expertise and training. Good therapists specializing in other psychological problems may not be the best referral source for treating sexual compulsions. For example, a competent marriage counselor (not trained in treating sexual addictions) may focus only on the marriage and neglect the complex, essential components of treating sexual addictions.
- Are counseling services provided to the non-addicted spouse? Spouses need special attention; their involvement in therapy helps them deal with the emotional trauma created by these circumstances. Their participation is also essential in the healing process of both the spouse and the partner struggling with the problematic behavior.
- Does the therapist or clinic provide group therapy? Research indicates that recovery is enhanced when the individuals and couples participate in group therapy.
- Does the therapist share the individual’s value system? Some therapists do not consider viewing pornography and engaging in related activities (such as masturbation) as problematic behavior.
Support groups such as LDS Family Services Pornography Addiction Support Groups (PASG), SA (Sexaholics Anonymous), and other 12-step groups have proven to be important, even necessary, for many individuals and couples. The following organizations can direct you to available groups in your area:
- LDS Family Services
- AMCAP (Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists)
- Compass Point International
- Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH)
- Addict CARE (Center for Addiction Recovery and Education)
- Word of mouth, through friends, family members, or Church leaders. Ask those who have received assistance for these problems who they would recommend for counseling services.
Note: Twelve-step support groups should not be seen as a substitute for therapy; both are beneficial, but they are different in their focus and benefits. They should be seen as complementary, neither one replacing the other.