Primum non nocere is a Latin phrase that means, first, do no harm. This phrase is widely attributed to the Hippocratic Oath; the oath taken by new physicians to uphold ethical standards of care, although in truth the actual phrase is not written into the original version of the oath itself. Nonetheless, whether mandated or implied most doctors, therapists and healers believe this to be the basic understanding and calling of their professional and personal responsibility.
Primum non nocere stands as a rule of thumb for sex addition therapists. Why specifically sex addiction therapists? Let’s first explore signs of addiction before I answer that question.
Signs of Process and Substance Addiction:
- Loss of Control: Using a substance or process more than a person wants to, for longer than they intended, or despite telling themselves that they wouldn’t do it this time.
- Neglect of People and Activities: Spending less time with loved ones and no longer pursuing previously valued endeavors. For example, being with family and friends, exercising, pursuing personal interests and hobbies or meeting work responsibilities because of the use of alcohol, drugs or gambling has taken precedence.
- Risk Taking: More likely to take serious risks in order to obtain one’s drug or process of choice.
- Relationship Issues: People struggling with addiction are known to act out against those closest to them, particularly if someone is attempting to address their substance problems; complaints from co-workers, supervisors, teachers or classmates.
- Secrecy: Hiding escalation in consumption of drugs, alcohol or in the addictive process.
- Changing Appearance: Signs of serious changes and deterioration in hygiene or physical appearance (i.e. – lack of showering, unkempt appearance or and change in cleanliness of clothes.)
- Tolerance: Over time, a person’s body adapts to a substance to the point that they need more and more of it in order to have the same reaction.
- Withdrawal: Refrain from using substance or engaging in the addictive process results in severity of symptoms such as: anxiety or jumpiness; shakiness or trembling; sweating, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, depression, irritability, fatigue or loss of appetite, headaches, and rage.
- Continuation of Use Despite Negative Consequences: Even though there is an increase in interpersonal problems (work, relationships, family) the person continues and or increases their addictive behavior.
Believing in Healthy Sex and Sex Addiction
Like other aspects of addiction, a sex addiction therapist helps their clients understand how their self described and self harming sexual behaviors are destructive. Recently in the digital and print media, uninformed writers and practitioners of sex therapy falsely accuse the sex addiction model of treatment (and therefore, those that practice within that model) of engaging clients in reparative sex therapy. Unfortunately, many who are seeking help for their own defined “hitting bottom” are being misled and robbed of a rich therapeutic environment of growth, help and support. As with any compulsive or addictive use of a substance or a process, the widely held belief in working with addiction, is that the person has to come to his/her “bottom” before being ready to seek change and healing.
My role as a sex addiction therapist is to help my clients heal from what they define as unhealthy and/or harmful sexual behavior. Whether we are speaking about trauma, sex, attachment or gender issues, it is never a therapist’s role to decide for the client what stands as acceptable or unacceptable. This same perspective applies to treatment. Therapists ought always follow the lead of the client’s objectives and goals in therapy.
Ultimately, the client defines what is and is not healthy sexual behaviors and learns to integrate a wide variety of sexual and romantic experiences into their life for sexual wellbeing.
And as with any form of therapy, the therapeutic approach and relationship matters. Recent posts by uninformed therapists falsely exclaim why the sex addiction model of treatment is no longer viable. Further their articles are the very epitome of exclusion that accelerate the divisive environment that they abhor and denounce.There are 32 flavors of life, love and sex and the sex addiction model of treatment welcomes all at the table!
With that in mind…live and love on!