Tips From An Experienced Therapist
The "Jewish Healing Group" had a great FREE session recently, with a professional sex-therapist on the line who offered a lot of important information on the nature of the addiction and how to deal with it.
One important aspect mentioned by the therapist was, that although we are all religious, Mussar and Chizuk alone are often not enough to break free from this insidious addiction. This is a disease on multiple levels, spiritual as well as psychological. Take for example someone who suffers from "heart palpitations". It is true that they need to learn how to live a calmer life without stress, but at the same time, if they don't take the medication as well, they won't be able to heal. It is the same with this addiction. Spiritual therapy must go hand-in-hand with psychological therapy. This includes group support, Psychoanalysis, reading books by the experts, learning the tried-and-proven methods, exploring the various treatment options and even sometimes medication.
Many people with this disease suffered from trauma in their childhood. Either they were verbally abused, or even physically or sexually abused. Also, often people who suffer from low-self esteem or depression are prime candidates for addiction, since they seek to fill the void they feel inside by "medicating" themselves through "sexual acting out". These issues need to be dealt with professionally. Mussar and Chizuk alone, no matter how inspiring, will not be sufficient to heal a scientifically proven psychological disorder.
Here are some great tips that we heard last night from the therapist, on the medical side of dealing with this addiction:
1) It is vital that treatment be given by someone trained specifically in sex addictions. www.sash.net - is a site that can help you locate a competent sex addiction therapist in your area.
2) People who have suffered childhood trauma should look into getting treatment by someone trained in dealing with trauma. Here are two great treatment suggestions for childhood trauma.
a) EMDR treatment (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) by a competent therapist. This treatment is very helpful in removing the bad feelings that lead the patient subconsciously to act out.
b) Psycho Drama group therapy, where the patient sees others acting out the trauma and then reacts to it by screaming, beating on a pillow and getting it out. (We know someone who has been using this technique very successfully for a while now. He claims it is the fastest way to really heal from emotional abandonment, trauma, and neglect. The technique, in his words, helps us "let go of the shame, guilt and abuse and literally mourn for ourselves that we went through this - NOT to blame anyone - just to mourn. Once we do that we can heal").
3) Some important books to read by the world-renowned sex addiction therapist Patrick Carnes: "Out of the Shadows" and "Betrayal Bonds". Also: "Healing the Shame That Binds You" by Bradshaw. These books have actual exercises and assignments to help a person heal from the shame and the bonds we make with people who have abused us or betrayed us. Also, the SLAA books on sex addiction can be very helpful in learning the proven 12 steps to breaking free.
4) If you suffer from depression, look into antidepressant medication. If you suffer from obsessive sexual thinking, look into SSRI medication (scroll down in the link). Today, these medications can work wonders in tandem with therapy, and they have virtually no side-effects! Also, the therapist on the line explained that these medications do not have to be taken for life, but rather a period of 8-10 months is often enough to help you on your way to recovery. (For more info on the ideas above, you can "Google" them on-line).
5) One of the deepest problems of the addiction is the secrecy aspect of it. As long as a person can say to themselves “no one knows anyway”, it is very hard to even begin the journey to recovery. That is why group support is so valuable. You need to open up to people, tell them your struggles and have their support and feel some accountability. If you can’t get to a group, there should at least be someone, someone close to you and/or someone you respect that you are totally open with about this. No secrets. This is a very powerful tool and a necessary one for anyone serious about breaking free. It can be your wife or your Rabbi. And if that’s too hard, at least get a sponsor through our forum and keep in touch about your struggles without any secrets. It is the secrecy that made it so hard for you to even begin to recover until now.
6) Another interesting point mentioned by the therapist was some recent scientific study where it was proven that it takes 90 days for the brain to develop new neurological pathways to actually change a behaviorally based thinking pattern.
So dear Yidden! It is vital to realize that often it's not just a matter of chizuk and mussar. This is a medical condition and disease, and it must be treated as such, hand in hand with the spiritual healing.
For further questions and clarifications on the psychological aspects of healing from this insidious addiction/disease, please contact one of our most influential members, Elya K. He has a lot of experience and can help direct you to healing centers, treatment options and therapists. There are four ways you can reach him:
1) E-mail Elya at firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Post on the forum (Elya is very active there)
3) Join today the "Jewish Healing Group" that Elya organized and moderates once a week. Not only will you be able to talk to Elya and get group support, but the therapist on the line knows even more than him!
4) Call Elya direct, once a week. See here for more info.
We've all waited too long. The time for excuses is over. Act today!