To our recovery family & friends from APSATS:
Last week the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) published a statement regarding sex addiction. The statement claims AASECT: “1) does not find sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder, and 2) does not find the sexual addiction training and treatment methods and educational pedagogies to be adequately informed by accurate human sexuality knowledge.”
APSATS- an organization that
advocates for ethical care and relational healing for partners, addicts, families and communities impacted by sexual addiction and betrayal trauma-
strongly opposes the AASECT statement and wishes to publicly express concern over the potential harm this position may evoke for families of addicts, individuals in recovery, and to the credibility of AASECT trained therapists.
If the reality of out of control sexual behaviors (sex addiction) and betrayal trauma were part of your history, I would imagine that reading this professional organization’s statement brings about much confusion, fear, uncertainty, and maybe anger. You may fear you won’t be able to find the help you need or that you will be marginalized or pathologized when you seek help from those who may not take sex addiction and betrayal trauma seriously. I want you to know that those of us who work in the field are confused and concerned as well. We are also committed to you.
APSATS does not agree with this statement. We believe that out of control sexual behaviors, while not always reaching the threshold of “addiction”, are problematic and can be harmful to all involved, especially family members. This harm includes trauma related to betrayal, effects of long-term deception, unknowingly being put at risk in terms of health and safety, loss of healthy attachment, loss of relationships, loss of a sense of safety…the list goes on and on as to the negative impact of out of control and secret sexual behaviors.
Sex addiction or out of control sexual behaviors do not occur within a vacuum; they often occur within the context of relationship and expectations of sexual fidelity and honesty. Relational boundaries are usually violated. The unknowing partner, upon discovery, is left feeling disoriented and confused as the person they love is engaged in behaviors they knew nothing about. They wonder, who is this person? Partners and spouses in these relationships were often not afforded the ability or right to have informed consent as to what would occur in the relationship. Families often disintegrate.
Families have found hope through solid and ethical treatment of the out of control behaviors and sex addiction. To date, that help and treatment has conceptualized the sexual behaviors not as being about healthy sexual expression, but as attempts to adapt and cope with internal discomfort or trauma- the behaviors are used to manage moods and to cope. They aren’t about sex- they are about coping with life in ways that become unmanageable.
Please know that support is available and we are working to train even more professionals to help those impacted by sexual addiction and problematic sexual behaviors. There is effective and validating help available.
The APSATS Board of Directors