Educating Your Therapist


Getting help for issues related to excessive porn use is a fine idea. However, many therapists have no conception of how addictive today’s hyperstimulating Internet porn is. Many were trained when static, softcore Playboy was porn, and before the recent brain science that is helping to explain the close parallels between extremely stimulating substances and behaviors—both of which can produce addictions. Some counselors’ training suggests porn use as a therapeutic tool!

Said a site member:

When I visited a therapist I sent her links to a couple of threads and webpages about porn-related ED, so she could understand that it wasn’t just in my mind but a very real problem. She was quite amazed at the number of guys going through this. Many therapists have been doing their jobs for years, and base their advice on training/experience of success stories prior to a time when streaming porn was easily available. In fact the ‘old skool’ therapists would often PRESCRIBE porn rather than recommend abstinence. I found myself teaching my therapist more than she was teaching me…and she’s the one that got paid. It beggars belief!

Still, she was a nice lady so I didn’t mind too much. Plus, Internet porn’s a relatively new phenomenon. Personally I would suggest you still see one, they can act as a good non-judgemental mentor.

I recommend educating your therapist prior to a visit. As you’re the customer, the therapist should not ignore your request. He or she may be more willing to take the issue seriously when when it is evident that you have researched and related to the issues. I think the links I sent her really helped. It was the shock of how upset a lot of the young guys were that really ‘got’ her.

In my opinion, airing the matter with the therapist via email in advance should also help to erase any initial reluctance/shyness about discussing porn addiction and related symptoms.

Marriage and family therapists

A 2008 survey of marriage and family therapists revealed that they have not been trained to deal with porn addiction.

Most respondents reported that their required college courses were not helpful in preparing them to diagnose and treat cybersex-related problems.

Exactly. Instead, they’ve been taught porn is harmless. Such advice is fine for brains that are not already out of balance due to excess. If there were no such thing as Internet porn, most guys would never develop an addiction to masturbation. This means the “do as you please when you have an urge” advice would be reasonable.

Compulsive Sexual Behavior

However, if your therapist is typical, their addiction education is behind the times. He/she has never learned that Internet porn has the power to override your natural appetites and create addiction. They may still think that addictions can only occur with substances, and that masturbation can never become an addiction “unless someone has religious shame.” Further, they may not be aware of the upcoming diagnosis for “compulsive sexual behavior” in the World Health Organization’s ICD-11.

It used to be assumed that sex and food couldn’t cause addictions. We thought this because the brain’s natural satiety mechanisms would regulate their consumption. That is, it was assumed that people would stop when they had had “enough”. That’s not the case, though, with today’s superstimulating Internet porn—or junk food. Already 30+% of Americans are obese (addicted to food). Same thing is happening in many of today’s superstimulated videogamers.  The rates of gaming addiction in Hungary and China among adolescents are 18% and 14%, respectively.

Recent research

So chances are that your therapist is remembering what his textbooks said. Or he going by his own experience as a non-addict. He or she is imagining that the biggest risk you face is sexual repression. It’s not. It’s addiction: honest-to-god changes in your brain that can alter your brain’s pleasure response and executive control.

Recent research has made this evident. In fact, in 2011 the American Society of Addiction Medicine (3000 doctors) put out a public statement explaining this and stating specifically that sex can be an addiction. In 2018, the world’s most widely used medical diagnostic manual, The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), created a new diagnosis suitable for porn addiction: “Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder.”

Science of addiction

However, if your therapist has not specifically been trained in the brain science of addiction, you need to be ready to find one who is. Here’s one guy’s experience:

I went to a therapist who claimed she was an expert on internet addiction. So I told her about my problem and she gave this talk on how it’s normal and that we’re all sexual beings. She continued to talk about how it’s conservative values that’s making me feel shameful about looking at porn and tried to convince me that I don’t have an addiction. Worst of all she talked down on me like I was a 12-year old! I told her my problem was that I spent way too much time on porn, and you know what she said? She told me to use an egg timer and set it for an hour! I never saw her after that.

You may also need to educate your doctor:

When I came to my doctor at first regarding my inexplicable ED, extreme sexual anxiety, and complete lack of a libido, he first ordered a testosterone test. When this came back normal, he put me on anti-anxiety medication. “It’s all in your head, you just have to remind yourself of that, and this should help.” While it WAS in fact all in my head, and pills DID in fact help a bit, it never got to the root of the issue. For months it went on with continued ED and failed sex attempts, and that all added up to a much worse mindframe.

Anyways, NoFap has been helping so far, and from the success stories I’ve read (and the sheer volume of them), I’m optimistic it’ll continue to get better and actually fix this. So, when I was in for a physical yesterday, I gave my doctor a link to the TEDx talk and talked to him a bit about the concept. He seemed very interested, and I think he’ll actually give it a watch. Hopefully if he does, he can point another struggling dude in the right direction.

 Video presentations:

Give your therapist these lists of studies on porn users:

Porn and sexual problems
Specific user groups

Internet porn is unique and can cause addiction

The core concepts of how Internet porn is unique and how use can cause addiction is explained here. I suggest reading these in sequence:

Links with everything in one place

Links to experts in this field

Organizations and “compulsive sexual behaviors”

Please contact us with other suggestions. They don’t have to be from this site.