What is Porn Addiction Therapy & Can it Help?

Sandra Richardson

Jun 22, 2021

People turn to therapy for a plethora of reasons. Stress, depression, and self-awareness top the list alongside addiction. Therapy can help addicts of all types overcome their addiction, while also identifying and treating the root cause. Porn addiction is no different. Although it’s not yet recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as a diagnosable disorder, those struggling to break the cycle of viewing pornography and masturbating may beg to differ.

Similar to any other addition, like those to drugs or alcohol, porn addiction can control and ruin your life if left untreated. And in the same therapy can help uncover causes and treatment options for other types of addicts, certain therapies may offer hope to those battling porn addiction.

Not ready to face your addiction head-on or seek outside therapy or treatment? No problem. The Stop Together program brings all of the resources, tools, and expert advice you need right to your computer screen, in the comfort and safety of your home. This online program is designed to help you recognize the warning signs of addiction, understand the cause of your addiction, and offer activities and information to help you reclaim your life. Much of the information found in the Stop Together program was developed after years of research and from experts in the field of porn and sex addiction — including recovering addicts just like you. Through this program, you’ll get access to many of the same forms of therapy discussed here today, just in a different format.

Curious to learn more about what types of therapy can help treat porn addiction and how? Keep reading as we explore how to treat porn addiction with therapy and options for moving toward a bright and promising future.

Porn is a Behavioral Addiction

Before we get into the different types of therapy available for treating porn addiction, it’s important to understand exactly what porn addiction is. Different from other physical dependencies like drug or alcohol abuse, porn is a behavioral addiction.

Behavioral addictions are non-substance addictions. This means that instead of becoming addicted to or dependent on a physical substance like drugs or alcohol, individuals become addicted to performing a specific behavior. Gambling and sex addictions fall into the same category as porn addiction. Although you aren’t physically dependent on a substance for stress relief or to prevent withdrawal symptoms, behavior addictions still affect your brain’s chemistry.

Your brain releases chemicals known as endorphins when met with a pleasurable experience — in this case, viewing pornography. Over time, your body associates feelings of happiness and relaxation with watching porn. Another thing that changes with time and overexposure to porn is your tolerance levels. Viewing the same type of pornographic material for the same period of time no longer has the same, desired effect. You now have to increase your viewing time or view more graphic, questionable, and sometimes violent pornography.

The ultimate goal of treating a behavioral addiction like porn addiction using therapy is to reverse the initial behavior that provoked the addiction.

Let’s take a closer look at how this is done.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most well-known and widely used forms of therapy for behavioral addictions. It’s been well-researched and proven to be most effective when treating mental health issues, which is why you’ll notice some CBT approaches and methods used in the Stop Together program.

So what is CBT and how does it work?

CBT targets the symptoms of porn addiction, offering practical tools and exercises that addicts can use long after the therapy sessions end. CBT has been used to treat a wide range of conditions including personality and eating disorders, as well as anxiety and mood disorders. The ultimate goal of CBT is to help addicts explore and understand the connection between their thoughts and feelings and their behaviors.

One approach involves identifying external cues and thoughts that trigger a reaction or cause the addict to perform the desired behavior. One theory of CBT is that it’s easier to identify and change these thoughts and triggers than to actually address the behavior itself. By changing negative thought patterns, addicts can then change their reactions and behaviors in response to these triggers.

Therapists dealing with porn addicts often address the patient’s beliefs and thoughts about sexuality. For many porn addicts, predisposed philosophies on sexuality and sexual expectations are a driving force for addiction later on in life. Changes in behavior include blocking all pornographic material from the addict’s computer, avoiding physical temptations and triggers, and identifying alternative behaviors for dealing with the urge to view or use pornography.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is another form of CBT. Originally created to treat personality disorders, DBT has also been proven effective for treating substance abuse and trauma-related disorders like PTSD.

During DBT, patients learn to regulate their emotions, strengthen tolerance, and improve interpersonal interactions. These skills are achieved through mindfulness-based techniques and other cognitive exercises, similar to those found in the Stop Together program. Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, porn addicts learn to identify and then accept negative thoughts and feelings without actually acting on them. Mindfulness techniques are an important part of DBT and help strengthen your mind to the point of observing and acknowledging emotions without judgment.

Because shame is a common emotion associated with porn addiction, DBT is an effective therapy method. This form of “radical acceptance” allows addicts to let go of judgment, guilt, and embarrassment. In time, individuals can identify and release feelings of self-loathing and shame, which is an important part of the recovery process.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Another therapy method used in the Stop Together program, ACT is a specific type of Cognitive Behavior Therapy with wide-reaching benefits. The concept behind ACT is identifying triggers and temptations and then practicing ways to accept and react to them, without relapsing. The major difference between ACT and CBT is that instead of controlling your thoughts and feelings the way you do during CBT, addicts learn to change their reactions to those emotions.

ACT is so successful for porn addicts that one study reported an 85% reduction in porn addicts after eight 90-minute sessions.

Psychodynamic Therapy

This more traditional style of therapy helps addicts identify the root cause and source of their addictive behaviors. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on uncovering hidden motivators for specific behaviors. While there are various forms of psychodynamic therapy, most practices look at a person’s early childhood experiences and how those events helped shape and predict adult behavior and tendencies.

If your porn addiction comes from genetics, a traumatic event, sexual abuse, low self-esteem, or conflicting feelings about your own sexuality, psychodynamic therapy can provide some insight. By examing your early childhood, including traumatic events and expderiences, many addicts can start to understand why they feel the way they do about certain things (specifically, sex anda sexuality). This discovery then helps addicts to slowly let go of negative feelings and emotions.

A common thread among porn addicts is that early childhood experiences made them feel embarrassed about their sexuality. Some of these early events may have also created an unexplainable appeal to sexual fantasies and scenarios. These patterns of behavior can have dangerous psychological effects later on in life. By connecting these feelings of shame and guilt with specific people in authority (parents, counselors, other adult figures), addicts can start to release those negative feelings and associations. Alleviating this shame and guilt can also reduce the pull and control that these thoughts have on the addict’s behavior.

Types of Therapy: Individual vs. Group

Above are the most common and effective therapy treatments available, but where and how can you gain access to them? There are a variety of settings for porn addiction therapy and recovery from support groups to individual therapy and online resources like the Stop Together program.

Here is what porn addiction therapy might look like for you.

Individual Therapy

If you’re looking for one-on-one attention, individual therapy might be right for you. This is a common choice among addicts that aren’t ready to share their addiction with friends and family or aren’t comfortable opening up in front of a group.

This type of therapy for porn addiction generally occurs inside of a therapist’s office. Social workers, licensed counselors, and psychologists can all provide individual therapy services. These sessions are usually 60-minutes. You may see your therapist 1 to 2 times per week, depending on your need and their availability. The goal of individual therapy is to address whatever is on your mind, including what your triggers are, how to avoid them, and the possible causes for your addiction. The therapist will also offer tools for how to resist sexual urges.

Couples Therapy

Sadly, the person most affected by porn addiction (aside from you) is your partner and loved ones. Porn and sex addiction can destroy relationships and marriages. Feelings of distrust, shame, and resent can all lead to lack of intimacy and even divorce in some cases. Couples therapy helps address all of these issues while mending broken relationships between the addict and their partner.

Many counselors and psychologists that offer individual therapy sessions also treat couples. Using a mix of structural therapy and family therapy, therapists work to highlight family dynamics and unwritten rules about what drives most functional problems in couples.

Group Therapy

There’s power in numbers, which is why group therapy is another popular option for porn addicts who thrive from sharing their experience with others. Group therapy offers a unique feeling of belonging where all members are battling similar demons. This sense of unity helps porn addicts feel less isolated and ashamed. They can more easily overcome feelings of guilt and embarrassment after hearing other people’s stories and struggles, as well as sharing their own.

Most group therapy sessions are also referred to as support groups. These meetings are held in a non-intimidating location like a church, conference room, or other private location. Oftentimes, a counselor or therapist will facilitate the sessions with questions and activities, while other sessions are driven by the participants.

Online Therapy

Are you seeking the community feel of group counseling but the anonymity of individual therapy? Online therapy programs offer both of these benefits to those struggling to overcome porn addiction.

The Stop Together program is an all-inclusive online therapy program that provides tools, resources, and activities so participants can take control of their lives and overcome their addiction once and for all. By chatting with other addicts, you get the same sense of community offered by support groups. Individualized programs and the ability to cater the healing process to your needs is similar to the one-on-one attention addicts receive through individual therapy. The Stop Together program is truly the best of both worlds and allows you continued access to the exercises and resources needed to prevent future relapse.

Residential Therapy Programs

For some porn addicts, outpatient therapy simply isn’t enough. Residential or inpatient therapy programs are the best option for addicts who have struggled with addiction in the past, relapsed, or have tried other therapy programs with no success.

Residential therapy programs are more structured and provide 24/7 counseling services and support. You can also choose the duration of your stay from a few weeks to a month or longer, depending on the severity of your addiction. Staff at these facilities usually include counselors, nurses, and medical professionals.

Learn How to Treat Porn Addiction with Therapy and Reclaim Your Life

Therapy isn’t just reserved for major mental health disorders. Different types of therapy can offer many benefits to those struggling with porn addiction.

From individual therapy to group and online programs, the type of therapy you use is a very personal decision. Here, you’ve learned about the different methods and scientific research that proves how effective treatments like CBT, ACT, and DBT are in treating porn addiction.

Are you ready to embrace change right now? You’re only one click away. The Stop Together program is ready and waiting to help you begin the healing process today.