Lauren in NY Daily News on Tiger Woods sex addiction treatment

Read this article by Rosemary Black on New York Daily News. Overcoming sex addiction is frequently a long, painful struggle that can detour into relapse and not infrequently end with the implosion of a marriage, experts say.

In Tiger Woods’ case, the fact that he has signed in to intensive inpatient therapy means he’s committed to getting better, but the healing process won’t be anywhere close to finished by the time he leaves the Mississippi facility where he’s reportedly staying.

Inpatient sex addiction rehab, says Leslie Seppinni, Ph. D., is often an intense several weeks or months during which the person tries to learn alternative strategies for dealing with stress through therapy and journaling.

“It can be incredibly helpful and life-changing,” Seppinni says. “When you are dealing with the fallout from your behavior, intensive inpatient therapy can help you get the coaching strategies you need so you can go back into the world, having gotten to the core of some of your emotional problems.”

Outpatient treatment is still needed, she says, and relapse is common.

“There is a high percentage of people who relapse,” Seppinni says. “Every once in a while, the addiction rears its ugly head again. People expect some relapse.”

Some experts question whether sex addiction is even a real disorder, and it may not be listed in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s widely-used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Sex addiction is real, but Tiger Woods doesn’t have it, according to Danine Manette, author of “Ultimate Betrayal: Recognizing, Uncovering and Dealing with Infidelity.”

“Tiger Woods is no different from Alex Rodriguez, Tom Brady or any other professional rich man who surrounds himself with unlimited women,” she says. “It’s horrible because he’s married and is now violating the commitment that he made to his wife. But it’s not sex addiction.”

True sex addicts experience personality changes, are unable to function in the outside world and may substitute pornography for contact with real people, she says. Intensive inpatient therapy may be appropriate for them, Manette says.

“But people like Tiger Woods go into treatment because they believe that if they show they are working on something, people will be willing to reinvest in them,” she says. “The reality is that Tiger has no self control.”

Still, proponents of sex addiction therapy say it can work - if it targets the person’s underlying issues and doesn’t focus on the addiction as a sickness that was present all along.

An addict always seeks relief from emotional pain, explains relationship expert Lauren Mackler, and if the treatment plan doesn’t include ways for the client to cope with that pain, it will be ineffective.

One of Mackler’s clients had been a sex addict for 11 years, she said, and had bought into the idea that “he was what he was,” she says. He felt that the best way he could manage his addiction was to have online sex rather than an actual sexual relationship, and had tried one therapy group after another.

He had not ever tried dealing with his emotional burden, which included a critical and demanding father, Mackler said. When he was able to work through childhood issues, that helped with his sexual issues.

Treatment for sex addiction, Mackler says, is usually sought by a person only when he is caught.

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