We believe that most compulsive and problematic sexual behavior is properly classified as addiction. New York Pathways follows the addiction treatment model, which has been used since the late 1940s to successfully treat many types of addictions.
The addiction treatment model used at New York Pathways consists of five basic components:
1. Sex addiction is the primary disorder rather than a symptom of another disorder. It is easy to focus on the symptoms of sex addiction, such as trauma history, depression, anxiety, failed relationships, intense loneliness, lack of self-worth, etc., instead of the addiction itself. However, we find that when we treat the sex addiction as the primary issue, it allows us to effectively treat these secondary symptoms.
2. Sex addiction, like other addictions, is progressive. It is an involuntary condition that will get worse over time if left untreated.
3. Sex addiction is a multiphasic disorder that affects all areas of the addict’s life. Therefore, we use a broad-based treatment approach to deal with physical, mental, spiritual, family, work, and other issues the addict is facing.
4. The cornerstones of treatment for sex addiction are education, therapy, support groups, and other modalities that support free from destructive sexual behaviors.
5. Sex addiction, like all other addictions, affects the entire family system. We therefore strongly encourage individual treatment for partners and family members of the addict. In our experience, involvement of an addict’s partner is essential to solid recovery and a rebuilding of the relationship that has been devastated by the addiction.
The treatment model of New York Pathways is a holistic, three-fold approach with education, individual therapy, and group therapy intertwined throughout treatment. Because addiction affects the entire family system, we also encourage individual treatment for partners and family members of the addict as well as couples therapy. Therapeutic models vary, depending on each individual’s unique needs and goals. We utilize psychodynamic therapy and other techniques, such as Gestalt, psychodrama, and experiential approaches.
We rely in part on the work of Patrick Carnes and his task-centered methods to form the basis of our treatment of sex addiction. We also encourage attending self-help groups for sex addiction that are modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) support groups, which help members maintain sobriety on addictive and compulsive behaviors through sharing of experiences; emphasize the spiritual awakening; and honor the tradition of anonymity.
Treatment begins with a confidential assessment session of approximately 1 hour. During this time, we discuss the addictive and compulsive behaviors that are causing pain for you and your loved ones.
Our assessment involves evaluating the consequences of sex addiction on marriage, family, and other meaningful relationships; and ramifications in the work, social, spiritual, and financial realms. There are often significant and catastrophic repercussions of sex addiction such as divorce, job loss, physical injury or even criminal arrest.
The holistic, three-fold treatment philosophy of New York Pathways encompasses education, individual therapy, and group therapy.
In our education groups, we begin with creating an awareness of the addiction and continue with personalized education throughout the recovery process. The more you understand your addiction, the more you will learn to recognize triggers and avoid treacherous situations. We will provide you with recommended reading lists to further your understanding of sex addiction, and we will offer you tools that you will be able to use to support you in your recovery process.
Individual therapy is a continuous, one-on-one process. In the early stages of individual therapy, we focus on addressing your specific acting out behavior and offer you direction in slowing and stopping such behavior. As we continue our work, we will explore your own unique deeper issues, with the goal of developing a balanced life.
Group therapy provides both support and accountability among those with sex addiction and those who engage in compulsive behaviors. Sessions involve education and discussions of traumatic events as well as confrontations regarding denial, delusions, and inappropriate behaviors. It has been our experience that most clients find group therapy to greatly assist in freeing them from secrecy and shame.
We also offer individual and group therapy for partners and family members of those who suffer from sex addiction, as we have found that partners and family members can benefit tremendously from such treatment themselves. Often partners are deeply affected by the addiction and develop a strong desire to control their loved one in the hope of stopping the behavior or “curing” the addict. They may become obsessive about uncovering evidence of the addiction or preventing behaviors. We will work to help partners and family members reclaim their lives from codependency and participate in healthy relationships.
Couples therapy encourages exploration of issues which impact intimacy and sexual well-being. Building skills for cultivating and sustaining healthy, loving, and mutually satisfying relationships are emphasized in couples therapy.
The goal of discernment counseling is to assist you in gaining greater clarity and confidence in your decision making while working through the structural and emotional damage to your relationship. The immediate decision is framed not as whether to stay together or divorce but whether to continue moving towards divorce or committing to a six month effort to restore your marriage, with divorce off the table for that time period.
We believe that many problematic out-of-control sexual behaviors are rightly classified as an addictive disorder. As such, we follow the addiction treatment model formulated in the 1940s and 1950s for the treatment of alcoholism and chemical dependency. We have seen much success with this model of treatment for what we call “sex addiction.”
Prior to the 1930s, there was no real treatment for problem drinking. Alcoholism was considered a moral failing, and alcoholics were “bad” people. As such, those who were lucky enough to receive any treatment, were housed in psychiatric hospitals with the mentally ill. Most alcoholics never received any type of treatment while their disease progressed and more often than not resulted in homelessness and death.
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 and within a few years began to grow in popularity. Early alcohol “treatment” centers started popping up in the late 1940s when recovering alcoholics realized that there was a need for a higher level of care for some alcoholics, who were still not being routinely treated in hospitals or in the medical community.
One such early “treatment” facility was Pioneer House in Minnesota, which was run by a recovering alcoholic named Patrick Cronin. Pioneer House was a place where alcoholics could stay for a period of time, go to on-site AA meetings, engage in fellowship with other recovering alcoholics, and hear lectures about alcoholism. Alcoholics could also go to Pioneer House to “detox” – although the methods were very primitive and not medically supervised.
Around the same time, also in Minnesota, Hazelden was founded on similar principles as Pioneer House. One of the main differences was that Hazelden was in a more comfortable setting and catered to the “business class.” Both Pioneer House and Hazelden relied heavily upon the AA principles and the 12-Steps. The number one focus was on abstaining from alcohol.
Meanwhile, a psychiatrist named Nelson Bradley and a psychologist named Dan Anderson, who worked at a psychiatric hospital in Minnesota known as Willmar, began to come up with some “radical” ways of treating alcoholics who were housed at the facility together with the mentally ill patients. Bradley and Anderson separated the alcoholics from the mentally ill and developed a medical treatment approach to alcoholism that was, at the time, very much out of the mainstream modalities – although today, the treatment developed by Bradley and Anderson is widely accepted.
The Willmar model focused on every aspect of the patient’s life. The theory was to try to view every part of the patient’s day as a therapeutic experience. Doctors took off their white coats and stethoscopes and became “equal” to the patients. Treatment teams were formed – consisting of doctors, psychologists, nurses, clergy, social workers, and lay counselors – and each treatment team would consult to come up with a treatment plan customized to each patient’s needs. The patients also became part of their treatment team and actively participated in the development of their own treatment plans. There was focus on nutrition, physical health/fitness, and work. It became more patient-centric than the previous approach of stringent rules.