• Therapy for Sex Addiction/Out of Control Sexual Behaviour

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    What is Sex Addiction or Out of Control Sexual Behaviour?

    Out of control sexual behaviour, often referred to as sex addiction, pornography addiction, or hypersexuality, involves a persistent preoccupation with and engagement in sexual activities.

    It’s important to note that the term “sex addiction” is not recognized as a diagnosis in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. For this reason, we refer to all behaviours associated with the terms “sex addiction” or “pornography addiction” as “out of control sexual behaviours”. 

    Those experiencing out of control sexual behaviour engage in sexual activities to an extent that is distressing to them, interferes with their daily functioning, and negatively impacts various areas of their life.

    Like many problematic behavioural patterns, out of control sexual behaviour, often develops in response to underlying emotional or psychological challenges. It is a way of coping and never due to a personal failing

    For individuals struggling with out of control sexual behaviour, sexual thoughts, desires, or actions can become the primary way of managing emotional distress, stress, or feelings of emptiness. These behaviors are often repetitive and driven by a compelling urge that is difficult to resist. 

    Symptoms of Out of Control Sexual Behaviour

    Out of control sexual behaviour varies greatly from person to person and involves a variety of symptoms that interfere with an individuals daily life and well-being. It’s important to note that these symptoms can vary in intensity and duration, and not everyone who exhibits some of these behaviors necessarily has a problem. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms to a degree that it is negatively affecting their life, it is important to connect with a mental health processional who has expertise in this area. 

    Preoccupation with Sexual Thoughts

    Intrusive and persistent thoughts about sex or engaging in sexual fantasies, which interfere with daily activities.

    Compulsive Use of Masturbation

    Masturbation itself is a healthy sexual activity. Masturbation is only considered to be an element of our of control sexual behaviour when it is:

    • compulsive
    • ritualistic 
    • excessive
    • difficult to stop
    • difficult to control
    • interferes with daily life

    Compulsive Use of Pornography

    Preoccupation with sexual content can result in excessive consumption of pornography. Individuals may experience intrusive urges to engage with pornographic material, difficulty stopping or reducing their consumption, and an escalation in the frequency, duration, and content of engagement with pornographic materials which interferes with daily life and relationships.

    Feeling out of Control

    Repeatedly engaging in sexual activities despite efforts to stop or reduce them. There is often a sense of loss of control over one’s thoughts and behaviours.

    Neglecting Responsibilities

    Neglecting work, social, or family responsibilities in favor of sexual activities. 

    Risky Sex

    When sex is approached with a lack of consideration for personal safety, health, and well-being (eg. unclear consent, unprotected sex, public exposure) it can lead to legal issues, health problems, and cause problems in different aspects of an individual’s life.

    Loss of Interest in Non-Sexual Activities

    Decreased interest or engagement with activities that are not related to sex.

    Strained or Ruptured Relationships

    Excessive sexual behaviour can lead to infidelity, loss of trust, and reduced emotional intimacy, making it difficult to maintain stable relationships.

    Emotional Distress

    Individuals experiencing out of control sexual behaviour often report emotional distress including feelings of shame, guilt, fear, hopelessness and anger related to their sexual behaviour.

    Decreased Self-Esteem

    Healthy, consensual, and values driven sex has the ability to boost our confidence and self-esteem and self-worth. Our of control sexual behaviour does the opposite, leading to reductions in self-esteem and increased self-loathing.

    Sex with Multiple Partners

    Having sex with multiple partners itself can be a healthy form of sexual expression. Sex with multiple partners is only considered to be out of control sexual behaviour when it is associated with negative consequences, relationship problems, and potential health risks. 


    Increasing the frequency or intensity of sexual behaviors over time, such as the need for more extreme or risky sexual activities.

    Legal and Financial Problems

    Engaging in illegal sexual activities, such as prostitution or exhibitionism, which can lead to legal issues. Also, spending excessive amounts of money on sexual activities such as subscription platforms, sex work, sex toys, which can lead to financial problems.

    It’s essential to recognize that out-of-control sexual behavior can have a profound impact on an individual’s life, causing emotional, psychological, and social issues. 

    If you or someone you know is struggling with these symptoms, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional, therapist, or counselor who specializes in sexual addiction or out of control sexual behavior. They can provide guidance and support in managing and addressing these issues.

    Our team has specialized training and experience treating out of control sexual behaviour. 

    Reach out for a free 15-minute consultation to learn how we can help.

    Potential Causes of Out of Control Sexual Behaviour

    Out of control sexual behaviour is a complex issue with multifaceted causes, which may include:

    Psychological Factors

    Out of control sexual behaviour can be associated with underlying mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or trauma.

    Trauma or Abuse

    Trauma, which can encompass a wide range of distressing experiences, can influence an individual’s relationship with their sexuality and contribute to the development of out of control sexual behaviour. Some related pathways involve:

    Coping Mechanism

    For some individuals who have experienced trauma, out of control sexual behaviour may serve as a coping mechanism. Engaging in sexual behaviors can temporarily relieve emotional pain, distract from distressing memories, and provide comfort and a sense of control. For example, sex or sexual fantasies can become a way to self-soothe or escape from the emotional turmoil associated with traumatic experiences.

    Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

    Trauma can significantly impact an individual’s self-esteem and self-worth. Out of control sexual behaviour may provide a fleeting sense of validation, acceptance, or worthiness that trauma survivors may struggle to find elsewhere. This can lead to a cycle of seeking sexual experiences as a means of bolstering self-esteem.

    Reenactment of Trauma

    In some cases, individuals with a history of trauma may reenact their traumatic experiences or themes in their sexual behaviors. This is a complex and distressing aspect of out of control sexual behaviour, where the person unconsciously repeats or recreates aspects of their trauma in their sexual encounters. This can be an attempt to gain a sense of control or mastery over the traumatic event(s).

    Attachment and Intimacy Issues

    Trauma can disrupt a person’s ability to form secure attachments and engage in healthy intimate relationships. As a result, individuals with a history of trauma may struggle to establish emotionally fulfilling connections with others and may turn to sexual behaviour as a substitute for genuine emotional intimacy.

    Neurobiological Factors

    Some individuals may have brain chemistry imbalances that make them more susceptible to compulsive behaviors. This may include dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex, dysregulation in hormones, and imbalances in neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.

    Environmental and Societal Factors

    Social and cultural influences can shape one’s relationship with sex and lead to out of control sexual behavior. These may include a variety of cultural norms and expectations surrounding sex and relationships, sexualization in the media, accessibility of pornography, peer influence, childhood and early life experiences, availability of partners, and economic factors.

    Stress and Coping Mechanisms

    Out of control sexual behaviour can be a way of coping with life’s stressors and challenges. Sexual behaviour can impact the release of endorphins (nature’s pain killers) and increase the release of dopamine in the brain which are associated with stress relief and pleasure. Overtime, more is needed to achieve the same results.

    You do not have to suffer in silence. 

    Contact us for a free 15-minute consultation to learn how we can help.

    How Can Sex Therapy/Psychotherapy Help?

    Sex therapy, a form of psychotherapy that addresses sexual functioning, is a crucial tool in the journey to regain control over sexual behaviour. At New Moon Psychotherapy, our trained therapists create a safe, judgment-free, and confidential environment for you to share your experiences, get to the root of your problem, and work towards a healthier, more fulfilling relationship with your sexuality. 

    Here’s what you can expect during sex therapy for out of control sexual behaviour:

    Identifying Triggers and Underlying Issues

    A therapist will work with you to uncover underlying causes and triggers to out of control sexual behaviour. This means that you will explore many aspects of your life that may be seemingly disconnected from sex such as emotional coping, childhood and other life experiences, relationship history, as well as mental and physical health history. This exploration will not only help you better understand yourself, it will help the therapist determine a treatment plan that will be most suitable to you. 

    Developing Coping Strategies

    If your struggle with out of control sexual behaviour is determined to be at least partially serving you as a coping strategy, you will have the opportunity to learn and practice other strategies to cope with stress, anxiety and difficult emotions in ways that are aligned with your values. 

    Rebuilding Relationships

    It is not uncommon for individuals struggling with out of control sexual behaviour to report strained relationships with loved ones, particularly their partners or significant others. A part of therapy may involve repairing those relationships including rebuilding trust, improving communication, and enhancing intimacy and connection. It may be beneficial to include your partner in this process, though it is not necessary. 

    Setting Boundaries

    Any out of control behaviours often tarnish boundaries with self and others. Revisiting your values and learning to set an respect personal and external values will help you regain control over one’s behaviour. 

    Sex Education

    Sex education plays a valuable role in the treatment of out of control sexual behavior by providing individuals with the knowledge, understanding, and tools necessary to make informed and healthier decisions regarding their sexuality. Here are some ways in which sex education is used in the treatment of out of control sexual behaviour:

    Information and Awareness

    Most adults have not received comprehensive and accurate information about healthy sexual functioning, pornography, consent, boundaries, and communication. Sex education provides a foundation for understanding the complexities of human sexuality, dispels myths, reduces shame, and destigmatizes sexual behaviour.

    Understanding Healthy Sexuality

    Sex education helps individuals differentiate between consensual, healthy sexual activity and problematic or compulsive behaviors. It provides a framework for recognizing what constitutes healthy sexual expression, thereby helping individuals identify areas where they may be engaging in unhealthy behaviors. 

    You may be surprised to learn that many individuals who seek out therapy for out of control sexual behaviour are engaging in consensual and healthy sexual activity but have been conditioned to believe that it is wrong. 

    Communication and Consent

    Effective sex education emphasizes the importance of open and honest communication about sexual desires and boundaries. This skill is crucial for individuals in treatment to communicate with partners and therapists about their struggles and needs. It also helps in establishing and respecting sexual boundaries, which is essential in rebuilding and moving from out of control sexual behaviour.

    Safe Sex Practices

    Education on safe sex practices is vital because it can reduce the risks associated with out of control sexual behaviour. At New Moon Psychotherapy, our therapists will work collaboratively with you to develop a sexual safety plan.

    Normalization and Reducing Stigma

    A key aspect of sex education is normalizing the diverse range of human sexual experiences. In sex therapy, we are taught to not yuck someone’s yum. This mindset is essential because it reduces stigma and helps all impacted feel less ashamed and willing to seek help.

    Creating a Supportive Space

    If you’ve lived with out of control sexual behaviour for a while, it is likely that you’ve thought you’re all alone, expected that no one will understand, and felt fearful that you would be ostracized if you opened up about your experience(s). Therapy offers a supportive space to establish connection, combat shame, and work towards reducing isolation. 

    A Collaborative Relationship That Emphasizes Informed Decision Making

    Sex is not the problem. It’s the way that we relate to it that can become problematic. The World Health Organization considers sexual health to be “fundamental to the overall health and well-being of individuals, couples and families, and to the social and economic development of communities and countries”. Therapist who specialize in sex therapy share that belief.

    The goal of sex therapy is not disconnection from one’s sexuality, avoidance of self-sex (masturbation) or partnered-sex, or disengagement from sexually explicit materials. The goal of sex therapy is to help you understand your sexuality, and engage with sex in a values based and positive way. The therapist will help you understand sexual heath and your own sexuality, but you get to decide how you bring that into your life. 

    Recovery from out of control sexual behaviour is a journey of self-discovery and finding healtier ways to navigate life’s challenges and the complexities of human sexuality.  Therapy provides a path forward that fosters self-acceptance and empowerment.

    You may not believe it now but change is possible! We are here to guide you on your path to healing and regaining control over sexual behavior.

    Meet our team

    Click on the photos below to learn more about the therapists who offer therapy for out of control sexual behaviour. 

    If you’re on a mobile device, swipe left or right to see all of our therapists who work in this area. 

    Ready to get started? Reach out to us today!

    Reach out to us today to schedule a free 15-minute consultation with a therapist to learn how we might be able to help.

    Call, text, or email using the information/form below. Our administrative team will answer any questions you might have and learn how we can help you. 

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    If you’re specifically interested in therapy for out of control sexual behaviour, please tell us at this time so that we can connect you with a therapist trained in it. 

    You will then be connected with a therapist for a free 15-minute consultation. 

    This is a chance for us to meet the therapist, ask questions and learn about their approach so that you can determine if they’re the right fit for you. 

    Schedule your first therapy appointment and begin your healing journey! 

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