Taking the next step – professional help

One common theme amongst most people who have made significant progress in their porn addiction recovery, especially from those who have beaten it, is that they have all had professional help.

So acknowledging that self-help, while beneficial, was not delivering the results for me that I wanted, I contacted a professional sex/porn addiction psycho-therapist, and today had my first Skype conversation/assessment with them.

It was really interesting and I’m really glad I did it. I will almost certainly join a group therapy session of some kind off the back of this.

Here are some of the most interesting ideas that I took away from the call:

  • There are (at least) two elements to the beating of porn addiction (“think” and “do” I made up just for the sake of articulation):
    • THINK – Exploring your background and childhood to understand why you look at porn. It is unlikely to just be “because porn is addictive”. You may be using porn as a means of dealing with something subconscious, a past trauma, or in my case (maybe) a means of escaping from responsibilities and a relic of childhood rebellion from a prolonged period of living under a tight regime of authority.
    • DO – Practical methods to stop – Having understood why the individual is using porn, understand their personal triggers and put in place the tools to break the addictive cycle, as well as finding new things in your life that compensate and help the brain adjust.
  • Self-help methods (blogging, tweeting, online porn gurus etc) are all useful, but they only operate at a generic level. Without in-depth knowledge and assessment of an individual’s specific background and circumstances, it is impossible for online resources to truly get to the bottom of why you look at porn, and so they can only (partially) help at the DO phase – helping you quit using porn, but even then they can’t apply tools tailored to your own personal triggers and situation.
  • Actually quitting using porn is almost pointless if you don’t simultaneously understand the THINK phase – why you are using porn. If you don’t understand this, you’ll simply find something else to satisfy whatever it is that was driving you to porn.
  • You can’t put fixes in place for things you aren’t aware of. Hence the need to uncover all the sub-conscious goings-on that are making you use porn, in order to remedy them.
  • Your addiction might not have anything to do with porn! Porn is an addictive entity just like many others, and you may simply have found porn at the right time to fill whatever psychological issue was developing inside you at the time. This is very apparent with me as I used to use cannabis in almost exactly the same way as I did porn – as a means of escaping from responsibilities. I’ve just fortunately managed to have controlled that addiction by avoiding it, which is impossible to do with porn.
  • Triggers are more than just stimulating images. Triggers can be moods, experiences or other influences in your life that may push you towards addictive behaviours. You won’t fully understand these triggers until you fully understand why you are addicted to porn.

I think I was lucky in my first session in that the counsellor, within about 15 minutes, had honed in on a part of my childhood that had probably triggered the porn addiction process. I’m not going to go into detail as it was only an initial chat and I don’t want to jump to premature conclusions, but it really highlighted the importance of allowing someone to delve into your past and your present on a personal basis, rather than just approaching porn addiction in a generic ‘let’s try and quit porn, regardless of why you are using it’ way.

All I can say is, if you are really serious about quitting porn, you should talk to a professional. They work with people like you every day and can recognise things in you that you probably don’t even know yourself, and they can help.

It is not nearly as daunting as it seems.

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