A sex or fetish addiction can be compulsive and all-consuming. It can take over your life. Are your preoccupations with sex or fetishes preventing you from having healthy relationships with authentic intimacy? Do your obsessions result in feelings of loneliness, sadness, shame or depression? Are you being deceitful and dishonest with your partner and yourself?
There are different ways to approach sexual addictions and fetishes. A qualified counsellor or psychotherapist can also use tailored counselling to help prevent recovered sex addicts from experiencing relapses.
What is a sex addict?
A person who compulsively thinks about, seeks out and engages in sexual activity to an unusual extent. Sex addicts often use sex as an avoidance strategy, paradoxically, to ward off closeness and intimacy by turning sex into an act devoid of emotion, depth or lasting connection. As with other forms of addiction, sex addicts can be driven to pursue increasing levels of sexual excess over time as their cravings become harder to satisfy, leading to risky behaviour and more problems with relationships, work or even the law. A sex addiction is less specific than a fetish, which is always precise, and may also be covering up anxiety connected with intimate relationships.
Fetishes and fetish addiction
A fetish is a strong reliance on a particular object, body part or aesthetic for sexual arousal and gratification. Not all sex addicts have fetishes, and not all fetishes are problematic. Your fetish, if you indeed have one, is unique to you. Even if your special predilection is common — whether it be boots, leather, rubber, feet, plush toys or any of a myriad of other possibilities — the function and meaning of the fetish object will be particular to you. Like a phobia, a fetish may have arisen over the course of a person’s development to solve a deeper problem, by fixating energy into a specific object to displace pain or satisfy unmet needs.
Your fetishistic fantasies may be a harmless and contained element of a healthy sex life. But if your fetish is edging more into the territory of compulsion and addiction, or if it’s starting to adversely affect your relationships, it might be time to seek help.
Where to draw the line
How do you know if your preoccupation with sex or fetishes has become an addiction? Seeking advice in a confidential counselling session can be helpful to assess the extent of the problem. However, sexually obsessive behaviour generally has observable ripple effects:
- Guilt about the addiction
- Lying or keeping secrets
- Loss of control
- Feeling depressed
- Anxiety or irritability when you can’t satisfy urges or cravings
- Urges to act irresponsibly, break the law or betray your own moral principles in order to satisfy compulsions
- Neglecting relationships, work, finances and other commitments in favour of indulging in the addiction
What are the options
In either scenario, a judgemental approach premised on an idea of ‘normal’ sexuality is only likely to lead to more shame and repression. Traditional treatment models for sex or fetish addictions regard them as “diseases,” rather than symptoms of a deeper cause. Failing to acknowledge sex or fetish addiction as the manifestation of a set of internal problems specific to the individual erases the uniqueness of the person who is experiencing them. Neglecting the underlying causes of any addiction or problematic behaviour makes it much more likely that relapse will occur.
Depth psychotherapy takes a more comprehensive approach, situating the addiction within a person’s history and aiming to create change by mapping out the purpose it served within the individual’s psyche. Analysis of the development of the compulsion — the triggers, patterns and aftermath — and counselling on diversion strategies, may help sufferers gain control of their urges so that they can work on re-establishing a safe and satisfying sex life.
The therapists at Bayside Psychotherapy have broad training and experience in treatment methods including NLP, hypnotherapy, Buddhist psychotherapy, dream interpretation, mindfulness therapy and counselling. You can choose either online or-face to-face appointments depending on what is more comfortable and convenient.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your treatment shouldn’t be premised on an idea of ‘normal’ because that may lead to more shame and suppression.
Traditional treatment models regard addictions as ‘diseases’ rather than symptoms of a deeper problem. This may overlook the uniqueness of the person.
Depth psychotherapy takes a more comprehensive approach, situating the addiction within a person’s history and aiming to create change by mapping out the purpose it serves within the individual’s psyche. Analysis of the development of the compulsion — the triggers, patterns and aftermath — and counselling on diversion strategies may help you gain control of your urges so you can work on re-establishing a safe and satisfying sex life
Our therapists each have different approaches. Depending on the therapist you choose, they may use one of a variety of treatment modalities to endeavour to help you uncover the hidden causes of your sex addiction (e.g., cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), hypnotherapy, Buddhist psychotherapy, dream interpretation, mindfulness therapy or counselling).
You can choose either online or face-to-face appointments depending on what is more comfortable and convenient.
No two courses of treatment are the same, so the duration of your treatment will depend on you and on the progress you make with your psychotherapist.
We aim to unearth and resolve the root cause rather than merely offering band-aid fixes. Once you take the first step to address your obsessions, it’s crucial to stay committed to the therapy process over time, with realistic expectations.
We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, we’ll recommend the therapist and the treatment modality best suited to your condition and tailor your treatment to your needs and progress.
Some people also choose to complement their sessions with a self-hypnosis mp3.
Yes, we operate within a non-judgemental space and are bound to respect all clients’ privacy. However, there is one cautionary note: As indicated elsewhere on this site, in instances involving serious risk to yourself or others or criminal sexual abuse or assault (as defined by relevant legislation), our team, as mandatory reporters, are legally obligated to break confidentiality. In all other situations, we naturally prioritise privacy and privacy so that you can speak freely and openly during therapy sessions.
Call us on (03) 9557 9113 or use our contact form to enquire, or book now if you are ready.
Note Whilst we will do our best to assist you, we rely on our clients’ full commitment to and participation in the treatment process to optimise results. Although some of our therapists work with people presenting with this condition, no guarantees of any outcomes can be made.
Reception phone hours
8:30am – 5:30am
Monday – Friday
(closed on public holidays)
Choose your own date and time for an online or in-clinic session
- Monday 8:00am to 8:00pm
- Tuesday 8:30am to 8:00pm
- Wednesday 8:30am to 8:00pm
- Thursday 8:30am to 8:00pm
- Friday 8:30am to 8:00pm
- Saturday 8:00am to 6:00pm