Trauma therapy is easy to understand as an important part of therapy for partners of sex addicts. After having experienced the discovery of a sexual acting out, symptoms of trauma tend to remain for some time for partners. However, trauma therapy is not as easily understood as an important part of treatment for sex addicts themselves. The focus of managing your sexual behavior takes center stage early in recovery, and can hold its place there throughout therapy. This is how sex addiction therapy should work, yet in the background, there is trauma that is often coming from two directions, which can go ignored. This background has to be brought to the center stage, so that it can first be recognized, and then addressed, for the best probable long-term outcome.
Behind the double-life, sexual acting out, and intimacy issues, there is often trauma, yet it’s often not easily recognizable. When we think of trauma, we tend to think of single, major events. Although some sex addicts did have a single event that occurred, such as a sexual assault, many of them also had issues with neglect, poor familial boundaries, shaming households, and bullying. These are just a few on an very long list of types of trauma that are often down-played, ignored, or compartmentalized.
When in the addiction, many times, people are struggling with reactivity. They have a long history of coping mechanisms that they have utilized to protect themselves. These very things that used to protect them, end up wreaking havoc in their present day lives. Trauma therapy can untangle these reactive lessons that get stored inside. As a result, addicts can learn true intimacy and connection.
As sex addiction counseling progresses, and sex addicts start to heal and open themselves up to the emotions that they’re experiencing, they can see some painful parts of what has happened. They better recognize how they feel. They remember the pain. They’re coping with shame. Some of this can be traumatic.
With many of my clients, we have to work on dealing with the trauma of what has happened. There are many ways that people can work on trauma in their therapy, however, there are two that are very well respected. EMDR and Somatic Experiencing both can help people process and move through the emotion, meaning, and stuck points of their trauma. Although they are different, they both use our own natural ways of healing through traumatic experiences.
Although trauma can be something that is difficult to address and accept, it is an integral part of long-term healing. By allowing this type of healing to take place, you’ll be better equipped to handle difficult situations in your life and relationships.