When I have my first appointment with a new client I’m usually a bit anxious, because I’m not sure what to expect. You don’t know whether a client is going to be sobbing, angry, defensive or filled with shame. Even though I’ve been a sex and porn addiction therapist for 25 years, I still worry whether or not I’m going to be competent enough to help them with their problem.
I work with what is a growing issue: there’s a huge social stigma that stops addicts coming out in public. I feel a lot of compassion for them and want to do whatever I can to make them feel more comfortable and confident in talking to me.
At some point, mainstream porn stopped giving addicts the same sort of arousal, so they escalate to more hardcore fetish stuff, and then won’t have sex with their partner unless they’re acting out a fantasy. Porn sites offer variety and novelty, which their partners just can’t compete with. I sometimes find I’m performing a balancing act between providing a service that’s beneficial to the client, and then feeling awkward when asking them to pay me at the end of the session.
Managing my own internal responses includes huge sadness at their loss, anger at the injustices that often lead to addiction, and frustration at society for not being more understanding. Recently, one client put it really succinctly: “I know most guys look at porn and I’ve not got an issue with that, but I’m a wanker. And no one wants to be a wanker.”