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Elevating Sex Addiction Treatment: An Interview with Bill Herrin

Today I have virtual gold to share with all of you. Bill Herring is a clinical social worker who has established his own practice in Atlanta providing both general psychotherapy and specialized noncriminal problematic sexual behavior treatment. He’s on the board of The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health, editorial board member for the Journal of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity. Bill contributed to a recent book about the history of the field of sex addiction, and last, but not least. he played a key role in creating a training model to teach mental health professionals how to treat chronic, problematic sexual addictions and behaviors. I have an exclusive interview with Bill that I’m excited to share with you, so get ready for some life changing information.

Bill and I were lecturers together for the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health; in particular, we discussed the way the media treats sex addiction and that’s how we met.

Bill and I talked about his recent invention of a framework to categorize the chronically problematic behaviors that we see all the time. Bill has been passionate about defining these issues for a long time. Bill and I have worked with so many who have felt out of control and that their sexual behavior is leading them to break down their commitments, value systems and sexual responsibility as well as enjoyment. As Bill said, chronic sexual behavior problems create incredible devastation for these sufferers and for their families.

One of the challenges to advocacy and healing for patients with problematic sexual behaviors is that if they aren’t losing control of their lives in some way, they don’t have access to some of the best services that could help them. Sex addiction is cousin of other addictions which are entwined with self-control. However, my personal opinion is that problematic sexual behaviors that look the same do not always represent the same levels of individual self-control.

Let me put it this way, sometimes people do things just because they’re having fun and not thinking about what they’re doing; things go wrong in their lives and they inevitably have to ask themselves whether they’re in control or if something else has taken over their will power? If you’re in or have been in that place you ask yourself, am I doing this because I want to or is another force taking over my ability to choose?

For the many who say, “no, I’ve lost control. I tried to fix it and manage this thing by myself, but I can’t.” This is an example of textbook unmanageability. But then there are others… other people who have made the same choices but in the end it comes down to simply poor decision making that they were in control of.

What happens to those that don’t fit the mold of a person needing addiction recovery? In my experience, some of them end up fibbing a bit and saying they feel out of control so they can attend 12-Step meetings. I know many of you are nodding your heads when I say that a 12-Step program would be beneficial for a person who isn’t an addict but is struggling with life choices. I think every living and breathing human being can benefit from the principles taught in 12-Step models.

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