Psychotherapy & Couples Counseling When Pornography Is An Issue

The explosion of internet porn use has brought a new set of issues into practically every therapist’s office.

Porn consumers want our help with:

  • “I’m afraid my porn use is out of control. Maybe I’m a porn addict.”
  • “My partner demands I stop looking at porn.”
  • “I hate having to keep secrets from my partner.”
  • “I’m feeling bad about my body or my partner’s body.”
  • “I’m uncomfortable with the images I enjoy watching.”
  • “I feel sexually inadequate.”

The partners of porn consumers want our help with:

  • “I’m afraid his porn use is out of control. Maybe he’s a porn addict.”
  • “I don’t want my partner looking at porn, but he insists.”
  • “I don’t feel I can compete with the images in porn.”
  • “Our sex life isn’t satisfying, and my partner doesn’t seem to care.”
  • “My partner wants sexual activities I don’t want.”
  • “I feel left out of his secret life.”
  • “I’m afraid his porn watching will affect the kids.”

Most therapy is skeptical of porn use, while legitimizing the grievances of the porn consumer’s partner. With issues like privacy, trust, autonomy, and the definitions of sex and fidelity at issue, it can be difficult for therapists to hold both partners while they struggle to define their behavior, contract, and emotions.

This workshop explores a different approach, focusing on treating intrapsychic conflicts and power struggles over porn use. We will discuss the typical feelings and beliefs that often arise, such as jealousy, betrayal, body image, religious values, and what’s “permitted” at home. We’ll explore questions that can shed light on underlying relational issues, including:

  • Is porn use a form of infidelity?
  • Is conflict about pornography a way to avoid confronting deficits in the sexual (or non-sexual) relationship?
  • Are one or both partners acting out body image issues?
  • Why is “porn addiction” not a helpful clinical concept?

We’ll also look at common countertransference experiences. You will gain a deeper understanding of the context of pornography use, and strategies for treating the real issues typically involved.

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