Compulsive Sexual Behavior Therapy in Calgary

Hypersexuality Treatment & Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Therapy in Calgary

Some people feel their sexual issues have progressed to the point that they need more intensive support, like residential treatment and/or intensive outpatient programs. Many people begin and continue their journey with individual therapy for ongoing recovery, even if they participate in more intensive programs along the way.
Two people sitting on chairs across from one another.
Sana Psychological is here to support you, whether you are new to recovery or are looking for support to help you maintain your recovery progress. Paige Abbott, Registered Psychologist at Sana Psychological, has been working with those struggling with Hypersexuality, Sexual Anorexia, and sexual compulsions as a standalone condition as well as a symptom in combination with other compulsive issues, like substance abuse, for over a decade.

What Is Hypersexuality?

Hypersexuality, or compulsive sexual behaviour, is when somebody has an excessive preoccupation with behaviours, thoughts, or feelings that become difficult or impossible to manage and which have significant and negative consequences to the person’s life and overall wellbeing. The focus is less on the behaviour(s) themselves so as not to pathologize sexual behaviour, which is a natural part of human nature, but rather about the frequency, manageability, and negative consequences it has in a person’s life. When behaviours (whether that is sex with self, online pornography, and/or sex with others), thoughts (fantasies, planning, general preoccupation), and/or feelings (shame, guilt, regret, craving) become a main focus in life and are difficult to moderate, this is an indicator of compulsive sexual behaviour. Treatment from a healthcare provider can help improve outcomes with behaviour, relationships, and self-esteem. (Mayo Clinic).

Woman laying in bed with her palm on her head.
Man sitting in chair with his palm on his head.

Sex is a natural part of healthy and stable relationships and human behaviour. In health, sex is a way for people to express love, connection, care, and vulnerability with one another. Maintaining healthy sexual activities feels rejuvenating, restorative, and intimate. Unfortunately, sometimes the unhealthy part of our brain looking for feel-good neurotransmitters, like dopamine, can take over, and people may start to notice that a once healthy relationship with sex starts to look unhealthy.

An unhealthy relationship with sex may involve infidelity, pornography use that feels excessive or violating of your typical preferences and values, and acting out with strangers, escorts, or people that are not normally your attraction (same-sex, opposite sex, minors, etc.) Your relationship with sex may not have progressed to these levels yet, but you are starting to feel that it is not the healthy act it once was. Whether it is a feeling or behavioural evidence that something has gone awry, compulsive sexual behaviour counselling can help.

Hypersexuality as a Symptom of a Disorder

Compulsive sexual behaviour is not a choice. It is important for you to remember that you did not choose what is happening to you right now. A struggle with sex does not define your personality or represent who you are. It is a symptom and medical condition for which it is important to seek treatment. That is where therapy can help.
Person sitting on couch talking to a therapist.

Common Characteristics of Hypersexuality

It can be difficult to sort out what exactly is going on in one’s relationship with sex and love and how unhealthy or problematic it has become. This is not something that you have to figure out on your own. Remember, you are not a trained mental health professional with experience making such diagnoses and even if you are, doing so with yourself or in your personal life is much different than doing it with others. Let Sana Psychological help you determine where things are at and provide recommendations accordingly.
This is an informal checklist to help you get a general idea of the extent of your or your loved one’s challenges with sex, love, and related issues. Read through the following list and answer whether the statement applies to you or not.
Within the past 3 months, have you experienced any of the following with your relationship with sex and love:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it would be a good time to start exploring sexual compulsivity counselling. These symptoms tend to appear as issues with sex and love behaviours progress. Typically, these symptoms indicate a condition that has escalated in quantity, frequency, and had a progressive impact on your life over time. These symptoms rarely present themselves when people have a healthy relationship with sex and love.
Person writing on paper.

Causes of Hypersexual Disorder

These compulsive sexual behaviours are caused by a complex integration of biological and environmental factors. Current research suggests that 40-60% of problem behaviour vulnerability is due to genetics (NIDA). While this research applies to drug use, it is thought to be applicable to other manifestations as well. This leaves 40-60% due to environmental factors like attachment, family of origin influences, trauma, abuse, sexual abuse, adverse childhood events (ACE’s), behavioural exposure, and other factors that the individual experiences which contribute to the activation and manifestation of problems in their life. At Sana Psychological, Hypersexuality Disorder and Sexual Compulsivity are treated as biological conditions rooted in the brain that have been influenced by other life experiences.

Our Hypersexuality Treatment Approach

The initial 1-2 sessions will involve gathering as much background information as possible about you, including: strengths, available coping network and tools, challenges, as well as information about your relationship with sex, others, and self.

Information is gathered to know about all parts of you. Sex counselling is about much more than just your engagement with sexual activity and love. There will be many areas of life that you can start to address to support change, such as relationships, feelings processing, boundaries, communication, self-esteem, and more.

Man talking to woman therapist.
Person writing on paper.

Paige Abbott has been trained in Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and also incorporates elements of Solution-Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Twelve-Step Facilitation into her sessions. Follow-up appointments generally involve a check-in to see presenting issues and immediate things that have come up that you may want to process. Additionally, you may want to follow-up on any suggestions provided in past appointments to get an idea of progress and roadblocks that are coming up, followed by a more in-depth exploration of challenges, patterns, and coping.

Sessions are active and engaged as Paige likes to ask lots of questions and provide reflections, challenges, and psychoeducation along the way. At any point, if the therapeutic approach or goals need to be changed, please speak up and this will be processed. Sessions come from a non-judgmental, compassionate, empathetic place. Treatment is customized to the individual and designed to meet you where you are at with an approach you feel comfortable with.

Support for Loved Ones

Counselling may also involve concerned family members or friends who have been impacted. They may come in individually for their own support and/or join some sessions or parts of sessions with the individual who is experiencing the problem. If you are a family member reading this and hoping your loved one will change, but aren’t sure if they are ready, I would encourage you to come in for yourself to look at your own health and recovery plan. Change in any member of a relational unit creates change for the whole unit, so perhaps change can start with you.
Person laying on a couch while another person writes down notes.
Family with their hands placed on top of each other.

Even if you feel that your personal changes are not impacting your loved one, it will provide you with the strength, resources, and ability to cope with an extremely difficult, draining, and challenging situation.

Loved ones of those who are struggling with sex experience can cause a significant amount of resentment, hurt, and confusion. This can be damaging to their relationship with self and lead to self-doubt, insecurity, lowered self-esteem, and other severe mental health problems. Loved ones benefit tremendously from engaging in their own counselling and recovery work in order to find peace, serenity, and contentment in their relationship with themselves, as well as explore where they are at in their external relationships.

Why Choose Sana Psychological’s Sex Counselling in Calgary?

When you come to Sana Psychological, you are choosing to work with an experienced, empathetic therapist who is ready to support you in making some changes in your life. Counselling will include a focus on more than just the behaviour and incorporate the development of communication, emotional intelligence, boundaries, self-care, and more to help you improve your mental health and sustain the changes that you are incorporating into your life.

Sessions are offered in-person in Calgary, Alberta or by using Technology Assisted Counselling which can consist of phone or video sessions depending on need and preference. The cost is $200/session. Sessions are available to anyone who is in the province of Alberta at the time of appointment, as this is Paige Abbott’s jurisdiction of licensure. Payment options include cash, debit, credit card, e-transfer, and direct billing with a number of different insurance carriers.

Man smiling.
Woman smiling.

Hypersexuality treatment can be short or long-term, depending on your needs. Paige Abbott, the Registered Psychologist at Sana Psychological, prefers to meet with people over a longer period of time (6+ months) to ensure sustainability and maintenance of progress as recovery tends to ebb and flow. If this does not work for your needs, that is okay too. We will do as much work as we can in the available sessions to get you to build a healthy recovery plan that you can tailor as needed. All it takes to get started is an e-mail, phone call, or text to request an appointment. Appointments can also be scheduled and managed online for your convenience, including the first appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

A: Changes to behaviour involve understanding what is driving the compulsive sexual urges, behaviour, triggers, and developing a healthy self-care routine to address physical, emotional, mental, relational, spiritual, cultural, and financial needs. To reduce sexual urges, it will be important to explore and treat any other mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, as well as any additional issues, including eating disorders, substance use/abuse like an opiate, alcohol, and/or stimulant dependence. It also involves learning about cravings and controlling sexual impulses to target the compulsive behaviour(s) themselves and understanding that these behaviours “can involve alcohol, drugs, as well as sex,” (Blog post on compulsive issues beyond alcohol and drug abuse problems) and treating all of these areas as needed . Focusing on sexual compulsivity as a choice that only requires a change in willpower, or shaming oneself to stop are not effective change strategies.

A: Yes! We have worked with clients who have years, even decades, of recovery from hypersexuality. This involves an ongoing investment in self and health promotion, which can be benefitted by the aid of mental health professionals in conjunction with other peer and self-management tools.

A: Clinical questionnaires that have been designed to gauge whether the behaviour is in the problematic zone. These can be used if clients are confused or unclear about the nature of their issues. Because compulsive sexual behaviour doesn’t have its own diagnostic category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), it may be diagnosed as a subcategory of another mental health condition, such as an impulse control disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or a behavioural disorder. Many clients who come to Sana Psychological are already clear, based on lived and previous clinical experience that they are dealing with sexual compulsivity and are looking to treat compulsive sexual behaviours further.

A: Primarily, hypersexuality treatment at Sana Psychological is done individually. If additional counselling work is requested or recommended to improve the health of the romantic relationship or family, referrals can be provided to providers who specialize in this kind of therapy. If the primary client requests, or if the therapist believes it would be of benefit to have a partner or other family member participate in one or a few sessions of counselling, this will be discussed and accommodated as necessary.

A: The session fee is $200/50-minute appointment. Counselling can be short or long-term as we balance your needs and budget.