Treating a teenager with sex addiction

Sex addiction expert Kenneth M. Adams, PhD cautions against labeling a teenager as a sexual addict, but acknowledges that some may be high risk
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Treating a teenager with sex addiction

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I think it's an important question to decide whether a teenager can be a sex addict and is the treatment any different? Teenagers, you know, in general we save diagnosis until adulthood in most of the categories where you see diagnosis being made, so I think you have to be more careful when you start using labels like addiction or sexual addiction in teenagers. We sometimes just don't know whether they're exploring and whether it'll stop until they reach further ages. Having said that we do begin to see some teenagers who have the hallmarks of being addictive, but we're I think it's important certainly as a treatment community that I belong to and also just as a culture that we not impose sex addict on a teenager as a label when we're not certain whether or not they're going to have a full blown addiction. Although we do some teenagers that are at a more higher risk, they tend to come from troubled backgrounds, families with low empathy, high dysfunction, you know, a difficulty with bonding, attachment, not alot of love going on and those kids generally are turning to addiction. So if they're, if that teenager is using pot, cocaine, drinking alcohol, and compulsive with sex, that probably is a pretty good recipe for that kid to be looking at addiction as a possible diagnosis down the road. So certainly at those times, we will want to use addiction approaches, but we have to be very careful. You can't send a teenager to a twelve step meeting with adults, for example. So the programs have to be specialized to the teenager and the developmental exploration that goes on wtih kids has to be considered as part of the normative curve before you start labeling everything problematic. At my practice we have a special program for teens, for example, and so we're very careful about using labels. We're also very considerate about the possibility that some of their behavior is exploratory. And so what we do is we look at high risk behaviors and we help them to put boundaries around that like we would with an adult sex addict, but we're more careful about how we label that and how we introduce that, and the support group or the therapy group is run by a counselor as opposed to them going to a meeting with other adults, which we don't like to see happen.

Sex addiction expert Kenneth M. Adams, PhD cautions against labeling a teenager as a sexual addict, but acknowledges that some may be high risk

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Kenneth M. Adams, PhD

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Kenneth M. Adams, Ph.D., CSAT, is a Licensed Psychologist, the Clinical Director and Founder of Kenneth M. Adams and Associates in suburban Detroit, Michigan, as well as a faculty member at the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals. As previous Clinical Director for the Life Healing Center in Sante Fe, New Mexico, a residential treatment center for trauma and addiction, Dr Adams created the first inpatient program exclusively for partners of sex addicts. In addition to maintaining an active clinical practice, Dr. Adams is a national lecturer, workshop leader, and consultant in the areas of child abuse, dysfunctional family systems, and sex addiction. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications, the books Silently Seduced and When He’s Married to Mom, as well as co-editor of Clinical Management of Sex Addiction. In 2011, Dr Adams received the “Carnes Award” for “outstanding work in the field of sexual addiction and compulsivity”. He is a certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT), a CSAT supervisor, and CSAT training facilitator as well as an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) practitioner. Dr. Adams is a member of the American Psychological Association, Michigan Psychological Association, Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH), and International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) as well as an advisory board member to SASH and IITAP, and an editorial board member of Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention. For more on Dr Adams visit www.drkenadams.com.

 

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