When writing or talking about his recovery from sex addiction, JP always mentions how his CSAT helped him resolve his childhood trauma. So why would a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist treat childhood trauma? Why wasn’t she focusing on his porn use and other acting out behaviors? I decided to make this post a Q&A to help explain those answers.
KM: What homework did your CSAT assign when you first started therapy?
JP: When I first started with my CSAT she gave me a big piece of paper and asked me to draw out my “life egg”. She had me section it off and draw pictures that represented key moments in my life starting with my childhood. There were both good and bad memories. I wasn’t ready for the emotions that were still connected with the memories of my childhood. I didn’t realize that I was still carrying the trauma of those moments.
KM: Why did she start with childhood trauma instead of managing triggers and urges?
JP: My CSAT started with my childhood trauma because it had never been resolved. My addiction was linked to my poor coping skills that I developed as a child. Certain traumas in my childhood led me to develop maladaptive coping skills. I brought these with me into adulthood and my marriage.
KM: How did you use pornography as a coping skill? At what age did that start?
JP: I used pornography as a coping mechanisms to escape and numb my emotions. I was exposed to an explicit magazine at around age 11. My brain was still developing and it did not know how to process such images. It gave me a feeling that I had never felt before. Instead of learning how to face and deal with my emotions I sought out the feeling that I got from the pornographic images. In essence I was chasing the chemical high that I got when I viewed it. I stopped maturing emotionally because anytime some painful emotion surfaced I turned to pornography.
KM: What did your CSAT do to help you resolve the childhood trauma and how did that treat your addiction?
JP: My CSAT started with my early childhood trauma by having me complete a “life egg”. I had to go back and remember things from my past. This was not easy because in doing so it brought back the feelings that I had been running from. Once we identified certain life events that were still causing me pain we started to resolve them. This was done with EMDR. I can’t explain how it works, but it helped me process the pain from my childhood. I still remember what happened, it just stays in the past and doesn’t come to the present. This gave me the ability to stay in the present and not bring up the shame that triggered my anger. My addiction was a result of my poor coping skills that I developed to not have to face my pain. Once I was able to face my pain and resolve it, the need to cope or escape was gone. My CSAT calls it “killing the driver”.