The Meadows Blog

Sexual Addiction

Sexual Addiction (35)

Gentle Path at The Meadows founder, Dr. Patrick Carnes, will be featured on BlogTalkRadio’s program “Sexual Addiction: Hope/Strength/Recovery” with host Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW, CSAT, PCC, on Monday, April 20, 2015 at 9:00 p.m. (EST). Dr. Carnes will be speaking on the topic of sexual addiction: its definition and how it affects the addict. The program can be accessed by going to this website.

Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., C.A.S., is a nationally known speaker on sex addiction and recovery issues. He is the founder of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) and Gentle Path Press. From 1996 until 2004, Dr. Carnes was Clinical Director for Sexual Disorder Services at The Meadows Wickenburg. His achievements include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH), where they present an annual "Carnes Award" to researchers and clinicians who have made exceptional contributions to the field of sexual health. He is the author of Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction (1992), Contrary to Love: Helping the Sexual Addict (1989), The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships (1997), Open Hearts (1999), Facing the Shadow (2001), In the Shadows of the Net (2001), and The Clinical Management of Sex Addiction (2002), Recovery Zone (2009), and A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Principles (2012). Dr. Carnes’ article, “18.4 Sexual Addiction,” appears in Kaplan & Sadock’s Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry (2005).

Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW, PCC, CSAT, is currently in private practice in Indianapolis, IN. She speaks nationally on mental health issues and is featured in several local magazines. In addition, she is featured in regular television segments focusing on life skills to improve one’s potential.

Sexual Addiction Treatment

Gentle Path at The Meadows is a confidential inpatient treatment center for men 18 and older who battle sexual addiction, relationship addiction, and sexual anorexia. To learn more about Gentle Path at The Meadows’ work, contact an intake coordinator at 855-333-6076 or visit our website.

Friday, 03 April 2015 00:00

Fifty Shades Sparks Conversation

Marie Woods, LMFT, CSAT
Primary Counselor, Gentle Path at The Meadows

The recent movie premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey has caused quite the media stir, and I think we can all agree that it’s got a lot of people talking. In many ways, it has provided a valuable opportunity to reflect on where we each stand in regards to relational intimacy. As a therapist specializing in sex addiction, I hear my patients talk about sexual development, sexual trauma, relationships and compulsive behavior on a daily basis. The current media stir provides an ideal platform to elicit authentic, open, honest, and sometimes difficult discussions about sex-related topics, including relationships.

For sex addicts, skewed messages about sex and relationships have often been imprinted in their brains from a very early age. Many sex addicts had either too much or too little sex education during their developmental years. It was either explicitly stated or implied that talking about sex was unacceptable, so such individuals may have internalized messages like “sex is bad” or “sex is secret.” This lack of meaningful dialogue on this important subject is one of the biggest barriers to authentic intimacy.

For many individuals, therapy is the first time they’ve ever truly discussed the concept of intimacy and what defines healthy sexuality. Unfortunately, many individuals completely separate sex from intimacy. They don’t understand that true intimacy is developed through meaningful emotional interactions that enhance and enrich sexuality. In the case of sex addiction, such conversations and questions often means working through deep pain and confronting the consequences of maladaptive behavior that has gone on for far too long.

Even though our culture is full of sexual messages, it does not provide accurate sexual education. It fails to highlight the importance of emotional intimacy as it relates to sexuality. It does not underscore the value of human connection that is at the very root of sex and intimacy.

The cultural impact of Fifty Shades of Grey opens the door for discussions and opinions about the relationship between sexuality and emotional intimacy. We should be grateful for such growth opportunities despite our opinions on the subject. Such discussion allows us to dig deep into our core and evaluate our thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs – and stand firmly in our sense of self. What happens in this process is that we truly come to know ourselves and have more meaningful relationships with others. With these insights and understandings, each of our lives grows richer, and we are stronger as a collective community when we are practicing this kind of authenticity in relationships with others.

We Can Help

Every journey begins with a single step. Through an array of time-tested modalities, we’ll give you the tools to develop healthy relationships. You’ll have these tools with you for the rest of your life. We want to see you and your loved ones prosper and thrive. For more information on sex addiction, contact us here or call an Intake Coordinator at 800-244-4949.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 00:00

Fifty Shades of Grey

Whether you've read Fifty Shades of Grey or not, the fact remains there is a lot of buzz around the series. Women can’t seem to get enough of Christian Grey, but the question is, why? When you take a step back, you see a story about two people with their own insecurities and lack of self-worth begin a relationship with unhealthy expectations.

There have been arguments about why Christian Grey should be in jail or why Ana is a weak female - although I would argue Ana is strong in her own right. Ana, like many women, gets into a relationship with Christian under the pretense of saving him. But why is it Ana’s responsibility to save him?

In reality, it is not Ana’s responsibility to “save” him because Christian is the only one who can do that for himself. In the real world, many women expecting a “happy ending” are left feeling emotionally numb, shame, and struggle with a negative body image.

Please take a moment to read the whole "Fifty Shades of Grey" article and share with your friends and family.

We Can Help

At The Meadows, Arizona, our rehabilitation facility provides a safe, confidential and healing environment for sexual addiction treatment. Our expert treatment staff helps each client look at the core issues that caused the addiction to heal the underlying cause of the addiction.

Our reputation is unmatched in the treatment of sexual disorders, and our positive client outcomes shape our legacy. To learn more about The Meadows’ state-of-the-art Sexual Addiction Program, contact an Intake Coordinator at 800-244-4949.

Thursday, 15 January 2015 00:00

A Brief Screen for Sex Addiction

By Amy Sohler, MPA, MA, LMHC, CDP, MHP

Although it may be clinically hard to diagnose, sex addiction may affect up to three to seven percent of the population. Unfortunately, there is more of a stigma attached to sexually “acting out” than there is with the symptoms of other addictions. Many clinicians don’t have a well-defined criterion to diagnose the condition. Complicating matters even further is that sex addiction is often maintained and protected by a shield of dishonesty.

By Amy Sohler, MPA, MA, LMHC, CDP, MHP

Current research in the field of sex addiction is revealing with utmost certainty that sexual addiction is just like any other addiction. It involves the dopamine response just like alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, shopping addiction, and any other process addiction. Such addictions all reside in the same part of the brain, so should be treated as such. What’s difficult and most challenging about sex addiction is that many people don’t see it as a “legitimate” addiction. Therefore, it has a stigma attached to it when in reality it’s no different than more “publicized” addictions.

By Amy Sohler, MPA, MA, LMHC, CDP, MHP

One of the most painful consequences of sex addiction (or, for that matter, any addiction) is that addicts who remain active in their disease create that which they fear most – isolation and loneliness. Unlike alcohol and substance abuse, though, sex addiction is especially complicated because the goal isn’t abstinence. The goal isn’t to abstain from human contact, but to embrace healthy sexuality and intimacy. Another issue that further fuels the complexity of such an addiction is the morality and stigma attached to sexuality.

I often ask my clients at Gentle Path at The Meadows what they’d like to see written in their obituary. Not a single one has ever told me, “I want my obituary to say I was a sex addict.”

Dr. Patrick Carnes, the pioneer researcher whose work helped establish the concept of compulsive sexual behavior as an addiction, presented a Research Award to Dr. Bessel van der Kolk at the second annual International Sex & Love Addiction Conference. The three-day conference focused on the changing architecture of addictive desire, trauma, and attachment.

Clinical consultant and Senior Fellow at The Meadows (, Dr. van der Kolk accepted the Research Award from the American Foundation for Addiction Research for his research as a clinical psychiatrist known internationally for his contributions in the areas of post-traumatic stress and related phenomenon since the 1970s. His book Psychological Trauma was the first integrative text on the subject.

Co-sponsored by The Meadows, a Wickenburg, Arizona-based treatment center focusing on trauma and addiction, this key industry event drew more than 300 clinicians and therapists who explored the many facets of Sex & Love Addiction, one of the most pertinent clinical and counseling issues facing addiction and mental health professionals.

Dr. Patrick Carnes was pleased to fill the role of Conference Chair. “All of The Meadows staff who took part in this year’s industry event – from our senior fellows to our chief of psychiatry – continually incorporate the latest research into our incomparable treatment programs that have made us the most trusted name in treating trauma and addiction.”

Prominent speakers included John Bradshaw, Senior Fellow at The Meadows who accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award; Conference Chair Dr. Patrick Carnes, founder of Gentle Path at The Meadows (; and Dr. Claudia Black, renowned addictions, codependency, and family systems expert who is also a Senior Fellow at The Meadows and has spent more than a decade in an advisory role there.

Conference attendee Dr. Jon Caldwell, chief of psychiatry at The Meadows who specializes in the treatment of adults with relational trauma histories and addictive behaviors, found the conference inspiring, enlightening, and meaningful. “This international conference features some of the most knowledgeable and respected thought leaders of our day in the fields of trauma, attachment, and sex/love addiction. Additionally, their experience and wisdom is being augmented by a new generation of passionate leaders and remarkable scientific advances. It has been a historic conference that will have great meaning and utility for the people we serve!”

To learn more about The Meadows’ work with trauma and addiction contact us at (800) 244-4949 or visit our Contact page.

About The American Foundation for Addiction Research: The American Foundation for Addiction Research (AFAR) was founded in 1998 by Dr. Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in sexual addiction who has made innovations in sexual compulsivity, trauma, and outcome measures through scientific research, treatment and education.

Jean Collins-Stuckert, Director of Workshops at The Meadows, was featured on BlogTalkRadio’s program “Sex Help with Carol the Coach” with host Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW, CSAT, PCC, on October 27, 2014.

The program can be accessed using the audio player at the bottom of this page or by visiting this link.

Collins-Stuckert discussed “Journey of a Woman's Heart: Finding True Intimacy,” The Meadows’ workshop created for women who want to explore unhealthy sexual patterns. Collins-Stuckert said the five-day workshop was developed with the input of The Meadows Senior Fellows Alex Katehakis, Claudia Black and Pia Mellody.

Collins-Stuckert discussed the differences in treatment between male and female patients as well as how The Meadows addresses sexual shame in women and why it is often so difficult for women to seek help for sexual disorders.

While research by Dr. Patrick Carnes, The Meadows Senior Fellow, indicates nearly 20% of those seeking help for sex addiction are female, women continue to be underrepresented in health and addiction studies and many individuals assume sex addiction is only for men.

A main focus of the workshop is to help women who want to explore unhealthy sexual patterns and behaviors that deeply impact their ability to connect relationally in healthy ways, Collins-Stuckert said. Whether the issues involved are past or present trauma, cultural messages or negative beliefs, all can serve as roadblocks to true intimacy.

As Director of Workshop, Collins-Stuckert oversees and facilitates the ten unique workshops offered by The Meadows, including their signature Survivors Workshop. She states that workshops can jump-start recovery for those who have just begun a recovery process. They can also provide an extra boost for those who have been on a recovery path and may have hit a plateau or want to deepen their experience. Workshops are a source of renewal for anyone who has undergone treatment. Participants work on sensitive issues in a concentrated format, allowing insight into unhealthy patterns and an opportunity to practice new relational skills within a safe environment.

Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW, PCC, CSAT, is currently in private practice in Indianapolis, IN. She speaks nationally on mental health issues and is featured in several local magazines. In addition, she is featured in regular television segments focusing on life skills to improve one’s potential.


Check Out Self Help Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Sex Help with Carol the Coach on BlogTalkRadio

By Heidi Kinsella, MA, LMHCA, NCC, ASAT
Family Counselor, Gentle Path at The Meadows

You just found out your husband has been unfaithful in numerous ways and has been acting out for years. You want to know everything—you have a NEED to know everything. However, he has entered sex addiction treatment and now you learn that you will have to wait until the therapeutic disclosure to find out the extent of his acting out behavior. You say, “What the heck is a therapeutic disclosure, and why do I need to wait to find out what my husband has done? I have the RIGHT to know, and I NEED to know… NOW!!”

As a therapist, I specialize in working with partners of sex addicts, and have heard this sentiment from more partners than I can count. It’s confusing and scary for an individual to discover that her husband is a sex addict. It’s also hard to understand why she needs to wait to find out what behaviors he has been doing.

So, what is a therapeutic disclosure?

A therapeutic disclosure is a planned disclosure in the office of a therapist where an addict provides information to his partner regarding all of his sexual behaviors from the time he has known his partner until the present time. Normally the disclosure is facilitated in an office where both the addict and his partner are present, along with both of their therapists.

The disclosure provides an overview of the addict’s behavior. Disclosure is done without going into details that would not add to the overall scope of the acting out behavior, and would only serve to cause additional pain and be potentially triggering to his partner. It is important for each member of the couple to have their therapist present to insure the support and safety for both people.

Why the wait? Why can’t I know now? I deserve to know now!!!

Dr. Patrick Carnes states that addicts need a minimum of 90 days of sobriety to allow their brains to reset and start to heal prior to disclosure. My experience in working with couples in the early stages of treatment is that it often takes longer than 90 days to prepare them for disclosure. During this time, both members of the couple need to be seeing their individual therapist, and ideally, are also in separate therapy groups.

In order for the disclosure to go as well as possible, the addict needs to get to a point in his recovery where he is no longer justifying or denying his actions; he is no longer shifting blame and creating the type of “crazy making” that makes his partner doubt her sanity. The addict should also be at a point where he is beginning to have empathy for his wife. Lastly, enough time needs to be allowed so that the addict has an understanding of his acting out behaviors, and sometimes this takes a little while for the memories to come back while in group with other addicts.

For the partner, this time is also critical. She should take this time to receive help in addressing the trauma of discovery, which is shocking and can take a toll on her physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. This is also the time to develop a list of questions she needs to have answered.

Partners often ask, “Why can’t I just ask the questions myself? He is MY husband! I have a right to ask the questions when I want to ask him!” I understand this sentiment as I felt the same way when I discovered my husband’s sexual acting out. I found myself waking him up in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. I figured if I couldn’t sleep then he shouldn’t either! I would ask a question about what he did and then demand an answer. He would wake up groggy and answer the question because he felt like he owed me that much. Upon hearing the answer to my question, I would get angrier and would ask a follow-up, demanding more details. He would then answer the follow-up question because I demanded it. This interrogation would go on and on until my mind was full of details of my husband having sex with other women. Every answer he gave me provided another image that I couldn’t get out of my obsessive mind. I would think about these images of him with other women when I was trying to sleep, when I was trying to work, and throughout my day. I became exhausted, overwhelmed, and it started to affect my health, my ability to work, and my ability to be a parent.

This scenario is common; I have heard similar stories from many partners I work with. It is one of the reasons why we ask our partners to hold off and not ask questions about her husband’s acting out behaviors. At Gentle Path at the Meadows, we ask our patients not to answer detailed questions and to ask their partners to wait for the answers until formal disclosure. In the formal disclosure process, the partner will find out everything she needs to know to make an informed decision about the relationship, without the nitty-gritty details that will most likely haunt her.

We believe in disclosure, but we want it to be safe and therapeutic for both the addict and the partner. If you are a partner of a sex addict, there are recourses and support for you. Dr. Stephanie Carnes’ book, Mending a Shattered Heart or Dr. Claudia Blacks’ book, Deceived: Facing Sexual Betrayals. Lies and Secrets are two great resources. Also, The Meadows offers a workshop for partners that can be found out at based on Dr. Claudia Black’s workbook called, Healing Intimate Treason.

Contact Us Today

Every journey begins with one step. To learn more about Gentle Path at The Meadows, or if you have an immediate need, please contact us at 855-333-6076 or go to

By Heidi Kinsella, MA, LMHCA, NCC, ASAT
Family Counselor, Gentle Path at The Meadows

When I came to work as a therapist at Gentle Path at The Meadows, I quickly discovered that this treatment center was special and provided patients with a different kind of experience than anything I had previously known. Dr. Patrick Carnes is a world-renowned authority on sex addiction and treatment and the primary architect of the Gentle Path at The Meadows program. He believes that we need to diagnosis and treat all addictive disorders, as well as mood and personality disorders. Dr. Carnes’ methodology is integrated with The Meadows Model, to address sex addiction and trauma concurrently. This approach is groundbreaking and provides patients with comprehensive care that gives them the opportunity to have quality, long-term sobriety and a happy, productive life.

When I was nine years old, my mom got sober then became a drug and alcohol counselor. It was the mid-70s, and the chemical dependency field was just developing. The common belief at that time was that the addiction must be treated before any other issues could be addressed; this belief continues and is a paradigm that many treatment centers still use.

I remember hearing stories from my mom, or her friends who worked in the field at the time, that their patients were often engaging in sexual activities in the bushes. The counselors would simply tell them to stop without reasoning that there may be another addiction that needed to be considered. This was a time before research showed that the same chemicals that light up the pleasure center in the brain, when using drugs or alcohol, do the same thing for process addictions, like sex, gambling, shopping, work, and eating. The counselors had no way of knowing that their patients may have been getting high in a different way, right there in treatment.

As I work with the patients at Gentle Path at The Meadows, I think to myself, “I wish this kind of treatment would have been available when I got sober in 1989.” Our patients do rigorous work creating a timeline depicting their addictions and mood disorders. They also participate in The Meadows’ signature Survivors Week to identify trauma that may have influenced their need to numb their feelings through maladaptive behaviors that eventually led to addiction.

I know for me, recovery has been like a game of “whack a mole!” I addressed my chemical addiction, but developed love addiction as I reached out to men to fill that hole inside. That addiction led me through a string of unhealthy relationships, including marrying a sex addict where I acted out with rage and experienced high levels of depression and anxiety. Even though, I was sober from my alcoholism, my life became very unmanageable, and I didn’t understand why. I was working the steps; I had the sponsor, a home group, and services positions. I was doing everything I was told to do. What I didn’t realize was that my brain was still living in active addiction because I had only addressed one of my many issues.

Eventually, the pain led me to reach out and find a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, who helped me address my trauma, depression, anxiety, codependency, love addiction and my maladaptive response to living with a sex addict. I often wonder if I had the chance to look at my childhood traumas along with my other issues early on in recovery, if I would have made different choices and avoided a lot of the chaos and pain in my early years of sobriety. I look at our patients and think, “Wow, they so fortunate to receive this level of care!” Brain science in the addiction field has come a long way, and Gentle Path at the Meadows is on the cutting-edge. However, we must not stop here—there is more work to be done and research is currently being conducted. Dr. Carnes has established the American Foundation for Addiction Research to continue this important work which will benefit our patients at Gentle Path. You can find out more information on this foundation at

Contact Us Today

If you are struggling with any addiction, or multiple forms of addiction, depression, PTSD, or anxiety, we can help. Recovery is possible! You don’t have to live this way anymore. To learn more about Gentle Path at The Meadows, or if you have an immediate need, please contact us at 855-333-6076 or go to

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