The Meadows Blog

The Meadows’ Senior Fellow, Dr. Patrick Carnes, will teach the Twelve Principles Weekend Retreat Series from December 2103 through August 2016 scheduled for every three months in Phoenix.

Gentle Path at The Meadows will sponsor a lunch at the December 2013 retreat and Allan Benham, Gentle Path Executive Director, will be available to meet the retreat participants and discuss the new Gentle Path program. 

For more information regarding the retreat visit

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Published in Blog
Sunday, 28 August 2011 20:00

Sex Addiction and Sex Offending

In the world this past week the curtain was pulled back to reveal an International sting identifying 72 individuals (all of whom are men) charged with the sharing and distribution of website images depicting physical and sexual abuse on infants and children. The private networking site called Dreamboard consists of over 600 members.

More illuminating is that Dreamboard is a part of a larger more sophisticated online child abuse network promoting pedophilia, called Dreamland. Dreamland is a private, online bulletin board in which as many as 600 members could file share upwards of ten thousand videos or images of sexually abused infants and children.

A member's level of contribution defined the member's level of access. Those members who "merely" swapped and exchanged images (file sharing) had more limited access as compared to other members "prestige" access that photographed, uploaded and swapped newer more violent images of their personal physical and sexual assaults on young children. Those members ranked in what was termed, "Super VIP." What was revealed this past week speaks to those horrors and atrocities that humans are capable of inflicting on the smallest and most vulnerable among us - children and infants.

But, no sooner were the Dreamboard events splashed across global media venues they became eclipsed by and buried under other fast breaking, news worthy expos the kind that speak to downgrades in a national credit rating, global war crimes and credit concerns.

I suspect that while the Dreamboard fallout is far from over, the collective and visceral disgust that was felt when learning of the multinational sting operation was too horrific to remain "on the front pages."

As a licensed therapist who works with trauma and sexual addiction, I see people, behavior and associated definitions as being along a continuum. People (clients) and their behaviors (either collectively or individually) will ultimately come up against my defined continuum of behavior that may be healthy, traumatic expression, addicted, compulsive, morally void or outright sociopathic.

Further, my personal definitions or consideration for my clients' sexual behavior may be seen as acceptable or offensive to some.  Simply because what I define as acceptable or not, may not coalesce with another. I don't think there is a clear cut understanding or explanation for the clients I see or the behaviors of humanity.

Trained and experienced therapists among us who treat organic, sexual disorders and sexual compulsivity grapple with the theoretical and real-life meaning and definition of human behavior. While no two therapists may see eye to eye on what constitutes a clinical description for sex addiction - an issue currently debated before the American Psychiatric Association. The next and fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the controversial "go-to manual" for clinical designation and classification of mental disorders, is currently in planning and preparation. The publication date is revised for May 2013 - we are likely to agree on this: all sex offenders are not addicts and some sex addicts may become sexual offenders. Nonetheless, sex addiction is no more considered sociopathic than drug addiction, gambling, eating disorders and alcoholism.

While individuals who struggle with addiction may also exhibit and indulge in sociopathic behavior the definition of addiction as defined by The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) does not include the word sociopath in its definition no more than sexual compulsivity. More often than not, the words addiction, like sex addiction and sociopath are mutually exclusive.

It is important to delineate that sex offenders may engage in sexually compulsive behavior; however not all sexually compulsive behavior involves sexual abuse to minors and therefore, deemed sex offending. Before an individual is classified as a sexual offender and branded by society as sociopathic, a psychosexual evaluation and other mental status examinations are administered by a trained professional.

I see my role as a human practicing in the capacity of caregiver, to be as open and accepting of behaviors in which my clients engage, until such point that I can no longer be objective or open to empathic understanding. At times, and not as of yet, I may come up against my own biases and for reasons of self-care, draw the line in my own defined continuum of unacceptable. Trauma, sex and humanity will for sure never cease to confound, dismay or even disgust.

The sex addict who struggles is worthy of the same compassion as the alcoholic, eating disordered woman and medical provider who abuses prescription pills. Sexual offending behavior along the lines of Dreamboard are deemed illegal and by most societal norms - repulsing. I suspect that events such as Dreamboard's recent detection, while news worthy, is too incomprehensible for most individuals to absorb let alone read in sordid detail.

As I explain the world to myself, there are times that sociopath and sex addict may not be mutually exclusive. Neither, by comparison may a sociopath and medical care provider. Extrapolating along that trajectory neither may a sociopath and a parent. Unfortunately, the two descriptors can and at times do co-exist with devastating results. History has shown us that time and time again. We humans are capable of horrors and atrocities beyond imagination and I suspect until science intervenes, the collective "we" always will.

Debra L. Kaplan, MA, LAC, LISAC, CMAT, CSAT-S is a licensed therapist in Tucson, Arizona. Ms. Kaplan specializes in the treatment of sexual addiction/compulsivity,

Complex traumatic stress and dissociative and attachment disorders. Debra publishes and presents nationally on trauma and sex addiction. She maintains active memberships in the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH), the International Society for Traumatic Stress (ISTSS), International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals
(IITAP), and EMDR International Association (EMDRIA).

Published in Blog

The Meadows, one of America's leading centers for the treatment of addiction and trauma, presents a series of videos featuring Maureen Canning discussing sexual addiction in women.

In the fifth video of her nine-part series, Ms. Canning, a specialist in the treatment of sexual addiction and trauma, talks about what partners of sex addicts need to know in order to break the cycle of abuse and codependency.

"With all addictions, it's important to look at family systems and how they affect the members of the family - particularly the partners of sex addicts," she says.

She adds that The Meadows has developed workshops specifically to help partners of sex addicts understand the addiction. They learn not to blame themselves for the addict's behaviors or to internalize shame for those behaviors. They also gain understanding of their own roles in the relationship.

"We want to empower the partners of sex addicts so they're out of that 'victim mode' and not blaming themselves, but understanding their own process and moving toward health."

Ms. Canning, MA, LMFT, is a clinical consultant and senior fellow at The Meadows of Wickenburg and a clinical consultant at Dakota, The Meadows' extended-care facility dedicated to treating sexual addiction and trauma. She is a leading expert in the treatment of sexual disorders, and her clinical experience includes individual, couples, and family counseling; workshops; lectures; educational trainings; and interventions. Her books include Lust, Anger, Love: Understanding Sexual Addiction and The Road to Healthy Intimacy.

In other videos in the series, she discusses the nature of healthy sexuality, the relationship between shame and sex addiction, and The Meadows' approach to sex addiction treatment.

View the entire series of The Meadows' videos, including interviews with John Bradshaw and Dr. Jerry Boriskin, at

For more about The Meadows' innovative treatment program for addictions and trauma, visit or call The Meadows at 800-244-4949.

Published in Blog
Sunday, 26 June 2011 20:00

What About the Wives?

What About the Wives?

by Anne Brown

Notable public figures such as Tiger Woods, Anthony Weiner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jesse James have garnered substantial media attention for their uncontained sexual behaviors. Much mention has been made of their sexually compulsive behaviors and the affair partners with whom they have been involved. However, less attention has been given to the loved ones of these men affected by sexual compulsivity: their wives.

COSA, or co-sex addict is the term generally used to describe the spouse/partner of a sex addict. The addict is addicted to sexual fantasy and behaviors, while the COSA is addicted to the relationship with the sex addict. Some COSAs are also sexually compulsive;others are not. All COSAs are co-dependent. Frequently, the COSA will take on the role of 'detective,' trying to find out what her spouse is 'up to.' As the sex addict feels the increased pressure for closeness or fears discovery by the COSA, he often will act out his resentment through continued sexualized behaviors. Thus, a destructive cycle of 'hide and seek' begins. The COSA will go to great lengths to try to change, so as to be the sole object of the sex addict's desire. Sometimes, she will even engage in sexual behaviors outside of her value system. The intent is to sexually appease the addict in hopes of controlling infidelity. Tragically, it tends to add "fuel to the fire" for the cycle of the COSA and the sex addict. The continued detective work also provides the COSA with the illusion of control: "If I know all about it, I might be able to do something about it." By operating under this belief, the COSA assumes some responsibility for the sex addict's behavior. It is often a stance that the COSA finds hard to let go, as doing so unveils the reality that she has NO CONTROL.

Sex addiction is NOT the COSA's fault. It is about the trauma and shame the sex addict has carried since childhood. Co-sex addicts also act out the trauma and shame they have carried since childhood. They often engage in a cycle of love addiction that results from abandonment issues. Furthermore, sex addiction and co-sex addiction are not gender specific. Men are equally likely to be the COSA, while women can be sexually compulsive. The determining factor is not gender, but trauma. Both the sex addict and the COSA need treatment for unresolved trauma, relational issues, and addictive behaviors. It is a pattern that, without treatment, will continue to affect many families for generations.

Anne Brown, a primary counselor at The Meadows since 2008, has a master's degree in counseling from Johns Hopkins University; she specializes in treating sex addiction, co-sex addiction, eating disorders, co-dependency, and the underlying trauma issues of addiction. She has been working in the counseling field since 1999.

Published in Blog

Maureen Canning, MA, LMFT, Clinical Consultant at The Meadows and Dakota, will be presenting at the 2nd Western Conference on Behavioral Health and Addictive Disorders presented by U.S. Journal. Maureen will be speaking on Thursday, June 16 at 4:00-5:30 pm. The title of Maureen's informative presentation is titled Lust, Anger, Love: Treating the Sexually Addicted Client.

The conference will take place at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa in Newport Beach, California from June 16-17, 2011. Come join us at this groundbreaking conference focusing on behavioral health and addictive disorders. Be sure to visit The Meadows booth!

Published in Blog
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