Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Working on a Newsletter summary of the Cybersex Workbook.


The overlap between chemical health recovery, sexual health/sexual compulsivity and cybersex is well documented. Too often, clients and professionals don’t examine the role of the Internet as a relapse trigger for sex and drugs. This brief article provides a basic intro to addressing online behaviors.
What is Cybersex?

The term “cybersex” has become a catchall to describe a variety of computer based sex related behaviors. These behaviors can include accessing online pornography (audio, video, text), engaging in sexual chat with others, creating an avatar to engage in sexual acts or chat, using sex toys designed for the online world, or a combination of all the above. More variations of online behavior are being developed as the Internet changes.

When Does Cybersex Become Compulsivity?
It is important to understand that not everyone who engages in cybersex behavior has a problem with compulsivity. Research indicates about 85% of individuals who engage in cybersex behaviors do so without serious consequences. In thinking about your cybersex behavior and determining whether it is problematic or out of control in your life, there are two components.

Subjective – Realization that a Problem Exists
On some level you recognize your online sexual behavior is a problem. Cybersex compulsivity includes many sexual behaviors or thoughts that violate your personal values and boundaries. “I know I did something I didn’t want to do.” The vast majority of people seeking help realize they need help.

Objective – External Notification of a Problem
Some form of external feedback has presented itself to bring the situation to light. This feedback can come in the form of a legal consequence (such as an arrest), a financial consequence (such as money spent on the Internet, or termination from a job) or damage to a relationship because of the violation of boundaries. For some people, the objective component of sexual compulsivity may not always be present.
The basic premise is that you define healthy and unhealthy behaviors in dialogue with others. It will be most helpful for you to pay attention to whether there is a repetitive and consistent pattern to your behavior, and how the consequences of your behavior may be affecting your life and relationships.

Internet Sex Screening Test
One way to help determine if a behavior is problematic is to take a self administered screening test. The Internet Sex Screening Test has been taken by thousands of individuals and can be used to help gauge how problematic your online sexual behavior may be. This screening test is available at

Problematic Cybersex Users
Remember 85% of people don’t have a problem with online behaviors. People who exhibit problematic sexual behavior on the Internet tend to fall into one of the three groups:

Discovery Group
People in this group have no previous problem with online sex and no history of problematic offline sexual behavior. However they often begin using sex on the Internet as a recreational user and become completely carried away with online activities.

Predisposed Group
This group is made up of people who have never acted out sexually until they discovered cybersex. They might have fantasized about exposing themselves or had the urge to see a prostitute or go to a strip club. Until they discovered the world of cybersex, however, they were able to manage their fantasies and urges.

Lifelong Sexually Compulsive Group
People in this group have been involved in problematic sexual behavior throughout most of their lives. They might compulsively masturbate, compulsively use pornography, practice voyeurism or exhibitionism, or compulsively frequent strip clubs and prostitutes. For these people, cybersex simply provides a new option for acting out sexually that fits within their already existing patterns of problematic behavior.

A Primary Assignment to cope with Cybersex.
It is important to assess the specific Internet behaviors that contribute to high-risk situations, or relapse. The final assignment from the workbook follows. In this assignment, you create three circles where you address the following:

Outer Circle Are Acceptable Behaviors
These behaviors are any Internet behaviors that are healthy in your world. The key is that you have to define these behaviors. Others might provide feedback and suggestions, but in the end you MUST clarify and determine what are acceptable behaviors in YOUR world.

Middle Circle Are Cautious Behaviors
These behaviors often have a “depends” linked to them. Sometimes the same behavior at work is acceptable, but at home is unacceptable (or vice versa). Anything you can’t clarify as healthy/unhealthy, needs to go here. As appropriate, clarify the “depends” component of these behaviors as much as possible. One example was a client who could surf the Internet at home until 9 p.m. At 9 p.m., he started to get tired and moved into the trance often associated with compulsive online behaviors. Surfing the Internet until 9 was a cautious behavior, because he had to make sure his plans were in place to prevent surfing after 9 p.m.

Inner Circles are Unacceptable Behaviors
These are behaviors that you have determined are unhealthy in any and all cases. For some people, any explicit sexual online behavior at work is unhealthy. Surfing for porn at work or engaging in sexual chat conversations may fit here. Certain types of websites might fit here. The key is that YOU must agree to any behaviors that are defined as unacceptable.

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