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For more than 30 years, I’ve devoted my career to treating additive disorders. It’s not because I have some romanticized ideal of saving the world from the ravages of addiction. It’s because the impact of addiction destroys an addict’s life, family, career, and ultimately may lead to divorce, loss of job, death or suicide.

Most people with addictive disorders don’t come to New Leaf Center for their first appointment because they recognize they have a problem; denial prevents them from recognizing the severity of their disease. In fact, most of our clients come because a loved one, employer, or other concerned party insisted that they seek help. Many new clients, however, present with intense shame and guilt regarding their out-of-control behaviors.

Addicts are fearful on many fronts. They’re afraid of losing their marriages, relationships, jobs, or standing in their communities. They have an even greater fear of losing or giving up their addiction, which, for many years, has been a source of relief from depression, anxiety, and sometimes childhood abuse or neglect.

The partners/spouses of addicts and other significant relationships are adversely affected. Many partners/spouses, upon discovering their significant other is acting out sexually, or who have endured years of alcohol or substance abuse behaviors, often experience symptoms of anger, depression, suspicion, and doubts about their long-term future. They didn’t enter into this relationship thinking they would be betrayed, or suffer relational worries or mistrust. They didn’t realize that they’d be competing against a powerful force like an addiction for love, attention, and just simple warmth and understanding from their partner.

New Leaf Center clinicians recommend that therapists who wish to treat sex addiction obtain the training to become a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) through IITAP (International Institute for Trauma & Addiction Professionals). IITAP, developed by Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., is one of the most highly regarded and rigorous certification programs in the United States.

The initial CSAT training takes approximately one and a half years to complete and requires the therapist to attend four one-week training modules. One of those modules specifically addresses the direct impact that addiction has on the partner/spouse and other family members of the addict. In addition, CSAT candidates must complete 20 hours of supervision with a qualified CSAT Supervisor before they are certified to treat sex addiction and often co-occurring addictions like substance abuse and spending disorders.

After becoming certified, CSATs must attend a one week IITAP conference at least every two years to qualify for certification renewal. The CSAT certification is complex and expensive to attain and maintain; but is well worth the effort to provide knowledgeable, effective treatment to help sex addicts regain healthy personal, professional, and emotional stability.

There are detractors to CSAT training and requirements who often take the view that CSATs are sex negative. Nothing is farther from the truth. The goal from the very beginning of this training is to help identify pathological and harmful sexual behaviors that may be detrimental to the individual and their relationships. The second goal is to give clients the tools to stop harmful pathological behavior and embrace healthy sexuality.

New Leaf Center has been a leader in the treatment of addictive disorders in Central Florida since its beginning in 1990, and it is our goal to continue to provide the best outpatient addiction and mental health treatment in our area.

Dan Crockett, M.S., LMHC, CSAT-S, CAP