UK Council for Psychotherapy

UKCP

Accredited Psychotherapist

British Association for
Counselling & Psychotherapy

BACP

Accredited Counsellor

Counselling for Addictions
Central London, Camden, Kings Cross, London NW1
Glen Gibson - Dip. Counselling, MA Psychotherapy, Dip. Psychotherapy
UKCP & mBACP Accredited male Addiction Counsellor & Psychotherapist

therapy@counselling-london.org.uk 020 7916 1342

Unwanted Habits & Addictions

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Online Sex Addiction & Porn Addiction

Sex Addiction, Sexual Addiction Despite the negative consequences to ourself and others we may have persistent or uncontrolled escalating patterns of sexual behaviour, using sex like a sport to give us an adrenalin rush, yet fill the gaps in our life, maybe mistaking sex for loving feelings, maybe believing this is the only way of being in touch with our self, or feel something as we move away from romantic connection, intimacy as part of our sexual anorexia. Eating into our life, our repetitive sexual behaviour may go against our own morals, cross our professional and personal boundaries. We may compartmentalise things, objectify others. Searching for enmeshment or enjoying the thrill, having an obsession for women, men, addicted to climax, orgasm our actions may have become compulsive maybe craving female, male attention (see also Serial Sexual Relationships, Cheating In Our Relationship) and we may feel we have no control over it. Inside we may feel worthless, depressed and want to explore what a healthy sex life means for us.

Cyber Sex - From Curiosity To A Problem Some couples, who are geographically separated, or people who want to remain anonymous, may turn to cybersex. This can allow them to sexually explore and fantasise in ways they may not be able to do otherwise. We may have talked to people not really knowing who they are, exchanged pictures, arranged to meet up. Cybersex can provide an opportunity to sexually experiment, explore parts of our sexuality we haven't acknowledged or have sexual role plays. Cybersex can satisfy sexual desires, without the risk of pregnancy, STDs. Going online for sex (maybe through online chat or a social network) can take up less resources and effort to connect, than with a person in a real life meaningful relationship. Wanting our sexual freedom, what can start off as curiosity about online sexual activities, web sex, cybersex, live sex, video chat rooms, online webcam rooms (web cam rooms), cam to cam, cyber affairs or cyber-relationships, can for some end up being overused, problematic or obsessive, compulsive, like an addiction with all kinds of sexual services, hook up sites, escorts easily available, linked to our phones, apps, etc. We can make everything about sex. Our online sex addiction may creep up on us. Some people also use internet dating online specifically for sex, believing that we don't deserve love, and this may have become problematic. Empty inside, maybe wanting to fill us up externally, be hungry, greedy for sex, we may have internally abandoned ourselves, and our challenge may be to fill and love ourselves. We may be in a relationship or marriage and whether or not we believe our partner knows about what we are doing, the effects are likely to be picked up by our partner. Sex addiction counselling and sex addiction therapy can offer support with any of these concerns. (See also Seeing Someone Else, Affairs, Infidelity, Cheating In Our Relationship)

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Differences Between Online Sex & Face-To-Face Intimate Encounters The internet can help us save time, open up many possibilities and give us the illusion of sexual confidence. The internet for some people is the starting point to developing relationships. Yet often when we follow through by meeting our online contacts in the flesh, it doesn't work out because the subtle courtship steps were filtered or omitted. This affects the depth, quality, realness and soulfulness of the relationship. How a person looks, smells, subtle body movements, their tone of voice and other nuances, senses get missed, unless we meet up. If we are having anonymous cybersex, we may not have verifiable knowledge of the other person, including their gender, age, etc. Even if the person is "live on screen", roles can be played and subtle communication can be misunderstood as can sense of humour and type of personality. We may have become overly focused on sex, genitals, without warmth, intimacy. The internet cuts corners and condenses this courtship, yet it takes a long time to build healthy, romantic relationship, which requires companionship, sincere and real physical, skin-to-skin contact (see also Healthy Sex Life). When online, nothing can be off limits yet in the reality of our real encounters we may become disappointed with any limitations and our unmet expectations. By now we may be seeking sex addiction help. (See also Incomplete or Pseudo World)

Internet Pornography Addiction & Online Porn Addiction

Turning To Online Pornography Internet overuse or what has been called internet addiction may also include an addiction to pornography. Easily accessible and convenient, some people turn to internet pornography to respond to their sexual curiosity, explore their sexual fantasies, expand their sexual repertoire. Some may be seeking stimulation, sexual thrill, erotic pleasure, which over time may lead to lack of romance, avoiding intimacy - letting others in, as if a sexual anorexic. As a distraction, we may have turned to internet pornography as a means of ignoring our own personal sexual difficulties or as an outlet for responding to other struggles we face. We may turn to internet pornography as a reward for a "treat", which we deserve, to relieve our tension, relax as a crutch, to soothe ourselves, zone out for many reasons as a distraction, or even as a means of getting off to sleep. We may struggle to address unresolved issues in our relationship. With little risk of uncertainty we can have anything we want without waiting, fast forwarding where necessary, as if we have to have sex now, about our very survival. Sexual arousal through online pornography may become our norm and exposed to internet pornography enough times can render us sexually objectifying others. We may have become too dependent on pornography, have an internet porn problem, shouldn't be doing this but do it anyway and now be seeking porn therapy.

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Caught In The Trap Craving contact, allured by our own personal triggers, maybe develop an addictive need for novelty, downloading more and more extreme images, the visual stimulation, array of images, "availability", choice, menu of temptations and variety of what's before us, may tantalise us - images of people with different ethnicities, size, shape, sexual situations, scenarios, fantasies, we can fantasise about having sex with others. We can spend hours anticipating, thinking about going through this process. We may become captured by the visual images and what we see by the allure of beauty, attraction, desire, longing and want to capture the feelings we have in that moment, yet end up being captured by ourself. The deeper we engage in our online sexual activity, the harder it is to get out of this trap. It as if we are powerless. We may have become "caught in the web" and the beginning of internet pornography addiction may be emerging and we now may look for pornography therapy.

Out Of Control A lot of us have an unacknowledged part of our sexuality. The Internet gives us a way to look at this, yet we may not know how to put the brakes on and stop surfing the net. Overwhelmed, it can quickly become our sexual obsession with a need to push things towards taking risky steps which become harmful. Struggling to think, make conscious choices, we may have allowed our biological responses, impulses, to get the better of us and half-heartedly promise ourself we will stop - always in the future. Fantasy and reality can blur, which may be part the reason we are seeking internet porn addiction help, porn therapy.

Rationalising Our Behaviour We rationalise the way we act to excuse and justify our sexual actions. We can even believe our own impaired and distorted thinking - persuading and justifying that we are doing nothing wrong, e.g. "I don't have a pornography problem", "Internet pornography has nothing to do with infidelity", "It's not affecting me or others", "It relieves the pressure". Denial may be an aspect of our internet porn problem, porn addiction.

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Our Secret We can have all the trappings of life: money, authority, status, prestige, responsibility, yet have a cyber sex secret, and now seeking sex addiction help. If we are in a relationship, our partner can respond just as if we've had an affair (see Effects On Our Partner & Others). And we may secretly resent them being around, make excuses, so we can be on our own, can't wait for them to go out, go to bed. Some of us may enjoy the dare, thrill, testing if we will get "caught". We may refuse to see that we have an internet porn problem, porn addiction. (See also Illusion Of Safety)

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Need For Help Using porn may end up not being life-affirming, taking us further away from the "real me". In despair at times, we may have become a shadow of ourself. Some of us need to wait until we are forced to do something about our pornography problem by our partner, family member, friend or the legal system. Sometimes it's as if we are waiting to be found out. When our internet porn problem has been revealed (affecting not just our partner but our extended family, friends), we can often have sense of relief that we are now doing something about it - wanting to quit porn addiction. Others choose to initiate help themselves. Either way we need help for our internet porn addiction and seek porn therapy.

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Regaining Control Recognising we have a sex addiction, internet porn addiction, turning towards sex addiction help, porn therapy, we may struggle controlling our internet usage and need help to regain control, which plays a key part in our internet porn addiction. We may have become so dependent of using pornography that we find it hard to let go.

From Curiosity To Porn Problem We may have a pornography problem with the dark side of the internet, being in some ways imprisoned by misuse or abuse of cyber porn. What started off as sexual curiosity, may become like a Pandora's box and sabotaging things, we may now seek internet pornography addiction treatment.

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Escape Cutting off from any disturbing thoughts, we may also use pornography for stress relief, comfort, solace, release and to escape from frustrations, uncomfortable thoughts and feelings (e.g. fear, anger, shame or life itself), the pressures of life as a way of getting out of ourself. Shutting things down, blocking things out, using internet porn can be a way of temporarily anaesthetise our feelings, escaping into our fantasy world. In our attempts to escape, ironically we may become more uncomfortable, trapped inside our internet pornography addiction, struggling to free up our life.

Unable To Stop How to quit porn addiction may now preoccupy us. Turning to the porn highway, it can be as if we can't get off. We've been doing it for so long now, we might as well continue, may be another voice. As part of our sex addiction, we can choose to put sex above and beyond all our activities. We can become lonely, tired and hungry for something very deep. We may know, deep inside, that we need other people - engaging in fulfilling relationships, yet can't stop our world of online porn, and find it hard to trust others. Our internet pornography addiction can be like a drug when we are unable to stop, as if we let our urges, impulses get the better of us and there is no other choice. The quicker we do it, the quicker we can temporarily get rid of those uncomfortable voices, which tell us "Don't do it". Something clicks inside and then, like a switch, as if we turn into somebody else, we return to porn. It can happen so quickly. Our addictive porn use may never be enough and become rarely enjoyable. Sex addiction therapy can be a place to discuss this and find different ways of responding to our porn problem.

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Losing Ourselves What once we believed gave us harmless pleasure, may now have become our hidden curse. Easy distracted, pulled and compelled we slip deeper into the world of cyber porn, as if we are a different person, wrapped in our bubble to block everything out, disconnected in some way, lost or stuck, sleep walking or daydreaming, in a trance-like state, maybe numbing our feelings, distorting our values, perception, concentration. Our track of time becomes blurred, as if our mind detaches and we are free-falling into a disconnected state. We may lose our own momentum for what's important in life. Preoccupied, not only our time online is consumed by internet porn, but also the time we spend thinking about porn away from the computer - as porn consumes our mind, imagining, rehearsing scenarios, planning, anticipating, etc. As we switch on the computer, it can be as if we switch off inside, becoming glazed all over, stepping outside ourself, watching us do it as if our personality have two sides and this other side takes over moving from being in control to no longer. We may have let pornography take us over, as if it has control over us at times. By now we may have recognised we have an internet porn problem or porn addiction, seeking internet porn addiction help.

Stimulation & Erotic Triggers The easy availability pornography can stimulate our erotic triggers, flooding our senses with an infinite variety of images. The counselling for porn addiction can offer support in addressing how we can manage our addiction triggers.

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Preoccupation With Internet Porn Stimulating thoughts may creep in at any time, and when constant, they may drain our energy as we deplete ourselves. We can be preoccupied with searching for our erotic triggers, sexually objectifying the person linked to our source of arousal. This can happen not only online, but also in our offline world. We may not only objectify others, but it can be as if we become an object ourself, remote, addicted to pornography. Sex addiction therapy can look further into this with you. We may frequently worry when we can find the time to look at pornography (often getting angry at others' demands, which distract us), yet also fear that the extent of our pornography problem may be found out.

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Sense Of Isolation Believing we are unlovable and unworthy - maybe not liking ourselves, we conclude that others cannot meet our needs, so we escape into sexually explicit websites in order to bear our sense of disconnection, loneliness or alienation, yet our isolation increases the more hooked we are to online sex. The sex can become so important, it can almost become our reason for living, yet inside we feel lost, barren, dirty or as if our whole world is stagnating. Shoring up our internet pornography addiction, there may be an invisible wall around us and our esteem may plummet. We may have avoided emotional connection with our partner and indeed ourself. These issues can be discussed in the counselling for porn addiction.

Side Effects The preoccupation of searching can build our sexual excitement (release of dopamine), leading to release, relief. We can end up being addicted to the sex chemicals in our body. Searching for another "buzz" we may become sullen afterwards and many of us may become dependent on other substances, addictions, and the internet pornography addiction therapy can work with these too.

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Risks & Consequences Even if cautious in other areas in our life, some may get a thrill out of taking a few risks, get a kick from flirting with danger. We may temporarily relieve our stress by visiting online pornography sites, whatever the consequences. As part of our internet porn addiction, we become no longer aware of risks, dangers or consequences, yet we may be ready to turn to porn addiction treatment. We don't become accountable to who and how we are, denying its consequences.

Illusion Of Safety The pornography stokes fantasies, yet by now we may have cut off things, separate our pornography world from our other life. Entrenched inside our internet porn addiction, experiencing a more real form of sex can seem complicated or risky, needing much effort. Whereas in our fantasy world our fantasy sex gives us a fantasy of safety. We may believe we will be unseen, yet a part of us may secretly want to be "found out" (see also Need For Help). What this means for us can be explored in the porn addiction treatment, sex addiction therapy.

What & Who Is Real What we notice online is usually limited to exactly what people want us to know. Usually they, and sometimes we, are playing roles, which have little bearing in our "other" life, which for some can be disappointing, confusing. When we lose touch of who we are, we are no longer true to ourself. It can be as if we have allowed our internet porn addiction to take us over.

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Incomplete or Pseudo World The internet provides an incomplete or pseudo world, where we can find "a partner", communicate with them, see and hear them, and have sex. However, the senses of touch, smell, taste and much more are absent (see also Differences Between Online Sex & Face-To-Face Intimate Encounters). Healthy ways of attracting, dating and courting may also be absent. Intimacy is not rounded (see also Intimacy In Our Interpersonal Relationships). The lens with which we see others, and how we are seen, is split. The quality of the relationship is impaired. Often we can be deluded that we are experiencing full and real human contact, yet in fact the contact is through a machine, the sex is fantasy in a fantasy world. Our sex addiction may have taken hold of us and we may now be looking for porn addiction counselling, sex addiction counselling.

Fear We can be living a contradictory life, where part of us wants to know how to quit porn addiction, and the other half doesn't want to acknowledge we have a pornography problem. It may be that by now we experience some sort of an emotional deficit. Many of us can fear intimacy, or ending their relationship. In an attempt to avoid our fear and anxiety, about our ability to cope with rejection and abandonment we compulsively masturbate, as part of our internet porn addiction. We may struggle in saying "No" to our urges, compulsion. What this means for us can be included in the pornography addiction therapy, internet pornography addiction counselling.

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Intimacy In Our Interpersonal Relationships We may no longer allow ourselves to get excited by everyday sex. The challenges of intimate sex with a real partner (or future partners) may at times include mundaneness and complexity. We may no longer turn to our partner for sexual intimacy. Or our partner may say "No" to sex or be unwilling to indulge in all our sexual fantasies. True intimacy requires warmth, contact, emotional and physical connection. Being physically in touch with someone, we get a stronger sense of who they actually are, over the natural time it takes to develop a rounded relationship. The experience of time gets distorted, where we can get "lost" in virtual relationships. Discovering, noticing and flirting with someone in real encounters, in real time, provides a deeper and natural experience. Things may have become unbalanced. In flesh and blood relationships we need to consider others' needs and we can't so easily delete, or pretend things didn't happen, as online by clicking a mouse. We may turn to pornography so it spares us the anxiety of having to make it with someone else, avoid any risks, the frustrations of love, making love. "Might I get away with it?" may be our attitude. Exploring our feelings (rather than concealing them from us and our partner), and relationship between intimacy and sex addiction or internet porn addiction, can be included in the internet pornography addiction treatment. By now we may see our partner as the enemy. (For details see Unmet Love Needs & Neediness)

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Other Relationship Considerations Some of us may prefer masturbation with pornography to having sex with our partner, living life as if we are still single or have commitment issues. Besides, we don't have to do any relating and pornography is readily available, accessible, affordable. We may not have to worry about our performance, get involved in any conflict, address contraception, fertility issues, and for some the pornography sex can be more satisfying, because we struggle to find the necessary communication skills, be intimate, ask for what we need, offer what our partner needs.

Effects On Our Partner & Others Using porn may be a sanctuary for us, yet affect the sanctuary and safety of our relationship. Our partner may have discovered (to some extent), what we've been doing and we may hold a view that it's only pornography - that it's meaningless yet it is our brain, our body which engages with it, with real people at the other end. We don't exist in a vacuum and have divided our loyalties or believe we have no responsibilities. Similarly to the effects of having an affair, when using cyber pornography, our partner can feel sexually abandoned, blame themselves, their esteem and confidence may erode, they may feel insulted and betrayed, lose trust and respect in us (see also On The Receiving End - Responding To Our Partner's Affair). Security, robustness and empathy can get eroded, as may intimacy, emotional connection. What it means to be in a committed relationship can be discussed in the pornography counselling. The relationship can get to a crisis point, we may not only have neglected them, our relationship, but also us and may need to decide the parameters of our relationship, marriage. Recovering our relationship may now be a concern. Others too in our and our partner's life may also be indirectly, directly affected.

Soulless Hooked in the world of cyber porn, we can become barren - emotionally and spiritually void in our closed world, isolated turning to pornography in an attempt to fill the gap inside, which never quite goes away and our internet pornography addiction takes hold. The person we once knew - us, goes AWOL, reduces, caught in our misery and pain. What was once our guiding inner voice that gave us protective boundaries, collapses as we no longer care or think about our actions. It is as if our life is sapping away and we have a hole in our soul. We may want to quit our porn addiction, yet not now how to quit porn properly. The porn therapy can at ways how to break porn addiction, regain the fullness of your life back.

Behavioural Effects Of Sex Addiction, Internet Porn Addiction

  • Preoccupation with internet sex
  • Loss of focus in our home & at work
  • Relationships with partner, family & friends, work colleagues in crisis or jeopardy
  • Undermines our career, including lost productivity as we go "missing" at work
  • Frequent unsuccessful efforts to stop or control engaging in online sex
  • Secrets & lies
  • Crosses many boundaries with us & others
  • Blaming others
  • Places us in compromising positions
  • Compartmentalises our behaviour, as if we are in two worlds - one involving others, the other our secret, private, hidden world
  • Illusion of control
  • Prevents us doing other tasks & activities, forgetting things, procrastinating
  • Difficulties relating & maintaining positive, healthy & intimate relationships (see Relationship Counselling & Marriage Counselling)
  • Finding it hard to see what's happening to us, or to control our behaviour
  • Using sex as a means of avoiding problems or relief from our shame, guilt, depression, anxiety, low confidence, selfesteem, etc.
  • Searching for intensified or riskier sexual experiences
  • Turning to substances
  • Involvement in illegal acts
  • Erectile dysfunction, orgasm difficulties
  • Our finances suffer, usually much more than we care to imagine
  • Our physical, emotional, psychological, sexual & spiritual health

Familiar Sex Addiction, Porn Addiction Experiences Compromising our integrity, values, in the situations we get in, we may experience a range of emotions & feelings, including:

Hope We may be faced with a choice of being in the dark or reaching for the light. Painful though some of these feelings are, they can also be a positive sign, a wake-up call, meaning that you may be ready to honestly look at yourself and way of Iiving, the effects of your internet porn addiction, willingness to embark upon porn therapy.

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Role Of Sex Addiction Therapy Internet pornography addiction isn't only about sex or having a high sex drive and the counselling and psychotherapy acknowledges this. My role is to support you in making positive changes in your life to help you understand the significance of your porn problem, so you can:

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