Gender-based relationship and intimacy groups eliminate barriers commonly found in mixed-gender settings. Feeling self-conscious or embarrassed around members of the other gender is no longer an issue, nor is the potential distraction of romance. Gender-specific groups enable men and women to more willingly discuss deep-seated psychological problems that fuel sex or love addiction. Research shows the way in which men and women experience addiction differs. This includes the manner in which compulsive sexual behaviors manifest, triggers, family history, co-occurring disorders, polysubstance abuse and more. Gender-based group therapy better addresses the differences between men and women, helping clients overcome obstacles and begin to heal. A gender-based setting enables clients to more openly discuss their life, relationship and sexual histories, with the goal of developing more loving relationships, greater intimacy and healthy sexuality.
How Relationship and Intimacy Groups Help
Relationship and intimacy groups recognize women’s frequent experiences of physical, verbal, psychological, and sexual mistreatment. Female-only groups help women pinpoint unhealthy components in their environment that trigger compulsive sexual behaviors. Identifying sources of struggle and stress in a gender-specific group enables women to develop effective, safe and nondestructive alternative coping strategies in a non-threatening environment. Male-specific groups provide the same benefits as female-only groups. They address the full spectrum of co-occurring issues, such as substance abuse, emotional trauma and other addictions. Like women, men with compulsive sexual behaviors are often sexually abused during childhood; however, this stigma may be greater in men. Men are far more likely to discuss this with male peers than in a mixed-gender group. The end goal is to establish a sexual sobriety plan that serves as a lifelong guide toward healthier, more honest relationships.
Benefits of Relationship and Intimacy Groups
Although there are commonalities, males and female experience sexual addiction differently. Relationship and intimacy groups help females and males confront denial, work though underlying issues and learn to manage addictive behaviors in their daily lives. A gender-based group provides a setting with less potential sexual tensions and romantic distractions. This environment enables clients to discuss underlying issues and share the shame and guilt associated with this behavior with peers struggling with the same issues. Group participants define problematic sexual behaviors, learn how to permanently abstain from troublesome activities and engage moderately in non-problematic behaviors. Together, clients learn how minimizations, justifications and rationalizations sustain sexual addiction. Based on other members’ experiences, clients learn which interventions and coping mechanisms are most effective. Benefits include:
- Identification of co-occurring problems
- Reduced shame and guilt
- Enhanced ability to overcome fears
- Improved intimate relationships
- Greater impulse control
- Healthier sex life
- Better interpersonal and work relationships
- Reduced risk of sexually transmitted disease