An example of applying Therapeutic Coaching to the Treatment of addiction to pornography.
Bob came for coaching when his wife became very upset with his Internet use of pornography, and tensions were getting to a crisis point in the marriage. Bob was in his early 40’s and was a very successful professional. He had been married for 15 years to Helen, and was an active participant in the life of his ten-year-old daughter. He worked very hard at whatever he did – work or play. Bob felt driven most of his waking day. He admitted that he had tried to quit going to the pornographic web sites many times, but the tension would build and he would “find himself on one of the sites.” Sometimes he would masturbate while watching the site, and at other times he would feel intense sexual arousal, but would release the sexual tension with Helen later.
They both reported an enjoyable, active sex life together. Helen felt that Bob was cheating on her when he went to the web sites. She would feel hurt, that there must be something wrong with her, something lacking, for Bob to want to go to the sites. Bob swore it had nothing to do with Helen, and he felt she was beautiful and desirable. All he could say was that he couldn’t stop going to the sites on his own, and needed help with this problem.
I had Bob use the Time Machine to activate the feelings in the pattern by going back to a recent time he “found himself on a site.” As Bob began to experience the entire process again in the present, step by step, starting before he actually made the decision to go to a site, feeling good about noticing consciously what was going on inside and out as he went into his “addiction trance.” We would notice how different parts of Bob seemed to be in conflict, without Bob being consciously aware of this battle going on inside.
Respecting the feelings, applying the principles of New Program in the process, and allowing himself to start where he was starting, made it possible for Bob to connect with a very driven seven-year-old Bobby who desperately needed relief. It was difficult at first. Bob would judge and feel shame about what he was noticing, and then a Second-Order feeling would kick in – defensiveness. The more accurately Bob began to see the pattern, the more choices he began to have in the present. What we discovered in Bob is a common pattern in the addiction to pornography.
A strong drive of conditional acceptance (see Power Of Mind “Conditional Acceptance” filter) leads to a lot of “self-sacrifice,” which in turn leads to feelings of entitlement/resentment and finally acting out the addiction. Bob worked long hours. When he really began to experience the feelings surrounding the addiction he realized that the pornography was one of the few things he really did just for himself. It also acted like a drug on his anxiety and depression. The truth is that pornography does tend to create a physiological reaction that does help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. I believe that in Bob’s case he would begin to need the “fix” of physiological reactions to the pornography when he began to feel resentful about the many things he was doing in his life.
When he began imagining life without his addiction, he began to feel empty and resentful. These feelings would scare him and increase his anxiety, which would cause him to push the entire thing out of his mind, making it impossible to proactively work on change. All of this leads to even more urgency to act out with the pornography to relieve the growing anxiety caused by judging what was being noticed. Although he intellectually knew that it wasn’t true that his sexual addiction was the only thing he did for himself, the feeling perception was very strong in the addictive trance.
He learned over time to comfort his little Bobby inside, and remove him from behind the wheel of his perceptual bus. He began to live more consciously, becoming aware of choosing to experience his life as an adventure and a gift to himself as well as others. From this perspective of grateful humility, Bob became able to supervise his wounded parts, and use the urges to go to the porno site as a signal that he needs to respectfully notice and respond to them in healthy ways.
The urge became an early warning signal for Bob to hold up his lantern of grace and see himself and others with humility. He was bringing truth into his life as a new perspective, a New Program that generates healthy choices in the present. Bob was pleased that the urge could take on a different meaning and activate very different choices.