Monday, March 18, 2013

Excerpt from my "Teen Cyber Pornography Addiction Workbook"


If an adult recognizes that he has developed a problem controlling his online sexual behavior, if he believes he has crossed the line from enjoying cyber pornography to feeling he is addicted, there are therapeutic options available. There are a wide variety of self-help books, 12 step meetings, outpatient counseling programs, as well as residential rehabilitation programs.

If, on the other hand, you are a teenager who has lost control of your online sexual behavior, particularly viewing cyber pornography, there are very few treatment options. In the greater Los Angeles area, for example, there are no programs specifically designed for teenagers who have developed an addiction to online or cyber pornography - whether outpatient or residential. In fact, if you need inpatient rehab, you need to go to Utah.

Additionally, there is no self-help book written for teens --nor are there 12 step meeting that are organized for teens with cyber pornography addiction. If you survey Amazon for books written for teens facing cyber pornography addiction, you will not find a single resource. However, there are multiple resources for adults, including workbooks that follow established and proven treatment programs.

Why is this the case? Why have mental health professionals and addiction specialists stayed away from teens who are struggling with their online sexual behavior? There are many reasons. At the top of the list is working with teens is far more complex than working with adults because teens come to therapy with parents. Parents need to be part of the therapeutic process – which means therapists have to incorporate family therapy and family therapy means working with siblings. In comparison, working with adults does not require the involvement of any family member – which makes treatment less complicated.

Another reason teens are left out of the current treatment programs, is the availability and intensity of online sexual content, particularly cyber pornography, has gotten out in front of most parents, mental health professionals, addiction specialists, and sex educators.

Although research shows that teens are accessing cyber pornography and are encountering significant problems controlling their behavior, there is a lack of awareness on the part of adults who are in a position to provide help to teens. This absence of awareness is not due to a lack of concern, but rather due to the absence of awareness of the type of sexual content that is now readily available online to children and teens.
In other words, the vast majority of adults, even those who focus their careers on  understanding child and adolescent sexual behavior, are unaware of the scope and intensity of sexual stimulation that is now part of the daily lives of children and teens through the Internet.

The fact that children and teens now possess Wi-Fi enabled devices, whether a smart phone, tablet, or laptop, has allowed children and teens to surf the Internet anywhere and find pornographic websites that most adults do not know exist. Most adults would struggle to believe the type of porn is now available without cost as children and teens “click” their way through cyberspace. In short, there is a high degree of ignorance on the part of adults about how Internet enabled devices are being used by children and teens to access sexually explicit, violent, and perverse images and videos.

Christopher Mulligan LCSW

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