Treatment Options for Obsessive Behaviour

Sex therapists believe that problematic sexual behavior has many underlying causes (and is often a combination of several). It could be the symptom of a mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Or it could arise from personality issues, such as a drive to seek risks. A person might have unresolved trauma from childhood. Or he might be coping with loneliness or a lack of communication. “Issues that arise may include: ‘I feel powerless.’ ‘I don’t feel attractive anymore.’ ‘I’m not attracted to my partner.’ ‘I don’t feel like a real man,’ ” says Marty Klein, a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist in Palo Alto, Calif., and the author of “Sexual Intelligence.”

There’s no standard treatment. But any therapy should start with a comprehensive assessment of the history of the behavior (what is it, how long has it been going on, and what are the emotional triggers?), the person’s mental health (is there a disorder fueling the behavior?) and what is going on in his or her primary relationship. “Human sexuality is very complicated,” says James Olsen, a licensed mental-health counselor who runs a clinic in Bellevue, Wash., that specializes in treating problematic sexual behavior. “You need to examine everything that is going on.”