- How is the LifeSTAR program different from 12-step recovery groups, counseling, or other types of group therapy?
- Why should a couple be involved in treatment together? What can I expect by involving my spouse?
- Can I attend alone?
- How long does the LifeSTAR program last?
- Can I just attend one phase or do I have go through all three?
- Do I really need to be in a group to overcome pornography or other sexually compulsive behaviors?
- How much will I have to disclose in the program?
- How many people will be in the group?
- How much does the LifeSTAR program cost?
- Do insurance companies cover this program?
- Other programs suggest you only need to understand brain science to fix the problem of pornography. What more is there besides healing the brain?
- Other programs suggest you only need to understand brain science to fix the problem of pornography. What more is there besides healing the brain?
- Why can't I do treatment alone?
- Why would I come to a group when I can just do treatment anonymously online?
- How does LifeSTAR work with 12 step-programs?
- Why are Christian men typically more at risk for becoming addicted to pornography and sex?
- What does LifeSTAR do for the Spouse?
- Can Partners get help even if the addict does not participate?
- What is sex addiction?
- How does pornography fit in to sexual addiction?
- Can women be addicts?
- Is there a program for adolescents?
- How long does recovery take?
1. How is the LifeSTAR program different from 12-step recovery groups, counseling, or other types of group therapy?
The LifeSTAR program is a 3-phase treatment program designed to take participants on a structured path through recovery. The therapists that run the treatment groups have specialized training in treating sexually compulsive behaviors. All groups are facilitated by therapists who work to help the group members deepen their recovery experience
Each phase has a different emphasis:
Phase 1 is designed to educate, create hope, and lay a strong foundation for future recovery work.
Phase 2 is task-oriented and helps individuals struggling with addiction begin deeper recovery work. The emphasis is on completing specific tasks that build understanding and lasting change.
Phase 3 is a process group where members take what they've accomplished in the previous two phases and integrate their learning for long-term recovery. The emphasis is on healing childhood trauma, family of origin issues, shame, and other issues related to long-term recovery success.
One important point to remember is that traditional 12-step work, group work, and even counseling often leaves the spouse or partner out of the process. In LifeSTAR, the spouse or partner is an integral part of the program, and receives just as much help and attention as the individual struggling with the addiction.
We strongly encourage individuals to continue attending 12-step meetings and counseling as they go through the program. We believe the LifeSTAR program to be an excellent compliment to any recovery work that is already taking place.
2. Why should a couple be involved in treatment together? What can I expect by including my spouse?
Many partners question why they would need to attend if they don't have an addiction. Research and experience show that when a partner is included in early recovery work, the chance of saving the relationship greatly improves.
As a result of being in a relationship with an individual struggling with an addiction, many partners feel isolated, confused, angry, and betrayed. The LifeSTAR program is designed to address the unique and sensitive needs of partners. Even though they attend the initial "Getting Started Workshop" together, partners do separate work from the individuals struggling with addiction.
Their work focuses on the nature of addiction, understanding their own families or origin, faulty belief systems about relationships, decreasing feelings of low self-worth, and creating healthy boundaries with loved ones.
In Phases 2 and 3, partners work on improving their own awareness of how the addiction has affected their lives and relationships, helps them improve their boundaries and ability to cope with the addiction, increases their self-care and healthy service to others, and helps them learn to express emotions in a healthy way.
Recognize that the first three to six months of couple recovery are usually the most stressful. Both partners will experience a wide range of powerful feelings. There are often difficulties in the areas of communication styles, intimacy levels, sexuality, spirituality, parenting, past trauma, and finances. Identification of the sexual addiction/co-addiction systems is painful at first, but holds hope for eventual relief of the far greater pain of the addiction.
The following is a list of what to expect in the early stages:
- Relief: The addict usually finds a great sense of relief after admitting the secret of the addiction. The end of the double life and shame may bring a premature sense of accomplishment, which needs to be reinforced by attending meetings, going to therapy, and connecting with program friends for support. Partners also feel a sense of relief at the end of secrecy and validation of their experience of pain.
- Anger: Both partners can expect to experience anger. The revelation that their partner is a sex addict may trigger much anger mixed with legitimate hurt and betrayal for the spouse. The addict sometimes feels frustration about the need to make changes as part of recovery. Both partners may be tempted to blame and shame the other.
- Hope: The work being done by both partners can bring new life and hope to the relationship. Both partners are encouraged to work in therapy, attend 12-step meetings, and group meetings.
- Intimacy: Recovering couples begin to communicate at a more intimate level, often on issues they have never discussed before. Communication skills such as empathic listening, being respectful, and expressing vulnerability are essential elements in recovery.
- Grief: The addict experiences pain over the loss of their "best friend," the addiction. The partner mourns the loss of the relationship as it was imagined to be. Partners often berate themselves for not having been aware sooner of the addiction.
- Sexual issues: Sexuality has a different meaning in recovery. The goal becomes intimacy rather than intensity. Abstinence, and later the frequency, types, and quality of sexual contacts, are issues that the recovering couple must address. Past sexual relationships as well as possible past child sexual abuse of either partner need to be explored. Where other sexual partners were involved, the possibility of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases must be faced early. Couples who continue to learn about healthy sexuality will do better as they address these sexual issues.
- Spirituality: Couples who grow spiritually together have hope that a power greater than themselves is also involved in the re-creating of their relationship.
3. Can I attend alone?
Yes. If you are single or involved with someone who doesn't want to attend, we strongly encourage you to attend the program. Since the group is designed to meet the unique needs of partners and addicts, you will receive the help you are looking for.
4. How long does the LifeSTAR program last?
The Phase 1 "Getting Started Workshop" lasts 6 weeks
The Phase 2 "Recovery Group" lasts 6-8 months, depending on the size of the group and the pace at which they move through the workbooks.
The Phase 3 "Advanced Group" lasts a minimum of 1 year.
5. Can I just attend one phase or do I have go through all three?
Even though each participant must complete Phase 1 to attend other phases, attending the other two phases is optional. We strongly encourage participants to participate in all three phases for the best long-term results.
6. Do I really need to be in a group to overcome pornography or other sexually compulsive behaviors?
This is a common question, as many individuals who struggle with addiction would prefer to do their recovery work privately. We find that individuals who participate in the group process make changes more quickly and have longer-lasting results.
Group work is unique because it challenges many of the core beliefs common to individuals struggling with addiction. For example, many individuals who struggle with sexual addiction believe that if people really knew their secret, they would reject them.
Attending a group disproves this belief, as group members actually deepen their connection to each other the longer they attend the group.
Eliminating unhealthy core beliefs, such as the one mentioned above, is the main goal to overcoming a pornography/sexual addiction. Group work is a tried and proven method for helping individuals to accomplish this goal.
Although attending a group meeting is initially awkward and uncomfortable, virtually all participants report feeling grateful for the experience.
All LifeSTAR groups are closed, meaning that new individuals are not added without the consent of the group members. This ensures safety and predictability in the process.
7. How much will I have to disclose in the program?
Only as much as you feel comfortable disclosing. We believe that secrets are the lifeblood of addiction. Therefore, working to disclose your secrets in a safe and confidential environment is an integral part of recovery. As you become more familiar with the other group members, you will feel more comfortable opening up and sharing your story.
8. How many people will be in the group?
The Phase 1 "Getting Started Workshop" typically has between 10-24 participants
The Phase 2 "Recovery Group" is made up of 5-10 participants per group
9. How much does the LifeSTAR program cost?
Phase 1 "The Getting Started Workshop" includes workbooks and materials. This includes 18 hours of instruction over the course of 6 weeks.
Phase 2 "The Recovery Group" includes four additional workbooks and six hours of group therapy per month. The Phase 2 group typically lasts 4-6 months.
Phase 3 "The Advanced Group" includes four additional workbooks and six hours of group therapy per month. The Phase 3 group lasts a minimum of 1 year.
Costs are determined by local areas and markets. Contact your therapist to find out more!
10. Do insurance companies cover this program?
We do not bill insurance for the LifeSTAR program. If you interested in using your insurance, you will be required to pay for the LifeSTAR program out of pocket and seek reimbursement from your insurance carrier. Most insurance companies won't cover the Phase 1 "Getting Started Workshop," as it's considered "psychoeducational." However, Phases 2 and 3 are considered group therapy and may be covered through your insurance.
11. Other programs suggest you only need to understand brain science to fix the problem of pornography. What more is there besides healing the brain?
Pornography problems certainly have a lot to do with the brain. We know that pornography dramatically changes the way the brain functions. So, understanding the brain and how to repair the brain is an important part of healing from the impact of pornography. LifeSTAR not only addresses this important aspect of recovery, but also expands the recovery experience to include other areas important to long-term change.
These areas include:
- Understanding how to deal with emotions in a healthy way
- Healing the impact of betrayal on relationships
- Reducing self-defeating beliefs and feelings
- Building a strong recovery support system
- Improving all family relationships
While healing the brain certainly reduces the chance that someone will continue to use pornography, lasting change happens when an individual understands and heals the emotions, behaviors, and thoughts that create and maintain the addiction. Techniques to heal the brain are only a small part of the whole treatment system. Since the addiction affects all aspects of an individual's emotions, thoughts, relationships, and behaviors, effective treatment should do the same. LifeSTAR is designed to thoroughly work through these different areas in an in-depth way, which increases the long-term success for both the addict and his partner.
12. How does religion fit in to treatment?
Treatment is more successful when the emotions, the mind, the body, and soul of an individual receive support and healing. Spirituality is nothing more than connecting the soul of an individual to something or someone greater than the individual. LifeSTAR does not endorse any specific religious denomination. Instead, LifeSTAR encourages each individual in recovery to seek out a Higher Power that will best support their soul, or spiritual self.
13. Why can't I do treatment alone?
Many individuals who struggle with pornography and sexual acting out behaviors often try for years to overcome the behaviors on their own. Some of them read books, search the Internet for ideas, and even connect online with others anonymously believing they're reaching out for help. Individuals who struggle with sexually compulsive behaviors also struggle with forming close relationships, trusting others, and having healthy views of themselves. Effective treatment will not only include learning and applying knowledge about the problem, but will also include connecting with others who are overcoming the same struggles. Reaching out to others for help and learning how to form healthy relationships are a significant part of the LifeSTAR program. When an individual learns to reach out to their partner, church leaders, friends, therapists, and treatment group, they begin to experience real and lasting change.
14. Why would I come to a group when I can just do treatment anonymously online?
Healing sexually compulsive behaviors such as pornography and other forms of sexually acting out require the healing of relationships. Staying anonymous doesn't require an individual to reach out to others and grow. Using pornography and acting out sexually are quick fixes for dealing with the stresses of life and relationships. Pornography also becomes a "fake relationship" between the user and the pornography. Likewise, anonymous relationships can become "fake relationships" that don't really require the depth of healing connection available in a relationship experienced in real life. Treatment should encourage individuals to challenge themselves and not keep doing emotionally low-risk behaviors, such as staying anonymous. The LifeSTAR program emphasizes confidentiality, which makes it easier to show up, share, and connect with others in a safe setting.
15. How does LifeSTAR work with 12 step-programs?
It's important for individuals going through the recovery process to connect with others who are in recovery. 12-step groups are community-based, free, and led by other individuals who are in recovery. These community groups offer ongoing support to individuals in recovery long after they've completed treatment. Seeking out this type of support during treatment allows individuals to expand their recovery circle of support. LifeSTAR supports 12-step programs such as Sexaholics Anonymous, S-Anon, and other community and faith-based 12-step support groups.
16. Why are Christian men typically more at risk for becoming addicted to pornography and sex?
Men who identify themselves as Christians usually have high expectations and ideals for their lives. They often work to pattern their lives after the moral code found in the Holy Bible. Even though they might live exemplary lives, they are also human and prone to making mistakes. How they handle these mistakes is directly related to whether they will be more vulnerable to a pornography or sexual addiction. In other words, if they feel like a failure every time they make a mistake, they're more likely to hide from others and pretend they're “perfect.” This pattern of living in secrecy is painful and can lead to using sexual feelings as a way to numb or block out more pain. This cycle of secrecy, shame, and sexually acting out can only be broken by coming out of hiding and recognizing that people aren't perfect and need help.
17. What does LifeSTAR do for the Spouse
Women come into LifeSTAR at varied stages in the recovery process with their partner. Some partners have known about their partners addiction for a long time and have never talked about it with anyone. Other partners have just discovered the addiction and are in the process of disclosure. In either case, partners are experiencing different levels of trauma and may feel that their life is chaos. LifeSTAR provides a structured environment to slowly sort through what they are feeling and going through. It allows women to collaborate with others that are going through similar experiences. Research shows that women will cope much better if they feel they are not alone with their problems and are able to "talk it out" with other women in a safe, confidential manner. Many women feel cut off from family members and friends that they would normally seek out in times of distress because they don't want to expose their husband. They may also feel confused about whether they want to stay in the marriage and worry that their family members or friends will shun them because they choose to stay with or leave their husband. LifeSTAR provides a group setting for women to sort through their feelings with this experience and heal.
18. Can Partners get help even if the addict does not participate?
There are occasions when partners are willing to seek treatment when the addict may not be willing. Many partners may feel that they should wait until both partners are willing to enter treatment. While it is necessary for both to receive treatment, it is important to realize that this doesn't necessarily happen at the same time. It is strongly recommended that partners get help even if the addict is unwilling. In many cases, this can be the motivation that an addict needs to enter treatment and begin the recovery process.
19. What is sex addiction?
People that struggle with sexual addiction form an attachment to their bodily sensation as a source of soothing in times of stress rather than turning to people in their life.
20. How does pornography fit in to sexual addiction?
Pornography is designed to create a sexual response in the viewers body that feels good. Individuals that become addicted to pornography use this "feel good" feeling to cope with the stresses they experience in life. Addiction develops when an individual turns to this type of sexual experience as a coping mechanism rather than choosing healthier coping strategies that alleviate the stress.
21. Can women be addicts?
Women are just as susceptible to using the sexual response in their body as a coping mechanism as men. Woman may face unique difficulties when they seek treatment because of negative societal stigmas about women who struggle with sex addiction. Research shows, however, that there are growing numbers of women that are seeking treatment.
22. Is there a program for adolescents?
LifeSTAR does offer a program called YouthSTAR for adolescents that struggle with sex addiction. Research shows that growing numbers of adolescent males and females are struggling with this addiction. Parents that seek help for their adolescents will minimize the damaging effects that pornography can create in their son or daughters life. Please refer to the YouthSTAR Page for more information.
23. How long does recovery take?
Recovery is a long term process that includes full disclosure, education and understanding about the addictive patterns, learning to live without the addictive behavior, and maintaining close relationships. This process has been found to last from 2 to 3 years.