Book Review – Sex Addiction: The Partner’s Perspective by Paula Hall

Eoin Stephens reviews a new book by leading UK Sexual & Relationship Psychotherapist Paula Hall. Sex Addiction: The Partner’s Perspective. A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Surviving Sex Addiction For Partners and Those Who Want to Help Them.

You wait years for a new book on Sex Sex Addiction the Partners PerspectiveAddiction, written by an experienced practitioner on this side of the Atlantic, and then three come along at once.

Following her own Understanding and Treating Sex Addiction (2012), and Thaddeus Birchard’s CBT for Compulsive Sexual Behaviour (2015), Paula Hall has now added another substantial contribution with Sex Addiction: The Partner’s Perspective: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Surviving Sex Addiction For Partners and Those Who Want to Help Them.

My own therapeutic work with sex addiction has certainly highlighted for me the fact that partners can experience an added level of hurt, trauma, betrayal and shattering of trust when they are faced with this type of addiction. This reality is very clearly addressed in Hall’s book, under chapter headings such as:

  • Why sex addiction hurts partners so much
  • Surviving the trauma of discovery
  • Repairing self-identity and self-esteem
  • Rebuilding trust

With novel sexual opportunities now so easily accessible via the internet, this is an increasingly important area of therapeutic work. It is also a complex one, so books such as this are vital and repay detailed and repeated study. It is realistic but hopeful, and the author’s experience as a psychosexual therapist adds a welcome positive dimension to the long-term picture in relation to sexual recovery.

The Partner’s Perspective has been written to help partners and those who care about them to survive the shock of discovering their partner is a sex addict and to help them make decisions about the future of their relationships and their lives.

This book will be of benefit both to practitioners and to those who may find themselves in the situations described in the book.

You can purchase this book on

Sex & Pornography Addiction

Sex and pornography addiction is a real and growing problem in today’s tech savy Irish society. Awareness, prevention and early intervention are key to reducing the impact of problematic sexual behaviours and sexual addiction. For many people it can be difficult to break the sexual acting out cycle alone. Many factors such as embarrassment, shame or secrecy present as a barrier to seeking professional help.

Today in Ireland, there are various ways men and women can seek help and support for problematic sexual behaviour using personal counselling & psychotherapy services, twelve step support group programmes and a wide range of books and media on the subject. The following information may be of some help if you are trying to figure out whether sexual addiction is relevant to you or someone you are concerned about.

What is sexual addiction?

The term ‘Sexual Addiction‘ is used to described out-of-control, damaging sexual behaviour. Terms such as ‘Sexually Compulsive Behaviour’ and ‘Sexual dependancy’ are also used to describe the same problem. Because sexual addiction can take so many different forms we often use the plural term “Sexual Addictions” in our work. The sexual addict may engage in or feel compelled to seek out a variety of sexual behaviour and activities despite the negative consequences this may have on his or her personal life and physical or mental health. Often the addict makes continued failed attempts to stop their behaviour.

The addict may engage in single or multiple types of sexual behaviour such as; 

  • Anonymous sex
  • Chat room/online sex
  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Compulsive use of pornography
  • Dangerous sexual practices
  • Erotic Massage
  • Exhibitionism
  • Fetishes
  • Having multiple, ongoing affairs
  • Illegal sexual practices
  • Partner sex
  • Prostitution
  • Sexual or romantic intrigue
  • Sexual obsession or fantasy
  • Sexual preoccupation
  • Sexting
  • Telephone sex
  • Voyeurism


What are the Signs of Sexual Addiction?

  • A pattern of out-of-control sexual behaviour;
  • Severe consequences due to sexual behaviour;
  • Inability to stop despite adverse consequences;
  • Persistent pursuit of self-destructive or high-risk behaviour;
  • Ongoing desire or effort to limit sexual behaviour;
  • Sexual obsession and fantasy as a primary coping strategy;
  • Increasing amounts of sexual experience because the current level of activity is no longer sufficient;
  • Severe mood changes around sexual activity;
  • Inordinate amounts of time spent in obtaining sex, being sexual, or recovering from sexual experience;
  • Neglect of important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of sexual behaviour.

(Carnes, 1991)

The Sexual Addiction cycle

For sexual addicts an addictive experience progresses through a four-step cycle, which intensifies with each repetition.

  1. Preoccupation | The trance or mood wherein the addict’s mind is completely engrossed with thoughts of sex. The mental state creates an obsessive search for sexual stimulation.
  2. Ritualization | The addict’s own special routines, which lead up to sexual behaviour. The ritual intensifies the preoccupation, adding arousal and excitement.
  3. Compulsive Sexual Behaviour | The actual sexual act, which is the end goal of the preoccupation and ritualization. Sexual addicts are unable to control or stop this behaviour.
  4. Despair | The feeling of utter hopelessness addicts have about their behaviour and powerlessness.

The pain the addict feels at the end of the cycle can be numbed or obscured by sexual preoccupation, which re-engages the addiction cycle.

(Carnes, 1983)

If you would like to find out more about getting help for problematic sexual behaviours or sexual addiction contact us or email

The Centre for Addictive & Problematic Behaviours

We provide a range of counselling and psychotherapy services to adults and partners troubled or affected by problematic behaviours and potential behavioural addictions. To find our more about problematic and addictive behaviours click here. Some of the areas we work with are below;

  • Problematic Behaviours
  • Behavioural (Process) Addictions
  • Pornography Addiction
  • Sex Addiction
  • Gambling Addiction
  • Drug Abuse
  • Substance Abuse
  • Gaming
  • Food

“We cannot become what we need to be, by remaining what we are.”                                                           Max DePree

An initial assessment can help begin to establish what core areas the client may need to address in order to overcome any problematic behaviours. Appointments are for 50 minutes. Find our more here