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What is a CSAT?

A man sits in the foreground of the photo leaning back in a chair with his hands on his stomach, another man sits on the background with a piece of paper and pen

If you’ve researched porn or sex addiction treatments, you’ve probably come across the acronym CSAT beside the names of professionals in the field. But what is a CSAT?

CSAT stands for Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, meaning the person has special training to work with people living with sex addiction and their partners. 

When you’re looking for someone to help with your or your partner’s sex addiction, you want someone who understands this disorder on a profound level. 

CSAT therapy creates a safe space to tackle compulsive sexual behavior with a unique understanding of trauma and its relationship to addiction.


What is CSAT Therapy?

Certified Sex Addiction Therapists specialize in healing people with sex addiction. They go through specific accredited, intensive courses to learn how to help you heal. CSAT therapy offers a safe, supportive environment to identify underlying causes and learn healthy coping mechanisms.

CSATs have highly specialized knowledge of the underlying trauma, experiences, and emotional wounds related to sex addiction.

You can think of therapy as planning to build a home. You will build the house effectively if you have blueprints to guide you, the tools you need, and other professionals to help. But if you show up with a hot glue gun and some glitter, you’re not going to be successful. 

Your therapist, just like you, needs the proper understanding and tools to achieve the goals set out for them.

CSAT Training and Skills

CSAT mental health professionals undergo intensive training and certifications to effectively treat sex addiction, which can include a variety of hypersexuality disorders, including masturbation addiction and porn addiction.

Those who complete the CSAT certification process are highly skilled and possess specific abilities that other therapists and counselors may lack. They’re qualified to use a trauma-informed approach to therapy so you can address the root of the problem. 

During the certification process, the therapists gain expertise in assessing the type and level of compulsive sexual dependence. They know to consider past trauma, existing mental health disorders, and relationship dynamics when determining the root cause of the addiction and how it impacts behaviors. With this knowledge, they can tailor therapy to fit each client’s individual needs.

To attend CSAT training, you must have:

  • Degree and License. You must already be a fully licensed mental health practitioner. This prerequisite means you have a master’s degree or higher from an accredited institution in psychology, counseling, or a related mental health field.
  • Certification. You also must be certified and licensed to practice without supervision through a state board or international equivalent as a counselor, social worker, therapist, doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist. 
  • Experience. You must have five years of direct clinical counseling or therapy experience.

With the tools they gained in their CSAT certification process, the therapists can get to the heart of the issues at hand. They also can assess whether there are multiple coexisting types of addiction at play. Beyond guiding the healing process, they provide coping mechanisms and relapse prevention options. 

The training and certification process for CSATs is intensive and holistic. With more than 30 hours of direct supervision and a certification renewal every two years, these specialized therapists stay on top of all cutting-edge treatments. 

This guidance and experience mean they are the best-equipped therapists to help in your recovery.

The History of CSAT

Dr. Patrick Carnes founded the International Institute for Trauma & Addiction Professionals more than 20 years ago. IITAP provides training, certification, and resources for sexual addiction practitioners. Officials in this certifying body created CSAT.  

Dr. Carnes created CSAT training to help therapists learn the “task approach” to addiction recovery. 

Carnes is considered the founder of sexual addiction therapy and varying therapy types surrounding the subject. As a significant figure in addiction and sexual health, Carnes was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health. SASH bestows the prestigious Carnes Award annually to researchers and clinicians who have made remarkable contributions to the field of sexual medicine. 

Carnes also directly trained the founder of Begin Again Institute, under whom our team of expert clinical staff apprenticed and studied for several years.

CSAT has evolved to include effective teletherapy services, offering convenience and accessibility to those in need. 

The Therapeutic Process in CSAT

The CSAT therapeutic process uses a unique 30-task model approach broken down into early recovery tasks, long-term recovery tasks (internal and external), and relational/family recovery. The tasks don’t have to be completed in order but can cater to your unique recovery process. 

In the first task, you’ll begin by taking an addiction-related assessment, like the Sex Addiction Screening Test (SAST). If your experience aligns with others who have self-reported sex addiction, your therapist will ask you to make a list of frustrations or problems in your life and if they are caused by or worsened by sexual behaviors. 

You’ll then be encouraged to share your addiction story with a trusted person, in group therapy sessions, or with your therapist. And in turn, it’s helpful to hear testimonials from others, as well as impact statements from a partner or close friend. 

Part of the therapeutic process may include entering a 12-step program and finding a sponsor to help encourage your recovery. 

It’s also helpful for your partner or family to begin therapy to unpack their own trauma related to your sex addiction as well as take an active role in assisting your recovery. That’s why Begin Again Institute offers a Partner Support Program for the partners of men enrolled in our intensives.

Benefits and Effectiveness of CSAT Therapy

Sex addiction is often misunderstood. Between 10-20 million people in the U.S. report living with sex addiction, but it’s estimated to be up to 30 million. This disparity stems from a lack of resources, research, self-reporting, and feelings of shame surrounding the addiction. 

In other words, people don’t want to admit they have this problem, creating a barrier to seeking help. This often is the result of not understanding sex addiction or realizing how common it is. These are just some of the reasons it’s best to work with a trained professional who understands the complexities of sex addiction and can offer the best possible care.

Benefits of working with a CSAT include:

  • Proper Diagnosis. Sex addiction is often misdiagnosed. Clients may misinterpret their symptoms to be something else, like a high sex drive, or they may be in denial about the problem. Traditional therapists may miss the signs and symptoms. Speaking with a CSAT offers you a better chance at the proper diagnosis. 
  • Effective Treatment. CSATs offer the tools and methods for tackling sex addiction from the root. They recognize the many layers often accompanying the issue and can guide you on the best timeline for your unique situation. For example, they recognize it’s likely best to try one-on-one therapy in the beginning stages of recovery, while a traditional therapist may attempt couples therapy first. 
  • Holistic Approach. While CSATs specialize in sex addiction, they can also help you manage co-existing disorders, such as depression or anxiety. They can also offer therapeutic services for your partner to help understand your addiction and find support.

Seeing a CSAT for Sex Addiction

Finding the right therapist is crucial for your recovery from sex, pornography, or masturbation addiction. CSATs have gained the tools for treating sex addiction and compulsive behavior and are best suited to aiding you in your recovery. 

These highly skilled practitioners have intensive, experiential training from the best in the field of sex addiction. In addition, they must continually undergo observation and renewal to ensure they have the most up-to-date tools. 

If you want to build a house, you won’t do it with some chewing gum and instructions on constructing a couch. You need the right tools to get the job done. Healing from sex addiction is no different.

How Begin Again Institute Can Help

Recovering from sex addiction requires honesty, patience, and vulnerability. Working with a CSAT makes you more likely to maintain long-lasting recovery. 

At Begin Again Institute, our CSATs, trauma specialists, and certified clinical partner specialists understand the origins of addictive thinking and behavior. We integrate this understanding into all aspects of your specialized healing process. Learn more about our team of CSATs who will guide your healing journey. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Give us a call today to start on the road to long-lasting recovery.

  • Category: Sex Addiction
  • By Ryan Pryor
  • February 5, 2024

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