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International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals

The International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) is one of several organizations that set standards for the professional treatment of sexual addiction[1] and multiple addictions. IITAP certifies qualifying healthcare professionals who complete a rigorous training, clinical supervision process, and additional criteria to become Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (CSAT)[1][2][self-published source?][3] or Certified Multiple Addiction Therapists (CMAT). IITAP is a certified educational resource for the American Psychological Association (APA),[4] the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC),[5] the National Association of Social Workers (NASW),[citation needed] the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC)[9], and the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (CaBBS).[citation needed]



In the early 1980s, Dr. Patrick Carnes published Out of the Shadows,[6] raising awareness about sexual compulsivity and addiction and eventually earning himself a reputation as the leading expert in his field.[7][8] Due to Dr. Carnes' popularity, addiction practitioners began associating their business practices with him — qualified or not. A standard of training and certification was necessary to create a unified group of certified professionals, as well as to preserve the quality of Dr. Carnes' work. This led to the creation of the Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, or CSAT, program in November 2000 as a way to address the overwhelming demand from therapists and mental health professionals for tools to help treat an ever-increasing number of patients who exhibited sexually compulsive behaviors. It’s estimated that sexual addiction impacts millions of individuals and families in the United States and the world. The increase in the number of people seeking treatment for sexually compulsive and addictive behaviors has outpaced the number of experienced professionals trained to adequately treat those people. Many professional healthcare education programs don't cover the specific challenges, skills and knowledge required to successfully treat sexually addictive and compulsive behaviors.[9] It became essential that CSAT training provide a form of quality control to ensure that clients and patients could receive competent treatment because sex therapists and other practitioners claiming to treat sex addicts often did not have specific training in the diagnosis, treatment and ethics of sex addiction.[2]

The CSAT program started as a stand-alone training and certification program built around academic study, experiential training, supervision and testing competence.[10] Increasing numbers of training and certification candidates led to the launch of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) in 2005.[9] In the U.S, the number of therapists treating compulsive sexual behavior has increased very dramatically within the last decade to over 1500 today, up from fewer than 100, and dozens of treatment centers are advertising treatment programs, up from just five or six.[11] The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health estimates that 3 to 5 percent of the U.S. population may meet criteria for sex addiction.[11]

CSAT certificationEdit

IITAP offers training and certification in sexual addiction and other addictions such as eating disorders and chemical dependency. IITAP administers two certifications – the Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) and the Certified Multiple Addiction Therapist (CMAT); the latter is for therapists who complete training in more than one addiction.[12][not in citation given]

Counselors have many options for obtaining specialized sexual addiction training; CSAT certification may be the best-known.[1] Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (CSAT) are licensed therapists with graduate degrees who demonstrate their competence in sex addiction therapy by becoming credentialed by the IITAP.[9][not in citation given][10] CSAT certification is the most in-depth training currently available for the treatment of sex addiction and is widely sought after by experts in the field.[2] IITAP credentials sexual health professionals on the basis of rigorous standards for academic preparation, supervised training and consultation, field-related experience and applied skills. Field experience and practical application of skills and competencies carried out under trained and approved supervision or consultation are crucial aspects of certification. Applicants must substantiate completion of certification requirements with academic transcripts and other formal documentation, and must also undergo peer review of their credentials. IITAP requires that applicants for sex addiction therapist certification have a Masters-level degree, post-degree clinical experience, liability insurance, a valid state license or certification to practice psychology, medicine, social work, counseling, nursing, or marriage and family therapy, and at least 5 years of experience in the counseling field.[13] Earning a CSAT also requires the therapist to attend four levels[14] of one-week training modules in person (120 hours plus additional homework), pass a series of competency tests, and have lengthy supervision by CSAT supervisors. Approved CSAT supervisors have to take special training as well, and in order to maintain active status as a CSAT or CSAT supervisor, a therapist has to attend an international conference every two years to learn about the latest treatment methods, and pay annual dues.[15][self-published source?]

Certified Sex Addiction TherapyEdit

The primary focus in certified sex addiction therapy is on providing support to clients to stop destructive sexual behaviors. Addiction therapy is a process which takes anywhere from one to two years upwards to four to five years. Factors which contribute to the length of treatment are: 1) time to establish abstinence from dysfunctional behaviors and learn healthy sexual focus, 2) the stimulation of new synaptic growth incorporating new sexual knowledge, relapse prevention, and 12-step participation, 3) extensive therapy around intimacy, affect management, and trauma history, and 4) working through consequences and complications resulting from the behavior (including legal, occupational, and relational). Core to this process is family and marital therapy to resolve grief, trauma, and differentiation issues.[16] Some CSATs refer clients to sex therapists for assessment and treatment of specific sexual problems outside the arena of sexual addiction, and some therapists are both CSATs and sex therapists.[2]

The completion of certain performable tasks by the patient is essential during treatment and throughout the recovery process. Dr. Patrick Carnes identified specific "tasks" typically accomplished by those in recovery from sexual compulsivity and these thirty tasks span the six stages of recovery. As the number of completed tasks increases, so does the success rate in recovery.[17]

CSATs are trained to treat partners of sex addicts and family members,[18] and may facilitate the disclosure process, which is a major step toward the addict regaining integrity and living without secrets or lies.[3] The disclosure process is planned and executed carefully through the oversight of a treating therapist with experience of how to structure disclosure for the maximum chance of success.[19][self-published source?]

Many therapists accept insurance and although sex addiction is not a reimbursable diagnosis by most insurance companies currently, qualified therapists also assess for other conditions that may be reimbursable since sex addiction is often accompanied by depression or anxiety.[2]


IITAP offers:

  • workshops on addiction and trauma
  • an annual conference
  • a web-accessible database of IITAP-certified sex addiction therapists and certified multiple addiction therapists[20]
  • the Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST), a free screening tool[16][21]

SAST is designed to assist in the assessment of sexually compulsive behavior which may indicate the presence of sex addiction.[citation needed] Developed in cooperation with hospitals, treatment programs, private therapists, and community groups, the SAST provides a profile of responses which help to discriminate between addictive and non-addictive behavior.[self-published source?]


  1. ^ a b c Notaras Murphy, Stacy. "It's not about sex". Counseling Today. American Counseling Association. Retrieved 2018-02-20. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Staci Sprout. Sex Addiction Therapy: What to Look for, What to Avoid. Self published blog. (May 5, 2011) [1][dead link]
  3. ^ a b Alexandra Katehakis. Erotic Intelligence: Igniting Hot, Healthy Sex While in Recovery from Sex Addiction. HCI. (April 12, 2010) page 235. ISBN 978-0-7573-1437-7.
  4. ^ American Psychological Association approved sponsors of Continuing Professional Education. [2]
  5. ^ National Board for Certified Counselors Approved Continuing Education Provider. [3]
  6. ^ Patrick Carnes. Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sex Addiction. Hazelden. (1983) ISBN 978-1-56838-621-8
  7. ^ Alexandra Katehakis. Types of Sex Addiction. (January 22, 2012) [4]
  8. ^ Biographic information about Dr. Patrick Carnes. Hazelden
  9. ^ a b c IITAP Official Website
  10. ^ a b Stefanie Carnes. Mending a Shattered Heart: A Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts. Gentle Path Press; Second Edition. (October 4, 2011) page 139 ISBN 978-0-9826505-9-2
  11. ^ a b Chris Lee. The Sex Addiction Epidemic. Newsweek. (November 25, 2011)
  12. ^ About IITAP. International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals.[5]
  13. ^ CSAT Prerequisites. (IITAP)
  14. ^ Kim Fuller. When sex becomes an addiction. Vail Daily. (January 23, 2012) [6]
  15. ^ Certification Criteria & Training Outline (IITAP)
  16. ^ a b Family Therapy Magazine published by American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy(AAMFT), January/ February 2010, page 10-17 -- “Understanding Cybersex in 2010”
  17. ^ Patrick Carnes. (1992) Don't Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction. ISBN 978-0-553-35138-5
  18. ^ Mavis Humes Baird. When Your Partner Is A Sex Addict. New York Times. (March 15, 2010) [7]
  19. ^ Nina Laltrello. The Two D-Day’s of Sex Addiction. A personal blog on (September 4, 2011) [8]
  20. ^ Sex Addiction Therapist locator (IITAP)
  21. ^ Sexual Addiction Screening Test (IITAP)

External linksEdit