Q&A on CSATs®, IITAP, and sex addiction

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Q: You have a page devoted to “taking down” the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP), and the “Certified Sex Addiction Therapists”® (CSATs®) they train. The page reads as somewhat biased. Why do you have such a biased page?

A: The very existence of the CSAT® certification implies that “certified” clinicians are somehow better, or more qualified, to treat a person complaining of sex addiction. IITAP also makes explicit claims – for example, that CSAT® training “is quickly becoming an industry standard for addiction professionals.” But the vast majority of “addiction professionals” in the U.S. have never heard of IITAP or the CSAT® certification program, let alone paid IITAP thousands of dollars. What’s more, many of those who are familiar with the program want nothing to do with CSAT® training. It’s hardly “industry standard.”

If IITAP claimed that “CSATs® have a robust training in a richly developed approach to treating a constellation of symptoms that has a large network of practitioners who believe strongly in the efficacy of our approach,” we would have no objection – as that is an undeniably true statement.

Instead, IITAP makes false and misleading claims. That’s why we have the page – so people seeking treatment can make an informed decision, relying on complete and accurate information.

We don’t intend our page – or this page – to be a “take-down” of IITAP or of CSATs®. Instead, we intend it to provide objective information to those who lack it. All of the information on the page was taken from IITAP’s own web site in October and December 2016. Some of the facts may have changed since then. If they have – if we have anything wrong – we hope you’ll let us know.

Q: Why do you single out this particular organization and certification for mention on your web site?

We provide therapy to people who complain of sex addiction, out-of-control sexual behavior, compulsive sexual behavior, and a variety of other sexual and behavioral complaints. IITAP, and some CSATs®, claim that sex addiction is a disease, and that the form of therapy promoted by IITAP and practiced by CSATs® is the (only) treatment. In other words, they suggest – without compelling evidence – that their method, their practitioners, are better suited to work with you than we are. That’s why we felt compelled to respond.

It’s vitally important that people suffering from sexual behavior or impulses they experience as out of control or addictive get help. And it’s also vitally important that, when seeking that help, people not be under the misunderstanding that there is a single mode of treatment, a single way of understanding, or a single certifying body. Clinicians – including not a few CSATs® – who signed this letter agree.

The CSAT® training is a training in one approach, in one modality. A CSAT® may well be right for you. Or, maybe not. The only way to know is to educate yourself – about the approach taken by your clinician, about her or his training, and, most important, how the therapist makes you feel and what it’s like to be with her or him. There is nothing more predictive of the value and efficacy of therapy than the “therapeutic alliance” – the quality of the relationship between patient/client and clinician. Nothing. Not education. Not training. Not experience.

Nothing.