The Mormon Mental Health Association

Supporting Mental Health Within the Mormon Community



Position on "Sex/Porn Addiction"

There is currently much contradicting information available to the general public regarding the commonly used term of “addiction” to address issues of sexuality.  One of the roles MMHA takes seriously is to be up-to-date on credible, peer-reviewed, best-practice approaches to all issues surrounding mental health and serve as educators of such information.  Therefore, the following bullet points have been developed to help educate Mormon members and leaders regarding the topic of sexual behavior:


· Currently “sex addiction,” “pornography addiction,” “love addiction,” etc. are not classified as psychiatric disorders.  These terms are not found in the DSM 5 (Diagnostic Statistical Manual) or the ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, a medical classification list created by the World Health Organization) used by clinicians to assess their clients and therefore, they are not accurate diagnoses. 

·  MMHA recognizes that even though “sex addiction” is not a currently viable diagnosis, sexual behavior can become compulsive or problematic and interfere with overall healthy functioning for a variety of reasons.  MMHA supports sex-positive approaches to addressing these types of issues, which can cause significant distress for individuals, relationships, and communities. Dr. Neil Cannon, an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and Supervisor of Sex Therapy states: “If someone is acting out in a way that feels out of control to them sexually, it’s usually caused by something else, some combination of mental health issues like anxiety, ADHD, OCD. The result is that many clients get shamed by spouses, family and friends for being a ‘sex addict’ when what they really needed was a supportive counseling experience founded in solid principles of psychotherapy and marriage counseling.”  Buster Ross, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s LGBTQ-Integrative Program Director states, “It’s not that the struggles aren’t real.  It’s just that professionals are not convinced that ‘sex addiction’ is its own condition, perhaps best understood as symptomatic of other underlying mental health disorders (ADHD, impulse disorders, trauma-related disorders, bipolar disorder, stimulant-use disorders).”

· MMHA is concerned with the common rhetoric currently found in Mormon culture where terms such as “sex addiction” are used to describe a wide range of behavior that usually has more to do with living certain religious or conservative values and standards than diagnosable criteria.  MMHA takes the stance that it is important to be able to distinguish the difference between supporting religious belief/values and unnecessarily pathologizing sexuality. MMHA encourages its practitioners to properly diagnose and treat underlying issues that may be affecting sexual or other types of human behavior. MMHA is concerned with the growing number of treatment centers, programs & trainings being developed that treat unwanted or out-of-control sexual behavior from an addictions model or by religiously-biased practitioners and that those within the Mormon population/culture are vulnerable to seeking incorrect and even harmful treatment for sexual issues.


It is for these reasons that MMHA does not endorse sex addiction treatment models. A paramount goal of MMHA includes helping the general public, ecclesiastical leaders, and health care professionals within the Mormon community work towards approaches and treatment modalities that promote healthy sexual education, sexual development, and relational intimacy.


* MMHA welcomes clinicians and educators who follow a sex addiction model to join the organization and be part of an ongoing dialogue, conferences and trainings. However, MMHA will not include “sex addiction” language or certifications on the website’s directories. The MMHA also reserves the right to not include clinicians or clinics that adopt these practices in its referral directories.


March 16, 2016