Pornography Addiction Therapy in Edinburgh

Seeking help for pornography addiction poses challenges, particularly in a culture that stigmatizes mental health issues. Acknowledging a struggle with pornography can be an immense hurdle. We appreciate your presence on this page, and at Edinburgh Therapy Service, we want to assure you that our space is non-judgmental. Here, you can explore your concerns without fear of judgment, with the assurance of being listened to and understood. Our commitment is to provide the support you need—we are here to help.

What is pornography addiction?

In essence, pornography addiction occurs when an individual finds it challenging to cease viewing explicit content, even if they have a desire to do so. This behavioural pattern can lead to significant negative consequences in various aspects of life, such as relationships, work, and overall well-being. People struggling with pornography addiction often struggle to control their consumption, resulting in an increased time investment in explicit content and a subsequent neglect of other crucial activities.


This problem can have profound effects on one’s mental health, contributing to distorted views on sexuality, intimacy issues, and a potential erosion of self-esteem. The compulsive nature of pornography consumption may lead to a diminishing interest in real-world relationships, exacerbating feelings of isolation and shame.


In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced compulsive sexual behaviour as a mental health disorder. Not specifically singling out pornography addiction, this classification highlights repetitive sexual activities taking precedence to the extent that individuals neglect their “health, personal care, or other interests, activities, and responsibilities.” 


Insufficient research on pornography addiction has prevented its inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) or acknowledgement by the American Psychological Association (APA) as a formal mental health disorder. Consequently, there’s a lack of standardised treatments. Despite this, as pornography addiction shares characteristics with substance abuse and other addictions, interventions often align with established addiction treatment approaches. These include psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle adjustments, and support groups.


The absence of formal recognition underscores the need for tailored and comprehensive approaches, drawing on existing addiction frameworks to address the complex nature of pornography addiction and its often interconnected relationship with other mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety.

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Our therapists are qualified and registered with reputable professional associations for psychotherapy and counselling.

When to seek help for pornography addiction?

You might find success in managing your pornography viewing independently. Nevertheless, if left untreated, compulsions or addictions can evolve into a detrimental force in your life.


Signs of concern may arise if you:


  • Engage in watching porn at work or in inappropriate settings and times.
  • Dedicate increasingly more time to consuming pornography.
  • Have unsuccessfully tried to reduce or quit on your own.
  • Experience feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety related to your pornography use.
  • Start needing more explicit material to achieve satisfaction, indicating potential escalation.
  • If the problem is affecting your daily routine, work, or responsibilities.
  • Persistent feelings of depression, anxiety, or a decline in overall mental well-being associated with pornography use.
  • When your relationships are being negatively impacted, causing conflicts or distancing.

Therapy for pornography addiction

While there is a lack of research on pornography addiction, and therefore a lack of standardised treatments, therapists often approach the treatment of pornography addiction like other addictive behaviours, utilising a range of well-established psychotherapy methods. With this in mind, therapy strategies targeting pornography addiction are vast and include the following approaches:


Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): CBT plays a pivotal role in identifying and challenging distorted thoughts and behaviours related to pornography consumption. It helps the person understand the triggers behind their addiction and develop healthier coping mechanisms.


Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): ACT focuses on accepting difficult thoughts and feelings while committing to behaviour change aligned with personal values. It can be valuable in developing mindfulness and encouraging a commitment to positive change.


Solution-focused therapy: This approach concentrates on solutions rather than dwelling extensively on the problem. Therapists collaborate with clients to explore their strengths and resources, assisting them in creating a path towards a healthier, porn-free lifestyle.


Group therapy: Group therapy provides a supportive environment where people going through similar challenges share experiences, insights, and encouragement. This collective approach develops a sense of community, reducing feelings of isolation often associated with addiction.

Our approach to pornography addiction

Though further research is essential to determine the most effective evidence-based treatment for pornography addiction, at Edinburgh Therapy Service, we implement approaches and tools with demonstrated efficacy across various disorders, notably incorporating cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). Our practice integrates strategies from therapeutic modalities like CBT, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), compassion-focused therapy (CFT) or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) to craft personalised treatment plans tailored to each individual’s unique needs. By drawing from established methodologies, we strive to offer comprehensive and effective support in addressing pornography addiction and promoting overall well-being.


In addition, we prioritise the establishment of a secure and non-judgmental space, providing you with the freedom to delve into your concerns without the fear of judgement. Our commitment ensures that you are not only heard but also genuinely understood, creating an environment where your exploration is met with empathy and support.


Typically, symptoms of pornography addiction can manifest in various aspects of a person’s life. Common signs include:


➤   Spending increasing amounts of time consuming pornography, to the detriment of other responsibilities and activities.


➤   Experiencing difficulties in forming or maintaining real-world relationships due to the preoccupation with pornography.


➤   Unsuccessful efforts to reduce or stop pornography consumption despite a desire to do so.


➤   Experiencing feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety related to pornography use.


➤   Needing more explicit or extreme material to achieve the same level of satisfaction.


➤   Withdrawing from social activities or real-world interactions.


➤   Difficulties in meeting work or academic obligations due to excessive pornography consumption.


➤   Symptoms of depression, anxiety, or a decline in overall mental well-being associated with pornography use.


➤   Failing to attend to personal health, hygiene, or other self-care practices due to excessive focus on pornography.

➤   Persisting in pornography consumption even when it leads to negative consequences in various aspects of life.


We don’t have a precise understanding of the causes of porn addiction, much like our understanding of the origins of mental health problems. What we do know is that certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing this issue. Some of these risk factors include:


Biological factors: Neurological and genetic factors may play a role in predisposing some individuals to addictive behaviours, including porn addiction.


Psychological factors: Underlying psychological issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, or unresolved trauma may contribute to the development of pornography addiction as a coping mechanism.


Social and environmental factors: Exposure to pornography at an early age, societal attitudes towards sexuality, and a permissive cultural environment.


Accessibility: The easy availability and accessibility of explicit content on the internet contribute to the initiation and maintenance of porn addiction.


Relationship issues: Difficulties in forming or maintaining real-world relationships may lead people to turn to pornography as a substitute for genuine connections.


Learning and conditioning: Behavioural conditioning, where repeated exposure to pornography is rewarded with pleasurable experiences, can contribute to the development of addiction.

Do you offer pornography addiction therapy near me?

The Edinburgh Therapy Service offers both in-person pornography addiction counselling in Edinburgh (United Kingdom), and online therapy accessible worldwide. You can find our exact location here

Your pornography addiction therapist in Edinburgh

We acknowledge the significant impact that pornography addiction can have on your overall well-being. Our commitment is to provide the support and guidance you need during this challenging period.

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Further reading on pornography addiction


> How to Stop Pornography Addiction

The Edinburgh Therapy Service is a psychotherapy and counseling practice based in Edinburgh, Scotland (United Kingdom). We offer therapy both in-person in Edinburgh and online, available in English and Spanish.

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Contact us for more information or to book your first appointment: [email protected]