Last week I spent four days with 21 people who came to Cincinnati to attend the second training presented by the Association of Partner of Sex Addicts Treatment Specialists (APSATS) to learn about partner trauma and how to help partners and addicts recover from sex addiction-induced trauma. Each of these participants came with their own unique gifts, skills and experience in the field and in how they respond to partners.
We had therapists, addiction specialists, coaches and those in recovery among us, which contributed to rich conversations out of their diverse experiences. We spent a great amount of time alerting participants to the potential harm of treatment strategies or models that do not fit the presenting problem of the client, and sought to build awareness and empathy for the partner’s experiences.
I found myself very grateful for those who took the risk to join us in our second training, knowing APSATS is still developing as an organization and in our presentations and materials. I compared this group to a second child – we were a little more relaxed the second time around! However, we learned we still need to improve our communication, our processes, and provide more education on interventions.
After completing two trainings, I am aware of our continued challenges.
We will always work to fulfill the mission and purposes of APSATS – to educate and certify partner specialists (whether clinicians or coaches) who understand and respond to the sex addiction-induced trauma they experience, and to apply our multidimensional trauma model to the entire system. We start with how we conceptualize the experiences of the partner as traumatic responses, and then work to develop processes that enable those who help partners respond in appropriate and ethical ways to their needs.
We want to make clear who we are NOT. We are not training people to do deep trauma work through the various trauma interventions; there are many excellent credentialing programs for that purpose. Our certified graduate will be a partner specialist whose foundational model is trauma and who can take appropriate trauma treatment modalities and apply those to the partner and the system.
We promise to clearly communicate our desire to build upon the exceptional work of those who took great risks to even talk about sex as a behavioral addiction and who have provided help and hope to so many through the years. We do not want to set up an “us vs. them” type of position! We are moving beyond some historical models, but with respect for those who started and built this field of study. Our desire is to build healthy lines of communication with those who may disagree with us to help bring about understanding. We want to build upon those places where we agree: we share the same passion of helping those impacted by sex addiction.
We have accomplished much in one year as an organization and yes, we still have much to do! I am so grateful for those of you who have partnered with us. We ask that you continue to help us get the message out about the need for specialized training to help partners of sex addicts.