Lessons on Pornography Addiction – help for mentors and coaches

Lessons on Pornography Addiction – help for mentors and coaches

Pornography addiction is a growing problem in society, affecting men, women, children and marriages, and bringing with it a range of problems; from relationship breakdown and emotional intimacy to sexual problems. More and more people are seeking help as they begin to realise the impact that porn use has on their lives.

Our own story with porn addiction has led us to help others with the same problem. We have learned some valuable lessons over the years, both for our own recovery and in helping others as they seek to live a life porn free.

Here we share some of those lessons to enable mentors to help those who are affected by porn addiction.


Establish Accountability 

At the start of the mentoring relationship, establish an expectation of total honesty. They need to be honest with you if they want to get the best out of the relationship. Helping addicts to make secrecy the enemy and not the porn use itself, will discourage them from lying and minimising the problem. Partners may feel that their reaction to the problem is unjustified, so help them to feel validated as they share.


Ask Awkward Questions 

Talking about porn is a really awkward topic! In order to break the ice, you need to shrug off any hang ups you might have about talking about sex and related issues. You will need to be frank, and get comfortable with words that we might consider taboo.


Relieve Shame 

People with a porn addiction already feel ashamed of their habit. Christians are particularly good at compounding the shame of an addict and if you know anything about addiction recovery, you’ll know that shame is an unhelpful emotion when you’re trying to move past an addiction. Focus on creating distance between ‘what they did’ and ‘who they are’.


Reinforce Responsibility 

That said, it’s really important that people who are addicted to porn don’t see themselves as victims, but change agents, with the ability to fix their own mistakes. Particularly if they are married or have family responsibilities, there are other people who will be deeply impacted by their actions.


Know When to Refer to a Specialist 

This can be a complex and deep-rooted issue and in our experience, if you’re not confident that you know much about this topic, you should consider referring to someone who does because you may do more harm than good. This is particularly true if you are working with a partner of a porn addict; you might not be equipped to deal with domestic violence trauma in your coaching, and it’s a similar experience for a betrayed partner. APSATS coaches specialise in sexual addiction related trauma.


Ask What They Consider to Be Unwanted Behaviour 

Ask them to be as specific as they can about what they want to change. Unwanted sexual behaviours are diverse, and you shouldn’t assume that what you would consider unwanted behaviour is the same as them. They may not have thought it through clearly themselves! SMART goals come in very handy when dealing with sexual addiction.


The Authentic Lived Experience is The Most Powerful 

Before meeting other women who had experienced the same issue, I felt isolated and lonely; my friends and family were unable to understand the complex emotions I was feeling. When I met other women who ‘got it’, it helped me move forward and feel validated. The lived experience of porn addiction recovery is tough and unique but can be inspiring to someone starting out on their journey, who may feel liberated by meeting someone else in their position. If you have a story to share, as painful as it may be, it can be a gift in this area.


Sometimes Change Is Happening, and it’s Not Obvious 

It is easy in recovery to make an absence of ‘acting out’ behaviours the measure of success, but lasting change comes from laying solid foundations for decision making, emotional intelligence and healthy habits, which can take time. Measure their success by the positive steps they take in these areas too.


Knowing When to End the Mentoring Relationship 

As mentors and coaches, you know that all mentoring relationships must come to an end. However, it can be hard to know when this should be with a recovering porn addict, because the work is long term and continuous. Sometimes you’ve done as much as you can to help them on their journey and it might be time for them to take positive steps alone, or with someone else.

Helping people find freedom from the effects of porn addiction is hard work, but extremely rewarding and is life changing for both addicts and partners.




Bob Retallick-Cheel is a recovering porn addict, having been sober for over three years. He now mentors other men seeking porn addiction recovery, working with the Naked Truth Project as part of their Click to Kick Programme. Rachel Retallick-Cheel’s journey with porn addiction comes through her husband. She now works with the Naked Truth Project, helping female addicts and partners. She is currently completing her Masters dissertation, focusing on the Church’s response to partners of porn addicts.

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