On June 3, 2009, Elizabeth Griffin, MA, met with PHS therapists to update them on recent trends in problematic online sexual behavior.
From the advent of the camera to the smart phones of today, new technology tends to spur new ways to explore sexuality. For many people the Internet is a resource for finding information about their sexuality and sexual health. For some individuals the Internet offers a place to explore aspects of their sexuality which can enhance their overall sexuality. However, there is a percentage of people who explore sexuality on the Internet who develop problems with online sexual compulsivity which may crossover into illegal sexual activities. Recent online sexual trends include enhanced video, live chatting, and new sex toys that can connect to the Internet. Griffin said, "The Internet can be a wonderful tool to enhance sexuality and to gain information on sexuality - however it can also have a darker side - for some people engaging in online sexual behavior can become compulsive and destructive."
Griffin educates a wide range of individuals through her trainings. "Many family members, health care providers, and law enforcement professionals do not realize the breadth and depth of sex on the Internet," said Griffin. By providing detailed information about technology and methods of use, Griffin can help law enforcement, therapists, church leaders, and others to better understand and assist individuals and families who might struggle with a problematic online behavior. Griffin describes three key things that may indicate a problem: first, an obsession with the activity; second, attempts to stop the behavior with no success; and third, continuing to engage in the behavior despite consequences like the loss of a relationship or a job. Griffin advocates that therapists routinely assess for problematic online behavior of all types including compulsive gaming, shopping, and sex.
Griffin's company Internet Behavior Consulting Company offers consultation, training, and intervention for problematic online behavior. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has co-authored two books, In the Shadows of the Net and Cybersex Unhooked.
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