About Rena Essrog

I am a licensed clinical social worker and a certified sex addiction therapist with 28 years of experience working with individuals, couples and families. I believe finding the right therapist is based on feeling safe, accepted, supported and understood. I became a therapist because I want to help people make their lives better despite the pain and losses they may have experienced growing up. I made this decision after working at a residential treatment center for teenage girls. The girls ranged in age from 12-17 and were placed in the facility through the legal system. Most of the girls came to the center because they ran away from home, were truant from school, got into trouble stealing or were using alcohol, drugs and/or sex in destructive ways. When I spoke with the girls they relayed to me the traumas they had endured such as emotional neglect, physical and sexual abuse, growing up with only one parent, or living with a parent who was an addict. The girls’ pain really stuck with me, and I felt passionate about wanting to try to make a difference in the world.

I attended the Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research in Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania, earning my Master of Social Service in 1995. I initially worked with children, which often led me to work with entire families and later with couples. I did not have a lot of training in working with couples, so I went back to school to develop my skills in couples counseling. I completed a post-master’s program in marriage and family therapy at the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia, Pa. in 2007. While working with couples, infidelity and addiction issues often came up. I wanted to learn more about pornography and sex addiction, as this was in the early 2000’s when the internet was starting to gain popularity. I then went to study with Patrick Carnes, the pioneer of sex addiction treatment, Stefani Carnes, Alex Katehakis, among many other experts in the field. I completed my certification as a sex addiction therapist (CSAT) from the International Institute for Addiction and Trauma Professionals (IITAP) in 2011. I continue to receive monthly supervision from Alex Katehakis to enable me to stay on top of the latest research and most effective tools for treatment of pornography and sex addiction.

What makes me stand out from other therapists?

I approach therapy as a partnership. I have expertise in relationships and addiction, but you are the expert on your life. I want us to work together to uncover the key to your happiness. In addition, I believe to be an effective therapist you must have the experience of being a client, and have a solid understanding of your own vulnerabilities so that you do not let them interfere with the work. I have completed my own therapy and continue to seek out treatment when issues come up for me.

In addition, my sex addiction certification training provides me with the most cutting edge and effective tools, comprehensive diagnostic testing and access to experts in the field to help you break free of compulsive sexual behaviors.

What are the benefits of therapy?

First and foremost, therapy provides a confidential and safe place to sort out your innermost feelings, worries and secrets. It is the one relationship where you can completely focus on yourself.

Other benefits include:

  • Freedom from self-limiting behaviors and thoughts
  • Knowledge of how your past influences your present behavior
  • Reduced need to self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, food, sex, gambling
  • Your perspective on people will change
  • Your perspective on life will change
  • Secrets can be released and their power will be reduced
  • Increased self-confidence and inner peace

IITAP, the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals, was founded by Dr. Patrick Carnes and facilitates the training and certification program for Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (CSAT’s). IITAP was created to provide standards for Sex Addiction treatment. IITAP offers ongoing education and workshops for both patients and therapists which emphasize a task centered approach to treatment.  More information about sex addiction can be found on the IITAP website  http://www.sexhelp.com