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Prominent name in sex addiction treatment will cease operation

July 14, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A Los Angeles intensive outpatient program (IOP) that over the last two decades became one of the most prominent organizations nationally in treating sexual addiction and intimacy disorders will close its doors at the end of this month. The closing of the Sexual Recovery Institute (SRI) reflects the increasing availability of other levels of care for sex addiction, including within the programming of the institute's owner, Elements Behavioral Health.

As Elements works to transition SRI's patients and staff to other programs, SRI founder and sex addiction treatment leader Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S, late last month penned a lengthy reflection on the program he founded in 1995. Weiss now serves as senior vice president of clinical development at Elements, which purchased SRI four years ago and has since developed residential treatment options for sexual addiction at a number of its facilities across the country.

“And as much as I loved SRI, I kept hearing how our clients, often with profound attachment and complex trauma issues and/or co-occurring disorders, just plain do better when working longer term in residential care, where they can do both extensive trauma work and longer, better rounded spousal work,” Weiss wrote in a note posted to two listservs frequented by sexual addiction treatment professionals.

Insurance barrier

Weiss explained in his note that SRI also had suffered from an inability to enter the insurance market in California, by virtue of not being affiliated with a hospital. Cash-pay arrangements therefore had remained its primary revenue source.

“We fought hard for several years to get SRI formally designated and licensed to allow for full insurance reimbursement, but sadly this was not achievable,” Weiss wrote.

He added that as an IOP, SRI found itself in an uncomfortable middle ground between a growing number of residential programs and the emergence of more trained therapists who can work with patients with intimacy disorders in an outpatient setting.

As part of its formal announcement of SRI's closing, Elements stated earlier this month that it will expand its gender-separate residential intimacy disorders programs that fall under the Relativity name. It is planning to introduce these programs at its Brightwater Landing (Pennsylvania) and COPAC (Mississippi) facilities, having already developed them at The Ranch in Tennessee and The Right Step in Texas.

Elements in recent years has also supported trainings of professionals seeking the International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals' (IITAP's) sexual addiction treatment certification.

SRI enjoyed a strong reputation in the industry. In an e-mail sent to the community this week, the Los Angeles-based Center for Healthy Sex referred to SRI as a “solid program and a great team of clinicians.” That organization offers 6- and 11-day small-group intensive treatment programs in West Los Angeles, with the 6-day programs geared to partners of individuals with a sex addiction.

Name lives on

The SRI website will remain as an industry resource after the last patients have gone through the IOP. It has been populated with numerous self-tests and other resources over the years, and Weiss says it also will continue to serve as a referral source.

Weiss adds in comments to Addiction Professional, “SRI may reawaken in another form—teaching and research organization, training program, etc. But not active clinical work.”

He concluded in his note to the field, “I want to publicly thank the current SRI staff. Each one of them is an amazing and talented person and clinician—far beyond what anyone could expect from a typical outpatient staff member.”

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