“How can I support others as they develop plans?” Counseling Resources (2020).
“How can I support others as they develop plans?” Counseling Resources.
As a Church leader, you have a unique opportunity to provide support to individuals struggling with pornography use and to their spouses, parents, and others involved. Your support can help alleviate the shame often associated with pornography use (see Wendy Ulrich, “It Isn’t a Sin to Be Weak,” Ensign, Apr. 2015, 30–35).
Many individuals find success by developing and following a personal plan to overcome pornography. Both the individual who is viewing pornography and his or her spouse or family member may need an individualized plan to find healing. It is each individual’s responsibility to seek personal revelation, find answers, and develop and follow his or her plan. As a leader, you can encourage and support individuals as they develop plans, but the responsibility to make plans and evaluate their effectiveness belongs to individuals.
Through inspired conversations with individuals and their spouses or family, you can encourage them to develop plans to overcome this difficult challenge. As individuals develop plans to change, you can support them in the following ways:
Focus on Christ.
Use appropriate resources.
Although there are many approaches to helping individuals move forward, your role as a leader is to help others to come unto Christ, find spiritual healing, and seek reconciliation with God and with those they have hurt through their behavior.
As you encourage individuals to develop plans, strive to help them increase their faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Help others recognize the blessings that come from being obedient to Heavenly Father. Encourage them to apply the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and to keep their covenants. Invite them to seek the Spirit’s direction as they implement and refine their plans.
Strive to help individuals turn to the Savior. He is the ultimate source of strength and possesses ultimate wisdom. He knows and loves each person individually. As individuals turn to the Lord, they will be guided in how to respond to this problem, and He will minister to them. Seek inspiration on how to support individuals and spouses and how to help them build their relationship with the Savior.
Pornography thrives in secrecy and often fosters shame. Encouraging individuals to connect with others may help them feel strengthened. It is important that both the individuals and their spouses build a support system of people who encourage them and their growth.
The extent and nature of the support needed depends on factors unique to the individual. An individual who has viewed pornography only a few times may need less time and less outside help to eliminate the problem. The same may be true for his or her spouse. However, an individual who has viewed pornography for a long period of time without the spouse’s knowledge or who has progressed into hardcore pornography will probably need more time and more help. His or her spouse may also need more time and more help.
Love, support, and guidance can come from family members. Encourage individuals to draw upon the strength of their spouses, parents, or extended family in dealing with a pornography problem. However, individuals should consider the pain family members may be feeling. Encourage individuals to seek support from family members who are prepared to support them. Pornography use typically thrives in secrecy; therefore, careful disclosure can be a helpful part of recovery. In the case of married, engaged, or committed couples, disclosure is a necessity.
There are often many factors leading an individual to use pornography. Spiritual remedies, although important, may not be the only help individuals need. They may also need to address other factors in their lives, such as biological, psychological, and social influences. Appropriately encourage individuals to consider the types of help they might need to address these other influences in their lives. This may include seeking help from resources such as credible websites and medical and mental health professionals.
Medical and mental health professionals may be needed, especially when individuals have had minimal success in spite of much effort in their attempts to eliminate pornography from their lives. Spouses may also need this type of help as they deal with the betrayal of their trust. Whomever they choose to involve in their plans to overcome pornography should be comfortable with the standards of the gospel.
Many different online tools may help individuals resist the temptation to view pornography. Some of these provide helpful information, such as the “Addressing Pornography” section of ChurchofJesusChrist.org, the Support Guide: Help for Spouses and Family of Those in Recovery, the Church’s media channels, fightthenewdrug.org, and more. Some digital resources provide interventions such as filters that monitor or block access, and other resources, such as fortify.com, provide a structured intervention.
As individuals create plans, encourage them to consider:
Writing down their plans, stating specific activities and goals clearly, and then sharing, evaluating, and adjusting plans as needed.
Identifying how to remain committed, even when they encounter setbacks.
Creating an accountability plan, where they can report their progress to a trusted family member, friend, or Church leader. Accountability reports do not necessarily have to be done with the bishop.
Inviting a spouse, parent, other family member, or another person to evaluate and follow up on plans. It can be helpful to report to someone else regularly on how well plans are working. (See “What do I need to focus on to overcome my pornography habit?”)