Prodependence: A Compassionate Approach to Supporting Partners of Pornography Addicts

In recent years, there has been a significant shift in how therapists and mental health professionals approach recovery for partners betrayed by their partner's porn addiction. Traditional models of codependency have often placed undue blame on partners, labeling their supportive behaviors as problematic. However, the prodependent perspective, as implemented in the SABR (Sexual Addiction and Betrayal Recovery) program, offers a refreshing alternative that emphasizes compassion, support, and acknowledgment of the partner's efforts.

Understanding Codependency vs. Prodependence

The codependency model has long been a staple in addiction recovery frameworks. It posits that partners of addicts engage in enabling behaviors that contribute to the addict's problem. While this model aims to highlight unhealthy relational patterns, it often inadvertently stigmatizes partners, suggesting they are partly responsible for the addict's behavior.

In contrast, the prodependence perspective, as detailed in "Practicing Prodependence: The Clinical Alternative to Codependency Treatment" by Rob Weiss and Kim Buck, shifts the focus to a more empathetic understanding of the partner's experience. Prodependence acknowledges the partner's dedication and love, recognizing these qualities as strengths rather than liabilities. As Weiss and Buck (2018) explain, "With the prodependence model, therapists can meet spouses, partners, and loved ones of addicts where they are, which is coming from a place of love and desire for attachment" (p. 99). This approach reframes the partner's supportive actions as natural and positive efforts to maintain connection and stability.

The SABR Program's Prodependent Approach

The SABR program at Family Strategies Counseling Center integrates the prodependent model into its recovery framework for partners of those struggling with pornography addiction. By adopting this compassionate approach, SABR helps partners navigate the complexities of betrayal trauma without the added burden of blame. This aligns with Weiss and Buck's (2018) assertion: "Rather than telling these folks they are an intrinsic part of the problem, we can acknowledge their hard work and the difficulties they've encountered in trying to help the addict" (p. 99).

Educational Strategies

Educational strategies within the SABR program focus on empowering partners with knowledge about addiction and betrayal trauma. Partners are educated on the neurological and psychological underpinnings of pornography addiction, helping them understand that the addiction is not a reflection of their worth or actions. This education fosters a sense of empathy and self-compassion, allowing partners to process their emotions healthily.

The Role of Therapeutic Intervention

Therapeutic intervention in the SABR program involves individualized and group therapy sessions where partners can share their experiences and gain support from others in similar situations. These sessions are guided by therapists trained in the prodependent model, ensuring that the focus remains on validating the partner's feelings and efforts. Techniques such as trauma-informed care and attachment-based therapy are employed to help partners rebuild trust and develop secure relational patterns.


The shift from a codependent to a prodependent perspective in the SABR program represents a significant advancement in supporting partners of pornography addicts. By emphasizing compassion, acknowledgment, and support, the prodependent approach helps partners heal from betrayal trauma while maintaining their dignity and sense of self-worth.

Family Strategies Counseling Center has actively serviced clients since 2000 in treatment for pornography addiction or sexually compulsive behavior. Our SABR program for adults, Tribe for college students, and Band of Brothers for teens can help you! Give us a call at (800) 614-8142 or visit our website for more information: Family Strategies Counseling Center SABR Program.


Weiss, R., & Buck, K. (2022). Practicing prodependence: The clinical alternative to codependency treatment. Routledge Publishing, New York, NY.


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