Philadelphia Addiction Therapist

Food Addiction • Shopping Addiction • Prescription Drugs • Sex Addiction • Relationships • Love Addiction

We specialize in treating: Sex and Love Addiction, Food Addiction, and Chemical Dependency


Dr. Nerenberg believes that people can be addicted to more than just drugs and alcohol. They can be addicted to any pleasurable type of behavior such as gambling, eating, spending or engaging in sexual behaviors. She views addictions as an ineffective coping mechanism where you numb pain with: love, sex, food, gambling, shopping or substances.

At Dr. Alyson Nerenberg Psychology Associates, we believe that a holistic approach is essential to long lasting recovery. Healing must include the body, mind and spirit.

We also believe that addictions are symptoms of underlying intimacy disorders. After we contain the addiction, our long term goal is to treat the attachment issues and help our patients form meaningful relationships.

Lastly, our whole treatment team firmly believes that all individuals suffering from addiction can fully recover and begin new, meaningful lives. Based upon this belief, our commitment is to provide treatment in a truly positive and therapeutic environment.

Sex and Love Addiction

Sex addiction is an ongoing out of control pattern of sexual fantasies and compulsive behaviors that is causing negative consequences in the addict’s life. These repetitive patterns of sexual behavior are used to self medicate and stabilize emotional distress. Sex Addiction is not actually about the sex acts, rather it is about an addict losing himself in a fantasy world. The behaviors that a sex addict engages in are varied but can include: compulsive masturbation, viewing pornography, using prostitutes or massage parlors, anonymous sex or multiple affairs. It can also present as a “high” from flirtation or seduction, attempts for power and control using sexuality, and inappropriate boundaries with sex. A sex addict may try to stop or limit his sexual behavior on his own but is often unsuccessful and is left with feelings of guilt, shame or despair.

Love addiction can also come in many forms for example: obsessing over unavailable people, being addicted to the euphoric effects of romance, or not letting go of a toxic relationship. A love addict may obsessively check a partner’s Facebook page, look through a cell phone or wallet or constantly engage in driving by the love object’s home. Love addicts have often experienced some kind of abandonment growing up, so they create a fantasy world in order to fill the void of missing intimacy. The love addict continues to create fantasies in their adult life and ends up building a pattern of intense fantasy based relationships.

Both sex addicts and love addicts frequently come from families where there was physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect. In this practice we not only treat the addict, but we also treat the traumatized spouse and other family members. We recommend psychotherapy as well as involvement in twelve step programs.

Food Addiction & Compulsive Overeating

Signs and symptoms:

  • Body image shame(about size/body weight/ appearance)
  • Claiming hunger despite adequate food consumption
  • Feeling ashamed or fearful when confronted about the problem
  • Feeling lonely, depressed, worried or preoccupied
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Rapid eating or eating constantly (grazing)
  • Sense of losing control with food and weight
  • Sneaking or hoarding food, even immediately after meals
  • Spending a great deal of time alone/social isolation
  • Tendency to overeat sugar/flour products or trouble with volume

Chemical Dependency

Primary illness or disease which is characterized by addiction to a mind altering chemical. It includes both drug addiction and alcoholism. A chemically dependent person is unable to stop drinking or taking a particular mood altering chemical despite serious health, vocational, legal or social consequences. It is a disease that impacts people of all ages, races, religions or economic status. It is progressive and chronic, and if left untreated can be fatal.