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Chabad Lifeline blog

Feature Focus: Certified Sex Addiction Therapist


Jennifer Kotry MA CSAT is Chabad Lifeline’s Senior Clinician. Originally from England, she spent several years here in Montreal before moving to Toronto where she lived for 30 years. She studied at both York University and the Adler School, where she gained her Master's Degree in Psychology.

Her last position before moving back to Montreal was with Bellwood Health Services, an addiction rehabilitation centre in Toronto. She describes the training and experience there as "monumental" in laying her foundation for addiction and trauma work.

“I started as an intern at Bellwood, and then I was hired as family counselor,” Jennifer recalled. “I graduated to group therapist, and then took training in trauma education and sex addiction.”

Professional Training in Sex Addiction

Jennifer was fortunate enough to train with Patrick Cairns in the United States, eventually becoming a CSAT (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist).

Patrick Cairns is a Psychologist and Researcher as well as a recovering alcoholic and sex addict who is very open about his past. His first book, written in the 1980s, is called "Out of the shadows: understanding sexual addiction."

Since then he has written many books and research articles on sex addiction and has led fairly extensive and ongoing research on the issue.

Cairns created a treatment protocol on sex addiction. His theory is that sex addiction can be defined as a relationship with sex rather than people, and that sex addiction manifests itself in a myriad of different and complex ways. He was the first clinician to name this as an addiction. He has been instrumental in advancing addiction research, and making addiction professionals aware of it. He is the founder of IITAP (International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals). This organization now offers training worldwide to professionals.

Quebec’s only working CSAT

In 2010, Jennifer decided to return to Montreal to be closer to her family, and met with a psychologist living in Montreal who had been involved with Bellwood. “my goal and dream in coming to Montreal was to open up a full sex addiction practice, and she suggested I sit down with Chabad Lifeline, which at the time was Project PRIDE,” she recalled. “I met with Rabbi Bresinger and Karen, and we hit it off immediately - clearly a meeting of the minds.”

At the time, there was limited help and 12 step support for sex addicts in Montreal. “Chabad Lifeline has really done a great job in expanding the treatment availability, support, and meetings for those suffering from sex addiction.”

Jennifer is Chabad Lifeline’s Trauma and Sex Addiction Therapist. She is currently the only working CSAT in Quebec. “I am a consultant and supervisor to the staff on anything related to sex addiction,” she explained. “I also consult on trauma and addiction, but my main role is running the sex addiction department. I see clients both individually and in a group format, and I also cofacilitate a partners of sex addicts group with our Clinical Director Karen Bresinger. I’m a clinician who works hands on with the clients, demonstrating a treatment modelbased on research and experience to treat this very challenging issue.”

Jennifer’s philosophy

Sex addiction is about manageability and consequences due to one’s actions. “This isn’t about someone exploring their sexuality, watching pornography, masturbating or paying for sex,” explained Jennifer. “None of that is necessarily an indication of sex addiction. It’s when the consequences - both external and internal - of a person's actions seriously impacts their life. Examples of external consequences are when others such as their partners and families are in great distress because of it, their marriage or relationships are threatened or over, they lose their job and in some cases are in legal trouble. One of the more damaging internal consequences is disconnect and a loss of self, yet they are still not able to stop. This is when they start to realize they are in trouble.”

Clients who meet with Jennifer for the first time undergo an intake, history, and several assessments. “Through the assessment and history, I gain a clearer sense of what is going on for them, and offer a full treatment protocol.”

"A cornerstone of the treatment is a period of abstinence from ALL sexual behaviour for a period of time – at least 90 days. Clients often react with horror at this suggestion," Jennifer reflected with some amusement. "After picking themselves up off the floor, I explain that this method has been proven to work and it’s a commitment to the process. That’s how it starts."

During the abstinence, repressed memories sometimes surface, or more commonly those memories they have been medicating become more evident. “We then get to the root of the problem,” she explained. "I tell clients that this isn’t about trying control anyone’s sexuality. It’s about freeing the addict from the proverbial monkey on their back. To let them decide on their sexuality and not have their sexuality control them."

The abstinence, however, is just a step in their treatment journey of recovery from this serious problem. The recommended treatment includes, as noted, a period of abstinence, group therapy, individual therapy, and 12 step participation in an S group fellowship.

The partners of sex addicts are strongly encouraged to follow a similar protocol. Jennifer openly states, "sex addiction is a tough nut to crack," but following the recommended treatment can and does indeed work.

The Chabad Lifeline team

Jennifer is involved in clinical team meetings where client cases are discussed. Chabad Lifeline’s staff works together to form the best possible treatment plan. Her insight as a sex therapist is invaluable to the team and those reaching out for help.

“A huge advantage is the team and the feeling that I can bring challenging cases to discuss and they are all processed by the team in an environment that is accepting, non-judgmental, and professional.”

So Jennifer's dream of a sex addiction practice in Montreal has indeed become a reality!

It called to his soul


The painting depicts a woman standing behind a child, who is placing a coin in a charity box. A portrayal of innocence. Purity. Kindness.

It's a work of art.

Gabi* was at Chabad Lifeline's Open Speaker's Meeting in the Carole & Andy Harper Group Therapy Room one recent Tuesday at noon, and the painting, standing prominently on the front wall, called to his soul. Gave him comfort.

After the meeting, he asked his Addictions Counselor Ruth about the painting. What was happening in the scene.

She explained that the artwork had been painted by Haim Sherrf, who donated the masterpiece to Chabad Lifeline. It depicted a daily Jewish tradition of dropping coins into a charity before one asks for his or her own needs.

"Giving back is part of the healing," she advised. "Getting out of yourself and thinking of someone else is an important part of Chabad Lifeline's philosophy and treatment."

That's what led to our charity box initiative.

Local artist Veronique Aglat painted a colourful mural of a man stuck inside the charity box calling for help, and the boxes have been distributed to restaurants, offices, homes and stores throughout Montreal.

We encourage everyone to place a coin or two in a charity box every day and to think about the wellness of others when they do so. Together, let´s make the world a better and safer place.

Due to the fact that we receive no government funding, every loonie placed in one of our charity boxes goes directly to helping save lives.

If you would like a Chabad Lifeline charity box to use in your kitchen, dining room or office, call 514-738-7700, private message us on social media or email us and we'll drop one off for you.

*Note: Gabi is a pseudonym


Lost in a hallway of the Jewish General Hospital

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A woman.


Slurring her words.

Lost in a hallway of the Jewish General Hospital.

Then a man swam into vision. Looking down with concern. "Is everything ok? Can I help you?"

Edward Wiltzer is Chairman of the Board of the JGH Foundation, a position that puts him on campus regularly. He was rushing to a meeting and saw a young woman in distress. Stumbling. Slurring her words.

He stopped.

Her name is Jody*. She has three children. Divorced. Struggling to survive financially. Struggling to survive emotionally. Struggling to survive her alcohol addiction.

She had driven to the hospital, drunk. She knew she needed help. She had reached rock bottom but couldn't find the courage to ask.

Mr. Wiltzer brought her to emergency and asked if she wanted help with her drinking. 

Mr. Wiltzer also serves Chair of the Executive Committee at Chabad Lifeline. He would miss his meeting, but a life was at stake. Three childrens' lives were at stake. He called Chabad Lifeline, set up an intake meeting, and guided Jody to Chabad Lifeline's door.

He saved her life.

Jody has spoken at Chabad Lifeline events. She has shared her story. She has been clean five years and counting.

But the story isn't over.

This week, Chabad Lifeline's director, Rabbi Benyamin Bresinger, received a phone call.

Ever since she was a child, Jody had always wanted to be a nurse. To help others. But she had an internal fear. Her brain couldn't work out math problems. As part of training, she would have to take a math course that would require difficult calculations.

Her therapy at Chabad Lifeline helped her overcome the fear and get into a nursing program.

The reason for the call? She had received the results of her first math test. Her score? 96%.

Jody will be reading this email. We wish you the best moving forward and we know you will make a great nurse, with empathy for every future patient.

We know this because your life was saved thanks to the empathy of one man who stopped in a hospital hallway.

*Names and some information has been changed to protect the anonymity of those in the story. 

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