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Can Psychologists Identify When the Problem is Cybersex Addiction?: An Exploratory Study Open Access


Other title
Sexual Opinion Survey
sex addiction
mental health professionals
cybersex addiction
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Yassa, Easter Samir
Supervisor and department
Dr. George Buck (Educational Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Jim Eliuk (Educational Psychology)
Dr. Shaniff Esmail (Occupational Therapy)
Dr. Sophie Yohani (Educational Psychology)
Dr. William Whelton (Educational Psychology)
Dr. Maryanne Doherty-Poirier (Public Health - Administration)
Department of Educational Psychology
Counselling Psychology
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Clients with cybersex addiction (CSA) are a growing challenge for mental health practitioners. Therapists must be more skilled and adept at identifying when the core issue is cybersex addiction in spite of client denial and potentially confounding symptoms. The main purpose of this exploratory research was to determine whether psychologists can identify when the presenting problem is cybersex addiction among non-disclosing clients. A pilot was conducted with 10 doctoral-level graduate students in psychology and three Expert Validators to evaluate the construct validity and internal reliability of the Client Vignette Scoring Instrument (CVSI) created for this study. The CVSI provided participants with three fictional case vignettes which each incorporated a specific number of CSA criteria. The case of “Jeff” included no CSA symptoms, “Sophie” included the minimum required for diagnosis, and “Bill” included the maximum. Psychologists were then recruited via the CPA and the PAA online and by mail, resulting in a final sample of 93 participants. Three surveys were administered: the CVSI, a Modified Sexual Opinion Survey-Revised (SOS-R-M), and a demographic survey. Alpha was set at .10. Results of a chi-square test for goodness of fit indicated that a significant proportion of psychologists missed correctly identifying CSA as the primary presenting problem in the case of both Sophie and Bill, but correctly avoided identifying CSA as the primary presenting problem in the case of Jeff. Results of a multiple linear regression found no significant predictive model in any of the three cases for the IVs age, number of years in practice, Internet familiarity, sexual attitude and amount of training in CSA/SA on the outcome variable perception of CSA symptoms. Neither age, sexual attitude, gender, nor province of registration had a significant effect on perception of CSA symptoms in any of the cases. Doctoral level psychologists had significantly lower scores on the outcome variable than Master's level in all cases. Implications of the findings are discussed.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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