This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Ethnographic Content Analysis of Postings to an Online Group Forum: Individuals Abstaining from Pornography




Jenkins, Morgan

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the experiences of individuals that have chosen to abstain from pornography with an aim to better understand its effects. Current research suggests negative effects of excessive pornography use, but without the removal of the variable of pornography, the implications are weak. Many in the counseling profession are ill-prepared to assess for or treat those that report concerns related to pornography use and with the ever-increasing availability of internet pornography, it is more likely than ever that counselors will encounter this issue in their clients. This study utilized an Ethnographic Content Analysis to collect and analyze 700 postings made by 20 individuals on an online group forum designed to assist those that are abstaining from pornography. The studied group exhibits many of Yalom’s Therapeutic Factors of Group Counseling (2005), as well as typical online self-help group behaviors (Kim, Faw, & Michaelides, 2017). Three thematic categories, Imparting Information, Catharsis, and Instillation of Hope, were discovered, as well as 10 subcategories. Trending topics throughout all thematic categories were also investigated. This study found that those that choose to abstain from pornography typically report positive changes such as improved sexual experiences, improved confidence and social skills, and more. Other important conversations between participants involved pornography as an addiction, how to tell a significant other about their pornography use, and coping skills to avoid relapse. Overall, the group studied was a supportive and helpful environment for its members.