In this fast-paced world, it is not unusual for couples to struggle with sexual intimacy. Whether it’s an issue related to low sexual desire or problems with erection and orgasm, individuals and couples are becoming more open to the idea of seeking sex therapy.
Despite the growing social acceptance of seeking help for sexual issues, an air of mystery continues to surround sex therapy. There is confusion about what sex therapy is and what happens in sessions. The confusion helps foster the overall discomfort that comes with talking to a stranger about something as intimate as sex.
What is sex therapy?
Sex therapy is strictly talk-therapy. There is no touch or nudity involved. It is considered a specialty within the area of psychotherapy.
A sex therapist is a specialist in treating sexual issues and has specialized training as opposed to a regular therapist who may only have the minimal amount of training in sexuality needed to obtain a professional license.
Sex therapists possess extensive post-graduate training or a named specialization or degree in sexuality, such as a doctorate. Professionally trained sex therapists possess advanced knowledge of the anatomical and physiological responses of the sexual response cycle, are skilled at providing psychotherapy and have expertise in relationship/couples counseling.
Clients searching for a sex therapist are encouraged to request a list of training experiences in these specialized areas if they are unsure about the qualifications of the therapist. Seeing a sex therapist is similar to seeing a gynecologist for gynecological concerns rather than seeing your family doctor. Usually, clients seek sex therapy after general psychotherapy is unsuccessful in resolving their sexual problems.
What happens in sex therapy sessions?
A trained sex therapist conducts a very thorough biopsychosocial assessment of the couple or individual. A biopsychosocial assessment is done to identify the physical, psychological and social issues that underlie the sexual problem. This is followed by a detailed sexual history with both partners which helps the sex therapist to determine if the sexual issue is chronic as opposed to situational or acute. Depending on the specific sexual issue, the therapist may refer the client to a urologist and/or gynecologist to rule out physical causes.
Sex therapy addresses the emotional, social and relational causes of sexual issues.
During the sessions, the therapist helps the couple or individual to uncover and alter their beliefs, thoughts and behaviors that are contributing to the problem. Behavioral exercises are the cornerstone of sex therapy and are practiced by the clients at home in between sessions. Through these exercises, clients learn the fundamentals of healthy sexuality-communication, flexibility & sensuality.
Is sex therapy for you?
Sex therapy is appropriate for both individuals and couples interested in overcoming a sexual issue or interested in improving their sexual connection.
Mismatched desire in a couple is the most common reason for couples to seek sex therapy. Other reasons include premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, not being able to orgasm, the impact of aging on sexual pleasure, and overall dissatisfaction with the sexual relationship.
People who are not in relationships can also benefit from sex therapy. In fact, you don’t have to be in a relationship or need your partner to attend sessions, in order for you to get the most out of sex therapy.
For example, if you have always struggled with orgasm and want to uncover the psychological barriers that are holding you back from embracing the full range of your sexuality and learn ways of overcoming your inhibitions, sex therapy can be very helpful. The same goes for individuals struggling with performance anxiety or premature ejaculation.
At times, being single or unattached is the best time to tackle these issues because you are not preoccupied with your partner’s response to your problem or worried about your ability/inability to please your partner.
Sex therapy can also help people explore their attraction template, sexual orientation, fetishes, and kinks.