A sex therapist is a medical specialist who offers counseling and therapy to people or couples who need help with the emotional and psychological aspects of sex. They are advanced-degreed doctors who specialize in sexuality and relationships. Some people seek help raising their sex drive, while others want sex to stop being a cause of suffering or advice on how to transition from a monogamous relationship to an open one.
Depending on their level of education, most sex therapists do both sex therapy and counseling. Because sexual problems are sometimes triggered by or lead to troubles in a love relationship, it is not uncommon to seek help for both sexual problems and relationship problems. As an example:
- No sex drive or poor libido, as well as sex arguments
- Erectile dysfunction and a general lack of intimacy in the relationship
- Distinct sexual preferences and general communication challenge
What Exactly Is Sex Therapy?
Sex therapists typically provide a combination of talking therapy and exercises to complete at home in between appointments. Exercises can include learning more about yourself and your body, as well as working on rebuilding intimacy with your spouse.
Sometimes the exercises are more psychological in nature, and sometimes they are more physical – but you never have to worry about therapy sessions becoming even vaguely sexual – they never do. Seeing a sex therapist is similar to seeing any other therapist, counselor, or psychologist in that you receive psychological help, but the therapist is also trained in sexology.
What Does a Sex Therapist Do?
A sex therapist can be a psychiatrist, a marriage and family therapist, a psychologist, or a clinical social worker. We are specially trained in sex therapy approaches in addition to the minimal amount of sexuality training required for each of those licenses.
There are a few graduate institutions in the United States that specialize in sex therapy training. Some persons get their expertise through intense self-study and attendance at the annual conferences of major sexological organizations. We have a dozen scholarly journals devoted only to sexual studies.
Seeing a sex therapist is analogous to seeing a gynecologist for gynecological issues rather than a general practice physician. Both have concentrated their efforts in that area. That’s not to argue that a non-sex therapist can’t help you with a sexual problem; it’s just that the chances are slim.
Most sex therapists have a unique understanding of sexuality that transcends personal perspectives or experiences. When someone presents us with a problem, we usually have various options on how to handle it. We personalize our treatment to the individual(s) in front of us. Furthermore, we are not a “larger hammer” waiting to force someone who wants less sex to desire more. There is a sexological strategy for dealing with sexual problems.
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Sex therapy considers sexual issues to be resolved by directly addressing them, rather than assuming that when the individuals in a relationship work out the relationship issues, the sex would naturally fall into place. For years, I had a practice full of couples that simply did not fit that description.
Sex therapists also have a considerably greater than average understanding of the physiological mechanisms that are involved in human sexuality. We typically collaborate with physicians to treat the root causes of sexual issues.
When it comes to accepting sexual orientations and transsexual existence, I would venture to say that there is near unanimity in the sex profession. I’ve never met a sex therapist who attempted to cure homosexuality, though there are other mental health practitioners who do.
Why Do People Seek Out Sex Therapy?
Many people struggle with sex at some point in their lives. Some folks can help themselves. Others may experience a great deal of grief and sadness as a result of sexual issues. A sex therapist can help patients with a variety of sexual issues, including:
- A lack of motivation
- Trouble having an orgasm
- Pain during sex or inability to have penetrative sex
- Difficulties obtaining or maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
- Precocious ejaculation or other ejaculation issues
Read about male sexual problems and female sexual problems for additional details.
What Happens During Sex Therapy?
Sex therapy is a type of counseling that aims to help individuals and couples in resolving sexual issues such as performance anxiety or relationship problems. Clients usually meet with the therapist at his or her office. Some people choose to attend sessions alone, while others bring their partner. Session frequency and length usually depend on the client and the type of problem being addressed.
It is typical for clients to be nervous before seeing a sex therapist for the first time. Many individuals find it difficult to talk about sex at all, so discussing it with a stranger may be embarrassing. However, most sex therapists are aware of this and strive to make their clients feel at ease. They frequently begin with questions regarding the client’s health and sexual background, sex education, sex views, and specific sexual concerns.
It is critical to understand that sex therapy sessions do not include any physical contact or sexual interaction between clients and therapists. Clients who are unhappy with any aspect of therapy should speak out or cease visiting that therapist. Sex therapists frequently give “homework,” which consists of practice tasks that clients are supposed to perform in the quiet of their own homes.
Homework could involve the following:
- Experimenting. Couples who feel they are in a sexual rut may attempt different activities to stimulate their desire, such as role-playing or utilizing sex toys. Other couples may need to adapt their sexual routines or positions, especially if one partner suffers from a medical condition that necessitates such changes.
- Sensate concentration. This strategy for couples is intended to increase trust and intimacy while decreasing anxiety. Couples move through three stages, first with nonsexual contact, then genital touching, and finally penetration.
- Education. Clients do not always receive enough sex education as they grow up. As a result, individuals may be unfamiliar with anatomy and how the body works during sexual activity. Therapists may assign books, digital content, or films to read or view. They may also advise clients to use a mirror to understand more about their bodies.
- Communication methods. In a partnership, clients can practice asking for what they want or need sexually or emotionally.
Client commitment to the procedure often determines sex therapy success. Clients who are willing to put in the effort, either alone or with a partner, may be able to achieve their sexual objectives.
What Does a Sex Therapist Do to Help You?
Sex therapists operate in a variety of ways, but the majority of us meet with clients on a regular basis, usually weekly or every other week. I used to work in an office, but now I work virtually. Many of my clients appreciate the ability to discuss such difficult topics in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. Video chat is also a good choice if there isn’t anyone available in your neighborhood, or if you’re having trouble finding someone you like, however you may prefer to work in person.
You’ll offer your sex therapist a full history of your situation during or before your first appointment. (I have an intake form that I have my customers fill out ahead of time so that we can get right to work in the first session.) Your sex therapist should provide you with a game plan for your work together, including their individual style.
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Sex therapy is typically action-oriented, so your therapist will most likely assign you and your partner particular exercises to complete on your own time. Then you’ll discuss what happened in your previous session and obtain a new set of exercises to do in the future. This sort of therapy is typically more short-term. My clients often see me for two to six sessions. If you and your spouse are interested in delving into deeper difficulties, you may wish to pursue this work for a longer period of time.
Finally, it should never include nudity — or physical contact — between the therapist and the client.
How Can I Locate a Sex Therapist?
If you have a sexual problem, you should contact a doctor first so that they can rule out any physical problems. If your doctor believes it would help you, he or she can recommend you to a sex therapist. However, sex therapy is not available on the NHS in all areas, and an NHS clinic may only offer a limited number of therapy sessions.
You can also find a sex therapist privately, albeit this will cost you money. It is critical to see a registered therapist who is qualified. Look for someone who belongs to the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) or the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine.
Having a sexual life is important for your health for a variety of reasons. Lowering blood pressure, improving heart health, and reducing stress are all physical and emotional aspects of healthy sex life. Sex is also a normal and enjoyable element of life.
However, for other people, sex causes significant anxiety and concern. Sexual dysfunction can cause marital problems, lack of confidence, and a variety of other negative consequences.
Sex therapy is an integrative technique for addressing and resolving underlying issues. These worries could be physical, such as poor circulation. They could also be psychological disorders like anxiety, tension, or lack of confidence.
Sex therapy can help individuals and couples in finding a method to communicate openly and honestly so that they can work through any difficulties or challenges on their journey to healthy, happy sex life.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens with sex therapy?
What exactly happens during a sex therapy session? A sex therapist will listen to your concerns and determine whether the source is psychological, physical, or a combination of the two. Each therapy session is private.
When should a sex therapist be used?
Sex and intimacy can be a source of anxiety or emotional pain for people who do not have fulfilling sex lives. Sex therapists assist you in working through the psychological elements associated with sexual dysfunction by addressing underlying issues such as stress, anxiety, trauma, or lack of confidence.
What is the difference between a sex therapist and a regular therapist?
A sex therapist is distinguished from a “normal therapist” by his or her sexual knowledge. Sex therapists are educated as “ordinary therapists” (marriage and family therapists) before becoming sex therapists. A sex therapist is a therapist who specializes in treating sexual issues, similar to how a cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in working with hearts. The organization that certifies Certified Sex Therapists is the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) (CSTs).
What happens in sex therapy?
Sex therapy starts with a thorough evaluation of your concerns. In order to acquire a deeper understanding of your experience, the therapist will ask you questions regarding your personal, physical, and sexual background. The therapist and client can then begin to delve into the core of the issue. The therapist may recommend specific interventions to address the given issue.