Sex therapy is a specialty in the field of psychotherapy which focuses on addressing specific sexual concerns. Sex therapists address issues of sexual dysfunction which can include:
low sexual desire or unequal interest in sex between partners
sexual arousal issues
inability or difficulty with orgasm
sexual pain disorders
Sex therapists work with clients on issues of sexual identity and questions around their sexual preferences.
2. What is the difference between a sex therapist and a regular therapist?
Sexual knowledge differentiates a Sex Therapist from a ‘regular therapist’. Sex therapists are first trained as ‘regular therapists’ (marriage and family therapists) and then as sex therapists. Much like a cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in working with hearts, a Sex Therapist is a therapist who specializes in working with sexual issues. The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) is the organization that grants certification for Certified Sex Therapists (CST’s).
3. What happens in sex therapy?
Sex therapy begins with a thorough assessment of your concerns. The therapist will ask questions about your personal, physical, and sexual history in order to gain a better understanding of your experience. From there, the therapist and client can begin to explore the heart of the matter. The therapist may suggest specific interventions in order to alleviate the presenting issue. Sex therapy does not involve any sexual relationship between the therapist and client. Surrogate Partner Therapy may involve sex between the client and surrogate. Professional Surrogate Partner Therapists work with Sex Therapists in a team approach in order to help clients gain the ultimate benefits of Sex Therapy. To learn more about Surrogate Partner Therapy, please see the International Professional Surrogates Association(IPSA) website.
4. What are common sex therapy symptoms?
Common symptoms which can be helped with sex therapy include:
Pain during sex
Lack of sexual desire
Lack of lubrication
Difficulty or inability to orgasm
Erectile dysfunction or inability to maintain an erection
Sexual abuse or trauma
Sexual identity questions
Unequal sex drives between partners
Lack of sex between partners
Difficulty communicating around sexual matters
5. Is medication a substitute for sex therapy?
Not necessarily. While there are some medications which have been found to assist people with their sexual functioning, if the presenting issue is psychological, then sex therapy can be just as effective as medication. For some sexual issues, there are no medications available, so sex therapy is the recommended form of treatment.
6. Do I need to be in a relationship to be in sex therapy?
No. Participating in sex therapy does not require being in a relationship. It only requires a willingness to be open and honest with yourself and your therapist.
7. If I am in a relationship, should my partner come in too?
This depends. Sometimes issues come up between partners which require both parties be present in order to address them. If your primary concern is a longstanding issue before being involved with your current partner, then it may be appropriate to come in alone. Your therapist may recommend that you both come in for the first session and he or she will recommend the best course of action.
8. Does a sex therapist provide marriage counseling?
Yes. Communication problems often arise in relationships which need professional help. Many relationship issues are expressed through your sexual relationship, parenting styles, handling of finances, organization styles, etc. Sex therapists are trained in Marriage and Family Therapy and can help you address any unequal power dynamics in your relationship.
9. My partner doesn’t want to have sex. Can you help us?
Yes. Most relationships start out with great sex and, over time, issues arise that affect desire. A professional sex therapist is skilled at confronting the reasons or power struggles that may have led to a loss of desire. An expert sex therapist will guide you to achieve your fullest sexual potential as a couple.
10. I’ve never been to a counselor or talked to anyone about my problem before. How do I start?
Asking for help takes courage. If you have found yourself on this webpage, you are already taking the first positive step towards change. Call a qualified sex therapist and ask for a consultation. This conversation should feel safe and natural as an indication you’ve found the right professional.
11. Does sex therapy work?
Absolutely. When you are ready to make courageous changes with the support and guidance of a trained sex therapist, psychological sexual dysfunctions can be resolved. A skilled therapist will support you in confronting your fears and teach you the necessary steps towards realizing your sexual potential.