You may be wondering, what “sex therapy” is. Sometimes people hear sex therapy and think it might include something provocative. Please allow me to explain what sex therapy is and what it is not.
First of all, sex therapy never includes any touching between the client and therapist. It is not a physical or “hands on” modality. Rather, it is a type of talk therapy. Think of all of the questions or concerns you’ve had about sex throughout your life and wish you had a chance to talk about them with someone who is non-judgmental, open-minded, and supportive. Sex therapy offers you a place to talk openly about your concerns, questions, thoughts and feelings regarding intimacy and sexual health. Everyone has a right to enjoy physical touch with their partners. Sometimes, anxious thoughts or pressure to perform a certain way stand in the way of pleasure and connection. Many people benefit from talking about what is on their mind and getting support. That’s where I can help! We can talk about whatever is on your mind and help you improve your intimacy so that you can enjoy romantic experiences with people you love.
Medical professionals (such as an OBGYN, Urologist, and Physical Therapist dealing with the pelvic floor) help you with the medical side of any concerns related to your sexual health. Similarly, a sex therapist can help you with any emotional or mental components that may be impacting your sexual health or pleasure during intimacy.
Here are some reasons why you may consider seeing a sex therapist:
- You and your partner are experiencing difficulty while trying to conceive a child. This can bring up a lot of feelings including: anxiety, depression, frustration, shame, etc.
- You recently received an STI diagnosis and would like emotional support.
- During sex, you experience quite a bit of physical or emotional pain. Often times, there is an anxious component that is helpful to work through in therapy.
- You and your partner have different ideas of how you want to share intimacy with one another. Often times, it is helpful to have a space to explore how to find common ground with different desires and wishes.
- You may be experiencing a lack of desire altogether. Perhaps it began after having kids. Or, maybe you and your partner have grown apart and feel more like roommates than lovers.
- During sex, you may be “in your head” focused on particular worries. The more you think about things, the worse it gets.
- Sex can sometimes feel more like a performance rather than a pleasurable experience. This can lead to arguments and feelings of anxiety or depression for one or both partners. There is hope, though! You can enjoy intimacy and connection throughout your whole life.
Common Questions About Sex Therapy…
What Is a Sex Therapist?
A sex therapist is a therapist with additional training in sexual health and sex therapy. A sex therapist can diagnose different sexual dysfunctions based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria and also provide treatment options. A sex therapist will typically meet with clients for about 20 sessions, or for as long as necessary.
Is a Sex Therapist a Sex Surrogate? Is There any Sexual Activity Involved?
No. Sex therapists are not sex surrogates. Sex therapy never involves any sexual activity between the client and therapist. Neither the therapist nor the client will ever remove their clothes or engage in any sexual activity with one another. The therapist’s Code of Ethics protects both the client and clinician in making sure that the relationship remains on the professional level. For those who wish to explore their sexual desires in a physical way can seek services from a sex surrogate in Nevada or California where sex surrogacy is legal.
How Are Sexual Disorders Assessed? (You don’t need a “disorder” in order to come to sex therapy. Many clients come to sex therapy to improve their sexual connection and work through any discrepancies.)
In order to assess and diagnose sexual disorders, a sex therapist will ask the client(s) to give a detailed description of the sexual discomfort experienced. Then, the therapist will ask about the when the issue started happening. Was there a trigger that brought on this issue? Is this a problem that is experienced only in certain situations and with certain partners or is this a universal problem that happens 75-100% of the time. Next, the therapist will ask if this is a lifelong problem or recently acquired. After that, the client will be asked to explain their understanding of the problem, what they have done in the past to try and resolve it, and their expectations and hopes for therapy.
Who is Sex Therapy For?
- Married and non-married singles and couples
- Singles and couples in polyamorous relationships or open relationships
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender singles and couples
- People who engage in BDSM/Kink
- People of all religions, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations
What is a Sample Treatment Plan for Someone in Sex Therapy?
- Normalizing – sexual difficulties are common and happen to a lot of people
- Grief work – the right to grieve a previous sex life or lack of desired sex life
- Offering hope – even though this is difficult, there are treatment options
- Establishing safety – mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation activities can help
- Sexual health education – information will be provided as well as suggestions to improve both non-sexual intimacy as well as sexual intimacy
- Medical assessment – as your therapist, I will offer to collaborate with your medical professionals (OBGYN, PCP, Urologist, Physical Therapist who works with the pelvic floor, Cardiologists, etc.) to rule out and manage any medical concerns
- Scaffolding approach – therapy moves at your pace and comfort level
- Individual therapy – therapy to address anxiety, depression, and trauma that could impact sexual difficulties
- Couples therapy – build trust, engage in effective communication, and enhance connection
What if I’m More Conservative/Traditional?
Sex therapy is culturally sensitive and individualized for each client/couple. There is a menu of different treatment options to choose from according to the client’s personal values and religious or non-religious beliefs.
Contact me today so that you don’t have to deal with this alone!