7 things you should know about sex therapy
There is nothing freaky about sex therapy. In fact, it can be quite helpful in treating emotionally driven sexual issues. Here is the naked truth.
If you’re experiencing a sexual problem, the last thing you probably want to do is talk about it. But sex therapy is designed to help you do just that so you can get to the bottom of your sexual issues and reverse them.
Whether you work with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or marriage or sex counselor, sex therapy can help with a variety of issues including erectile dysfunction, low libido, and other sexual problems. And it can help you and your partner work through these issues in a supportive and educational environment.
So what does sex therapy really entail? And who qualifies as a sex therapist?
1. Sex Therapy Is Like Other Forms of Counseling
Contrary to what some believe, there is nothing strange, deviant, or kinky going on behind the walls of a sex therapist’s office. Indeed, sex therapy is not very different from other forms of psychological counseling.
“Sex therapy is conducted by a person trained in psychological methods of treatment and rehabilitation for sex and relationship problems,” says Yvonne K. Fulbright, PhD, a sex educator and professor of human sexuality at American University in Washington, D.C. “Your therapist may collect a detailed sex history and formulate goals and interventions for solving your issues.”
2. You’ll Explore the Psychological Side of Sex
Your therapist will help you work through emotional issues that may be contributing to sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction, says urologist Drogo Montague, MD, professor of surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine in Ohio. “Sex therapy typically begins with learning about performance anxiety and then moves on to teaching a couple how to establish open lines of communication to discuss sexual wants and needs,” he explains. “The couple may also explore issues causing relationship stress.”
3. There Might Be Homework
While nothing sexual in nature will happen at the office, the therapist may offer some ideas for things you can try at home. “The therapist may suggest you try something called sensate focus exercises, which are designed to help you attune more to your partner,” says Dr. Montague. The exercises are typically done in stages, starting with touching or stroking anywhere on the body, except the breasts and genital areas. The goal is to experience the sensation of touching rather than trying to reach orgasm. Eventually, the exercises can lead to intercourse.
4. It May Help to Bring Your Partner
If you're dealing with issues as a couple, it's a good idea to bring along your partner, says Fulbright. But if you're looking to work on personal issues, you may want to meet with your therapist one-on-one before bringing along your mate.
5. You Keep Your Clothes On
One thing is certain: Under no circumstances should you have to take your clothes off in a sex therapist’s office. Fulbright says that this should never, ever occur, and if you are asked to do so, leave immediately.
6. You Should Be Picky When Choosing a Therapist
Check credentials, ask for references, and make sure you find a therapist who is qualified to help you. Fulbright says it’s important to look for a focus in human sexuality or the words “sex therapist” in the professional’s title. Professionals often hold degrees in marriage and family therapy, social work, theology, psychology, or medicine.
7. Sex Therapy Isn’t for Everyone
It’s important to remember that sex therapy is similar to psychological counseling — that means, it won’t fix any physical limitations that are leading to sexual dysfunction. What it can help with is problems that are primarily mental or emotional in nature, says Montague.
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