Sex therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which a licensed therapist works with an individual or couple on improving sexual functioning and satisfaction. Good sex therapy targets not only the behavioral symptoms, but the emotions and feelings that may be creating a block to better sexual functioning. Sex therapy often includes some education in addition to discussion about toys and novelties that can enhance sexual pleasure.
A sex therapist does not engage in any sexual activity with clients and all parties present remain fully clothed during sessions. Some sex therapists are also trained in couples therapy, which can be helpful in addressing the whole picture and understanding how the sexual issues may be affecting the greater dynamic.
There are various reasons why someone may turn to sex therapy. Here are some examples of issues:
- Shame or awkwardness around sex
- Feelings of sexual incompetence
- Negative associations around sex
- Difficulty communicating about sex with partner
- Low or no sexual desire, lack of interest
- Lack of arousal, or feeling like it fizzles too quickly
- Difficulty having an orgasm
- Pain during intercourse
- Sex after childbirth, peri-menopause and post-menopause sex issues, sex after cancer/illness
In recent years, research into the area of female sexuality has become more focused. We are beginning to understand the complicated physiology of blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and how surgeries, childbirth, illnesses, medications, hormonal changes and aging may affect a woman’s sexual experience.
Often sexual problems are the result of both physical obstacles and emotional issues. Thus, while sex therapy can be helpful in addressing sexual dysfunction, a sex therapist is unable to medically rule out different factors, perform an exam, or prescribe medication. Unfortunately, in some cases, months can be wasted in sex therapy trying to “get to the bottom” of an issue that actually is medical and has evidence-based treatment.
Often sexual problems are the result of both physical obstacles and emotional issues. Thus, while sex therapy can be helpful in addressing sexual dysfunction, a sex therapist is unable to medically rule out different factors, perform an exam, or prescribe medications. Unfortunately, sometimes this reality can translate into months spent in talk therapy trying to get to the bottom of an issue that, in fact, needs to be addressed medically and can be solved within a relatively short amount of time.
At Congtythamtu, sex therapy is a unique, cutting edge collaborative model that integrates the medical, emotional, and behavioral components of treating sexual dysfunction — all under one roof. We get the whole picture of what’s going on — not just your symptoms, but all the other factors that may be contributing, and we work with you to develop a treatment plan that not only brings you relief, but pleasure and excitement in your sex life. Our therapists see you as a person, not a diagnosis, and offer guidance and support in a safe and gentle environment.
Today, people get educated about sex from a variety of sources, and the abundance of information can be confusing. When it comes to knowing the validity of the information, coping with feelings that come up as a result, and finding practical ways to improve one’s sex life, sex therapy can be a valuable tool. Sex therapy integrates sex education into practice through expanding client knowledge of various components of sex — anatomy of one’s body, their partner’s, understanding the sexual response cycle, changes through the life span — while empowering the individual/couple to create new, exciting sexual experiences and feeling secure and comfortable in their own skin.
Sex therapy can be brief or long term — it really depends on what the presenting issues are. Sex therapy sessions can be once a week, twice a week, and some sex therapists offer treatment through the phone or computer. Sometimes a person will go to sex therapy for a chunk of time and then go sporadically for maintenance. When beginning sex therapy, it’s okay to ask the therapist what to expect in terms of time commitment and what the markers of progress would look like.
A really good sex therapist will be both an excellent couples’ counselor as well as someone with experience dealing with sexual issues. Choosing a therapist should be carefully considered, so we’ve provided a list of questions you may want to consider when talking to a potential therapist.