What is sex therapy?
Sex therapy is a specialized type of psychotherapy that addresses concerns about sexual function, sexual feelings and intimacy. Sex therapy is usually provided by licensed psychologists, social workers, physicians or licensed registered counselling therapists who have advanced training in issues related to sexual and relational health.
Certified sex therapists have graduate degrees and can demonstrate their competence in sex therapy by becoming credentialed by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counsellors and Therapists (AASECT).
Sex therapists do not have sexual contact with clients.
Sex therapy is typically short term in duration with a limited number of sessions; treatment plans depend on the concerns and the goals being addressed.
Common reasons people seek sex therapy:
- Mismatched or low desire
- Orgasm difficulties
- Erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation & delayed ejaculation
- Painful intercourse and vaginismus
- Sexual recovery after trauma
- Sex & relationship problems related to chronic illness & cancer
- Menopause, andropause & couple-pause
- Sexuality & intimacy after an affair, a breakup or a divorce
- Compulsive sexual activity
- Polyamorous & non-traditional couples
- LGBTQ+ issues
- Issues related to infertility, pregnancy & post partum
- Transgender & gender non-conforming
Prepare for your first session:
Record details of your problem such as when it first started, whether it’s always present or comes and goes, professionals you’ve seen, and treatments you’ve tried and their outcomes
Key personal information including your medical conditions and any major stressors o r recent life changes
A list of all medications that you’re taking, including over-the-counter, vitamins or supplements and their dosages
Questions to ask your therapist about sexual concerns
What you can expect:
Sexual issues can be complicated, many times sex and intimacy are often linked to other underlying issues such as stress, anxiety or depression. In other cases, sexual function might be affected by chronic illness, medication side effects, surgery or aging.
Depending on your concerns and your physical health, your sex therapist may suggest a medical evaluation or may recommend another health care professional as part of your treatment plan.
If you’re in a relationship, it can be most helpful to involve your partner in sessions with your sex therapist. You and your partner will likely be assigned a series of homework exercises such as:
- Communication exercises with your partner
- Slowing down & focusing on what you’re sensing
- Mindfulness techniques
- Reading or watching educational videos about sexual health
- Interaction with your partner sexually & non sexually
More people than you might imagine experience frustrating sexual problems. Talking things through with a trained sex therapist can be helpful; increasing self-esteem, becoming more open at expressing thoughts and feelings and understanding what creates sexual pleasure. Sex therapy can help people learn how to be a more confident partner, which can lead to a more satisfying and intimate relationship.
Michelle Labine has completed advanced training in couples and sex therapy, she is a practicing sex therapy clinician, under supervision, as part of her AASECT certification track.