What is sex therapy?
Sex therapy helps individuals or couples identify and consider possible psychological, emotional, social or relational, and physiological factors that could be maintaining their sexual problems or concerns. Sex therapy for sexual dysfunctions provided by mental health professionals includes cognitive-behavioural techniques and physical exercises or homework that clients do on their own between therapy sessions. Sex therapists also provide accurate and specific terms and educational materials about sex in therapy sessions that help clients better understand and address concerns in their sexual lives. Individuals or couples can seek sex therapy.
When should I seek help?
If you are distressed by a lack of desire for sex or experience problems when engaging in sexual activity (such as difficulties with arousal, erections, orgasms, or pain with intercourse), for emotional or physical reasons, you may want to consider sex therapy.
If you feel your sexual problem is causing distress for your sexual partner(s) and in your sexual relationship(s), you may want to consider sex therapy.
If you experience very distressing or interfering negative thoughts and feelings about your sexuality or your sexual problems, you may want to consider sex therapy.
If you lack accurate information or have received conflicting information about your sexual concerns, you may want to consult a sex therapist.
If medical interventions alone have not significantly enhanced your own or your partner’s sexual satisfaction, or not reduced your distress, you may want to consider sex therapy.
What kind of sex therapist should I look for?
As with any therapist, it is important to find the sex therapist that you trust. They should be licensed in the practice of therapy and report to a professional regulatory body. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the sex therapist’s background, education and certification, and approach. You may also want to know the extent of their experience working with clients who have similar sexual concerns. Your sex therapist will have specialized training in assessing, diagnosing, and helping people with sexual problems and often hold specialty certifications in the area. Recognizing that a combination of physiological and psychological interventions can be helpful in addressing many sexual concerns, a psychologist trained in sex therapy will also collaborate with your medical care professionals or refer to medical specialists, as appropriate.
Here are some helpful educational websites and evidence-based books:
Sexual Awareness (McCarthy & McCarthy)
Come As You Are (Nagoski)
Love Worth Making (Snyder)
Sex Made Easy (Herbenick)
The Joy of Sex (Comfort)
Becoming Orgasmic (Heiman & LoPiccolo)
The New Male Sexuality (Zilbergeld)
Because It Feels Good (Herbe)