When is sex therapy required?
Many people may face problems related to sex at some point in their life. Most of them deal with these problems by themselves, while for some others, these sexual problems can cause emotional distress and depression. A sex therapist can help people with different sexual problems.
Some of these problems include:
- Worries about sexual orientation or interests
- Sexual intimacy problems
- Distress related to past unwanted or troublesome sexual experiences.
- Decreased sexual desire (libido) or arousal
- Erectile dysfunction – difficulty to get or maintain an erection
- Ejaculation problems – premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, and others
- Anorgasmia (difficulty in getting an orgasm)
- Pain during sex or difficulty in having penetrative sex
- Sex addictions and impulsive sexual behaviours
- Sexual perversions
Who are Sex Therapists?
Sex therapists are professionals who help people with sexual problems. They are counsellors, doctors, or healthcare professionals, who have done additional training in helping people with sex problems.
How does the Sex Therapy Session happen?
You doctor will take details of your specific sexual concerns such as when it began, whether it is intermittent or is it always present, the precipitating factors, and the treatments you have tried.
You will be enquired about any medical conditions that you are having and treatments/medications you are taking. Any major stressors or recent life changes will be elicited.
Each of this therapy session will be confidential. You can see your sex therapist alone, but if the problem involves your partner also, it may be better for you both of you to attend.
Nature of therapy
Sex therapy sessions usually last for 30-50 minutes. Some people are worried that sex therapy involves getting naked or making physical contact, but that is not the case.
After your therapist recognises your condition, he/she will discuss with you about the ways to resolve your problem, improve your communication and intimacy. Your therapist will inform if your condition is psychological, physical or a combination of both. Talking to your therapist about your problem may help you get a better understanding of what your problem is and the causes for the same.
Physical and psychological factors
Some issues related to sex and intimacy may be due to psychological factors such as stress, anxiety or depression. In others, underlying physical problems such as chronic illness, medications, surgery and advanced age may be the causative factor. Depending on your condition, you may require additional evaluations from other health care professionals. In some situations, you may need to take medications.
You and your partner may be given a series of homework exercises to do at your own time, such as communication exercises with the partner, mindfulness techniques (slowing down and focusing on sensations during intimate encounters), reading educational materials, watching educational videos, etc.
Sex therapy can help you recognise and communicate your sexual needs, understand your partner’s sexual needs better and improve your communication. As you will be sharing some intimate details, you need to have trust in your therapist. If you are not able to establish a good rapport with your therapist and communicate effectively, consider visiting another therapist.
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- NHS choices. What does a sex therapist do? Accessed at http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/1683.aspx?CategoryID=68 on 21 August 2016.
- Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy, Fourth Edition. edited by Sandra R. Leiblum. Guilford Press, 2006.