What Is a Sex Therapist?
There are many different types of therapy, but one many people might not be familiar with is sex therapy. A sex therapist is a therapist who specializes in helping individuals and couples with sexual concerns within the context of relationships. Sex Therapists have chosen this area of focus as their specialization and have additional training in the area of sexual health and relationships in comparison to other therapists.
Going to a sex therapist is akin to seeing a dermatologist when you have an issue with your skin, instead of just setting up an appointment with your primary care provider. They will have more relevant and current advice than your standard therapist will have. Each treatment will be tailored to the individual and their needs and concerns.
What is sex therapy?
Like most therapy, sex therapy is talk therapy. A patient and a therapist sit together, talk about issues, and try to find solutions for those issues. In general, a sex therapist believes that the right way to deal with an issue is to find its root cause and discuss ways for dealing with that situation.
If you still want to know what is a sex therapist, here are a few things you should know about this field of psychology:
1. Sex therapy is just like any other kind of therapy.
Because the topic of sex is traditionally taboo, sex therapy is often viewed as even more taboo than seeing a therapist for any other issue. There is nothing deviant or even strange about seeing a sex therapist. Sexual health is an important part of every person’s life, and when that aspect of a relationship is causing concern, seeking support (just as you would seek help in any other aspect of your life) should not be viewed as taboo or strange. Sex therapists use psychology within a relationship framework to help individuals look at their sexual history, draw connections with past and current experiences, develop awareness and make goals to solve any issues.
2. You will look at the psychological aspects of sex.
You likely already know that there is more to sex than just physiology and biology. Many of the most common issues are in the mind, rather than with the body. A sex therapist can help you work through the psychological issues that might be holding you back, ranging from inadequate communication between partners to performance anxiety, both of which can stand in the way of a healthy sex life.
3. A therapist might give you homework.
Just about every type of therapist will give their clients homework. This might be in the form of exercises, which are designed to help a patient work through the issues that might holding them back from having a healthy sex life. A couple might be given exercises to help them tune into one another and to reconnect, for example, so that their sex life is more fulfilling.
4. You might need to bring your partner.
In some circumstances, sex therapy is a solo pursuit, but because issues might arise that involve both you and your partner, your sex therapist will probably ask you to bring your partner along for your sessions. Unless you are working on personal issues, which you might be more comfortable working on alone, having your partner there will assure that any issues between the two of you are dealt with.
5. Be picky when choosing your therapist.
Sex can be a delicate topic, even for the sexually liberated. You might not feel comfortable talking to one therapist and perfectly comfortable talking to another therapist about the same topic, Especially if you are not very open about your sexuality, it is a good idea to seek out a therapist that you feel comfortable discussing these topics with. There are also some psychologists who will brand themselves as sex therapists when they do not have the training required. Look for someone who has the appropriate training and is certified. Most commonly you will see that sex therapists brand themselves as AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists) certified.
6. Therapists can help with a variety of issues.
Some of the most common problems that people bring to sex therapists are a lack of desire, a difficulty getting an erection or having an orgasm, or pain during sex. While some of these issues might be related to a medical issue that requires a medical attention, those with psychological roots can often be remedied by working with a sex therapist.
What happens during sex therapy?
In most sessions, your therapist will listen to your problems and then begin to help you discover where those issues are psychological, physical or perhaps both. You will be asked to talk about your physical experiences, discussing both good and bad experiences to identify the cause behind the issues you are experiencing.
It’s important to remember that all of these sessions are completely confidential. This can help you start to open up and discuss topics that you might not have been willing to discussing openly previously.
If you are looking for a sex therapist, a good place to start is to ask your urologist or gynecologist about who they would recommend. Often, your doctor will have a list of therapists in the area that are sex therapists. Another great resource is to look at the online directory on the AASECT or SSTAR (Society for Sex Therapy and Research) homepage.