Sex Therapy To Treat Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction in men and women can be the result of many factors, both physical and psychological. Sex therapy can help you deal with both psychological issues causing sexual problems and the emotional issues surrounding sexual dysfunction. A sex therapist can work with either the individual or the couple, though the Cleveland Clinic notes that sex therapy is often most effective when both partners are involved.

What is Sexual Therapy?

Sex therapy is a specialty within the field of psychotherapy. Working with a sex therapist is similar to working with any other mental health professional. The therapist asks about your concerns and medical history and takes into account both the psychological and physical aspects of your situation to make a diagnosis. The therapist proposes a treatment plan, which may include working with other healthcare providers.

Sex therapy is short-term, typically five to 20 sessions. Sex therapists differ in their approach to and treatment of sex problems, but a sex therapist is expected to ensure:

  • A comfortable environment
  • A non-judgmental attitude
  • Assignments or tasks between sessions, such as communication or touching exercises with your partner
  • Explicit, straightforward talk about sex
  • No stereotyping
  • Respect for your values.

Education about your particular issue and learning about options for change is often an important part of sexual therapy. In addition to direct discussion, a sex therapist may suggest reading material, watching educational videos or attending workshops.

How to Choose a Sex Therapist

If you’re interested in sexual therapy, locate a certified sex therapist. The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors & Therapists (AASECT) offers certification as a sexuality educator, sexuality counselor or sexuality therapist. The difference between a counselor and a therapist is that certified sex therapists are mental health professionals who have chosen to specialize in treating sexual issues, while sex counselors may come from other professions, ranging from medicine to the clergy.

You can find a sex therapist at a hospital or clinic or in private practice. You can ask your healthcare provider for referrals or consult the directory of the AASECT.

At your first meeting with a sex therapist, ask enough questions to make sure you’re comfortable working with her. You might ask about the therapist’s education, professional experience (especially experience treating your issue) and approach to therapy. You should ask for a clear estimate of the time commitment and fees.

Sex therapy is a treatment approach to sexual dysfunction that helps you take charge of your sexual health and maintain a satisfying intimate relationship.

Resources

American Association of Sexuality Educators Counselors & Therapists. (n.d.). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved June 29, 2010, from http://www.aasect.org/faqs.asp

Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Sex therapy. Retrieved June 29, 2010, from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/erectile_disorder_impotence/hic_sex_therapy.aspx

Family Medicine and Community Health of the University of Minnesota. (n.d.). Relationship and sex therapy. Retrieved June 29, 2010, from http://www.phs.umn.edu/clinic/relationship/home.html