What is Sex Therapy and What Are the Benefits?

May 1, 2017 484 17 No Comments


What is Sex Therapy and What Are the Benefits?

What is sex therapy? How do you know if you need it? How do you even know if your sex life is considered normal? There’s a lot of questions that might go through your head when you hear the words: sex therapy. Some people may be afraid to seek help or extra counseling even when they may need it. Others may feel like they need it, but are not sure. Even more, others may avoid it out of embarrassment, but there is nothing to be ashamed of. There is no way to tell anything for sure. Also, people avoid seeking out sex therapy because they fear the unknown. But there is nothing to fear about the unknown, and it’s easy to gain knowledge on this topic. Without further ado, here is some information about sex therapy, and how it can help your sex life.

Understanding sex from psychological, biological, pharmacological, relational and contextual aspects can help in a multitude of ways. Sex itself is not simply just one of each of those aspects; it is the sum greater than its parts. If one of those aspects isn’t at normal functioning, the entire experience of sex is going to be diminished. A therapist can help appraise your sex life in each of those aspects. Generally when you first go into a practitioner, you’ll undergo rigorous evaluation to see what the issues are.

First off, sex therapy is ultimately a form of psychotherapy. It can be thought of as talk therapy comprised of a combination of counseling and cognitive-behavioral interventions. In addition, it is treatment for sexual dysfunction when there is no psychological reason for bad performance. Sometimes the problems are mental and all in the person’s head; nothing is physically wrong with the bodily functions.

 What exactly is a sexual dysfunction? Sexual dysfunctions include:

  • Non-consummation or not having sex
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Low libido or lack of sexual desire
  • Unwanted sexual fetishes
  • Sexual addiction
  • Painful sex
  • Lack of sexual confidence.

Now, these all sound really alarming, but with the right help, none of these issues are the end game. There are many ways to deal with, cope and overcome these issues.

Is sex therapy the right decision for you?
Before deciding to see a sex therapist, evaluate what it is you really need. First, see a “normal” doctor, particularly if the problem appears to be physical in nature. A gynecologist can detect patterns in your sexual behavior that may align with illness, aging, or hormonal imbalances. They’re specialized in their field, and they see many clients with similar problems, so don’t be embarrassed! One of the most helpful things you can do for your body is to seek consultation for it. Next, learn more about sexuality in general–many people have little understanding of their own bodies and their sexual functioning. Perhaps try out informational self-help books, or read up online before jumping to conclusions. You may be able to solve the problem independent from any outside help.

In the US, the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) oversees clinical training for a sexual health practitioner to become a certified sex therapist. These people go through extensive training to be in this field, and are very professional. They should not ever do anything of a physical or sexual nature, and everything that takes place within the office should remain completely confidential. In the United States, any licensed mental health counselor–such as physicians, psychologist, therapists, social workers–can practice sex therapy.

What happens in sex therapy?
First off, nothing of a physical or sexual nature should ever happen in a sex therapist’s office. The sex therapist may lead the patient in exercises, such as sensate focus, in which couples massage each other without sexual contact, or treat specific problems such as difficulties orgasming. They may also explore using psychotherapy, or psychoanalysis, which is the gentle probing for any psychological reasons or trauma which may be preventing a satisfactory sex life. For the majority of clients, the focus is on boosting communication and promoting greater intimacy.

What are some benefits of sexual therapy?
A sex therapist can help a patient do the following:

  • Develop realistic and appropriate goals
    For example, many of the underlying causes behind many of the sexual dysfunctions may simply be age, and that can be addressed during counseling. They will explain the effects of aging on sexual development, as well as introduce coping techniques.
  • Explore sexual fantasies
    The sex therapist can help the patient explore their sexual fantasies in a safe space, and also pull on the reigns to keep things grounded and prevent things from getting out of hand. In addition, the therapist can recommend erotica and other medias for stimulation.
  • Identify contextual catalysts for sexual activity
    A therapist may help a patient recognize their sexual routines to improve their sexual script.
  • Cueing exercises
    These are exercises that help the patient remember past experiences of positive emotions about sex and use them as “cues” for feeling sexual in the present. 
  • Assigning sensate focus exercises
    This is a popular technique in which couples massage each other without sexual contact to facilitate pleasure and to feel safe together. This can help lead to better communication and better sex. 
  • Teaching the practice of mindfulness
    This is teaching your brain to be less defensive, and better able to hear and respond to what’s going on. It can also make you more receptive to genuine connection, and more physically and emotionally present leading to a better sexual connection. The practice of mindfulness improves the flow of information between your senses to your consciousness. 
  • Exploring alternate forms of sexual expression
    Sexual expression can include a sensual massage, mutual masturbation, sexual enhancing toys, trying alternative sexual positions, etc.
  • Addressing sexual boredom
    Sometimes a long-time couple can fall into a sexual routine, called a sexual rut, that can dampen desire and a therapist can point them towards ideas to spice things up again.

Ultimately, after sex therapy, many patients find that they become better lovers, and 93% of couples say that it improves their sex life. If you find yourself considering sexual therapy, don’t hesitate to gather more information and reap the benefits. For more information and videos on sex therapy and sexuality, please visit:


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