Sex therapy is a specialized treatment focusing on the resolution of
sexual concerns. As in any other psychotherapy situation, talking is
the mode of treatment. There are no sexual relations nor nudity in the
sessions. The client talks explicitly about his/her problems, and with
the help of the sex therapist, learns about the etiology of his/her
concerns and explores various options to improve his/her sexual life.
Sex therapy is based on the assumptions that sex is good, that relationships
should be meaningful, that interpersonal intimacy is a desirable goal,
and that men and women have equal rights to full expression and enjoyment
of healthy sexual relationships.
Sexuality is an integral part of a personís well being. An individual
bothered by his/her sexual functioning may feel unhappy, inadequate,
anxious, angry, etc. For many people, sexual functioning is closely
tied in with their total concept of self identity.
On the other hand, sexual concerns are often the result of other problems.
In fact, many times the sexual concern is a symptom of something else
that is going on in the clientís life/relationship. I always say that
sex does not happen in a vacuum. Sex is affected by many things: a bad
relationship, low self esteem, past experiences, depression, anxiety,
health issues, medications, etc. Therefore, the sex therapist needs
to examine other areas of the personís life to determine if and what
is the underlying issue(s). In many cases, therapy then focuses on the
underlying issue, which upon resolution, may improve the sexual concern.
Sex therapy usually involves both partners when there is a committed
relationship. ďIt takes two to Tango,Ē and even if it seems that the
sexual problem is generated by one of the partners, it helps if both
partners take responsibility for improving the situation. It is also
imperative to work (through therapy) on the coupleís communication skills,
since most people find it very difficult to talk about sex and even
other issues. If you canít talk about things that bother you with your
partner, prognosis does not look good. In situations where both partners
cannot (or are unwilling to) come to therapy together, the sex therapist
works with the one partner on an individual basis.
Homework assignments are often given, allowing the couple (or individual)
to work on the concern between therapy sessions. The use of homework
speeds the progress and shortens the number of therapy sessions required
to solve the problem(s).
There are many sexual concerns that trigger people to seek the help
of a sex therapist. Among them are:
Desire (too low or too high)
of Sexual Abuse (for the victim, the survivor, and even for the perpetrator)
Addiction (also known as Obsessive-Compulsive Sexual Acting Out)
(also known as Sexual Deviations)
A qualified and certified sex therapist is a professional who is a
highly trained and experienced psychotherapist, is licensed by the state
as a psychotherapist, and is certified by the American Association for
Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) as a sex therapist.
has high standards for training in and work experience with sexual concerns
and marital and relationship issues. One cannot become certified as
a sex therapist by AASECT unless he/she is already an established and
experienced general psychotherapist.
Success of treatment depends upon the clientís motivation, the nature
of the problem, the underlying issues, the therapeutic goals, and the
therapistís skills. It is very important that the client feel comfortable
with the sex therapist. All therapy depends upon rapport, trust, and
mutual respect. This is particularly true when working with intimate
issues of sexuality.