Couples and Sexuality: What is Sex Therapy and Who Needs It?

One of the most common questions I am asked by people in any situation who know that I am a sex therapist is "What is sex therapy?" I hope to help you understand what sex therapy is, and what it is not. I hope to help define what is myth and what is fact. Clinical sexology, or the scientific study of human sexuality is over a hundred years old. Some of the most famous sexologists have been Alfred Kinsey, Helen Singer Kaplan, and Dr. Ruth Westheimer. They have been providing sexuality study, education, and sex therapy treatment since the 1940s.

What is sex therapy?

oSex therapy is a treatment method which involves helping people who are having difficulty with sexual functioning

oSex therapy is an internationally recognized profession known for its successful treatment of sexual disorders

oThe goals are to relieve sexual symptoms causing a person or couple distress, and to improve overall sexual communication, satisfaction and functioning for those who seek it

oThe sex therapist combines psychotherapy with a combination of prescribed sexual experiences assigned as homework in order to alleviate sexual problems

oSex therapists are recognized as professionals in the State of Florida. They must be licensed as a psychotherapist and obtain specialty training and supervision

What is NOT sex therapy?

oSex therapy is not imposed, but chosen by those in distress

oSex therapy does not involve any sexual activity between clients and therapists

oSex therapy does not encourage illegal behavior

oSex therapy is not in any way inappropriate, but is respectful and nonjudgmental

How common are sexual problems, and why do they exist?
According to the National Health and Life Survey (1999), over forty percent of women and over thirty percent of men in the US who responded reported some difficulties with sexual function. Sexual problems can be related to physical, psychological, or relational factors, such as chronic pain, medical conditions, medication side effects, a history sexual abuse, a sense of shame related to social / familial taboos, or sexual dysfunction of a life partner. Some people experience difficulty due to a lack of information about sexuality, or the inability to know what their wants and needs are and how to communicate those. There are several types of sexual disorders which I will mention here:

What are some examples of sexual disorders?

o Low sexual desire

o Erectile Dysfunction

Premature Ejaculation

o Inability to experience orgasm

o Gender Identity Disorder

o Distress about sexual performance or sexual orientation

o Sexual avoidance

o Engaging in unusual sex practices

Who can benefit from sex therapy?

A person can benefit from sex therapy if they have any sexual problems that are causing them distress, if they are dissatisfied with their sex life, if they want to learn about their sexual self, or if they have difficulty communicating their sexual needs and desires. Sexuality is such a dificult topic for most people to discuss openly. Most people who address sexual issues in therapy are glad that they did, because it can help them to function better in and out of the bedroom!

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