What is sex therapy? It is a form of psychotherapy. In therapy, people can work with a therapist either on their own or with their spouse or partner. The issues can range from childhood trauma, abuse, neglect or intimacy to sexual concerns such as feelings or function. It is a helpful way for adults, regardless of sexual orientation, age or gender to work through their problems. In particular, sex therapy is an important part of the recovery process for many people who have struggled with sex addiction.
In general, sex therapy is conducted by licensed professionals including psychologists, physicians and therapists. CSAT’s, certified sex addiction therapists are best suited to handle the problems of sexually addicted individuals. Other professionals have a specialized expertise in the field of sexual/relationship therapy. A reputable sex therapist will have a graduate degree and credentials through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).
People who are struggling with sex addiction will not always be at a point where they are ready for sex therapy. In most cases, sex therapy is meant to be a short-term treatment option. However, the treatment plan for sex therapy is based on the individual. Once a sex addict is ready for sex therapy as an individual or with his or her partner or spouse, he or she may work with the therapist to address specific treatment goals.
There is one big misconception that needs to be cleared up when it comes to sex therapy. At no time during any therapy session by certified sex therapists should there be sexual contact with the patients either in the office or off-site. If you or someone you know is going to a “therapist” who engages in contact with them, this behavior should raise a red flag. Sex therapy, like other forms of therapy involves verbal communication between the therapist and the patient.
So what exactly does sex therapy involve? Why should anyone, let alone sex addicts see a sex therapist? The answer is quite simple: Sex therapy is an effective way to help people resolve their concerns about sexual desire or arousal, sexual interests or orientation, compulsive sexual behavior, erectile dysfunction, ejaculating too quickly (premature ejaculation), trouble reaching orgasm, painful intercourse and intimacy issues related to a disability or chronic condition just to name a few. All of these concerns can be worked through with the guidance of a licensed therapist.
Let’s face it, discussing sex and intimacy issues can be a very sensitive subject. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that sex therapists are professionals. Your therapist will help you begin to feel comfortable discussing your concerns. A therapist’s office is a safe setting where you can feel comfortable expressing yourself without judgment or condemnation. It is a place where you and your partner or spouse can learn and grow together. For sex addicts, learning how to move beyond sexually compulsive behaviors and developing healthy sexual behaviors, relationships and intimacy is of utmost importance.
It is natural to feel reluctant to take the first step and commit yourself to sex therapy. You might feel you need to somehow prepare for it. In reality, all you need to do is search for a certified therapist whom you and your spouse or partner (if you are attending as a couple) feel comfortable with and trust. A good place to start is by talking to your primary care doctor. He or she can give you a referral to either a therapist or to a sex therapy clinic. Some health insurance programs or employee programs offer recommended listings for licensed professionals such as sex therapists. Another good option is to find certified members of the AASECT in your area. Finally, if you are enrolled in a sex addiction treatment program, they might recommend a number of ideal options for you.
There are many considerations you will want to keep in mind before you decide on a therapist. It is important to research the therapist’s credentials including education, training, accreditation and licensing. For sex addicts, you may also want to know the therapist’s level of experience in dealing with issues specific to sex addiction. Other considerations might include the office location and hours, session length, treatment length, frequency of sessions, cost, insurance coverage and payment options.
Communication is essential to successful results from sex therapy. You must ensure you and your spouse or partner are comfortable with the therapist you decide on. Take some time after your consultation to evaluate how you feel about the therapist and if you feel you can develop a strong line of communication with this individual. There is no shame in asking for a referral if it isn’t a good match.
Once you have selected a therapist who you feel comfortable with, you may still be a bit apprehensive. Understanding what to expect might help ease your concerns. Initially, you should expect to discuss your sexual concerns. As a sex addict, you will need to discuss the nature of your sexual addiction and the steps you have taken for recovery. Essentially, you need to give the therapist a broad overview of your situation. Ultimately, the therapist will use this information to help you build communication and improve your intimacy problems.
If you are attending sex therapy as a couple with your spouse or partner, you should expect to be asked to do a number of homework exercises. These may include reading about sexual techniques, slowing down and concentrating on your senses during sexual encounters and changing the way you relate to your spouse or partner during sex. As a sex addict, it may also include learning to develop healthy sexual behaviors with your spouse or partner.
The length of your therapy will vary based on your particular needs. It can be as short as a handful of sessions or last for several months. Your experiences outside of therapy will play a large role in determining the direction of your therapy sessions. It is also important to remember sex therapy should not include physical contact between you and the therapist. This is not an accepted part of mainstream sex therapy treatment.
Finally, you need to remember sex therapy will often be just small part of your treatment, especially when recovering from sex addiction. Other considerations such as stress, anxiety, depression and medical issues will also require treatment. Sex therapy will help you develop healthy sexual behaviors and restore your sexual relationship with your spouse or partner.