Couples don’t necessarily just naturally have a great sex life. Instead, sexual incompatibility and other intimacy issues can place a great deal of stress on a relationship. In order to resolves these issues and improve the health of the relationship, couples are recommended to seek out a sex therapist.
What is a Sex Therapist?
Before you start your search, it’s important to understand what a sex therapist is and what they do.
A sex therapist is a professional trained to help couples or individuals have a healthy, satisfying sex life. They provide a safe, comfortable space for couples to talk about their issues. The therapist will usually ask guiding questions, moderate communication, recommend specific exercises and more.
Sex therapists are similar to couples’ therapists, but there are a few key differences. Both types of therapists help couples understand and resolve conflicts in their relationships. However, while a relationship therapist focuses on a broad range of emotional issues, a sex therapist typically focuses only on sex-related problems.
The first session with the sex therapist will likely be an evaluation. The therapist will ask each individual what challenges they’re facing in the relationship and what outcome they hope to achieve.
The Five Steps to Finding a Sex Therapist
Determine Your Goals
The first step to finding a sex therapist doesn’t directly involve the therapist. Instead, you’ll need to determine your specific goals for therapy. What are the current problems in your relationship? What ultimate outcome do you hope to achieve? The clearer you’re able to articulate your ideas and goals, the more effectively the therapist will be able to help you.
Don’t worry if you’re not exactly sure what your goals are. During the first session, the therapist can help you clarify your needs. Goals will usually be pretty specific and concrete.
Undergo a Medical Exam
You’ll want to visit a medical professional either before you visit the therapist or shortly after your first session. Many sexual problems are physical in nature rather than psychological. A medical exam can help determine the exact cause of a variety of sexual problems including erectile dysfunction, pain during sex and other issues.
Start with a visit to your general practitioner. If necessary, they might refer you to a specialist. Keep in mind that even if the cause of the problem is physical, you’ll likely still want to seek out a sex therapist. They’ll be able to help you develop strategies related to the medical issues. That’s why seeking out a proper diagnosis is so important – it provides valuable information for the therapist to work with.
Generally, people have no issue asking their friends for recommendations when seeking out a variety of professionals. Need home repairs? Ask a friend about the contractor they recently hired. Have a dental need? Ask a friend if they have a dentist they like.
However, asking for a recommendation for sex therapist can be much more complicated. Most people are reluctant to discuss intimate relationship issues with a friend. Doing so can feel embarrassing and awkward. Fortunately, other options are available. Many doctors who specialize in sex-related medical issues will know a variety of qualified sex therapists they’re able to recommend. Your insurance provider can also be a good source of recommendations.
Choose In-Person or Online
Modern technology has added an interesting new twist to sex therapy. Instead of meeting with the therapist in person, you can also connect with them online. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method.
Meeting with the therapist in person can often feel more personable. After all, you’ll be face to face with the therapist. Plus, traveling to an office can help create the feeling of a safe space where you can feel comfortable expressing yourself openly. In most cases, couples will visit a sex therapist every two weeks.
However, online sex therapy has several unique benefits. Scheduling a session is usually quick and easy. You can even contact a therapist right away if you need advice related to an immediate concern. Plus, talking to someone online can increase feelings of comfort. The physical distance helps many people feel more open when talking about intimate issues.
Find a Specialist
You’ll want to find a sex therapist who specializes in your specific issues. For instance, many therapists specialize in issues related to medical issues. They’re a good choice if your sexual issues are related to a surgical procedure, cancer recovery or other medical malady.
Other therapists specialize in recovery from sexual trauma. This type of therapy is often ideal for anyone whose problems stem from past abuse.
Questions to Ask During Your First Therapy Session
By nature, sex therapy is intimate and personal. Finding a therapist you’re comfortable with will have a dramatic impact on the success of the therapy. During the initial meeting, you’ll want to ask a few questions about the therapist’s background and treatment methods. Topics you’ll want to discuss include:
The therapist’s educational background
Any memberships they have in professional organizations
Their experience treating issues similar to yours
Keep in mind each therapist will have a slightly different approach to therapy. You’ll want to ask about the specific techniques the therapy will involve.
Make sure you also understand the time commitment required. How often will you need to see the therapist? What time commitment is required outside of the therapy sessions? Is there an estimated time when you can expect to see results?
Sex therapy is used to treat a specific problem. In many cases, results can occur rather quickly. The clearer your goal is, the faster results will typically occur. While each individual is different, you should expect to see significant progress after eight to 10 sessions. Otherwise, you might want to get a second opinion from a different therapist.
Don’t Feel Bad if the Therapist Isn’t a Good Match
Remember, you don’t have to simply choose the first therapist you meet with. If you’re uncomfortable with the therapist or don’t like their specific approach, you have no obligation to continue seeing them. Simply choose another professional.
Meeting with a therapist initially and then choosing not to see them further can feel like a waste of time. But it’s actually the best move in the long run. When you find a therapist and therapy style you’re comfortable with, results will be quicker and easier to achieve.
How Do You Know if You Need a Sex Therapist?
Sexual issues can be both physical and mental in nature. Sex involves a variety of complicated physical processes such as achieving an erection and proper vaginal lubrication. Additionally, emotions such as stress, anxiety and depression can negatively impact a person’s sex life.
Additionally, many sexual issues can be caused by past traumas and abuse. Molestation and other inappropriate actions in childhood can have effects which last well into adulthood. While a traditional therapist can certainly help deal with these issues in general, a sex therapist is the best option for improving your current sex life.
Common sexual health issues handled by a sex therapist include:
Painful penetration (female)
Erectile dysfunction (male)
Premature ejaculation (male)
While these are all physical issues, the therapist can help will a variety of emotional issues, too. Performance anxiety, gender identity, sexual incompatibility, orgasm difficulties and other non-physical areas you are experiencing issues with are also common reasons to visit a sex therapist.
How to Find a Sex Therapist Near Me
In most cases, you should see rather significant progress reasonably quickly. However, you’ll still need to visit the therapist about every two weeks for probably a few months. So the physical location of the therapist’s office can be pretty important. If the office is too far away or difficult to get to, you’ll likely be more inclined to skip sessions.
However, finding a therapist near you does limit the available options. This is where online therapy sessions can be very useful. You can talk to a specialist who you’re comfortable with even if they’re physically located across the country.
How to Find a Sex Addiction Therapist
Sex addiction can be a difficult issue to treat because many people afflicted by the condition don’t feel as if there’s anything wrong with their behaviour. In most cases, an intimate partner of the sex addict will be the one to initiate contact a therapist. Fortunately, a qualified sex therapist will have strategies to help reach the sex addict.
Sex is a healthy, natural activity which can play an important role in a loving relationship. But sexual problems can be stressful, frustrating and embarrassing. Fortunately, help is available. A sex therapist can help with both physical and psychoogical sex-related issues. A healthy sex life is possible for any couple.
To see therapists specialising in sex-related issues, see below.