What Is Sex Therapy?
This blog was originally posted at YourTango and is reposted here with permissions.
Here’s how to tell if sex therapy is right for you.
How many people have you known who confided in you that they went to a sex therapist or were considering sex therapy for intimacy problems in their marriage?
For many people, talking about sex with a partner is not always easy, so reaching out to a sex therapist might actually be a more comfortable way to address any concerns you have about your sex life.
So what is sex therapy, and how can working with a sex therapist help you create a stronger, healthier sexual relationship with your partner or spouse?
Sex therapy is defined as “a strategy for the improvement of sexual function and treatment of sexual dysfunction.” Sex therapy addresses a wide range of clinically described sexual behaviors and difficulties that create sadness, fear, frustration, and disappointment for people who want to explore and enjoy their sexuality.
Sex therapists provide focused and personal attention, typically in a private office setting, where couples — or individuals — can talk about their sexual relationship and any differences or problems they’re experiencing relating to physical intimacy.
Individuals often contact a sex therapist with very specific concerns. In contrast, many couples often look first for a couples therapist and then see if sex therapy is offered, too. Sometimes it’s very difficult for couples to decide which direction they want, especially if one or both of them aren’t so sure how sex therapy will go.
Sex therapists typically begin with an assessment of each person’s sexual history. Then, they’ll explore other experiences within the current relationship or address ongoing sexual problems like premature ejaculation or inhibited sexual desire.
In addition to sex therapists, there are also sex educators and sex counselors who can become certified by a national organization, the American Association for Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). There is also an international non-profit organization, the Society of Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR). SSTAR provides a forum for sex research and treatment, exploring many facets of human sexuality.
Most people don’t know what they don’t know about sex, which is why working with a sex therapist can help.
Some people aren’t sure if love is a necessary and important aspect of sex, but the truth is love and sex do go together.
Yes, people have sex with people they don’t know well. But generally, people prefer having good to great to sex with someone when they feel affection toward their sexual partner(s). Given the chemistry of romantic love, a sexual bond came become much greater than a friendship and go beyond affection.
Positive sex education, knowledge, and awareness are essential for men and for women (and for children, too).
Sexual counseling is also very important, though it differs from sex therapy. This type of counseling is often offered by a wide range of medical people (nurses, doctors, midwives), as well as in sexual health clinics and educational classes, where very important information and misinformation can be talked about individually or in groups.
Sex therapists provide intensive attention to difficulties and fears that individuals or couples experience and have knowledge and expertise in exploring their sexual desire and negotiating their sexual relationship.
Sexual problems and mismatches are common in committed and marriage relationships.
Even when couples have been together for a long time, you could be surprised to know that having a passionate and loving sex life can also last a lifetime.
Yet sadly, sex is often surrounded by secrecy and insecurity. Talking openly with your partner about your sexual thoughts and feelings, as well as sharing your fantasies, is an important key to a pleasurable relationship.
The root of sexual ignorance, shame, and embarrassment can be deep. Although there is so much information available, marriage, couple, and family therapy were interconnected with sex therapy in the early years with a focus on marital difficulties around sex. Premarital counseling, which also included attention to sex, began in the early decades of the twentieth century.
The evolution of sex therapy has been very important in helping individuals and couples with often complicated sexual experiences. These can include sexual traumas, sexual abuse, and a wide range of diagnoses from sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, and pain disorders, and many more sexual problems, like healing from infidelity.
Sex therapy can and will help you.
Sex is no longer a taboo subject, and it can last a lifetime for committed, loving couples. Both sexuality and sensuality can be an amazing personal experience.
Suffering from guilt, shame, misunderstandings, trauma, misinformation, and silence can be overcome with the help of a certified sex therapist. One of the most important aspects of having a healthy sexual relationship is the benefit of emotional and physical well-being.
Passion begins with your own sexual desire and fantasies, and so many people struggle and ignore the unique and amazing potential of what can happen when love, affection, desire, and sex expression combine. Your sexuality is a gift and if you’re worried that you’re not enjoying yours, don’t be afraid to reach out to a sex therapist for help.
Dr. Rita DeMaria is a certified sex therapist. She works with individuals and couples at our offices in Center City Philadelphia and Blue Bell. Click here to request an appointment.