What is sex therapy?

Sex therapy involves talking to a qualified sex therapist about sexual concerns. During this process sexual functioning is discussed so that sexual concerns and/or dysfunctions can be identified and clarified. The goal of sex therapy is the resolution of these (and related) concerns. The discussions (always confidential) also include past experiences that are relevant to the present situation. Health insurance may often be applied toward the fees for therapy.

Sex therapy is typically of brief duration if the sexual concerns are uncomplicated. However. longer therapy may be needed if medical factors or emotional issues, including relationship problems, complicate the picture. Typically, sex therapy involves couples therapy because both partners are affected by the sexual concerns. Of course, individuals may also be treated if they are not in a committed relationship. "Homework" is often given as an adjunct to therapy, because it helps people try out new behaviors and work on their difficulties between sessions and it speeds up the therapy process. These assignments are commonly experiential exercises, written assignments, bibliotherapy (reading relevant books), or sometimes watching appropriate sex educational video tapes.


What are some common causes of sexual concerns?

Sexual concerns may be caused by physical problems, such as disease or disability that affects the body's sexual response. Menopause issues or other hormone imbalances, medication side effects, fatigue and sexual pain are examples of some of the many physical causes.

Sexual concerns may also be caused by emotional or psychological problems, such as anxiety, fear, stress, anger, depression, sexual abuse history, etc.

In many instances, however, a combination of physical and emotional factors (often including relationship problems) creates the sexual difficulties. On the other hand, sexual difficulties may also create emotional and/or relationship difficulties.

Whenever a relationship is involved (either being negatively impacted by the sexual problems or causing the sexual problems) treatment of choice is a combination of relationship (marital) and sex therapy.


What kinds of issues do sex therapists treat?

Sex therapy may be "for you" if you want to enhance your intimacy or your sexuality, and especially if any of the following issues cause you pain or interfere with your relationship and the quality of your life:

- Relationship enhancement
- Recovery from affairs, divorce, domestic violence and other losses

- Recovery from compulsive behaviors

- Problems of sexual desire
- Problems of sexual arousal
- Problems of orgasm
- Problems of sexual pain or sexual fears or anxieties

- Creating positive sexual relationships
- Communication enhancement
- Sex education (includes safer sex)

- Adolescent sexuality issues
- Infertility
- Pregnancy/post partum sexuality
- Sex and mid-life crisis
- Sexuality of menopause and aging
- Sexual issues of disability, disease processes and surgery
- Sexual orientation and gender issues
- Sexual anxiety issues

- Recovery from sexual abuse or sexual assault
- Release from sexual shame and guilt