What is Sex Therapy?

Sex therapy is, in essence, a form of psychotherapy that is specifically focused on the emotional and behavioral issues around human sexuality. Although sex therapists often work closely with medical doctors, sex therapy does not address medical issues, which are usually treated by a gynecologist or urologist. Sex therapists never engage in sexual activity with their patients. They are counselors that help individuals or couples resolve their emotional or communication issues about sex.

Some of the problems that a person might see a sex therapist for include:
  • Erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation
  • Inability to have an orgasm
  • Pornography addiction
  • Sexual inhibitions
  • Sexual trauma or abuse
  • Couples with differing levels of desire
  • Physical issues with sex due to disability

During sex therapy, individuals or couples will talk about their sexual issue and their background. It is common to be given exercises to work on outside of therapy to improve communication, intimacy, or physical response. Sometimes these exercises bring up strong emotions, and then those emotions can be discussed during therapy. The goals of sex therapy are usually to obtain reliable information about sex, to improve verbal and physical communication between a couple, and to improve sexual performance.

Because of the nature of sex therapy and how vulnerable it makes most patients feel to discuss their sex life, it is extremely important to choose a sex therapist wisely. Referrals can usually be obtained via physicians or clergy, but it is also important to seek a credentialed therapist. The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) offers certification to sex therapists, which ensures proper training and education, as well as a strict code of ethics.
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