• Miranda L. Galbreath, MA, MA, LPC

Let's talk about Sex Therapy!

What is Sex Therapy?

Sex is a natural, normal part of all of our lives, but we rarely talk about it, and many folks struggle with sexual issues without seeking help or even realizing that help is available. Lucky for us there are trained, experienced, non-judgmental sexuality professionals out there who can help us work on issues of sex, sexuality, gender, and relationships so that we can live our healthiest, safest, most pleasurable lives as sexual beings. Sex Therapists are highly trained mental health professionals who can help us work on a variety of issues that can improve the quality of our lives. Let’s talk about what that might look like.

What kinds of issues can a Sex Therapist help me with?

Sex Therapists can help us work on a variety of individual issues, and also issues we are having within our sexual relationships. Folks may visit a sex therapist because they are struggling with a wide variety of issues, including, but not limited to:

  • Coming to terms with their gender or sexuality

  • Issues with sexual self-esteem or body image

  • Genital pain or functional concerns (such as erectile difficulties, concerns about ejaculation, painful intercourse)

  • A desire to explore something new like kinky sex or polyamorous relationships

  • Relationship issues such as desire discrepancies, loss of interest in sex, recovery from infidelity

  • Sexual behavior that is out of control or feels out of control (sometimes called “sex addiction”)

  • Healing from sexual trauma

  • Change of life issues such as returning to sex after pregnancy or coping with sex following a medical diagnosis

How do they help?

Sex Therapists are trained to use a variety of techniques to help people with sexual concerns and will work with each individual or relationship to build rapport, develop an understanding of the concerns, and collaborate to develop an individualized treatment plan. Your therapist will start by asking you to describe your concerns, and then guide you through a detailed sexual history to gather information that will help them collaborate with you to choose the best treatment approaches. Your therapist will also likely encourage you to seek an assessment from a medical professional for some types of concerns to determine if there may be medical issues that need to be addressed as part of your treatment.

Treatment sessions will likely include some combination of talk therapy, psychoeducation (the therapist providing you with accurate medical information about sex and bodies), experiential activities such as practicing relaxation and breathing techniques, and homework assignments that might include targeted conversations with your partner/s about specific topics, planned date nights, or exploring a variety of guided touch exercises designed to help individuals or folks in relationships explore each other's bodies and discover what kinds of touch are pleasurable in a non-demand, low-pressure safe environment.

What kind of qualifications do Sex Therapists have?

Unfortunately anyone can call themselves a Sex Therapist or say that they practice Sex Therapy, so it’s a good idea to be a careful consumer and do your research before you decide on a provider. You want to find someone who has significant training and experience in providing Sex Therapy. Many licensed mental health professionals do not receive training in sexual issues.

My recommendation is that you choose a therapist who is affiliated with AASECT (The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapist). You can check the AASECT provider directory to find Certified Sex Therapists and Sex Therapists in training who are working under the supervision of a Certified Sex Therapy Supervisor.

These individuals will have a Master’s or Doctoral degree in the mental health field and hold a professional license in their state (such as Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Social Worker, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, etc.). Sex Therapists will have significant training in human sexuality and gender issues as well as extensive training in a variety of sex therapy techniques. Training includes providing Sex Therapy under the supervision of a Certified Sex Therapy Supervisor as well as ongoing professional education in human sexuality and sex therapy issues.

If you are considering working with a sex therapist, I encourage you to get to know them via their website and social media presence to find out if they are experienced in the areas you want to work on, and if their personality and approach seems like a good fit for you.

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