What is Sex Therapy?
Sex Therapy is
a professional and ethical treatment approach to problems of sexual function and
expression. We recognize that it is the right of individuals to expert
assistance with their sexual difficulties. Sex therapy is the focusing of
specialized clinical skills on helping men and women as individuals and/or as
couples to deal more effectively with their sexual expression.
Sex Therapy Necessary?
of sexual function varies from individual to individual, but for many it is
closely tied to their concept of self identity. For these, problems in sexual
function may lead to devaluation of self,
"I cannot feel good
about my sexuality, so how can I feel good about myself?"
We are also in a time when relationship and family units are quite vulnerable to
dissolution. Regardless of the structure of the intimate relationship shared,
sexuality serves a valuable function for most couples. It becomes an expression
of caring, not only for the partner, but for oneself. It can become a powerful
bonding element in a relationship. Dissatisfaction with the sexual relationship
and the loss of shared intimacy may lead to negative feelings and attitudes
which are destructive to the relationship. Many relationships end because of
unresolved sexual differences and difficulties.
Who Goes for Sex
therapist works with a wide variety of problems related to sexuality. People
seek help with such problems as:
dysfunctions, Premature ejaculation, Delayed ejaculation, Performance
pressures, Declining desire, Virginity/shyness, Penis size concerns,
Negative body image, Sexual or gender identity, Compulsive sexuality,
Paraphilias (voyeurism, exhibitionism, other sex offending, alternative
sexuality and fetishism).
Female Sexuality: Arousal
dysfunction, Orgasm (multi-orgasmic or pre-orgasmic), Vaginal pain during
intercourse, Virginity/shyness, Negative body image, Sexual or gender
identity, Compulsive sexuality, Paraphilias (voyeurism, exhibitionism, other
sex offending, alternative sexuality and fetishism), Menopause issues.
Special Sexuality Concerns:
Aging, Handicaps and
disabilities, Post-surgical effects of prostate and testicular cancer,
Impact of medications (such as high blood pressure and anti-depressants
which often block sexual response), illness, surgery, or alcohol or drug
Couples Sexuality Issues:
Increasing the passion in your marriage, Enhancement of arousal, Touching
for pure pleasure, Developing intimate communication skills, Desire
discrepancy (one partner desires sex more than the other), Healing from
Dating Scene: Developing
winning social skills, Confidently navigating the dating game, Making good
partner selections, Social shyness/inhibition, Self-defeating relationship
behavior, Getting started after divorce or widowhood.
Are There Limitations?
As with any
therapy for personal or behavioral difficulties, sex therapy has its
limitations. Although usually brief and effective with most sexual concerns, sex
therapy does not offer a miracle cure for all interpersonal problems. Success of
treatment depends upon many factors, not the least of which are the nature of
the problem, the motivation of the patient, and the therapeutic goals. The
motivated prospective patient and/or couple should choose a therapist carefully
and establish realistic goals early in the counseling.
One Know if a Sex Therapist is Qualified?
realize that with any new field, a variety of definitions and expectations will
exist for a time, and that a wide variety of people will claim expertise in
accordance with their own definition of the field. Fortunately, Florida law
states that any person holding himself out as a sex therapist must be a licensed
mental health professional who has completed specialized training and
supervision in sex therapy. Unfortunately, not every sex therapist has the same
level of competence or experience even if they have completed the minimum
criteria need to be met in choosing a sex therapist.
of all, the qualified sex therapist must be skilled in providing counseling
and psychotherapy, and be licensed in a mental health profession. This
background in the behavior sciences is essential to the understanding of the
total individual and to the planning of an individualized treatment program.
Licensing ensures that the therapist has completed a minimum requirement of
training, internship, and years of professional experience under
the therapist must have a sound knowledge of the anatomical and
physiological bases of the sexual response and must be able to demonstrate
extensive post-graduate training specifically within the areas of sexual
function and dysfunction, sex counseling, and sex therapy.
requirement is that the sex therapist have expertise in relationship
counseling. That is, the sex therapist should also be a skilled marital,
family and/or group therapist. In order to work effectively with sexual
problems, the sex therapist must be able to work effectively with non-sexual
relationships as well. Sexual behavior does not occur in a vacuum - it
occurs within a relationship! The total relationship must, therefore, be
accurately evaluated and treated.
What Can I Expect in Sex
of all, you can expect to be talking explicitly and in detail about sex. One
cannot solve sexual problems by talking around them. Neither can one gain
new sexual information unless clear, direct instruction is given.
you may expect to be offered the opportunity to add to your knowledge by
reading selected books and/or viewing clinical films designed specifically
for use in sex therapy. You should not, however, do anything which you do
not understand, and you must reserve for yourself the right to question the
purpose of an assignment. Every assignment, task, or experience presented by
the therapist should fit into an understandable and acceptable treatment
plan - and you have the right to question the procedures. It is your right
to decline or postpone acting on the suggestions of your therapist until you
are ready to do so.
you should expect your sex therapist to be non-judgmental in giving and
receiving sexual information. While you might expect to be challenged and
confronted on important issues, you should also expect to experience a
respectful attitude toward those values which you do not which to change.
you will not be asked to disrobe in the presence of your therapist. Sexual
contact between client and therapist is considered unethical and is
destructive to the therapeutic relationship. Neither will you perform
sexually with your partner in the presence of your therapist, even though
the talk, material and the assignments must, by the nature of the problem,
be specifically sexual and at times bluntly explicit.
you should feel that you are heard and adequately accepted for who you are.
That is, you should not feel that you have been stereotyped in any other way
that interferes with your sense of unique identity. You should feel that you
are being treated as an individual, not as a category.
Sex therapy is
a dynamic approach to very real human problems. It is based on the assumptions
that sex is good, that relationships should be meaningful, and that
interpersonal intimacy is a desirable goal. Sex therapy is by its nature a very
sensitive treatment modality and by necessity must include respect for the
client's values. It must be nonjudgmental and non-sexist, with recognition of
the equal rights of man and woman to full expression and enjoyment of healthy