One of the most common questions I ever get is, “What IS sex therapy?” There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what sex therapy is, and as a sex therapist, I know how important it is to clarify what sex therapy is and is not. Below you’ll find a detailed article from Everyday Health that talks about why you would go to sex therapy and what you should expect. And as always, please feel free to contact us directly with any questions!

“If you’re experiencing a sexual problem, the last thing you probably want to do is talk about it. But sex therapy is designed to help you do just that so you can get to the bottom of your sexual issues and reverse them.

Whether you work with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or marriage or sex counselor, sex therapy can help with a variety of issues including erectile dysfunction, low libido, and other sexual problems. And it can help you and your partner work through these issues in a supportive and educational environment.

So what does sex therapy really entail? And who qualifies as a sex therapist? Read on to discover the truth about this type of therapy.

1. Sex Therapy Is Like Other Forms of Counseling

Contrary to what some believe, there’s nothing strange, deviant, or kinky going on behind the walls of a sex therapist’s office. Indeed, sex therapy is not very different from other forms of psychological counseling.

“Sex therapy is conducted by a person trained in psychological methods of treatment and rehabilitation for sex and relationship problems,” says Yvonne K. Fulbright, PhD, a sex educator and professor of human sexuality at American University in Washington, D.C. “Your therapist may collect a detailed sex history and formulate goals and interventions for solving your issues.”

2. You’ll Explore the Psychological Side of Sex

Your therapist will help you work through emotional issues that may be contributing to sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction, says urologist Drogo Montague, MD, professor of surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine in Ohio. “Sex therapy typically begins with learning about performance anxiety and then moves on to teaching a couple how to establish open lines of communication to discuss sexual wants and needs,” he explains. “The couple may also explore issues causing relationship stress.”

3. There Might Be Homework

While nothing sexual in nature will happen at the office, the therapist may offer some ideas for things you can try at home. “The therapist may suggest you try something called sensate focus exercises, which are designed to help you attune more to your partner,” says Dr. Montague. The exercises are typically done in stages, starting with touching or stroking anywhere on the body, except the breasts and genital areas. The goal is to experience the sensation of touching rather than trying to reach orgasm. Eventually, the exercises can lead to intercourse.

4. It May Help to Bring Your Partner

If you’re dealing with issues as a couple, it’s a good idea to bring along your partner, says Fulbright. But if you’re looking to work on personal issues, you may want to meet with your therapist one-on-one before bringing along your mate.

5. You Keep Your Clothes On

One thing is certain: Under no circumstances should you have to take your clothes off in a sex therapist’s office. Fulbright says that this should never, ever occur, and if you are asked to do so, leave immediately.

6. You Should Be Picky When Choosing a Therapist

Check credentials, ask for references, and make sure you find a therapist who is qualified to help you. Fulbright says it’s important to look for a focus in human sexuality or the words “sex therapist” in the professional’s title. Professionals often hold degrees in marriage and family therapy, social work, theology, psychology, or medicine.

7. Sex Therapy Isn’t for Everyone

It’s important to remember that sex therapy is similar to psychological counseling — that means, it won’t fix any physical limitations that are leading to sexual dysfunction. What it can help with is problems that are primarily mental or emotional in nature, says Montague. ”

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