Sex therapy refers to psychotherapy aimed at addressing sexual and sexuality difficulties which often has a psychological component. Common presenting difficulties include: impotence (erectile disfunction), premature ejaculation, retarded ejaculation, low libido, vaginismus, dyspareunia (painful intercourse) and anorgasmia (to name a few). Sex therapy is an integrative approach that may involve individual and couples therapy and take the bio-medical model into account. Thus the therapist may work closely during the process with a medical doctor or endocrinologist if medical contributing factors have not yet been ruled out medically.
Sexual health is vital in overall physical and emotional well-being and sex therapy is aimed at addressing psychological blocks in optimal sexual functioning. Sex therapy is not very different from other forms of psychological counselling – the presenting difficulty the client brings to therapy is only within the context of sexual functioning
Therefore, contrary to what some ill-informed persons may believe, there’s nothing strange, shameful, harmful or deviant going on in the therapist’s office. Ethically the same high level of patient conduct exists like in any other form of psychotherapy and should the client feel that his/ her personally boundaries are respected at all times.
When an individual or couple presents with a sexual problem, the aim is to find out what contributing factors may exist that are maintaining the difficulty. The first session is arrange with the person that made contact with the therapist, to form a picture of how he/ she is experiencing the difficulty and of his/ her psychological functioning in the environment. If the client has a partner and the client consents to it, the partner is invited for a session to share his/ her experience of the relationship and a picture is formed of the relationship dynamics between the partners. Form here the nodal point of what is maintaining the sexual difficulty psychologically, is formulated and the therapeutic plan and goal is discussed with the client/s.
Often sexual difficulties relates to preconceived ideas about sex in how the client/s was raised, performance anxiety, poor self-concept, body-image issues as well as high levels of judgement and emotional unfinished business in the intimate relationship and/ or relationships with others. The therapeutic process may include individual emotional work as well as couples therapy to assist the individual and/ or partners to work through these issues in a supportive and educational environment.
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