What Is A Sex Therapist And How Can They Help Me?
By: Robert Porter
Updated February 12, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include sexual assault & violence which could potentially be triggering.
It should come as no surprise that many people have various sexual problems. Sex is such a big part of people's lives, and sometimes certain things are very difficult. There are a large number of different sexual disorders that cause people to have trouble connecting with others. Certain sexual dysfunctions have the potential to harm relationships, and they can hurt a person's overall happiness.
Many sexual issues are related to mental health. Some of these problems will be physical issues, but most of the time, learning how to approach things differently from a mental perspective will allow for the situation to improve. If you are worried about your sex life, then you may benefit from seeking out a sex therapist.
What is a Sex Therapist?
A sex therapist is a licensed mental health professional who is certified through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists AASECT. Sex therapists may be psychologists, social workers, or counselors that have specialized training in treating individuals and couples who are experiencing sexual concerns.
To become a sex therapist, one must complete the requirements outlined by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. Expectations include earning at least a master’s degree in mental health with training in psychotherapy, and holding licensure as a counselor, clinical social worker, or marriage and family therapist. Requirements for education involve extensive coursework in human sexuality, sexual health, sexual functioning and concerns around sexual orientation.
Talking about sex may feel awkward and uncomfortable at first. However, regular sessions with a sex therapist have been able to help many people facing sexual concerns such as lack of sexual desire, premature ejaculation and anxiety around sexual contact. A male may experience low sex drive after receiving hormone therapy for prostate cancer. The goal of sex therapy is to help people get back to having a healthy sex life. It may take some time to accomplish this, but a sex therapist knows how to work with patients to get to the core of an issue. There are so many different problems that therapy will be able to help with. If therapy is used properly, then many sexual issues can be brought under control, and people will be able to move forward toward a more happy sex life.
Problems With Sexual Arousal
Many people seek out sex therapy due to having problems with sexual arousal. You might assume that this therapy would be limited to men who are having erectile problems, but this is not the case. There are also many women who have trouble getting aroused during sexual encounters. It will be possible to have problems like this no matter what your gender is.
Some individuals may try to find drugs supplements that can assist with sexual functioning. However, there has not been enough scientific evidence on drugs supplements that have impact on sexual arousal or performance.
Sexual arousal issues can be very problematic for those in committed relationships. If you have someone that you love very much, then it can be frustrating not to be able to perform for them sexually. Whether this means male erectile dysfunction or female experiencing painful intercourse problems, a sex therapist can help. Working together with a sex therapist is a great way to try to figure out what might be causing some of these problems. Often, there is a mental component that is holding a person back from experiencing arousal.
The therapist will be able to speak with you individually or together with your partner. By working together, it is possible to make progress and to try to fix these sexual arousal issues. There are times when arousal problems can be addressed by fixing problems within a relationship that you may not even be aware of. If you or your significant other are experiencing sexual arousal issues, then it will be a very good idea to reach out to a sex therapist.
Intimacy issues are another common sexual problem that will prevent people from getting close to one another. Sometimes people will desire a close sexual relationship but will have problems when it comes down to having sexual intercourse. There are even many people who get so nervous about being intimate with another person that they will avoid sexual encounters entirely. This can make the person that they are with feel inadequate, and it will lead to general unhappiness.
Many severe intimacy issues have to do with body image. People are not always comfortable with being naked in front of others. It is not uncommon at all for people to feel ashamed of their bodies. Even when they have a significant other who is very turned on by what they have to offer, it can be tough for them to accept that they are attracted to other people. Problems like this can be tough to deal with mentally and getting through this type of problem is not easy when you do not have professional help.
A professional therapist can help people to deal with body issues and any other problems that are preventing intimacy between two adults in a relationship. This will sometimes involve individual therapy, and it may also involve couples counseling. Learning to feel comfortable with your own body is very important. Therapy can help you to break down mental barriers while learning to accept new possibilities in your life. Anyone who needs help connecting with others on an intimate level can benefit from sex therapy.
Couples Sex Therapy
Couples sex therapy is another crucial type of talk therapy that you need to know about. Of course, many sexual problems have to do with couples not being able to connect properly. Two people may love each other very much, but there still might be problems happening in the bedroom. One individual may be experiencing issues with lack of sexual desire. If you are having trouble with your partner on a sexual level, then couples sex therapy is going to be a good thing to sign up for.
A skilled couples sex therapist can work to figure out what barriers are preventing a healthy sexual relationship between you and your partner. Sometimes this has to do with simple things such as a lack of communication. Other times, certain sexual or emotional needs may need to be met to facilitate a healthier relationship. To figure out what the problems are, both members of the relationship need to commit to moving forward together. Honest communication about feelings needs to occur during these sexual therapy sessions.
Many sex therapy techniques are used during couples therapy as well. One of the most popular ones is known as sensate focus therapy. This places the focus of the therapy on helping the couple to feel comfortable with touching one another again. This is very good for couples who are experiencing intimacy issues like the ones mentioned earlier. It allows them to connect by giving them something akin to "couples homework."
These sex therapy exercises are assigned to a couple by a sex therapist. The therapist may tell a couple to spend a certain amount of time touching one another while at home or attempting a certain type of sexual touching. This type of sensate focus therapy is usually ramped up as the couple becomes more comfortable with each other physically. Exercises may be something simple such as holding hands or cuddling at first. This could evolve into each member of the relationship taking turns exploring the other's body.
Being able to feel comfortable with each other sexually is an important component of a happy relationship. No matter what obstacles are present, it will be possible to move forward together. A sex therapist can make a difference when a couple is experiencing problems. The sexual problems will not be presented as just one person's problem either. It is an issue that a couple needs to tackle together with the help of a dedicated therapist.
Dealing With Traumatic Sexual Experiences From The Past
One very important way that sex therapists help patients is by allowing them to come to terms with past sexual experiences that may be impacting sexual desire or performance. Patients who have dealt with rape issues may have trouble getting over what has happened to them. This is a very traumatic life event, and it can negatively impact a person's sex life for obvious reasons. Being able to trust again after experiencing something so horrible is no easy feat.
The statistics show that one in six American women have dealt with rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. These are terrible realities that many people do not like to think about. For the survivors of these crimes, it does not end once the crime is over. They continue to be affected by these traumas, and many have problems connecting with their romantic partners sexually.
Sex therapists have experience in helping survivors of rape and sexual abuse. It can be a very tough road, but many therapeutic techniques can make a difference. Talking about the problems and learning to be comfortable again will take time. A compassionate sex therapist is going to be an ally to survivors of sexual abuse while working to help them find a fulfilling sex life once more.
Sex addiction therapy is another important service that is offered by sex therapists. A sex addiction therapist will work with those who have problems with compulsive sexual behavior. This can include many different problems. Seem people have issues with compulsively pleasuring themselves to the detriment of their own lives. Others make questionable sexual decisions and cannot be loyal to their significant others.
Being addicted to sexual behavior has the potential to make a person feel hollow. Sex is a beautiful thing, but not all sexual behaviors or relationships are healthy. Those who are making unhealthy sexual choices and who are endangering their own lives because of it will benefit from therapy. A sex addiction therapist can work with patients experiencing this problem to help them find a more natural and healthy balance
Online Sex Therapy Is Available
If you are having trouble finding the time to get out to see a therapist, then you should know that there are online options available. Whether you want to get counseling as a couple or if you wish to seek out individual therapy for problems that you are experiencing, you will be able to find help online. Online therapy is very convenient because you will be able to take advantage of it whenever you want to. Being able to go through counseling sessions at night or on the weekends is a privilege that you just don't often have at in-person therapy locations.
Sex therapists are licensed mental health professionals that have received certification through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors & Therapists. Sex therapists may be psychiatrists, social workers, or counselors that have received specific clinical training that make them qualified to help you with your issues. If you are experiencing distress around sexual issues (such as premature ejaculation, concerns around sexual orientation or lack of sexual desire), then you can speak to someone who cares very easily. You'll be able to talk to the therapist while at home and no one else will ever know that you are seeking treatment for something.
If you sign up for therapy today, then you will be able to get started as soon as you are ready. An online therapist can help you to establish a treatment plan to work through the concerns you are experiencing. Sex is one of the most beautiful things in life. The problems that you are experiencing do not have to ruin it for you. You can get through what is going on in your life to reach a happy place once more. A sexual therapist will be happy to help you find a fulfilling sex life and going through the therapy sessions will be as convenient as possible.
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