What Is Sex Therapy And Does It Really Work?

By: Samantha Dewitt

Updated February 24, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault

Have you started to notice some differences in the bedroom? Maybe you've always had a little bit of trouble, or maybe it only started recently. Maybe it's physical or maybe it's psychological. Maybe you're not sure what it is. No matter what’s going on, you can get help from a professional who is ready and willing to work with you to overcome your situation. Whatever you may have heard, sex therapy is a very legitimate field of work, and it's one where you can get the professional and discreet help that you're looking for.

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What Is Sex Therapy?

Sex therapy has long had a negative rap because it's considered something inappropriate or untoward, but that's not the case at all. In fact, sex therapy is very legitimate and very professional, without any of the less-than-professional aspects that you may have heard about. It's all about discussing the sexual problems that you or you and your partner may be experiencing, and working toward a resolution. A therapist will work with you to talk about what's going on in your life and trying to find the cause behind the problems that you are facing.

There is a great deal to understand about sexuality in anyone. For some, it's very easy to express themselves sexually, and their sexuality is pretty straightforward. For others, it's very difficult to do so. This could be the result of a physical problem, or it could be the result of something psychological. It's possible that thoughts or beliefs about sex while growing up could alter the way someone thinks and feels about it even as they grow into adulthood. A specific situation in adulthood also could change the way that someone thinks or feels about sex and their sexuality.

What Is Addressed?

In this type of therapy, just about anything related to sex can be addressed. For example, you may want to talk about sexual functions, feelings, or intimacy. All of these are completely appropriate to this type of therapy and could be discussed individually or in a couple’s session. It also isn’t just confined to traditional relationships; sex therapy uses a variety of approaches that can work for any relationship type. Understanding and coming to accept and thrive in your sexuality, no matter what that may look like for you, is important to your overall wellbeing. Being able to enjoy your life with a partner is going to help you feel better about yourself and the other aspects of your life.

Some people experience concern about their sexual orientation or their desire and arousal. Some may have compulsive behaviors related to sex, or may just act impulsively. Some may have erectile dysfunction concerns or trouble with arousal or pain during intercourse. There may also be intimacy issues related to physical or psychological issues. Some may have very low libido, or could be asexual. Any of these kinds of situations can be addressed with a sex therapist, and they can all be done in a highly organized way. There is really no “normal” way to be sexual, and with sex therapy, you can learn more about your normal way.

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For many people, however, sex is simply not something that is talked about, and it might be difficult to discuss with a partner let alone a stranger who is not part of your relationship. It's only by talking about sex and everything associated with it, however, that you will be able to start working toward changes and improvements for your life. If you're willing and able to start pushing your boundaries, you will be able to change the way that you feel about yourself and your partner, as well as how you and your partner (or future partner) feel about you.

The Difficulty Of Sex Therapy

Many people have difficulty understanding how sex therapy can help them. They may have difficulty even coming to terms with the idea of going to a sex therapy session. Because of the way it's often portrayed in movies and the jokes made about it in other areas, many have a hard time thinking of this therapy the way it's supposed to be. It's all about teaching you how to be more open and more comfortable with sex and helping you to overcome any physical or psychological blocks you may have in regard to sex.

Some of the common ways that you will work on sexual problems are through communication with a partner, focusing more on your experiences with your partner, watching educational videos or changing the methods by which you interact with your partner, and many others. Each of these methods will involve you alone or you with your current partner. There is no physical contact between you and a sex therapist, which is how the level of professionalism is maintained.

It can be difficult to be open and honest about sex and especially about any problems that you might have in regard to sex. It can also be difficult to talk about sex in general, especially if you have lived in a household where talk of sex was considered taboo. If you find the right therapist, however, they should be able to make you feel more comfortable and more at ease talking about this extremely personal issue. They should be able to help you express yourself, in whatever way works best for you.

Is There Something Else?

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For some, sexual problems or intimacy difficulties can be a symptom of something else that's going on. If you have anxiety or depression, you might experience sexual problems as a side effect of them. In these instances, you may need to focus more on the overall situation that you're experiencing rather than the depression or anxiety, and the sexual problems may start to relieve themselves in some fashion. Even still, you may want to work on what you're experiencing at the same time so you can start to overcome both the main part of the problem and the side effects together.

If you’re experiencing persistent sexual health concerns, you may want to talk with a professional about anything that's going on in your life to find out more about what might be happening. If you are experiencing other problems in your life and in regard to your mental health, you'll want to treat those situations as well and start working toward better understanding and improving your mental health. Whether sex therapy is the only type of therapy that you're looking for or part of a larger problem, you can find exactly what you need and start working your way toward the life you want.

Finding A Therapist

When it comes down to it, you need to find a therapist whom you can trust and feel comfortable with. That starts with finding someone who has the training and experience to be a good therapist. Keep in mind that this is a general title, however, and you'll also want to look at the specific training that they have received to find out what qualifies them as a sex therapist. You want to know that they have a good understanding of what they're talking about.

When you've checked all of their credentials, and you know that you're working with someone who knows what they're doing, you want also to find out how you feel around them. If you're not comfortable talking to them and opening up to them, you're not going to be able to get anywhere with your therapy. You won't be able to share the problems that you're having, and that's going to mean you stay exactly where you are, or perhaps feel even worse. Make sure the person you choose is one that you can talk with about anything, no matter how uncomfortable it might seem. It’s ok and completely normal to not jive with the first therapist you try – that’s what helps us figure out the sort of help that we do or don’t need!

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Once you know all of the things you're looking for, you need to know where to look, and one of the best places for you to look is BetterHelp. You'll find thousands of great therapists there, each with a plethora of training and experience, and most with multiple different types of certifications and backgrounds so as to better treat all manner of conditions in a well-rounded and multi-faceted fashion.

Online therapy has been found to be just as effective as in-person therapy. In regards to sex therapy in particular,one found that internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was quite effective in restoring sexual functioning, desire, drive, and positive body image for women with sexual dysfunction spurred by breast cancer. Online CBT therapy has also been found to be very effective in helping those with anxiety, including sexual anxiety.

BetterHelp is available to you anytime, anywhere - you can sit in your favorite chair or get comfortable on your couch while you have your sessions. Sessions are fully customizable, and can be held via phone call, video chat, live voice recording, instant messaging or texting, or any combination thereof. A quick questionnaire will help us match you up with a therapist with the credentials and experience to suit your needs. You can start chatting with them right away to determine if you’re a good fit for one another before even having a session, and can then either start scheduling sessions or choose a new therapist if you don’t feel as though they’re right for you. BetterHelp offers convenience, high accessibility, a personalized experience, and affordability just by being an online platform. Continue reading below to find reviews of some of our board-certified therapists from people seeking help with similar issues.

“I am a gay man. I was matched with Paulette to work on intimacy issues in my relationships due to religious trauma and indoctrination that gave me warped ideas and shame associated with my sexuality, which had rendered me unable to have successful relationships with other men. Paulette was an attentive listener, but also swift and no-nonsense in identifying irrationality in my ideas or beliefs. She challenged me to be critical of my negative thought patterns, and replace these thoughts with rational thoughts grounded in truth. She gave ample techniques and tools for me to utilize and guide me through the difficult process of change for the better. Paulette’s strengths are her ability to ask good questions, to listen to understand rather than respond, ability to bring irrationality to light, and her injection of humor in our conversations. I’ll keep what Paulette taught me forever.”

“Sandy was really great and helped me unlock the things I needed surrounding my relationship and dating patterns. In the period of time she was a great sounding board and also helped give me the thinking tools I needed to move forward in a better path. I definitely recommend Sandy and her open and direct approach –she was wonderful!”

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