by Jasmine M. McLean, LCSW
What is Sex Therapy? Who is Considered a Sex Therapist?
There are a lot of misconceptions about sex therapy and what exactly a sex therapist is. It doesn’t help that the media reinforces some pretty bad ideas of what a sex therapist is and what sex therapy consists of (ahem- looking at you, Gypsy on Netflix). While there are definitely some better examples of what sex therapy consists of (i.e. Sex Education on Netflix), none of these medias give the most accurate depiction of what sex therapy is and why someone might seek out a sex therapist.
In the most basic terms, sex therapy is a specific form of talk therapy that is focused on sexuality related concerns that someone may be having. Sexuality related concerns can include infertility, couples/relationship counseling, sexual pain, desire discrepancy (when one person in a partnership has difference in desire for sex compared to their partner), gender identity as well as sexual identity, sexual trauma, among many other concerns. Sex therapy is meant to help a person work through whatever concerns they may have and help them get to a point in which they feel like their sex therapy goals have been accomplished and they are no longer concerned about the issue they presented to therapy for.
Sex therapists are trained mental health professionals who have received advanced training in sexuality related concerns. Most sex therapists are certified by the national accreditation board for sex therapists (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists). This additional training provides the therapist with more training related to sexuality concerns than the average mental health professionals. This additional training allows the therapist to have access to additional therapeutic techniques that can help with someone’s sexuality concerns. This does not mean that a non-certified therapist cannot assist you with your sexuality related concerns, however, you may find that a certified sex therapist may be more equipped and have more experience working with your specific concern. An important thing to remember when looking for a sex therapist is a Sex therapist is not allowed to touch their client. If you are looking for someone to provide more hands-on work, then you may want to consider seeing a Sex Coach, Sexual Surrogate, or Somatic Bodyworker instead of a Sex Therapist.
What Does a Typical Sex Therapy Session Look Like?
It is a little hard to say exactly what a typical sex therapy session will look like, since everyone is unique and may have different needs and every therapist has a different approach to therapy. What is going to be common in your first session with a sex therapist is that they will ask you about your reasons for seeking sex therapy and what you want to work on. It makes sense to be nervous at your first appointment! Therapy is hard and speaking to a therapist about sexuality related concerns is even harder! It is ok to let the therapist know that you may be nervous and a little uncomfortable discussing your concerns. The therapist should be understanding and work with you to make you feel comfortable.
After the first appointment, you and the therapist should work on a treatment plan that will outline the ways in which you will work together on your sexuality related concern. For some people, sex therapy will be brief and may only last several sessions. For some people, sex therapy may last several months or even years. If you have any concerns about the length of time your treatment is taking, you should be able to ask your therapist and discuss this. Reminder, one of the most important factors in making sure therapy is successful is working with a therapist you feel comfortable with.
How Do I Find a Sex Therapist?
One of the best ways to find a sex therapist is through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) website (https://www.aasect.org). All AASECT certified sex therapists have their contact information on the website. You can also find a Sex Therapist through the internet. Once you find a sex therapist you think might be a good fit, it is helpful to ask if the therapist provides a free consult. The consult should give you a chance to meet the therapist and determine if you think you will feel comfortable with the person. You can also briefly discuss with the therapist what you want therapy for. There is nothing wrong with asking a therapist about their training and if they have any experience working with people who have similar concerns that you are currently experiencing to make sure they’re a good fit for you. Overall, you want to make sure whoever you pick to work with, is someone you feel comfortable working with.
If you think you want to see a sex therapist, then Growth Therapy, LLC may have a provider who is a fit for you. Reach out for a consultation to see if any of the sex therapists at Growth Therapy, LLC would be a good fit for you!