Do I Really Need Sex Therapy!?
Let’s have that talk about your sexual health again, shall we?
Your sexual health is a vital part of your overall physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Having sexual challenges may seem intimidating for men due to their natural inclination to be in control. Despite how common it is to have sexual dysfunction, it is terrifying for men to talk about it no matter how comfortable they are about their sexuality.
When experiencing a sexual problem, it is germane you talk about it, no matter how uncomfortable or frightening it may seem.
Sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction and low libido could result from emotional stress and anxiety, and all you need could be sex therapy!
What is sex therapy?
“Sex therapy is a type of psychotherapy that also takes into account possible physical problems. When a couple comes in with a sexual problem, we try to figure out how they could contribute to the issue. We examine behaviour, gradually interpret that for them, and come up with solutions,” says Barbara Bartlik, MD, a psychiatrist and sex therapist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City (1).
“Sex therapy is a type of talk therapy that’s designed to help individuals and couples address medical, psychological, personal, or interpersonal factors impacting sexual satisfaction”(2).
It is simply having a gist with a trusted professional who could proffer the cure to your sexual problem. Easy right? Talk to a friend and get the problem solved.
Sex therapy is a short-term form of counselling, generally involving five to 20 sessions with a sex therapist (3).
Who is a sex therapist?
A sex therapist is someone who helps individuals and couples facing sexual difficulties.
They are qualified counsellors, doctors, or healthcare professionals who have undergone training in helping people with problems relating to sex (4).
A sex therapist is not a sex coach. A sex coach may get touchy, engaging in a bodily demonstration. Sex therapists work with your mind, helping you connect your psych with your sex life.
A sex therapist is certified. They often hold degrees in marriage and family therapy, social work, theology, psychology, or medicine (1) and are held accountable by rules and regulations.
On the other hand, anyone can be a sex coach; they do not have the type of license a therapist has. Unlike sex therapists, they are not really governed by rules and regulations.
Sex therapy vs. sex coaching
Sex therapy involves mental care, structured by diagnosis. Therapy involves doing everything by the book, and it aims at giving patients standard treatment. It requires getting to the root of your mental and emotional blockage and reversing it.
Sex coaching involves offering insights into how patients can improve their sex lives. It is structured by strategy. It does not require getting to the root of the emotional or psychological problem, and its programs are not backed up by experience, certification, or education.
What you need to know about sex therapy
Sex therapy was created to get to the root of sexual problems and resolve them psychologically. Sex may seem like a physical thing on the surface, but it goes deeper than that.
Men are thought-driven beings but can be very emotional as well. These thoughts tend to affect your desires greatly. Your body tells its own story. Sometimes this story matches up well with the mind’s story about a problem (5).
Sex therapy helps in reversing issues such as:
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Lack of sexual interest.
- Premature ejaculation.
- Difficulty getting an orgasm.
- Low or little libido.
- Subdued ejaculation.
- Excessive libido.
- Unresponsiveness to sexual stimulus.
- Depressing sexual thoughts.
Now that you know what sex therapy does, let’s get to how it works.
How does sex therapy work?
“Sex therapy is a specialized type of psychotherapy — a general term for treating mental health problems by talking with a mental health professional” (6).
It is simply talking deeply about your sex concerns, describing every detail of the sexual problem. This is necessary because sexual disorders can be complex, and the sex therapist needs a clear idea of all elements for a proper diagnosis. Symptoms are pinpointed, and their origins are analyzed, after which standardized treatment kicks off.
Once your sexual concern is properly understood, you and your therapist walk through the process of reversing it. He or she designs a plan to resolve this problem. This plan is carried out through a series of sex therapy sessions, which are short-termed. During these sessions, you get to engage your mind and sexuality. As it progresses, you get to recognize other issues you would like to work on.
Sex therapy is interactive and engaging. You get to discover new truths about yourself, your values and get to work more on your self-esteem.
What transpires during the sex therapy session?
As already stated, sex therapy is a short-term form of counselling, generally involving five to 20 sessions with a sex therapist (3). Sessions usually last for 30-50 minutes and could be weekly or monthly.
During therapy sessions, your therapist helps you work through your emotional and psychological issues contributing to the sexual disorder. Your therapist does not force you into this, and he or she is ready whenever you are.
During these sessions, you may go through mindfulness training to learn how to be mindful and more aware of yourself. You will learn to be present and key into the now and not get distracted by issues at the office, at home, or across this. You are to block negative thoughts and train your mind to connect your emotions to your body by paying attention to how your body reacts to sexual stimulation.
Also, you learn to unravel past events and see how they affect your present, then find a way to create your future. You get to unravel buried trauma and process them to prevent those experiences from wreaking more havoc than they have already.
During therapy sessions, homework (because nothing sexual in nature happens in the office) and tasks are given, such as:
- Practising sexual communication.
- Reading books about your sexuality.
- Mindfulness training.
“The therapist may suggest you try something called sensate focus exercises, which are designed to help you attune more to your partner,” says 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 reach an orgasm. Eventually, the exercises can lead to intercourse (3).
Also, during therapy sessions, there is no bodily contact. Sex therapists will not touch you unless they are urologists. You get to keep your clothes on. Your therapist works with your mind and does not intrude on your mental space.
You are strongly advised to stay sincere, dedicated, and open during your sessions for faster and effective results.
How sex therapy affects your relationship
Sex is simply intimacy with someone else, whether due to physical or emotional reasons. Sex is not a one-man business. You do not engage in sex alone.
As couples, several sexual challenges may stem up due to several reasons, and this, if not well taken care of, could lead to a sour or broken relationship. Such reasons could include:
- Mismatched libidos: This is a situation where you have a higher sex drive than your partner or vice versa. You’d always want sex while she rarely wants it. These mismatched libidos sometimes cause issues for couples as they try to balance the huge gap in their sex life.
- Infidelity: Most times, you really want to take to your heels or just quit the whole charade, but it gets hard calling it quit when you truly love your partner and simply can’t let go. Why not try sex therapy and work through saving your relationship.
- A desire for a sexual paradigm shift: Perhaps one of you is thinking of trying new things, such as opening up your relationship to other partners.
- Sexual boredom: Can one ever get tired or bored of sex in a relationship? This happens every once in a while, right? But what if it is too frequent for your comfort?
Then there is a problem, mostly a psychological one. Luckily, therapy is just a few steps away.
According to Dr. Krychman, If you are troubled by your sexual relationship, [or] feel that there are barriers that may include physical, sensual, or sexual intimacy connections with your partner, you may need counseling or sex therapy (1).
Benefits of sex therapy in your relationship
- Improves your emotional and sexual communication.
- Help you explore your sexual fantasies( you will be shocked to find out how having a third party could help you realize your deepest desires and how similar you and your partner are.
- Through the help of carefully designed exercise, you get to boost up your sexuality and resolve your sexual challenges.
- By having a professional to talk to, you understand one another’s passion, sexual desires, and needs.
How effective is sex therapy?
When you want something badly, you work for it. Sex therapy is as effective as you want it to be. You work for it, and it works for you. It is a 50-50 thing. The more effort you put into it, the better the results.
Sex therapy is most effective when you have the support of your partner, and you go through it together. Studies have shown that having the partner involved in the therapy for men with stress-related ED resolves the problem 50%-70% of the time (3).
It is strongly advised you start solo then bring your partner in after a while.
Sex therapy is also an efficient way to prepare for surgery if you are going for surgical treatment. You get to deal with your fears and misconceptions for better results. It helps to get your mind ready.
Let’s proceed, gents.
Is sexual therapy for every sexual health disorder?
When should you see a sex therapist?
Let’s have a look at when sex therapy is needed.
- When the quality of your sex life or sexual dysfunction affects your overall health.
- When the lack of intimacy between you and your partner becomes a major concern for you.
- Compulsive sexual behaviour (CSB)
- When you need to disclose your sexual health status to your partner, especially when diagnosed with STD.
- When there is an issue with infidelity, according to Dr Krychman, “No one is blameless in a dysfunctional relationship, and couples can jointly work together to improve the quality of their experience” (1).
- When there are traumatic-related issues, such as rape, assault, etc., affecting your personal life.
How and where can you find a sex therapist?
When choosing a sex therapist, it has to be someone you are willing to share your intimate secret with. Make sure you feel safe enough to be vulnerable. You could consider gender, religion, and whichever factor to make you feel safe. You should also check up on their accreditation and experience to ensure they have no bias towards your sexual orientation.
You could find sex therapists in the hospitals that have sex clinics. Your doctor para venture could also recommend a therapist if there are no sex clinics in your hospital.
Rewarding and pleasurable sex life is healthy. Sometimes, your mind gets in the way, and fulfilling your sexual desires and pleasure could get difficult, leading to an unsatisfactory sex life which sometimes equates to an unhappy life.
Sex therapy is for anyone irrespective of their age, gender, or sexual orientation. It’s a very productive treatment for sexual dysfunction in as much as you stay committed as a patient, and you should not be taken as sex coaching.
Stay dedicated to the therapy sessions. You get to reembrace yourself and find a way out of traumas and other psychological challenges, working your way through mental, emotional, and sexual health.
Not all sexual abnormalities require sex therapy. When a required treatment beyond therapy is needed, your sex therapist directs you to a doctor or urologist.