Let’s talk about sex (therapy), baybee. We talk about sex a lot here on Poosh, answering the important questions like, “Is fingering back?” with the help of sex educators and therapists. But we realized we haven’t talked much about sex therapy itself—what is it, and who is it good for? So that’s what we’re devoting this post to.
First off, what sex therapy isn’t: getting it on in front of the therapist. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that sex therapy will involve having to remove clothing or be in sexual situations in front of the therapist,” says sex therapist Dr. Kristen Mark, Everlywell’s in-house sex and relationship scientist. “This is not true.” Other misconceptions about sex therapy are that it’s not commonly needed and that it’s embarrassing. Again, not true on either front.
What sex therapy is: “Sex therapy is a specialization within talk therapy with the goal of empowering individuals or couples to understand the nature of their sexual selves,” explains Dr. Mark. “It helps to treat sexual problems, works to develop skills to better express their sexual wants and needs, and broadens their menu of sensual and sexual expression.”
“Sexual issues are very common, and a sex therapist is typically the best course of action to address those issues,” says Dr. Mark. “It may feel like it is going to be embarrassing to go to a sex therapist because our society doesn’t really value open discussion about sex. However, your sex therapist will not be embarrassed about this—it is their job. They’ll talk to you about sexual issues in the same way you might expect someone to talk to you about any other topic. They’ll normalize it, and it is part of their job to get you to a place where you feel comfortable.”
Sex therapy can help with a variety of issues. “It can be beneficial for someone who has experienced sexual trauma and wants to heal their relationship with sex,” says Dr. Mark. “It can be helpful for someone who feels shameful about their body and wants to connect to themselves as a sexual being. It can be helpful for a new couple who can’t seem to sync when it comes to sex. It can be helpful for couples going through a life transition like the transition to parenthood, or to infertility issues, or to being empty nesters, or going through later-life physical changes that impact their sex life. It can also be helpful for those who might not have a specific sexual dysfunction but instead just want to deepen their sexual connection either with themselves or with their partner(s).”
“Sex therapy is talk therapy with the specific goal of improving a sexual concern,” Dr. Mark says. “It helps people move beyond challenges related to sexual and romantic health to have a satisfying and pleasurable sex life.”
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