What happens in sex therapy? And how can simply talking about it help your sex life? How bad should it get before we consult an expert?
1. Sex therapy helps couples talk about sex with each other. A sex therapist feels comfortable talking about sex. While nothing is off-limits and nothing is taboo to talk about, most people have trouble bringing up anything when it comes to sex. Couples don’t have an erotic language to describe their wishes. Women don’t talk to their girlfriends about how they renew their sexual desire. Men don’t ask their guy friends how to bring a woman to orgasm (certainly not!). Most doctors don’t have even one day of sex therapy training in medical school, even gynecologists and urologists. Physicians are good talking about how the body works, but are limited by their own experience when it comes to solving sex problems.
Sex therapists are aware of how anxious you might feel talking about this intimate subject with each other and with a near stranger. They will help set you at ease and guide you into talking about sex.
2. Sex therapy gets to the root of the problem. Couples often can’t solve these intimate issues on their own because disappointment, hurt, anger, resentment, accusations, inhibition, and several rounds of fighting might have shut down the very discussion most needed. Research shows that most people who could have easily solved their problems wait six years before seeking help!! Anxiety is the number one reason people don’t pick up and call for help. Fear of confronting the problem and discovering that they are truly not compatible is so powerful that they delay and delay, feeling more hopeless every day. But most often a couple in sex therapy finds a way to feel more pleasure and more joy.
3. What happens in sex therapy? When a couple comes into my office the first thing I want to know is – what is hurting them. I assess the problem that brought them to therapy and the history of the problem. Next, I often offer separate interviews with each partner. You’ll be asked about your sexual/relational history sometimes in the private interview as well as questions about your childhood, your parent’s marriage and what they taught you directly and indirectly about sex. I can see the road map for how to solve the problems and we set out on the work. Eventually, after both parties feel deeply understood and supported whether they want more frequency or more emotional connection first, then, I might assign sensual touching (and eventually more erotic) homework.
4. Sex therapists have hope and are fair. I have rarely encountered a problem between two ordinary people that I didn’t feel was somehow workable and resolvable. I’ve been a sex therapist for eighteen years and a marital therapist treating sexual problems for 28 years and have treated thousands of couples in person and with online sex therapy. Often one partner needs sex in order to feel connected and the other needs to feel connected before they want to have sex. Both sides of the problems must be understood and worked through for a fair solution.
5. What kinds of problems do sex therapists treat? The top two problems in my practice: low sexual desire and frequency disagreements between partners. I’ve written a book called Wanting Sex Again to help with the first one.
- Women who want to have their first orgasm; or want to orgasm with their partner
- Men with rapid (“premature”) ejaculation
- Erectile dysfunction
- Delayed ejaculation or inability to ejaculate with a partner
- Breast cancer and prostate cancer survivors
- Technique problems
- Learning to enjoy oral sex
- Getting over the “ick” factor feelings about different sex acts
- Porn addiction or sex addiction
- Boring sex lives
- Lack of attraction to one’s partner
- Difficulty getting aroused
- Can’t tell your partner to brush his teeth,
- Inhibitions of all sorts
- Fetishes, “kink,” alternative sexual interests
- Gender and sexual orientation concerns
6. What if I get turned on talking about sex with my sex therapist? Most sex therapists keep a balance between warmth and professionalism that makes talking about sex really comfortable. Sex therapists are aware of how intimate talk engenders sexual feelings in many, if not most people. A client getting turned-on or having sexual fantasy that includes the therapist is common and important to be analyzed in the therapy. Strangely enough, these fantasies often have rich meaning about the client’s inner world. Sex therapists have firm ethical boundaries about NOT entering a sexual relationship with any client for this very reason so that all the content of the therapy can be understood appropriately instead of acted upon. Again, sex therapy never includes sex with the therapist.
Helping Moon Counseling is honored to have Dr. Richard Siegel, Ph.D., LMHC, CST, as our resident sex therapist. An expert in his own right, Dr. Siegel has a national reputation as a sought after supervisor, conference and workshop presenter, and trainer of sex therapists. South Florida is fortunate to have Dr. Siegel as one of its own, and we are honored here at Helping Moon Counseling to be the venue for his private sex therapy and counseling practice. Contact us if you’d like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Siegel.
The following is excerpted from an article by renowned sex therapist and author, Laurie Watson, called Should We See a Sex Therapist?, and it explains the whats, hows and whys of sex therapy.
(It is reprinted with permission from the author, and appears at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/married-and-still-doing-it/201211/should-we-see-sex-therapist. More info. about Ms. Watson can be found at AwakeningsCenter.Org,
Author – Wanting Sex Again (Berkley Imprints), Blogger – Psychology Today, WebMD