Sex therapy may sound strange, but it can actually be quite beneficial for some people.
Sex therapy is an effective way to address concerns about sexual function, sexual feelings, and intimacy in either individual or couple’s therapy. But what exactly does a sex doctor do?
Sex therapy is a type of psychotherapy, which is a general term for treating mental health problems by talking to a mental health professional. Sex therapy is typically provided by licensed psychologists, social workers, physicians, or licensed therapists who have advanced training in issues related to sexual and relationship health.
Certified sex therapists have graduate degrees and can demonstrate competency in sex therapy by becoming credentialled by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).
Sex therapists DO NOT have sexual contact with their clients. Any type of sexual coaching that involves physical contact is not part of mainstream sex therapy. Sex therapy is typically short term, with a limited number of sessions.
However, everyone is unique, and the treatment plan will depend on the concerns and goals that specific person wants to address.
Who Needs A Sex Doctor?
Sex therapy is beneficial in resolving various sexual issues from concerns about sexual functioning to difficulties in your sexual relationship. Through sex therapy, you can focus on issues like:
- Concerns about past unwanted sexual experiences
- Concerns about sexual desire or arousal
- Intimacy issues related to a disability or chronic condition
- Concerns about sexual interests or sexual orientation
- Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
- Impulsive or compulsive sexual behavior
- Trouble reaching orgasm (anorgasmia)
- Erectile functioning concerns
- Difficulty with sexual arousal
- Ejaculating early (premature ejaculation)
Finding a Sex Doctor
If you would like to see a sex doctor, you can ask your primary provider for a referral or check with a local hospital to see if they have a sex medicine clinic. Your health insurance may also be able to offer recommendations.
You may also check with an organization like AASECT, or look on the professional organization websites of psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, and psychiatrists to find a licensed, qualified sex therapy provider.
Things to Consider
Before you schedule an appointment, you should consider whether the sex therapist would be a good fit for you. Consider the following:
- Education and Experience. What the educational and training background of the doctor? Is he/she licensed by the state? Is he/she credentialled by AASECT? What is their experience level with your type of sexual issue?
- Convenience. Where is the office? What are the office hours? Is there any type of after-hours information line? Consider whether the location and availability suit your needs.
- Treatment Plan. How long is each session? How often are the sessions scheduled? How long is your expected treatment? What is the policy for cancelled sessions?
- Fees and Insurance. What is the fee for each session? Will your insurance cover the services? Will fees need to be paid in full upfront or will they be billed?
Preparing for Your Appointment
Once you find a doctor that you like, you will want to prepare for your appointment. Make a list of the details of your problem.
Include when it started, if it is always present or comes and goes, professionals you have seen and treatments you have tried, as well as the outcome of those treatments.
You should also include your medical conditions, major stresses, or recent life changes along with any medications, vitamins, supplements, herbal preparations you are taking and their dosages. Many people find it helpful to also write down the questions they would like to ask the doctor.
What to Expect
To begin, the doctor will likely have you describe your specific sexual concerns. These issues can be complex, and the therapist will want to have a clear idea of all the factors involved. So, there is usually an initial in-depth assessment of your background and presenting sexual or relationship concerns.
Once the therapist understands the situation, you can move on to discussing ways of resolving your concerns and improving your communication and intimacy. While talking about sex and intimacy may feel awkward at first, sex therapists are trained to help you feel at ease and help you identify and explore sexual concerns.
Involving Your Partner
If you are in a relationship, it is usually most helpful to involve your partner in your sex therapy. You and your partner will likely be assigned a series of homework exercises like:
- Slowing down and focusing on what you sense during intimate encounters
- Changing the way you interact with your partner in a sexual and nonsexual way
- Communication exercises with your partner
- Reading or watching educational videos about sexual health
Short Term Treatment
Most of the time, sex therapy is short term. Some concerns may be addressed quickly in just a few sessions. However, people typically need several counseling sessions. As the therapy progresses, you can use your home experiences to further identify and refine the issues you would like to work on.
Again, any kind of sexual coaching that involves physical contact is not part of sex therapy. This goes against the ethics of licensed mental health professionals and you should avoid any provider that uses these practices.
It’s important to remember that concerns about sex and intimacy are often linked to other underlying issues like stress, depression, or anxiety. In some cases, sexual function is affected by medication effects, surgery, chronic illness, or even aging. Therefore, you may need a team of professionals, not just a sex therapist.
Sex Doctor in VirginiaSex therapy can help you learn to express your concerns more clearly, better understand your own sexual needs and your partner’s needs.
However, to be effective, you need a therapist that you trust and communicate openly with. If you are ready to speak to a doctor about your sexual concerns, please contact Fair Oaks Women’s Center today!