Like most other forms of psychotherapy, sex therapy is exclusively talk therapy. This involves meeting with a therapist on a regular basis to talk and explore ways to overcome whatever problem is identified. Despite common misconceptions, sex therapy does NOT involve sexual or physical contact between therapist and client.
The sex therapist will share his or her knowledge of human sexuality and expertise in working with sexual functioning, relationship and intimacy challenges, desire disorders, trauma, sexual compulsivity/impulsivity, sexual orientation, gender issues, and alternate lifestyles. Sex therapists are trained to diagnose the psychological origins of sexual issues and to work to find solutions. This work may involve individuals as well as couples. Homework assignments are often given, as consistency and practice of treatment techniques helps to create a better outcome.
The first step is to be examined by a physician to rule out physical causes for any dysfunction. Once this medical problem is addressed or resolved, sexual functioning may return. However, due to illness or disease, sometimes changes are permanent, whether anatomically or physiologically. Sometimes sensation is altered or diminished. Sex may now cause pain. Often there is damage to ones self image and/or self esteem. This may have a direct effect on desire or arousal. How can this person continue to be sexually active? What is the role of their partner in this experience? What has become the new normal?
Many people find it embarrassing to talk about sex. For this reason, it is even more important that you find a therapist who makes you feel relaxed, does not judge, and with whom you feel you can talk freely.
*Any therapist can call themselves a sex therapist. Certification requires extra schooling and supervised hours of training.