Sex Therapy, or Sex and Reltaionship Therapy, is a form of therapy where the main focus lies on sexual and / or relationship difficulties. The therapist and the client explore the presenting and immediate difficulty; this may be problems with erection, pain during penetration, and so on. These difficulties most often do not exist by themselves, however there would be an interplay between a number of different factors which may not be only physiological but are also psychological. An example of such psychological difficulties could be shame, unprocessed trauma, fear of intimacy, etc.
During sessions, the client may either attend individual sessions or else as a couple and therapeutic success is not the same for everyone. In some cases the target may be to achieve an orgam whereas in other cases it could be to reach emotional intimacy with a partner or even to realise that the current relationship is not healthy for them and to end it.
How can Sex Therapy help one’s sex life?
- Knowledge and Beliefs
During sessions, clients come forward because of a particular difficulty which may be identified as the reason for therapy. Surrounding this difficulty, clients may hold a number of beliefs or thoughts, which may not always be based on facts and truths. The session offers the possibility for the client to have an open discussion with a professional. This may be the only space for the client to do so, as at times it may feel inappropriate or even uncomfortable to discuss such things with other people. Once one feels the freedom to discuss such topics, it will then feel less difficult to discuss these with partners or even other family members. This openness helps clients understand patterns that may have been passed along generations in the family. These may be physical conditions or even misconceptions and judgments towards certain sexual aspects. These beliefs may also be challenged during the therapy session and clients are supported in learning different and new things which they may have otherwise not been aware of.
- Awareness and Confidence
Another aspect to discussing things with others is to become more aware of oneself. Individuals have differing views on sex; what it means to them, how to express oneself sexually and also what is considered desirable or not. By talking about these things, and what emotions are being elicited during sexual encounters, the client will be better able to identify personal choices and desires. Once you understand what arouses you or what puts you off; physically and emotionally, then you can express these desires or discomforts in a more confident way.
- Openness and Communication
This follows from the previous point, wherein only by being aware of oneself and feeling the confidence to express this knowledge to others, can one be open and able to communicate it to others.
Communicating about one’s sexual preferences leads to better communication on other levels. If there are aspects in the relationship that you are unhappy with or you feel that are affecting you negatively, these are also very important to bring forward to discuss with your partner or the person involved. When you feel safe and comfortable with your partner, you can experience each other better and explore different ways together by giving feedback and taking certain risks together. A good blog about this can be found here.
‘Sexuality has to do with the way you identify, how you experience sexual and romantic attraction (if you do), and your interest in and preferences around sexual and romantic relationships and behavior.’ (Healthline, 2019).
Johnson et. al. (2018) explains this further by linking attachment styles to a person’s responsiveness and openness to sexual experience and a better defined sexuality. This article explains how individuals may feel insecure or fear rejection, or else how secure they feel and in turn how playful and open to sexual exploration. An exploration of such patterns with your therapist helps to identify patterns of relating and also to accept one’s sexuality, even when this contradicts ideas or beliefs that you may be carrying on from other’s, ex traditional views or even certain judgments by different individuals in society.
5. Sexual Health
According to a blog post written by Nicola Falzon, “Sexual dysfunction has been proved to be affecting about 45.7% of women and 33.4% of men. Such issues, and others, have different prevalence, meaning that some are more common than others, however all have been realities of multiple different people.”
This shows how common the occurrence of sexual difficulties is. Another aspect of this is that other issues arise because of or in conjunction to them. These may be infections, anxiety and depression or as side effects to medications. Tackling these issues with a therapist leads to a healthier state of being and also being referred to the appropriate medical professional.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.
Bibliography & References:
- Alireza Tabatabaie (2014) “Does sex therapy work? How can we know?” Measuring outcomes in sex therapy, Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 29:3, 269-279, DOI: 10.1080/14681994.2014.915705
- Johnson, S.M., Simakhodskaya, Z. & Moran, M. Addressing Issues of Sexuality in Couples Therapy: Emotionally Focused Therapy Meets Sex Therapy. Curr Sex Health Rep 10, 65–71 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11930-018-0146-5
- Tina M. Timm (2009) “Do I Really Have to Talk About Sex?” Encouraging Beginning Therapists to Integrate Sexuality into Couples Therapy, Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 8:1, 15-33, DOI: 10.1080/15332690802626692
- Kleinplatz PJ, Ménard AD. Building Blocks Toward Optimal Sexuality: Constructing a Conceptual Model. The Family Journal. 2007;15(1):72-78. doi:10.1177/1066480706294126