Every couple goes through sexual rough patches, especially once they’ve been together a while, so there’s no shame in admitting you need help with this area of your relationship. A sex therapist can work wonders when it comes to helping the two of you get back on track, but it’s not uncommon to have questions and concerns that need addressing first.
Is sex therapy truly the right solution for you and your partner? What are some of the benefits of giving sex therapy a try, and how do you go about choosing the right person? What should you expect from treatment if you’ve never been to a therapist before? Here’s what you need to know to make the right decision for your relationship.
Why See a Sex Therapist?
Sex therapy is a vast field that potentially addresses many intimate issues a couple could be experiencing. It’s a way to understand a variety of sexual issues better, as well as to overcome them with the help of a neutral mediator. The following are just a few of the most common problems modern sex therapists help couples solve:
- Disagreements on the ideal frequency of sexual activity.
- Issues with low sexual desire and arousal.
- Male issues such as premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, or erectile dysfunction.
- Female issues such as trouble orgasming and concerns related to pregnancy or childbirth.
- Overcoming inhibitions, attraction obstacles, or technique issues.
- Managing addiction to sex or porn.
- Successfully navigating your way out of sexual ruts and dry spells.
As is the case with other types of couple’s therapy, sex therapy can help you and your partner get to the root of your issues so you can overcome them together. Many couples wind up wishing they’d sought help a lot sooner, so don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional as soon as you know you need one. Your issues may be easier to overcome than you think.
What Happens During Sex Therapy?
Sex therapy has more in common with other types of counseling than you might think. Some people do choose to attend sessions with their partners, while other people decide they’re more comfortable going as individuals instead. Most therapy meetings occur in the therapist’s office, although the length and number of the sessions can vary greatly depending on the type of issue addressed.
Many people are embarrassed or worried about discussing sex with a total stranger, but they don’t have to be. Most sex therapists go well out of their way to make sure their clients are comfortable. Questions asked also address many areas, including the client’s experience with sex education, their health background, and their unique objectives as far as what they’re hoping to accomplish through therapy. A sex therapist may, at some point, assign a client sexual “homework” to explore in privacy at home. There is no physical or sexual contact whatsoever that goes on between the therapist and the client at any time.
As far as what therapy homework might entail, it varies depending on your unique situation. Couples dealing with ruts may have a therapist suggest experimenting with sex toys, roleplaying, or other activities. Some exercises may focus on trust-building while others are about simple education. Sex therapists may suggest practice exercises designed to help couples and individuals become comfortable with sexual communication as well.
What Should You Consider When Choosing a Sex Therapist?
Once you’ve decided sex therapy could be useful to you, either as an individual or as part of a couple, it’s time to choose the right professional to trust with the job. Here are some of the most important things to consider when making your decision.
Credentials and Qualifications
As is the case when hiring any professional, your therapist’s credentials, experience, and qualifications are essential. The professional you hire should have an advanced degree, usually a Ph.D., an MD, or an appropriate master’s degree. It’s the best way to make sure your therapist can genuinely help you with your issues.
It’s not uncommon for the course of sex therapy to change direction or evolve at one or more points along the road. However, you’ll want to ask the professional you’re considering what they foresee as far as your treatment plan. How long do they think treatment will take? How much will it cost?
There’s no way around the fact that you’ll be trusting the person you pick with private information about yourself and your relationship. It’s imperative that you feel comfortable with the person, so rapport is critical. Is this someone you can picture yourself confiding in on that level?
For best results, consult with several different therapists before deciding which one is right for you. Once you’ve chosen someone, be sure to check in with yourself (and with your partner) at various points as well. Both of you must be equally comfortable with both the therapist and the way things are progressing.