It would be a challenge to find someone who brags about going to sex therapy. Most aspects of sexuality are still somewhat taboo to talk about and deficiencies in the area of sexual functioning, satisfaction, or knowledge can seem downright embarrassing. "There are a lot people who are uncomfortable to even admit that they made need some help. You don't hear people talking about it," says Marilyn Lawrence, a clinical sexologist who is certified as a Diplomate of Sex Therapy by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). Lawrence has been a sex therapist for over three decades and has helped individuals and couples with various issue relating to their sex lives.
These days, many experts believe that sexuality plays an important role in various aspects of our lives and overall well-being, as shown by its associations with our mood, physical health, and sense of self. So, although seeing a sex therapist is not likely to be on many bucket lists, it can be a rewarding experience for many people who have various reasons for seeking this kind of guidance.
Some common reasons for going to sex therapy include:
- Concerns about sexual functioning, such as problems with arousal, orgasm, and painful sex
- Basic sex education (even advice for educating children about sex)
- Addressing sexual trauma
- Differences in desire among couples
- Changes in desire or libido
- Interest in exploring kinks, like BDSM
- Differences in desired progression of sexual relationship among couples
- Enhancement of sexual relationships
- Questions about sexual identity and preferences
- Desire to alter or resolve problematic sexual inhibitions or habits
For people looking to find a quality sex therapist, Lawrence suggests using the American College of Sexologists, the Institute for the Advancement of Human Sexuality, or AASECT. She also says that people should see a physician beforehand if they have concerns about sexual functioning because there may be physical factors contributing to these problems.
Seeing a sex therapist is probably going to be nerve-wracking no matter what but there is little cause for concern. Lawrence says her first sessions usually involve asking why the person is there and talking a bit about sexual, and often medical, history. The people who only need a couple sessions are often just seeking some sex education and confirmation that their bodies are working normally, says Lawrence. Many others require more time and that can come with some added hurdles. "It brings up a lot of discomfort, there's no question about that. They have to be ready for that," says Lawrence. There have been clients that Lawrence has had who have left therapy for a few months or even a year before returning and she says that is no problem. What's important is that people do this when they are ready.
Whether you are concerned about your sexual functioning, interested in exploring your sexuality, or looking to improve your relationship with your partner, sex therapy can make a significant difference in people's lives. Reaching out to a sex therapist or sexologist is daunting but, in all likelihood, if you are considering this kind of therapy, you could probably benefit from it.