What is sex therapy and what sort of problems do therapists deal with? Find out what sort of people go to sex therapy and how does it work.
If you're having problems in your sex life you may want to consider getting professional help. Psychosexual therapist Paula Hall explains how to decide whether sex therapy is for you.
What is sex therapy?
Sex therapy offers help for people with sexual problems. In the trade it's usually referred to as psychosexual therapy, or PST for short.
It's been around for over 40 years now, so it's not a newfangled trend. It has proven success rates and is a service which is regularly referred to by counselors, GPs and other medical professionals.
Sex therapists are trained counselors or medical professionals who've undertaken additional training in the physical and psychological issues associated with sexual functioning.
What sort of problems do therapists deal with?
The problems fit into three basic categories: can't get it up, can't get it in, can't be bothered. In fact, therapists tackle pretty much any sexual problem that isn't sorting itself out! It may be a problem you've had for ages or it might be something that's developed after a previously good sex life. You may know exactly what has caused your particular problem - or like many, you may be mystified.
Some sexual problems are purely physical. They could result from disability, illness or a side-effect of medication. Some are purely psychological, originating in negative childhood messages or sexual trauma. Or perhaps the problem stems from relationship difficulties. The majority of problems have a combination of physical and psychological elements.
Typical problems resolved
- Erection problems
- Ejaculating too quickly
- Difficulty reaching orgasm
- Painful intercourse
- Problems with penetration
- Can't get sexually excited
- Gone off it altogether
- Sexual addiction
What sort of people go?
There's no one type of person who sees a sex therapist. You may be gay, straight or bisexual. I've seen people in their teens and in their 70s. I've seen unemployed barristers, Muslim virgins and Anglican priests. If you have a partner who won't go for therapy, you may still find, as may have, that a few sessions on your own can be really helpful.
It seems to be harder for some people than others to ask for help about sexual problems. It's a very personal subject and most of us have been brought up with the myth that sex should always come naturally.
But, in reality, sexual problems affect pretty much everyone at some stage in their life. For some the problem resolves itself over time, but for others it's very valuable to call in the experts.
How do I find a therapist?
There are a number of places you can go to for psychosexual therapy, but it varies around the country so check your local area. It largely depends on how much you can afford to pay.
Where ever you go, make sure your therapist is fully qualified. And if you're not happy that they understand your problem, find someone else. Remember that sex is meant to be fun. If your sex life isn't fun any more, think about going for some help.
How does it work?
First, your therapist will discuss the problem with you and help you identify if the cause is physical, psychological or a combination of the two. If you're in a relationship, you'll also explore if there are any unresolved tensions or anxieties that are significant.
You may decide that relationship counseling would be useful to resolve some particular issues. If that's the case, you may do that with your therapist or you may see someone else and then return to your therapist to sort out the sexual problem.
Your therapist will put together a personalized plan of exercises for you (and your partner if you've got one) to do at home. These exercises will help you grow in self-awareness, sexual knowledge and sexual skills. At the same time, they will help to persuade your body to respond to sensual and sexual stimulation and overcome your specific problem.
next: Making Sex Exciting