What is Sex therapy?
Sex is a normal and important part of the human experience. Sex is influenced by biological, psychological, relational, and social factors. When any of these factors is off, people can experience sexual issues like low sexual desire, difficulty with arousal, out-of-control sexual behaviours (commonly called “sex addiction”), physical pain, shame around sex, and so on. Actually, around 30-40% of men and women experience at least one diagnosable sexual issue during their lifetime.
Sometimes sexual issues can result from other physical or mental health issues. Therefore, sex therapy is not something completely separate from the other fields of psychotherapy. Sex therapists do not conduct any sexual contact with clients. In sex therapy, there’s a lot of discussion on emotional health, relationship and communication, debunking cultural myths, awareness of the body’s sensations, and changing our (potentially unhealthy) perception of self and others. Often, sexual issues also have to do with having gone through traumatic events, especially sexual trauma.
Sex therapy also deals with sexuality and gender topics, non-monogamous relationship structures such as open relationships and polyamory. Erotic practices like power play, BDSM, kinks are all within the broad scope of sex therapy. The word “therapy” does NOT indicate certain preferences or orientations are wrong or need to be fixed! Many of these preferences are pretty normal and okay as long as they are consensual.
Despite the saturation of sexual information in the popular media, there’s a strong taboo discussing sex and sexuality openly. Many clients don’t feel embarrassed talking to their family doctors or therapists about sexual issues, not to mention having an open discussion about sex with their partners. You are not alone. This results from how much our culture and society have been suppressing the sexual aspect of the human experience.
Sex therapy is a safe place for you to break the stigma around sex and to learn ways to help you achieve greater sexual satisfaction. Sex therapy is also a channel to overall relational and emotional healing.
Binik, Y. M., & Hall, K. S. K. (2020). Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy (6th ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Twist, M. (2021). Intensive Sex Therapy Training Program (200-9001). University of Guelph.