I get this question - literally - every single time I tell someone what I do. Usually coupled with an incredulous look… and some sideways comments about how they don’t know how I can do it with that many people. Simple: I don’t! Sex Therapists DO NOT have sex with, or watch the sex of, their clients. At least, the ethical ones don’t. Sidebar; if you are having sex with your sex therapist, you should probably tell an adult…. AKA the state board of your US State or Jurisdiction… or their national organization… or the cops. Or someone. Anyone.
So what DOES a sex therapist do? They help people, of course. Just like regular couple and family therapists, counselors, psychologists, and social workers. As a matter of fact, they must be licensed as one of these mental health professionals if they are providing psychotherapy services. A typically well accepted definition of what sex therapy can be summarized as follows;
A mental health therapist who provides systemic and contextual psychotherapy services to individuals, couples, families, or groups of people who are suffering from psychological, medical, or social issues of sexuality; including the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions within the scope of their practice.
This definition is rather vague - and so I would continue the discussion by helping people to understand what happens in a typical session, or during treatment. Now… I should warn you. As an educator, and sex therapist, I would LOVE to go into a lengthy discussion of the history of sexology, and will - given the opportunity. However, I am pretty sure you just want a summary of what happens in a sex therapy session. Right? (say no! say no! - tell me to tell you all about the history of sex!… no takers? ok…)
What generally happens in a sex therapy case…
The case will generally start off just like any other, an “intake” session with a general get-to-know you, the establishment of your file through signing consent documents and asking you specific questions, maybe asking you to take some questionnaires, etc. Then you get to tell your therapist all about what is going on in your life that has brought you to therapy. They formulate - usually with you - a way to attack your problem and remove it from your life. Sometimes this means integrating with other helping professionals, such as physical therapists or medical doctors for prescription treatment or general health and wellness checks. Generally, a good sex therapist has certifications or experiential and educational credentials that allows them to practice and intervene with you and your partner(s) about your sexual difficulties.
There are many different kinds of intervention strategies - psychological, behavioral, medical, and social are among the most popular. Your therapist has training in each of these areas, and should help you to improve your situation and context by interweaving each of them to create the ideal outcome.
Therapy is considered complete when your difficulty is no longer present (or has become manageable), in any area of your life.
What does a sex therapist help with? … Basically everything! Here is an aggregate list of some of the most common presenting problems;
Often these symptoms develop as part of relationship, and so relational work occurs conjointly with sex therapy. It often works better that way as well.
All this having been said… if any of you are in the Atlanta, GA area and are in need of a sex positive, LGBTQ+ Certified Affirmative, Sex Therapist - give me a call or contact me to set up an appointment. [Check out my website for details :-P ]
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