The Sex Therapist
The Role of the Sex Therapist
The sex therapist plays two major roles in conducting sex therapy. First, he is knowledgeable about human sexuality, sexual anatomy and physiology, and the range of human sexual behavior. He understands the sexual disorders and the types of treatments that are effective. He is well-trained and current in his understanding of the latest developments in the sex therapy field. The sex therapist understands the psychology of intimate relationships and how individual psychodynamics interact with sexual behavior.
The second major role of the sex therapist is as the facilitator of the client's process within the sex therapy session. Sometimes this may involve doing some education about sexual behavior or the sexual response cycle. At other times the sex therapist may help the client explore emotional aspects of his or her individual response to a sexual matter. The sex therapist also may encourage two partners to explore issues within their relationship that are getting in the way of enjoying an optimal sexual connection. An important part of facilitating the process is to modulate the pace so that the client does not feel overwhelmed or lost.
The sex therapist is always open to feedback from clients regarding the usefulness of activities that take place within the sex therapy session. Clients should always feel free to ask questions.
The Sex Therapy Process
Sex therapy is related to psychotherapy in that both disciplines are "talk therapy." In other words, professional sex therapy never involves sexual activity in the office. The sex therapist upholds the professional ethical code which forbids any sexual contact between therapist and client.
The sex therapist first undertakes to understand the problem that initiated the consultation. In my approach to sex therapy, I invite the partners to participate from the beginning. Even if the partner is not experiencing the problem they are very likely affected by it. When partners cooperate in sex therapy treatment, progress can be rapid. If you are single, or for some reason it is advisable to not include your partner in the sex therapy, it is still possible to effectively address the issues you bring.
The sex therapist will often take a sexual history, inquiring about previous sexual relationships, any other sexual or relationship difficulties, and whether you have experienced childhood sexual abuse. This history helps the sex therapist to understand your problem in context. In this way it is similar to information gathered on medical forms inquiring about other illnesses, allergies to medicine, and family history of disease.
When there is a physical manifestation of a sexual problem, such as erectile dysfunction or pelvic pain, it is vital that a physician be consulted to rule out any disease process or drug interaction as a possible cause. The sex therapist, unless they are also a medical professional, focuses on the emotional, relationship, and behavioral aspects of the sexual problem.
The goal of sex therapy is change: eliminating the problem or difficulty and integrating emotional and behavioral responses that are more healthy and productive. In order to change, one must take steps towards new ways of being. This involves learning and growth, and may feel at times uncomfortable. But any new behavior will feel awkward in the beginning, like learning to ride a bicycle or learning a new dance step. The role of the sex therapist is to provide guidance and support as you make these new steps towards sexual health and a more satisfying relationship.
Ethics in Sex Therapy
When you consult a Certified Sex Therapist, you can expect that
- Your treatment will be completely confidential;
- The Sex Therapist will abide by his code of ethics which forbids any sexual contact;
- You will receive effective Sex Therapy for your problem or concern;
- You will be treated with respect as a partner in the treatment process.