“I didn’t realize I could talk about this in therapy!”
I hear this phrase too many times to count! And I think it’s important that women are provided with spaces where they can talk about their sexual health in combination with their mental health. Your sexual and relationship satisfaction play a huge role in your overall mental health and wellbeing!
So today we are going to explore some questions like “what is sex therapy?” and “how awkward is it to talk about this with someone?”.
Sex therapy is a form of therapy that addresses specific concerns about sexual health and sexual functioning. Sex therapy often involves deeper exploration of the emotional, physical, relational, cultural, and societal factors that influence one’s relationship with their sexuality.
Sex therapy can be a helpful form of counseling for individuals who experience sexual concerns that are impacting their sexual satisfaction and self-confidence. Some common concerns addressed in sex therapy include low libido, arousal difficulties, pain with intercourse, desire discrepancy, sexual avoidance, sexual shame or anxiety, and sexual trauma. In my own practice I often see clients who want to address sexual concerns that are occurring in combination with stress and burnout, perfectionism, shame, body dissatisfaction, post-partum transitions, reproductive trauma (such as infertility) and unexpected medical diagnoses.
Sex therapy may be helpful for you if you notice any of the following:
- Feelings of guilt or shame that accompany sexual experiences
- Difficulties with arousal, desire, and orgasm
- Discomfort initiating or taking part in sexual experiences
- Confusion about how your body responds to intimate experiences
- A difficult relationship with sex or intimacy after a trauma or betrayal
- Your sexuality and self-confidence are impacted by the way you feel about your body
It’s time to reach out to someone if you notice that sexual experiences are becoming overwhelming or something is getting in the way of your sexual experiences feeling fulfilling or pleasurable.
So what’s it like to talk to someone about all of this stuff? First of all, it’s normal to feel a little nervous or uncomfortable when bringing all of this up in session. Most therapists will recognize this and try to help you feel more comfortable! I ask my clients to share some initial information on their intake form so that their first session isn’t so overwhelming. I also take time throughout our first few sessions to check in about everyone’s comfort level… everyone has different comfort levels and that’s okay! Creating a safe, non-judgmental therapeutic space where you can feel comfortable talking about your concerns is an essential part of sex therapy.
A typical first session will include an overview of the concerns bringing you into session- when they started, how they’ve developed, and how they’re impacting you now. In addition to discussing your mental and physical health history we’ll also discuss your sexual history so that I can build a deeper understanding of everything that may be impacting the concerns they’re experiencing now. This includes conversations about your relationships, your sexual beliefs and values, experiences with sex education, and current sexual patterns or behaviors.
It’s important to know that sex therapy NEVER involves any physical contact or sexual activity between a client and therapist. Therapy is a place for you to explore your own experiences with sexuality and should never feel threatening or coercive.
Sex therapy can involve a variety of interventions that assist you in redefining your relationship with your body and your sexuality. Some of the interventions commonly used in my practice include mindfulness, sensate focus, narrative therapy, skills building, psychoeducation, and behavioral interventions. There may be times when you are asked to engage in reflection or attempt new behaviors on your own, and there may be times when you are asked to engage in new behaviors or conversations with your partner(s).
Overall, the goal of sex therapy is that you feel more in tune with your body and able to connect with the needs, desires, and boundaries that exist as a part of your sexual wellbeing.
Before you go, I want you to know just a little bit more about me. I have advanced training in sex therapy from Washington University in St. Louis where I graduated with my Master of Social Work and a concentration in “Trauma and Sexual Empowerment”. I promote a sex-positive treatment approach that views consensual sexual activity as a fundamentally healthy and valuable part of your overall wellbeing. Throughout my career I have worked with women seeking support around a variety of issues that impact their sexual and mental health, including body image concerns, eating disorders, reproductive trauma, sexual trauma, sexual exploitation and trafficking, anxiety, and relationship concerns.
Let’s work together to increase your sexual satisfaction and create authentic, fulfilling sexual experiences. If you’d like to reach out to me and talk about scheduling a free consultation, click the link below to get started!