Sexual Wellness

What is a Sex Therapist and Can They Help You?

Fact Checked

A sex therapist is a licensed professional specializing in human sexuality, helping clients overcome sexual problems and dysfunction. See our guide to find out if a sex therapist can help you.

Last Updated: 04/14/2022

Written by

Eric Ridenour

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Paul Thompson

How do I begin sexual therapy? In a broader definition, sexual counseling can include talking about psychological, medical, or personal factors affecting sexual satisfaction. In general, the goal of sex therapy is to help people overcome physical, emotional, and psychological obstacles to gain a satisfying relationship and a more enjoyable sex lifestyle. 

Sexual dysfunction occurs frequently. Based on peer-reviewed studies, sexual dysfunctions are common for male and female sexual problems. Up to 52% of men and 63% of women report having sexual dysfunctions in their lifetime. 

Men and women often have relationship difficulties that are natural and healthy. However, many people also feel a stigma associated with sex-related concerns. People often do not seek out physicians or counselors to help them with this critical aspect of their health.

Tell me about the role of sex therapists?

Typically, a sex life professionals will be referred to as sex therapists, whether a medical doctor or other healthcare professionals such as licensed psychologists or different types of counselors that offer sex therapy. Many certified sex therapists are trained in sexual therapy techniques beyond what a sex therapy license requires to complete, so researching who you decide to talk to is essential. 

Some university programs specialize in training in sexual therapy. Many people prepare themselves by completing rigorous study sessions and attending major scholarly conferences each year. There are more than ten scientific journals specializing in sexual research. In addition, several major companies hold conference events focused on relationship difficulties and other sexual health concerns every year.

What kind of training does a certified sex therapist have?

Therapists can also be licensed mental health specialists or physicians who have extensive knowledge of sex therapy and other health services. The career path for sex therapists is vast because there is no set standardization for a sex therapist in the USA.

Unfortunately, there has been no regulation regarding sex therapy; therefore, credentials are crucial in this regard. The person experiencing problems with their sexuality or relationship needs to decide for themself what type of therapy session they may need. A person facing anxiety over sexual contact would want to seek out a person trained in talk therapy or counseling. In contrast, a person dealing with an issue likely linked to physical health should seek out a medical doctor specializing in sexuality.

How does sex therapy work?

Sex therapy is similar to many other sorts of therapy. You address your issues by talking about your experiences, emotions and concerns.

Next, you work on various coping methods with your specialist to help improve your behavior in the future so you can maintain a healthier sex life.

During your first meetings, your therapist will either speak with you and your spouse or with you alone. The therapist is there to assist you in managing your present relationship problem. One thing to remember is they are not there to take you or your partner's side or influence anybody inappropriately.

Furthermore, in most instances, everyone will keep their clothes on. The sex therapist will not have sexual intercourse with anyone or demonstrate how to have sex with anyone.

Your therapist will, however, push you toward improved management and acceptance of your sexuality issues which may help diagnose sexual dysfunction in your life. All talk therapy, including sex therapy, is both helpful and informative.

Sexuality therapy is intended to bring mental clarity and motivation for change. You will often leave your therapist's office with various tasks to do before your next visit to help improve your relationship and well-being.

If your therapist believes that your sexuality issues result from a physical sexual problem, your therapist may recommend you to a licensed doctor or another medical practitioner.

Your therapist can then discuss your signs and symptoms and work with your medical expert to identify any physical problems that can be contributing to your sexual health diagnosis.

Online sex therapy

Although many online counseling sites advertise sex therapy as one of their services, relatively few allow people to search specifically for such therapists. As a result, if you are primarily looking for a sex therapist, you should ask any individual you are matched with about their appropriate training. Although an extra qualification or licensure is not required for sex therapy, any competent sex therapist should be certified in a related discipline (e.g., social work, marital and family therapy, psychology) and operate within their scope of practice. Although most states do not have particular standards for sex therapists, Florida does license and regulate sex therapy practitioners.

Where can I find an expert in human sexuality?

A registered psychiatrist, psychologist, marital and family therapist, or clinical social worker can be a certified sex therapist. To become a registered sex therapist, these mental health professionals must complete substantial extra studies in human sexuality.

Begin your search by contacting the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). This organization is in charge of clinical training for sexual health practitioners. They are also in charge of the qualifications of these health care practitioners.

You may also look for therapists in your region on Google or any psychology-based websites or contact your local hospital or community education office. Many of these organizations would gladly supply contact information for sex therapists in their hospital network.

You can also inquire with your insurance carrier. They might be able to provide you with a list of qualified therapists. You can go through the list till you locate the right sex therapist.

If you want more personalized advice, speak with your doctor, gynecologist, urologist, or even another person in your life who has gone to therapy for sexual issues. Every day, many doctors meet and refer sex therapists to their patients. They might be able to point you in the direction of a provider whose personality is similar to yours.

You may also communicate with your buddies. Bringing up sensitive topics might be difficult for some people, but if you feel comfortable asking a friend, they may be able to recommend a doctor you and your partner can trust.

What to know before your appointment

When you're ready to start sex therapy, keep these five points in mind after you determine who to meet with for treatment.

Compatibility

Therapists are unique individuals. Successful therapy is primarily determined by how well you interact with your therapist and how much you trust them and their advice to help you get through your issues.

If you don't feel at ease with a sex therapist at any stage, choose another.

Logistics

When choosing a sex therapist, consider where your therapist's office is and how simple it is for you to get there. You could have appointments during your lunch break, after work, or on odd days when you have an hour to spare.

Some therapists also provide telehealth sessions, which means you may be able to meet with them online from the convenience of your own home.

Make sure it's easy to go to your doctor's office, or you'll find yourself making reasons to avoid going.

Solo vs. couple

You are not required to bring your spouse to sex therapy. For some people, solo sex therapy is sufficient to solve their difficulties. Others may find that having both persons present during treatment helps to boost satisfaction and establish a closer bond.

Discuss your decision to begin counseling with your partner. Let them know if you want them to be a part of it.

Treatment strategy

Your therapist will most likely go over an initial treatment plan with you at your first meeting. Several sessions are usually necessary initially for most people and couples.

However, if therapy is substantially improving and your therapist is confident in your ability to face future obstacles, you may be discharged from your therapist's care.

Insurance protection

Psychotherapy is not always covered by health insurance. Those who do cover it may have additional restrictions or a separate deductible.

Before you go to your appointment, confirm your insurance details with your insurance provider to prepare for the financial commitment.

Conclusion

Sexuality therapy sessions can help you get your life back on track and help you heal from past trauma or help you learn how to communicate better with your partner. The best therapists have years of experience and psychologist training in helping their clients with sexuality and intimacy life problems. They can teach you how to have better sex, improve your relationship health, and even help you find new ways to spice up your love life.