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What Sex Therapy Is and What It’s Not

For a lot of people, the term “sex therapy” sounds mysterious and maybe even a little taboo. When I told my friends and family that I wanted to be a sex therapist, I was met with a lot of wide eyes and even more questions. “What does that mean? Are you going to watch people have sex? Are you going to touch your clients? How is that different from regular couples counseling?” 

The questions are totally valid! A lot of people are unaware that sex therapy exists, or they know very little about it. I didn’t discover the profession’s existence until I was in college and halfway through my psychology degree! So what is sex therapy? Why does it seem so mysterious? Let’s dig into it!

What Sex Therapy Is

At it’s core, sex therapy is a form of talk therapy (AKA counseling) that aims to help individuals and couples improve their sex lives. It’s very similar to general counseling, but it focuses on sex and relationships. Nobody takes their clothes off, and we don’t watch people have sex. We simply talk!

We often discuss sexual difficulties the client is currently having and ways to help resolve them. We see both individuals and couples. At the end of each session, the therapist may assign homework or make recommendations for the individual or couple to try. This can include things such as sensate focus, trying a new sex position, or reading a book. 

We may also refer clients to medical providers, such as pelvic floor therapists or doctors who specialize in sex medicine. We realize that each situation is unique, so our sessions and treatments are unique as well. We tailor each session to meet the specific needs of each client.

What Sex Therapy Is Not

Again, sex therapy is talk therapy. While the client and counselor discuss intimate and sexual topics, they do not engage in any sort of physical contact or sexual activity at any point. A therapeutic practice in which the client and practitioner engage in physical touch or intimacy is typically known as sex surrogacy. While sex surrogacy can be helpful for some, the practitioners at Emma Schmidt & Associates are not sex surrogates.

What Issues do Sex Therapists Treat?

Sex therapists are trained to treat a wide variety of concerns. Some of the common reasons clients come to see us include:

  • Performance anxiety
  • Low sexual desire
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Sexual pain
  • Sexual trauma and abuse
  • Difficulty becoming aroused 
  • Postpartum sex
  • Infidelity or affairs

…and many more! You can view several other concerns we commonly see here.

This list is not comprehensive. If you have a concern but you’re unsure if we can help, reach out to us! We’re happy to answer your questions and discuss if sex therapy is right for you.

Why Should I See a Sex Therapist Specifically?

It’s worth noting that most states do not require therapists to receive any training in human sexuality or treating sexual concerns. Therefore, sex therapists receive specialized training in this area that most therapists do not. This additional training allows them to have a better understanding of sexual concerns, which in turn allows them to better help their clients. All of the therapists at Emma Schmidt & Associates receive specialized sex therapy training, and they are very comfortable talking about sexual issues. 

One reason sex therapy might seem so mysterious is because not many therapists are trained in this area! Certified sex therapists receive extensive education and training in sex therapy before being certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapsists (AASECT). With so few certified sex therapists in the area, it’s easy to understand why so many people are unfamiliar with this field. We’re so grateful to have and learn from Emma, who is a certified sex therapist through AASECT!

I’m Still Not Sure

We get that sex can be tough. For most of us, it’s not as easy as the media makes it seem. Did you know that 43% of women and 31% of men experience sexual dysfunction? That’s almost a third of men and nearly half of women! However, a healthy, fulfilling sex life is possible! And we are passionate about helping our clients get there. 

The decision to come to therapy can be difficult as well. The thought of being vulnerable with a stranger, especially about such intimate topics, can be scary. However, I assure you that everyone at our practice loves this field, and we are passionate about providing a safe space for our clients, free of judgment. If you’re wondering if we can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about sex therapy.

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Mental Health Clinical Counseling Student