What is sex therapy?
Sex therapy is therapy that focuses specifically on sexual concerns. Some of the sex therapy issues I treat in my practice include difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection, delayed or premature ejaculation, difficulty reaching orgasm, unexplained pain during sex, and a decrease in sexual desire or pleasure. Sometimes these issues can arise due to trauma, depression, anxiety, hormonal changes, aging, or medications. I can help you pinpoint the source of the problem and work towards a solution. Sometimes people come individually for sex therapy issues and sometimes they bring in their partner(s).
What does sex therapy look like?
Sex therapy can look like regular psychotherapy, but it includes my getting a thorough sexual history, including your solo and partnered sexual experiences which may include unwanted sexual contact you have had or are having. I will be interested in when the issue became a problem. I will provide educational readings and illustrations to help you understand your (and your partner’s) sexual anatomy and sexual response cycle. Sometimes people have difficulty identifying, accepting, or communicating to another person their core erotic themes.
If you are on medication, or living with a disability or chronic pain, we may discuss strategies to improve how you relate sexually. If you or your partners are transgender, you may experience changes in desire, sensation, and preferred activities that may require some adjustments.
Nearly always, I will assign homework exercises which might be solo or may include a partner and you will return and report back on how the exercises went. And often there are other psychological and emotional issues that come up that are related to your thoughts and feelings about sex, so we will discuss those together.
Sex therapy does not include physical touch between me as a therapist and you as the patient. There may be times, however, when I feel it is important that you get blood work or a physical exam by a medical professional, and we will discuss that. What sex therapy does entail is my creating a safe, comfortable, and collaborative space for us to speak about what is troubling you.
I have been involved in sex education for over 20 years. I worked for the National AIDS Hotline in the early 1990’s and received 40 hours of training on sexuality and prevention of the spread of HIV. In 1992 – 1993, I worked full-time at Eve’s Garden, a women’s sexuality boutique in which I talked to hundreds of patrons about both sexual pleasure and sexual problems. I took Sex Therapy coursework in graduate school and I completed San Francisco Sex Information’s 60 hour training on becoming a sex educator in 2002. My dissertation research was on BDSM clients and I regularly consult with clinicians on working with sexual issues and alternative sexuality. Many of my clients come to me to address sexuality related issues and it is a significant part of my practice.
However, it is important for you to know that I am not currently certified as a sex therapist (although it is an aspiration of mine). If you’d prefer to work with an AASECT certified sex therapist, I support that option and you can search their website for a clinician in your area, or I can help you find a local clinician who has obtained certification.
If during our initial phone intake, I do not believe I have the appropriate training or experience to work with your problem, I will refer you to another clinician who I believe would be a better fit. We may agree to meet for an initial assessment, and if at that time, I think your issue is beyond the scope of my expertise, I may also tell you at that point that I believe it’s best to refer you to someone else. In my ongoing work, I do regularly consult with other clinicians, although your identity will never be revealed unless you and I specifically agree and discuss that I should do so (for example, talking to your individual psychotherapist, or your medical doctor or psychiatrist).