As you might already know, it takes a lot of nerve to admit that you need a therapist’s help. Well, you can easily double that amount of courage when you’re dealing with a sex therapist.
While you probably have some idea of what goes on inside a psychiatric office (thanks to popular movies and TV shows), the same cannot be said about sex therapy.
It does not help that sex is such a sensitive topic, and most people can’t help but feel guilty or ashamed admitting that there is a problem. However, medical therapy is not unlike any medical intervention in that it is designed to help and improve people’s lives. Hence there’s no reason to feel upset or troubled about it.
So what is it like seeing a sex therapist?
In truth, sex therapy counselling isn’t all that different from other forms of psychiatric therapy. The first step is for a sex therapist to engage the couple in a calm and collected discussion about their history and the specific problems that they’re facing. The therapist then offers a neutral perspective on what can be done to solve the issues and improve the couple’s sex life.
What often surprises people is that the process for sex therapy is pretty much similar to other disciplines in psychotherapy. New patients are asked to fill out a form highlighting your reasons for seeking out their help and what you’ve done in the past to try to resolve the problem.
A sex therapist likewise needs to know about each party at a personal level. For instance, the therapist might ask about the family you grew up in, your work, and past experiences. Questions might vary, but the goal is the same — to determine how you’ve learned about sex and your current belief/perception of it.
Even if you grew up in a household that hardly ever talked about sex, you surely have learned about in some other ways (albeit indirectly). Perhaps you grew up in a family that talked openly about your sex, but the opposite is true for your partner? In many cases, sexual problems in marital relationships stem from their first sexual experience, which one party might describe as sad or frightening.
What can a sex therapist do to help?
Don’t be surprised if the sex therapist directly asks you about your recent sexual experiences in the relationship. Are you happy about it, or think it’s “gross”? Are your sex organs working as it should, or do you even enjoy sex with your partner? Do you engage in sex with strangers or watch pornographic content?
As you might imagine, the questions can be uncomfortable and might even include details of any fetishes you might have. Again, there’s no reason to be embarrassed, and keep in mind that the therapist is only bringing them up for your benefit.
If a couple is determined to stay together despite their sexual problems, the sex therapist can start looking into the marital relationship’s details outside of sex. It’s much harder to deal with these problems when there’s constant bickering or tension at home.
The therapist can recommend ways for the couple to cope and suggest activities that the couple can do together to improve their relationship. This includes taking the time to regularly go out on dates and encouraging each partner to open up about what turns them on.
Surprisingly, the more difficult cases come from couples that don’t fight at all but know that they are frustrated in their sexual relationship. This would suggest that one or both parties are upset, but not willing to do anything about it for fear of ruining their marriage. In this case, a sex therapist can encourage the couple to come clean about their sexual frustrations. Only then can a couple achieve real connection and make the most out of their marriage.