Sex should be fun, but it can also be complicated. Welcome to Sexual Resolution, a biweekly column by sex therapist Vanessa Marin answering your most confidential questions to help you achieve a healthy, joyful sex life. Here, she answers a question about what to expect from sex therapy.
DEAR VANESSA: My partner suggested that we go to sex therapy together to work on our sex life because we’re not having a lot of sex and we are arguing about it all the time. I know I should be OK with it, but I feel really nervous because I’ve never done it before. What exactly do you do in sex therapy? How does it help? – Do I Have To? 26
DEAR DIHT: I’m so glad to get a chance to answer your question. Sex therapy is becoming more widespread, but it’s still a bit of a mystery to most people. (And no, it doesn’t look like what you see on TV or in the movies.) I love my job so damn much, and I appreciate the opportunity to help educate more people about how what I do can help you create an extraordinary sex life.
Sex Therapy 101
First, let’s talk about what this particular type of therapy is. Put very simply, the goal is to help you have a sex life that feels healthy and happy to you. Sex therapy recognizes that sexuality is an integral part of our lives, and seeks to provide education and resources to support you. It can include things like identifying your beliefs or blockages around sex, helping you gain clarity on your goals for your sex life, providing accurate and shame-free information, teaching new sexual skills, improving your communication, or developing sexual self-confidence.
Even though there still aren’t a ton of sex therapists out there, I think it’s really important to look around before picking who you want to work with. I strongly believe that the fit between the sex therapist and client is important. If you don’t feel connected to and trusting of who you work with, you’re not going to get much benefit out of the experience. Check out the websites of a few therapists in detail before booking an appointment, and don’t be afraid to end your working relationship if your gut’s telling you it doesn’t feel right.
How to Choose a Sex Therapist
I also recommend looking for someone who is upfront about their training and credentials. The sex therapy field isn’t regulated in the same way psychotherapy or medicine, so there isn’t a standardized training. There are a lot of awesome people out there with different backgrounds doing great work, but you want to make sure you’re aware of their training before deciding whether or not to work with them. You want to know that your sex therapist has training in the area that you need support. For your situation, I would recommend finding someone who is also a trained psychotherapist, since this seems like it might be a deeper issue than something like, “We’re looking for new ideas to spice things up in the bedroom.”
What to Expect
Sex therapists work in a lot of different ways, but most of us meet with clients for regular sessions, typically weekly or every other week. I used to work in an office, but now I work over video chat. A lot of my clients enjoy the ability to be in the comfort and privacy of their own home while they’re talking about such sensitive issues. Video chat is also a great option if you’re in an area where there isn’t anyone available for you, or if you’re just not finding someone you like, though you may also find you prefer to work in-person.