As women, we have spent most of our lives consuming external opinions about desire, pleasure, and sex that aren’t necessarily our own. It is our right to unlearn the sexualized messages we’ve internalized about what we “should want”… and as a result, start getting in touch with our own bodies. It’s time you get the opportunity to explore what brings you pleasure. Sex therapy can help you do just that.
What is sex therapy?
Sex therapy is an evidence-based style of psychotherapy that combines cognitive, didactic, and somatic treatment to holistically treat individuals, couples, or polycules. The International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM) defines it as “a form of counseling intended to help individuals and couples resolve sexual difficulties, such as performance anxiety or relationship problems.” The ISSM continues to say that sex therapy may incorporate ‘homework’ like experimentation, sensate focus, education, and communication strategies.
Who goes to sex therapy?
Sex Therapy is a clinical setting that celebrates and welcomes all including but not limited to LGBTQIA+ folks, ‘kinksters,’ and ‘vanillas’ alike. A candidate for sex therapy is anybody who is looking to enhance their relationships or mind/body connection, engage with sensuality, explore attachment styles, and much more.
What’s the difference between solo sex therapy and sex therapy for couples?
Typically in individual sex therapy, we will focus primarily on the needs of one patient, and we will focus on their understanding of their upbringing, attitudes about sexual identity and so much more.
With partnered therapy, I view my couples or polycules as unique individual people rather than as a collective unit. With couples/polycules, we do our best to ensure that each individual is living their life as close to 100% satisfaction as possible, without giving up a part of themselves to fit the relationship. It’s important to note that you don’t have to be married to your partner to benefit from going to a sex therapist together.
How does sex therapy work?
Sex therapy isn’t wildly different than your usual run-of-the-mill therapy. However, your therapist is specially trained and comfortable exploring topics that your typical therapist might not bring up at all. Not discussing sensitive topics creates room for blind spots and can foster shame if the client is withholding part of their experiences because they are typically considered taboo in a medical setting.
Your sexuality can be a key to understanding yourself intimately… that’s part of the reason we go to therapy anyway, right? Sex therapists are there to help you explore without judgment.
What happens in a sex therapy session?
Each session can combine many different styles of therapy. I tend to assess needs and wants with my clients early on in treatment, that way we have a road map ahead of us.
What does it mean for therapy to be ‘sensate focused?’
Sensate focus is a therapeutic style that helps individuals get in touch with their bodies. Sensate therapists help clients refocus their attention on their own sensory perceptions. This can drastically help symptoms such as performance anxiety, and pain felt during sex.
Do you actually need sex therapy?
The truth is that a huge part of the human experience is unconsciously sexual in nature. Themes like pleasure and desire, love and disgust, are experienced on the regular and play a large role in our emotional regulation and day-to-day functioning. Being able to tune into our physical body and allow it to communicate with us, is a way of connecting with our unconscious, which eventually leads to better sex.
When should a woman consider sex therapy?
A common theme that I see with many women of all ages is that previously-held expectations that are no longer serving us, tend to hold us back and keep women in a pleasure-negative environment.
By coming to a sex therapist, you are choosing to unlearn a lot of shame by claiming pleasure as your own. You get to re-write the narratives that you were taught and the rest… is unwritten. Sex therapy helps you write your own pleasure narrative.
Kayla Brock, LMSW, Sex Therapist