Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.
Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.
Sex therapy and sex counselling are two terms that really mean the same thing. Sex therapy is a specialized form of counselling for people which focuses on sexual issues, most often for individuals in relationships (although you do not need to be in a relationship to seek sex therapy).A sex therapist will try to help you develop a clearly defined issue and the goal of therapy will be to work on that issue and resolve it, or find a way to make whatever problems it causes have less of an impact on your life and sex life. Commonly sex therapy will focus on a sexual dysfunction or major sexual communication problems between partners. Sex therapy is usually directive. Sex therapists will be active, asking questions and often giving direct suggestions, homework exercises, and information in an effort to support your goals for the therapy.
The first step in sex therapy is evaluating and assessing the presenting problem or problems. A sexual history is taken which asks the patient to describe his/her sexual experiences. If it is a couple, each partner's sexual history is taken. (Any information you give or conversation you have with your sex therapist will remain strictly confidential).The therapist carefully analyses the medical and historical data, together with any issues or related circumstances described by the you to identify all the strands that weave into the current condition. This evaluation results in a diagnosis and detailed treatment plan. The treatment will vary depending on the issue, but it usually involves special exercises for each individual or couple. Sex therapy is not "just talking." Each week the therapist will suggest new experiences for the individual or couple to try in the privacy of their home. These at-home exercises are designed to take the pressure and worry out of sex. In subsequent sessions, the at-home exercises are discussed and any difficulties are explored. The exercises help the individual or couple "re-learn" more satisfying sexual behaviour. The therapist functions as a sex educator, providing accurate information about anatomy, physical response that is specific to the client's sexual concern. The clients may be suggested books to read or educational videos to watch.
People of all ages, sexual orientations, genders, religions, and ethnicities may choose to seek the help of sex therapists. Sex therapy is appropriate for:
1. Individuals wanting to deal with sexual identity issues. 2.Couples wanting to increase sexual intimacy 3.People who want to deal with sexual inhibitions 4. People who are dissatisfied with their sexual functioning 5. Couples wanting to increase their communication about sexuality
There is no one "type" of person who goes to sex therapy and there are many more reasons to see a sex therapist than those mentioned above.
Generally a sex therapist should be chosen over a general psychotherapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or other helping professional, when the issues are very specifically sex related, or when sexuality seems like a central part of the issue. Some examples of issues that bring people to sex therapy are:
1. Sexual trauma 2. Lack of orgasm 3. Difficulties with erections or ejaculation 4. Problems with differing levels of desire in a couple 5. Difficulties resulting from infidelities 6. Sexual concerns as a result of illness or surgery
This list is not exhaustive, and if you think you are interested in talking with a sex therapist, most will spend at least a short time on the phone with you to determine whether or not they are the appropriate person to be meeting with.
There is no one way of knowing when to seek professional help or support for sexual problems. The right time to do that is whenever it is right for you. If you are single and feel there are specific sexual concerns or issues that you can't figure out on your own or work through with the support of friends or family, then trying to work with a sex therapist can be a helpful new way to approach the issues. Additionally people find the confidentiality offered by a sex therapist a more comfortable environment to approach these issues. If you are in a relationship the decision about when to see a sex therapist might be a bit more complicated. Does your partner also feel that seeing a sex therapist is a positive step in resolving sexual issues or concerns? Are you planning on going together, or are you interested in going on your own? An ethical sex therapist will suggest having an initial consultation, and if they feel that sex therapy isn't going to be helpful they will, or should, let you know. Sex therapy isn't necessarily for crisis management (although it might do that as well) and even if there are parts of your sexual relationship you are happy with, if you feel that you could benefit from some support, education, information, or counselling from a professional who is trained in the area of human sexuality, then exploring sex therapy as an option is perfectly reasonable.
If a couple is interested in sex therapy they will probably have to go to therapy together. But if you are the one interested in therapy, and you would prefer to have an initial session on your own, there is nothing wrong with starting the process this way. Depending on where the therapy goes, you may or may not bring in your partner at a later time.
We don't share information from or about you, unless we think that someone is at risk of serious harm. In this instance, we would seek to discuss it with you first.