Visiting my local bookstore, I invariably wander into Self-Help; it houses the Sexual Health section. With all those pink and red and black sexual manuals and encyclopedias by Dr. John Smith or Dr. Jane Doe, we should never ever need to see an actual therapist, right?
Well, it depends on who you are and the problem you’re trying to solve with a book. Some sexual issues require a more hands-on approach (no pun intended) and that’s where a sex therapist comes in.
A sex therapist works one-on-one with couples and individuals to diagnose and treat sexual dysfunction. Sexual problems almost always have a psychological element: Anxiety, low self-esteem, and guilt may all come as a result of sexual dysfunction and make the primary problem worse. Sex therapists are trained and certified psychologists or psychiatrists, so they understand emotional issues as well as specific sexual problems. Most qualified sex therapists will belong to the American Association of Sexuality Educators and Therapists.
The course of sex therapy treatment is “goal focused.” This usually means short-term. By initially answering a series of questions about your medical, mental, and sexual history, you and your therapist will work together to set goals and identify the appropriate treatment for your condition. It is a very collaborative process; no sitting back and expecting your therapist to solve your problems for you.
The easiest way to find a sex therapist is with a referral from your doctor. So keep your gynecologist or general practitioner in the know about any sexual concerns. You may also contact the American Association of Sexuality Educators and Therapists at www.aasect.org or the American Board of Sexology at www.americanboardofsexology.com.