Sex therapy is the name given to psychotherapy that focuses on treating people’s sexuality and relationships. Like psychotherapy, sex therapy is a form of talk therapy. There is no touching, nudity, or sexual activity in the psychotherapist’s office. And, it is only until the client is comfortable talking about sex that any healing begins.
Sex therapy clients come into The Buehler Institute for all kinds of reasons. Some are individuals who have never really been able to enjoy sex, which has made lasting relationships difficult to sustain. Or, they may find sex too rewarding, so that it becomes compulsive or addictive. Some are couples who disagree about how much sex is enough. Other couples are struggling together over one partner’s problem, such as inability to have an orgasm, get an erection, ejaculate too quickly, or dislike of foreplay. Sometimes women come in because intercourse is painful, if not impossible. People sometimes have sexual problems after an illness like cancer. As people age, they may also find that their sexuality has changed. Finally, there are survivors of sexual abuse and trauma who need to fully recover and reclaim their sexual pleasure.
The first step in sex therapy is to call, which can take a lot of courage. But don’t be too nervous, because everyone who does sex therapy knows that it may be hard to talk about what’s going on. Be prepared to tell just a little bit about what’s going on–but if you really can’t talk about it, say so. Have a few questions to ask besides, “What’s the fee?” Looking for a therapist isn’t like looking for a refrigerator! Ask about the therapist’s training or their approach to treatment. Ask what type of license they had, or where they went to school. What a therapist will not be able to tell you over the phone, however, is exactly how long your problem will take to resolve or what the treatment will be. For that, you will need to meet with the therapist.
Once you make an appointment, prepare for the initial meeting by thinking over your history. What might be important for a therapist to know about you? Have you had this problem for a long time, or is it something new? What have you read, or tried to do to resolve the problem yourself? But, even if you don’t have your thoughts organized, it’s okay–just go into the office and answer the therapist’s questions as best you can.
After the first meeting or two, most therapists like to share with their client what they think the problem is, and some ideas about making it better. If the problem is straightforward, then some information and suggestions may be what is needed. But if the problem is complex, treatment might be more like psychotherapy so that therapist can help you figure things out.
Sex therapy generally is not covered by insurance, as insurers consider these problems to be “lifestyle issues” and not mental illnesses. However, sometimes there is an underlying problem like anxiety, or a problem like depression that is causing sexual symptoms; those sessions may be covered by insurance, though you may have to pay the therapist out of pocket and then submit the bill to insurance. Most people find, however, that the investment in themselves and their relationship is worth the time and effort to have increased happiness.