What is Sex Therapy?

By Dr. Caleb Jacobson
June 23, 2022

Regardless of where I go, people are almost always shocked to find out that I am a sex therapist. They are not really short what sex therapy is or what a sex therapist does. For a long time, they would say, “You mean like Barbra Streisand in Meet The Fockers?” Thankfully, now they have stopped saying that. Now they say, “You mean like Sex Education on Netflix? Have you seen that?” –– And to answer that question, yes, I’ve seen it.

But are either of those anything like real sex therapy? Well, no. Those are comedies. They are movies and shows, not real life. The major thing that those media portray which is like real life is the awkward, uncomfortable feeling that most people have around discussing sex. That is definitely real!

So, what exactly is sex therapy? Well before I answer that question, let’s talk about what sex therapy is not.

Sex therapy is NOT having sex with a client. (in order to teach them things)

Sex therapy is NOT watching a client have sex. (In order to see what they are doing wrong)

I cannot tell you how often people have contacted me about sex therapy with one of these misconceptions. But I can assure you, there is no nudity involved and there is no inappropriate touching involved.

Why do people go to sex therapy?

People seek the help of a sex therapist for a number of reasons. These reasons could be specific to the individual or they could be related to the couple and their ability or inability to connect. Individuals often come to therapy to deal with a sexual dysfunction. A man may come to therapy seeking help with erectile dysfunction, hypoactive sexual disoder, or early ejaculation. A woman may have difficulty with arousal, orgasam, or pain during sex.  Another reason an individual may come to sex therapy is to overcome issues related to sexual shame or guilt. Further, topics often arise concerning the clients sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexual interest. 

Couples bring an entirely new dynamic to the therapeutic process. Couples come for their own unique set of problems. One of the most common reasons that couples come to therapy is for mismatched desire. Mismatched desire is when one partner desires sex more often than the other. Therapists also  help couples find ways to communicate their sexual needs and wants (often revolving around sexual interests such as kink, etc) and to facilitate greater intimacy by guiding clients through techniques that could help strengthen their connection.

Sex therapy recognizes the important role of human sexuality in the overall well-being of an individual and understands the vast influence sexuality has on the persons overall since of self.

As you can see,  sex therapists deal with a wide range of topics and issues related to sexual health, orientation, and gender. So, what then is sex therapy? Sex therapy is a form of therapy which centers around sex, sexuality, and gender. Whether it is a person who is struggling with their sexual orientation, or a couple who is having trouble connecting intimately, or an individual that is having difficulties with sexual functioning.  Ultimately, sex therapy recognizes the important role of human sexuality in the overall well-being of an individual and understands the vast influence sexuality has on the persons overall since of self. 

If you, or someone you know is struggling with issues related to sex, sexuality, or gender, do not be misinformed by by television shows and movies that give an inaccurate presentation of sex therapy. Instead, try locating a trained specialist near you and scheduling a consultation. This will help set your mind at ease concerning what takes place in therapy and will help you to find out if you and the therapist would be a good match. Sex therapy can help you increase your self confidence and improve your interpersonal relationships.

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Dr. Caleb Jacobson

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