If you’ve found this article, it’s likely that you are looking for sex therapy in Columbus, Ohio or somewhere in the rest of the state of the state. Maybe you are outside of Columbus and are looking for more information about what sex therapy is, your sexual health, how to handle past sexual abuse or other sexual concerns.
This article will help you understand what sex therapists do, what sex therapists do not do, Who might need sex therapy, what sexual concerns they can help with, what sex therapy is like and what type of models are used to work with sexual issues.
What a sex therapist does
Who does sex therapy or counseling and what is their job? Both are very important questions that I (Yvonne Judge, sex therapist, Columbus, Ohio, IMFT, CHt) will answer for you.
Who does sex therapy?
This type of therapy can be performed by a marriage and family therapist, licensed professional clinical counselor, or social worker. This person has advanced training in sex, sexuality, intimate issues and sexual health. This training can be through a university, or through a sexuality training institute.
As an experienced marriage and family therapist in Columbus, Ohio, I have training through my university’s PhD program as well as mentoring in helping people heal feelings and mental health issues that cause sexual concerns or even sexual disorders.
Weather you are seeing a marriage and family therapist, licensed professional clinical counselor or social worker, your therapist will take a thorough personal, relationship and sexual history.
What is their job?
Sex therapists then help you to overcome any psychological or emotional issues that are standing in the way of you having a happy and healthy sex life or expression of your sexuality.
They also help you determine your goals weather it’s overcoming sexual abuse, having more physical and emotional intimacy in your relationship, overcoming intimate anxiety, navigating differing sexual needs, sexuality and gender concerns, or overcoming sexual issues.
Once your goals are determined, they use a variety of therapy interventions to help you meet your goals. This type of therapy is often attended by couples or done as a part of relationship therapy. This is because couples affect each other greatly and can help each other heal or keep each other stuck.
How does sex therapy help?
While many therapists and counselors are squeamish about talking with clients about sex, a sex therapist talks directly with clients about their sexuality, sexual dysfunction, and sexual issues. Many times couples will seek relationship counseling for sexual problems and the therapist will not even ask about the couple’s sex life! It’s even worse when going to individual therapy or counseling. Many an LPCC will not even think about asking a client about their sex life.
Sex therapists address sexual issues directly instead of thinking that doing relationship therapy will fix things. Sex therapy ideally should be done in the course of relationship therapy if the client is in a relationship, but relationship counseling doesn’t always fix issues with physical intimacy.
This type of counseling will help you directly address any mental health or other issues that are standing in your way. It will also address other concerns that can be affecting your sex life such as anxiety, trauma recovery, low or no desire, marital or relationship issues, and understanding your own sexuality.
What a sex therapist does not do
A sex therapist does not judge you
The first thing your therapist will not do is judge you and your sexuality or sexual expression. If is not their job to make you into someone or something else. It is not their job to tell you how you should have sex, what your sex life looks like, or how to express your sexuality. Instead, they should be open and supportive of your goals and not try to impose theirs.
A sex therapist does not tell you how you “should” be sexually
It doesn’t matter if you are straight and cis, LGBTQIA+, in a relationship, don’t believe in relationships, vanilla, kink, or have any other expression of your sexuality. There’s no “should” in sex therapy.
Our only wish for you is that you are happy and healthy and that you meet your goals. We want you to accept yourself as you are and change the things YOU want to change, not what a partner, friend, family member or anyone else tells you to change. Therapy is about becoming your best self, not changing to fit someone else’s mold.
A sex therapist does not touch you
I know this seems obvious to many people, but I’ve actually had calls asking about this specifically. Sex therapy is a no contact sport. Your therapist will not touch you.
He or she is not there to have sex with you or show you techniques. They are not there to talk dirty with you for your excitement. They are there to give you their expertise in your situation and help you meet your goals by improving sexual health and expression of emotion that will lead to a better expression of your sexuality.
Who might need a sex therapist?
Many people see a sex therapist, and not just people who have issues in sexual functioning or sexual dysfunction. Some seek counseling to improve their sexual relationship with a partner. Some seek counseling to get help to navigate feelings around gender identity and sexual expression. Some people want counseling to deal with trauma that is impacting the marital relationship or communication around intimate issues, sexual health and sexual dysfunction.
Some seek counseling because they are in relationship counseling and have found that it has not helped with sexual concerns. And at times mental health gets in the way of expressing sexuality in a way that you would like or of sexual health.
What problems can a sex therapy help with?
Sex therapy can help not only with sexual problems, but with many problems in your relationship, emotions or mental health that are impacting you sexually. People receive counseling for issues and sexual dysfunction such as:
- Performance anxiety
- Inability to focus during sex
- Trauma recovery
- Sexual abuse
- Low or no sexual desire
- Anxiety or shame around sex or one’s sexuality
- Erectile dysfunction
- Pain during sex
- Sexual fixation, addiction, or overuse of sexual materials
- Trouble reaching orgasm
- Lack of sex or sexual pleasure in your relationship
- Sex in your relationship feeling robotic, disconnected or not intimate
- Age or life stage related sexual changes
- Problems related to what you were taught to believe about sex, relationships, your self or your gender
- Sexual behavior that affects your life and relationships
- Sexual compulsion
- Acceptance of yourself as a sexual being with your own unique sexuality
- Premature ejaculation
- Unwanted or upsetting sexual thoughts or desires
- Sexual dysfunctions
- Concerns about sexual health
What is sex therapy like?
In the office
Sex therapy therapy is very like other types of therapy and counseling. If you have a partner currently, therapy sessions are best done as a part of relationship counseling together with your partner and not on an individual basis.
Counseling for relationships differs from sex therapy because here, sexual concerns are the focus and are discussed directly. Whereas with therapy for relationships the relationship is the focus and sex may or may not be discussed.
In the office, a thorough sexual history will be taken for both partners, and the therapist will use her expertise to understand factors that are leading to the problem at hand. She will be trying to learn not only what you do, but how you feel about sex.
Much of the rest of the time treatment here will look similar to talk therapy for mental health. Treatment for some issues is quick, while other, longer-standing problems may take more time for you to feel relief.
As mentioned above, the therapist does not do any type of sexual activity with you. If you have a partner it is best to practice things together with them. Many people are afraid to do this type of counseling with their loved one, but it really does work better together.
Between sex therapy sessions
There is still work to do even when you’re not in the therapist’s office. Often you will be given exercises (such as sensate focus) to practice at home between sessions either alone or with together with your partner. These exercises can help with everything from anxiety, to what you believe about sex, to how you approach it. The sex therapist may also ask you to monitor or journal about things such as amount of sexual desire, sexual problems and sexual satisfaction.
What type of models do you use for sex therapy?
There are several models that can be used for sex therapy. At Columbus Therapy and Hypnosis we primarily use Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Gottman Method Couple Therapy and Strategic Therapy as our models and integrate sex therapy interventions where appropriate.
How to work with us
If you are looking to work with someone in person, we have an office in the Columbus, Ohio area. If you are outside of Columbus, our practice helps people throughout the state of Ohio via our HIPAA compliant videoconferencing software. We do not currently offer sessions via phone only due to Ohio state law. We can be reached by phone at 614-245-5119 or you can contact us via the website to get more information or book an appointment. Let us put our expertise in marital and relationship issues to work for you. We would love to welcome you to our practice.