How to Find a Sex Therapist | Psychology of Sex
How to Find a Sex Therapist
Most individuals and couples experience a drop in sexual desire or satisfaction at some point in their lives.When it happens to you, however, you might feel some mixed emotions about yourself and your relationship. If you feel ready to get help, start by finding a qualified sex therapist. Recognize what you want in a sex therapist, then ask for recommendations or a referral. Once you see your therapist, decide whether they are a good fit for you.
Choosing a Sex Therapist
Find a credentialed sex therapist.Almost anyone can call themselves a sex therapist, so make sure you’re going to someone who has the background and education to adequately meet your needs. Stay away from anyone who says they treat people with various diagnoses; you want a specialist for couples in sex therapy. Also, your therapist should have a Master’s or Doctorate degree in mental health.Don’t go to someone who calls themselves a ‘sex expert’ without any education.
- Even better, ask if they’re credentialed by the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) or the American Academy of Sexologists.
- In the UK, look for a sex therapist qualified through College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) or the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine.
Choose a therapist who specializes in your specific needs.You might seek a sex therapist for several reasons, so work with one who suits your needs best. For example, if you or your partner have had a medical procedure that has changed your sex life, find someone who specializes in post-surgery or cancer recovery. If you’ve experienced sexual trauma, you might want to work with someone with experience treating fears and trauma. Be sure to ask about how many similar cases they have treated in the past.
Choose an in-person sex therapist if you feel more comfortable talking in person.You might feel more comfortable going to see someone in an office and meeting with your therapist face-to-face. The therapy process may feel more personable and traditional. Generally, couples attend sex therapy every two weeks when meeting face-to-face.
- Choose a sex therapist who lives close to where you live so that travel time and expenses don’t cause you to quit early.
Find an online sex therapist if you prefer anonymity.If you prefer anonymity or distance, especially when dealing with issues about sex, an online sex therapist might be for you. You can find a qualified sex therapist who does therapy online. If you work with someone online, make sure they are still credentialed as a licensed sex therapist and that they are not a coach.
- Ask for their professional license number and look it up online using their state's professional regulation department.
- Online therapy is often more flexible. Some therapists do instant messaging for quick questions or concerns. Studies on online therapy show mixed results, but is promising for certain conditions.
Look at a potential therapist’s ratings and reviews.A quick internet search can help you scope out potential sex therapists. As you’re making a choice, look at their reviews and ratings. Reviews from previous clients can help you make a decision about whether the sex therapist will adequately meet your needs or not.
Make therapy decisions together with your partner.While it may be just you or both of you who need therapy, the decision to seek counseling from a sex therapist should be made jointly. Make sure that your partner is included in the selection process so that you both feel comfortable with the decision. Even if one partner ends up going to the therapist more than the other, both parties will need to attend at some point to revive your intimacy.
- Both you and your partner should feel comfortable with the therapist.
- Once therapy begins, talk about how you feel the therapy is working (or not working) and ask for your partner's feedback regularly.
Asking for Recommendations
Ask your physician.Talk to your physician about your problems and ask if they can recommend a sex therapist to you. You might ask your general practitioner or OB/GYN. They may be able to refer you to someone they know or who is within the same medical network.
- Schedule your medical exam and ask for a recommendation in the same trip.
Contact your insurance provider.Some insurance providers will cover sex therapy. When choosing a sex therapist, check to see whether they are covered by your insurance. Many insurance providers have lists of who is covered in your network. You may be able to access this information by calling your insurance provider or by looking online.
- Some people choose to pay out-of-pocket. If you choose not to go through insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover sex therapy, talk to the therapist and agree on a price.
Talk to close friends.You might feel better going to to a therapist someone recommended to you from their own experience. Knowing someone you know had success can make you feel confident in achieving your own success with a sex therapist. If you know someone who has had sexual problems and they were resolved through sex therapy, reach out and ask them for more information.
- Of course, the last thing you need is for a friend to talk about your inquiry behind your back, so choose carefully and skip any friend who you know won’t keep your request discreet.
Search through a sex therapist directory online.One way to make sure the sex therapist is qualified is to look through a directory of sex therapists. You can read about each therapist near you and make a decision while browsing online. A reputable association to check out is the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT).
- Once you find a therapist who appeals to you, call their office and see if they accept your insurance.
Getting the Most from Sex Therapy
Schedule an appointment with your physician.If you haven’t done so already, see your physician first to pinpoint any physical problems you might be experiencing.This will help the sex therapist know how to approach your problems and whether they are psychological or physical (or both). Getting a medical evaluation can rule out any physical problems that may be occurring.
- In some cases, certain medical conditions or medications such as antidepressants and birth control might play a role in why your interest or ability has fallen flat. Your physician may be able to prescribe a different medication that won’t lower your drive or ability.
- Your physician will likely run some tests or inform you of common side-effects of medication.
Define what you want to treat through sex therapy.Common problems brought up in sex therapy include performance anxiety, body image issues, and differences in techniques, pacing, or sexual frequency. Define the problem and think about your desired outcome with therapy.At first you may not know exactly what you need to work on the most, but this is fine. Over time your therapist will help you determine which specific areas you need to address.
- For example, you may feel like you and your partner go at different speeds during sex, which makes one or both of you feel unfulfilled. You may want to increase your communication and find ways to each get what you need.
- Some other problems might include recovering from breast or prostate cancer or feeling bored or grossed out by sex.You might wish to feel comfortable with your body or see sex as something fun or exciting again.
Decide whether to go alone or bring your partner.If you have a personal issue, you might want to go alone. However, be aware that sexual dysfunction and anxiety affect both partners. You may want to start by seeing a therapist one-on-one, then bringing your partner along. That way, you can make some progress on your own, then communicate better with your partner in sessions.
- For example, you may want to see a sex therapist alone to find ways to cope with your erectile dysfunction or vaginismus. Once you feel ready, ask your partner to come, too.
Be willing to talk about sex.Sex is often an uncomfortable topic to discuss, and admitting you have fears or don’t like what your partner does can be difficult. It’s best to be open and honest with both the therapist and your partner. Hiding your problems, fears, insecurities, or preferences won’t help your intimacy or your progress in therapy. Your therapist can help you open the lines of communication, but you have to be willing to ‘go there.’Realize that a certain amount of vulnerability is essential for effective therapy and that it's normal to feel this way. In fact, feeling vulnerable and understanding what makes you feel this way is likely a sign you are progressing!
- Try writing your concerns down before your appointment. When you go to sex therapy, bring up what you wrote and talk about it with your partner and the therapist.
- There’s nothing abnormal about you, your partner, or your sex life. Don’t be afraid to bring things up.
Evaluate the treatment after a few sessions.Take a step back and reflect after a few sessions. Do you feel closer as a couple and is therapy making a positive difference in your sexual relationship? If you aren’t seeing a positive change, discuss this with your therapist. They can't read minds and may need to know what you need. Your therapist should help you understand and work toward a better, healthier sex life that both you and your partner find helpful.
- Your therapist should help ease feelings of shame or embarrassment.
- If it doesn't work out with your first therapist, don't give up. Consider seeking a new therapist and remain hopeful. Each therapist has their own approach, and you may find that you like some better than others.
- Do your recommended “homework” after each session to restore your sex life. It should be fun, so don't see it as work or as a chore.
- Remember that no matter how silly or awkward you may feel, seeking help is the first step to keeping your sexual connection alive and healthy.
- If you feel your story is embarrassing, keep in mind sex therapists hear your kind of story every day. You are not alone, and there is no reason to be ashamed.
Video: How to Find a Sex Therapist - What is SEX THERAPY-2017
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