Sex therapy and sex counseling is a platform used to treat a variety of sexual issues. These issues can include problems with sexual function, sexual behaviors, differences in sexual attitudes between you and your partner, or anything else that may impact your sex life. Some people are fearful of sex therapy - wondering, "what is sex therapy?" In sex therapy, there are no exams and no touching; it is a form of talk therapy.
Don’t be mistaken though. Sex therapy and sex counseling is not just for those struggling with negative issues. You may seek sex therapy to add more passion, zest, and intimacy to your relationship. Maybe the kids are gone, and you and your partner want a great second phase of your sex life. Sex therapy can help.
I also supervise many other therapists in sexual counseling, and I initiated and participated in local/state movements to increase community awareness about sexual issues including sexual trauma. As a researcher and sex therapist, I strive to impact our community about sexual health and sexual fulfillment.
What types of sexual issues can I deal with in Sex Therapy?
As described above, sex therapy can assist with sexual development and fulfillment. Studies show people who have sex live longer, and a healthy sex life contributes to overall health. Sex may lower blood pressure, increase the immune system, improve heart health, better sleep, and increase relationship satisfaction. Also, a healthy sex life increases overall stress reduction in the way of physiologically and emotionally.
If you experience difficulty during any part of sex, you could be suffering from sexual dysfunction. Don’t panic—that’s not as frightening as it sounds. The term only refers to a difficulty that occurs in any phase of the sexual response cycle. Any issue that prevents you, your partner, or both of you from experiencing sexual satisfaction can lead to decreased sexual desire. Ultimately, this can have a significant impact on your relationship. Luckily, most sexual dysfunctions are treatable, so it is essential to share your concerns with your partner and your healthcare provider. With the right treatment and support, you can have a healthy sexual function and relationship.
Sexual trauma refers to a broad range of sexual violence and assault, including but not limited to incest, rape, sexual abuse, hate crimes, sexual exploitation, stalking, and sexual harassment. The aftermath of such trauma can significantly negatively impact an individual’s self-esteem, current and future relationships, and overall happiness and well-being. The most common effects of sexual trauma are depression, sexual dysfunction, PTSD, self-mutilation, substance abuse, flashbacks, anxiety, anger, guilt, shame, and isolation. Of course, none of these are exclusively related to sexual trauma. As a result, it can be challenging to pinpoint the effects of sexual trauma. Identifying the consequences is especially true as symptoms can sometimes occur many years after the experience.
It is vital to understand that by not addressing these issues, the effects can escalate exponentially. Seeking help from a qualified sex therapist can be highly beneficial in understanding sexual trauma and all that accompanies it. Even if there are little or no evident symptoms, it’s vital to seek therapeutic help immediately. Information is essential in dealing with sexual trauma.
Sex addiction can be a severe issue. Although it is not formally recognized as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, “sex addiction” refers to any sexual behaviors that seem obsessive or compulsive. These actions can include repetitive masturbation, internet porn, phone sex, and so on. These addictive behaviors can negatively impact your self-esteem, job, social circles, and relationships. Here is a sexual addiction assessment.
Sex addiction can impact you and your family members in the same way as any other addiction. Typically, as the sexual issue progresses, the adverse effects increase. These behaviors may not move beyond compulsive masturbation or extensive use of pornography, phone, or computer sex services. Alternatively, they may develop into more severe and even illegal activities, such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, child molestation, and rape.
Any sexual behaviors that seem addictive or appear to cause significant distress in your daily functioning should be taken seriously. If you suspect that you or a family member may suffer from this type of condition, you should seek help from a qualified sex therapist, primary care physician, or any other appropriate professional. The problem may not seem that serious right now, but it could get much worse. A qualified professional can help you to get to the root of the issue.
Dr. Constance DelGiudice is a Board Certified Sex Therapist practicing in Stuart, Florida.