Sex therapists can be psychiatrists, marriage and family therapists, psychologists, or clinical social workers. The best sex therapists will also be licensed within other helping professions (e.g. psychology, family counseling), so you can think of it as if you are seeing a urologist for urological problems rather than a primary care physician, because both have specialized instruction in the area. However, because the area of sex therapy is unregulated (on a federal level, some states have a certification process in sex therapy), anyone can call themselves a sex therapist, as it isn’t a protected or regulated title. This is the result of a great deal of diversity in the training and practice of people who refer to themselves as sex therapists.
Below are some of the most common questions people have about sex therapy:
What is sex therapy?
Sex therapy is a specialized form of counseling for adults that focuses on sexual issues, most often for individuals in relationships.
Sex therapy is usually goal-oriented, meaning that the sex therapist will try to help you develop a definitive issue and the goal of therapy will be to work on that specific issue and resolve it, or find a way to make whatever problems it causes have less of an impact on your life and sex life. Commonly, sex therapy will focus on a sexual dysfunction or major sexual communication problems between partners.
Sex therapy is usually directive. Sex therapists will be active, asking questions and often giving direct suggestions, homwork exercises, and information in an effort to support your goals for the therapy.
As a practice, sex therapy is not federally regulated, although some states have their own individual certification process.
There are several graduate schools in the U.S. that specialize in training for sex therapy. Some people assemble their training by rigorous self-study and by attendance at the major sexological organizations’ annual conferences. In addition, there are countless scientific journals dedicated solely to sexual research.
How to choose the right sex therapist
The most important element in choosing therapists of any kind is the relationship between you and them. Talking about sexual inadequacies can be tough, so think about who you would be comfortable working with. Gender, race, age, and even religious affiliations may all be factors. If you feel you cannot be honest to them, or vice versa, it is important you find someone you feel comfortable with. This is especially important in sex therapy because of the sensitive, and sometimes embarassing, nature of the problem.
Another issue for the majority of us is money. Therefore, it is recommended to search for sex therapists who also have the appropriate degrees that would enable your meeting to be covered by your health-care provider (e.g. medical doctor). It is absolutely find to ask a potential therapist about their rates. Don’t be afraid to ask if they will accept a lower rate, some therapists will need the extra traffic, and if you cannot afford their quoted rate they may be willing to bargain.
Counselor Network Writer