Seven Facts About Sex Therapy
Dr Christopher Fox
Sex therapy is also referred to sex counselling, sexual health counselling, (clinical) sexology or sexual therapy. In Australia, the Society of Australian Sexologists, the National professional body for sex therapists and educators, uses the term Psychosexual Therapist for accredited members who must meet stringent educational standards.
What is Sex Therapy?
Sex therapy is a specialist form of counselling/therapy. It is just like other forms of psychological counselling only with a focus on human sexuality. Sex therapists are not a deviant bunch – they are professionals with specialist training and experience in dealing with issues of human sexuality.
A sex therapist provides is non-judgemental and comfortable in talking to people about sexual issues. They provide a confidential space in which to explore sexual issues.
Who are Sex Therapists?
Sex therapists are specialists in the area of human sexuality and counselling and are trained to work with individuals and couples on issues around sex. Sex therapists come from a variety of professions: Counsellors and psychotherapists, psychologists, social workers, nurses and midwives, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, and medical practitioners.
Sex therapists undertake further training in human sexuality after their initial professional qualifications. Sex therapists learn about human sexual response, sexual function and variations in human sexuality. As part of their specialist training, sex therapists also learn about working with different population groups including LGBTIQ and kinksters.
What Happens in a Sex Therapy Session?
A sex therapist will take a detailed sexual and psychological history. The history session may also include medical and relationship history as well. Through this detailed history the therapist develops an understanding of factors impacting on your sexual wellbeing.
Further sessions will explore the psychological aspects of the sexual issue. If the therapist thinks the issue involves a physiological issue they will refer you on to medical specialist. You are also likely to learn new information about sex. Our sex education is generally poor or limited. As a sex therapist I find myself spending time providing sexual education.
Your Clothes Stay On.
You will never be asked to remove your clothes in a sex therapy session.
Sex therapy never involves sexual touch!
There will be Homework!
Many sex therapists will prescribe homework as part of therapy. The homework will vary between therapists and issues being dealt with. Homework is an opportunity for you to develop and try new skills at home.
Take your Partner.
If you are in a relationship, consider taking your partner. As the sexual issue is happening in the relationship, the relationship also needs to work on the issue as well as the individual. You might want to have an individual appointment first.
Check your Therapist Out!
Ask your sex therapist if they are a member of the Society of Australian Sexologists – Australia’s largest professional body for sex therapy. All members of the Society of Australian Sexologists adhere to Code of Ethics and Practice. The Society of Australian Sexologists also accredits members who meet strict training and education criteria.
Good therapists are willing to discuss their background, training and level of experience. It is always best to know your therapist.
If you are experiencing sexual problems and would like to speak to a therapist, contact the Society of Australian Sexologists.
Dr Christopher Fox is the National Chairperson for the Society of Australian Sexologists – a founding member of ASHA. Dr Christopher also practices as a sex and relationship therapist at Sex Life Therapy in Melbourne, Australia. He also works as a Senior Lecturer in Sexual Health (Sexology) at Western Sydney Sexual Health, Sydney Medical School.