Sex Therapy, also known as Psychosexual Therapy, is a type of therapy that some people find to be a useful treatment for their personal lives, which also commonly improves their mental wellbeing.
While sex therapy isn’t offered all over the United Kingdom, it is being offered in an increasing number of locations, such is the demand.
How Does Sex Therapy Work?
Sex Therapy involves tackling problems relating to sex. Whilst many would go to a sex therapist as a couple, some people go alone, believing it will help them.
Problems with sex is very common, and can result in distress and psychological problems. It can affect people in multiple areas of their life.
Such problems are common with those who have mental health conditions. This is often medication-induced, or just if they have low mood.
A sex therapist will listen to their patient and assess whether the cause is physical, psychological, or perhaps both.
Sex therapy gives a person the chance to talk about their problems and experiences. They may suggest practical fixes and small steps that can be taken, which should lead to improvements.
If a person’s problems are linked to a past trauma, then this can often be tackled, as this can improve overall mental wellbeing.
When is Sex Therapy Useful?
Sex therapy can be useful in many cases. For those that believe that sex problems is affecting their relationship, this type of therapy can help strengthen their bond.
Many people who suffer from a form of mental illness do not find sex pleasurable, nor do they have the desire. Therefore, they may find that talking about their problems results in their desire returning.
Moreover, some people will have had their problems caused by a past trauma. This past trauma can be analysed and spoken about.
Typical sex problems include pain, anxiety, erectile dysfunction and loss of libido.
Advantages of Sex Therapy
There are a few advantages to Sex Therapy:
- Sex does form a big part of relationships. Many consider it a crucial aspect of any relationship. Therefore, by improving such relations between a couple, they may see an overall improvement in their relationship.
- Sex therapy is confidential. Many people fear that what they say to a sex therapist will become widely known. This is not the case, as sex therapists, like all other therapists, are bound to secrecy. There are only very rare occasions where this would not be the case.
- Sex therapy can be very useful for those who have had a difficult trauma in the past. For example, they may have been the victim of sexual assault. This therapy can help to analyse the problems of sex, and the wider wellbeing of the person. They may be referred to a different type of therapy for their trauma, if needed.
Disadvantages of Sex Therapy
There are a few disadvantages to Sex Therapy:
- Many people find it uncomfortable to talk to a stranger about an intimate area of their life. This may result in a couple not getting the most out of this therapy
- Couples Counselling is a type of therapy that is similar to Sex Therapy, but doesn’t involve talking about intimate personal details of life. Some people will therefore believe Couples Counselling is an all-round better option than this.
- Accessing sex therapy is rather difficult. The NHS has limited sex therapists, so many people need to access the private sector, which is costly. You can see our article on which is better – out of the NHS and the private sector.
How effective is Sex Therapy?
Sex therapy can work for some people, but it won’t work for everyone. Every person is different, and will find different types of therapy to be beneficial.
Most research has focused on those who have previously had sexual trauma, and therefore have had problems with sex linked to trauma. Not everyone will fit this category.
One study found that sex therapy can be very useful when combined with a more mainstream therapy like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – with these two therapies supposedly complementing one another well .
A study from a few decades ago found that in a follow-up with couples that had undergone sex therapy, that this type of therapy had a positive impact on relationships, and intercourse itself .
How to find a therapist?
It is recommended that you contact your GP and inform them of your problems. They will refer you to the relevant mental health team.
If you are aiming to use the private sector, you could ask your GP or someone you know for a recommendation. You can also look online – the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy have a therapist directory on their site.
- List of Therapy Types
- Therapy Home
- Everything You Need To Know About Talking Therapy
- Talking Therapy or Medication: Which is Better for Mental Health Problems?
- FAQ’s About Talking Therapy
- What To Do When Therapy Isn’t Working: Alternatives to Talking Therapy
If talking therapy alone hasn’t worked, then your Doctor may suggest adding a medication.
There are many other types of therapy, you can see an exhaustive list of them here.
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 Barnes, M. F. (1995). Sex therapy in the couples context: Therapy issues of victims of sexual trauma. The American Journal of Family Therapy. 23 (4): p351-360.
 Hawton, K., Catalan, J., Martin, P., & Fagg, J. (1986). Long-term outcome of sex therapy. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 24 (6): p665-675.