Some men may lose an erection or two and understand that it happened because they were too busy thinking about what they would have to do at work the next day or because they had drunk way more alcohol than they should at the happy hour right before meeting their partner. Some women may feel some discomfort during sex and realize that they should have used a bit more lube or that they haven´t had enough stimulation from their partner. Men and women like the ones in the examples above may not need treatment if the problems they had happened on very specific situations and did not interfere with their lives afterwards. However, if these problems become chronic, a more specific treatment may be considered.
Sex Therapy, also called Psychosexual Therapy, is a subspecialty of psychotherapy. It is conducted by a psychotherapist who specializes in the field of human sexuality and focuses on the treatment of sexual problems and dysfunctions.
- What are the most common problems and/or dysfunctions treated by a sex therapist?
First of all, it is important to understand the difference between these two terms. A sexual problem is something easier to deal with. It may be, for example, one of the situations mentioned in the examples above. A sexual dysfunction is chronic and may interfere significantly and negatively with the life of the person living with it.
The most common sexual dysfunctions in men are erectile dysfunction, rapid or premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation and lack of desire. In women, the most common are vaginismus, painful intercourse, dyspareunia, lack of orgasm and lack of desire. Even though lack of desire can occur in men and women, it is more common in women.
- Who may benefit from this kind of treatment?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence”. In case you realize you are not satisfied with your sexual life, you can consider the possibility of undergoing sex therapy.
- How is it conducted?
It is very similar to other kinds of psychotherapies. It includes a process of psychoeducation that has the objective of teaching the client about their psychological difficulties, as well as the application of specific techniques. In the case of CBT, there will be an emphasis on questioning and modifying dysfunctional beliefs related to sex and sexuality and changing maladaptive behaviors concerning the client´s sexual life. In addition to that, some pieces of homework will be assigned. These include exercises to be practiced by clients themselves or together with their partners.
Written by Psychologist Alexandro Paiva.