When it comes to sex, there are still many things we, as a society, are nervous about discussing openly. Pleasure, desire, and intimacy are all important aspects of our lives; and they too can even be improved with therapy.
Sex is as much mental as it is physical. This duality makes sex therapists a valuable reasource to help you navigate your sex life and sexuality and to be open with yourself and your sexual partners. If you’re ready to improve your sex life, you might start with a search for “sex therapist near me,” the first step on the road toward a new chapter of your mental and sexual well-being.
What Is a Sex Therapist?
A sex therapist specializes in both sex and mental health. They can be a psychiatrist, a marriage and family therapist, a psychologist, a psychotherapist, or a clinical social worker. They will have training beyond the traditional knowledge of sexuality. Their purpose is to talk with you about any issues you’re having around sex. While therapists may be able to help you, finding a mental health professional specializing in sex therapy can ensure you get the treatment you need. In the results of your “sex therapist near me” search, each person should be certified and equipped to help you with your sexual and mental health.
“Sex therapy is a specialized type of therapy,” says Tricia Bennett, a relationship and sex therapist. “Through sex therapy, you can address concerns about sexual function, sexual feelings, and intimacy, either in individual therapy or couples therapy.”
Similar to other mental health concerns, issues around sex require different solutions based on the person and problem at hand. At its core, however, sex therapy provides a safe space for an individual or sexual partners to express their concerns, fears, and worries around sex, as well as overcome these limitations and learn how to deal with other issues if they appear.
Selecting a Sex Therapist
With all the factors that go into choosing a therapist, it’s natural to want to settle on a therapist as soon as you find one with the proper qualification. But, this could mean missing out on a genuinely fulfilling therapy experience and being comfortable sharing and working through the issues you are there to discuss. Take your time combing through the results of your “sex therapist near me” search before choosing a few therapists to check out.
“Therapists are people too! They have their own unique styles and personalities,” says Bennett. “Take a day or two looking at profiles for therapists and make a list of people that look like a good fit for you. Then, review your list and narrow it down to your top three to five.” She cautions that it may take a few calls to find the right therapist for you or even a few different sessions. It is completely fine to be upfront and tell the therapist that you’re interviewing different people in order to choose the best option. Trust your gut. If a therapist doesn’t feel like a good fit for you, then you aren’t likely to open up to them. While choosing the right therapist, instead of settling takes some extra time — the results will be worth it.
Couples Sex Therapy
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together or how in love you are, sometimes it can be hard to voice something to your partner — especially when it comes to discussing your sex life. “A lot of emphases can be placed on the amount of sex we are having in our relationship, and when people have different expectations, it can cause stress within a couple,” says Bennett. “The longer things go unspoken, the bigger the issue becomes.”
In this case, for your “sex therapist near me” search, make sure that you specify that you’re looking for a couples sex therapist. A sex therapist initiates the conversation, providing an open opportunity for you to say your piece. In turn, they will listen without judgement and help both you and your partner communicate openly and without shame or judgement. “The first session may be awkward in terms of getting the conversation going, but the initial discomfort is well worth it,” says Bennett. “Once your therapist has identified some of your issues, a treatment plan can be put in place to begin the work necessary to get you back on the road to a healthy and balanced sex life. The therapist calls upon his or her knowledge, education, and training to help you restore that balance in the most efficient way possible.”
Bennett explains that, similar to marriage counseling, a therapist provides answers to sex within your relationship that may be impossible to see from the inside.
Sex Addiction Therapy
If you or a loved one is dealing with sex addiction, targeted therapy for that condition is also available. “Although sex is considered a natural part of life, when it’s taken to an extreme, it can produce negative consequences,” says Bennett. “Sex addiction includes an inability to control or manage one’s sexual behavior.”
An intensive program may be necessary to deal with the addiction fully. These include a long-term treatment plan, in-patient care, and ongoing therapy while in recovery. When searching for a “sex therapist near me,” specify addiction as a speciality you require the professional to have.
How Sex Therapy Can Help
As is the case for any type of therapy, these sessions are a chance to work through your issues and get to know yourself better. “Sex therapy is a great tool for individuals to explore their own sexuality and how they wish to express it — and for couples who might be struggling to connect intimately and want to get the spark back.”
For couples, a sex therapist provides a safe space to honestly acknowledge the issues you’re facing and navigate those conversations with your partner. It can be difficult to admit when something isn’t working sexually, no matter how much you trust your partner, and therapy provides an opening to do so.
Regardless of if you enter sex therapy by yourself or with a significant other, Bennett explains a good therapist will make the journey easier. The entire process should be less time and stress than if attempted to solve these complicated issues on your own. A licensed therapist’s insights into the core issues you have around sex allow you to face those challenges head-on to truly overcome them, instead of avoiding them.
Online Sex Therapy
While traditionally, therapy is thought of as a therapist and client sitting across from each other on the therapist’s couch, there’s no reason it has to take place in person. Currently, COVID-19 is forcing almost all interactions online, but there are other reasons to consider making it virtual beyond the pandemic. Online therapy allows you to have sessions at a time that is more convenient for you and to access therapists outside of your immediate area. You’ll avoid having to find time in busy, conflicting schedules and also avoid a commute. Visit Talkspace’s therapist directory to connect with a professional in your area. If you want someone who may have the option for in-person visits down the road, continue to search for a “sex therapist near me” and choosing someone with online capacity. “As long as you are open and honest, sex therapy can be just as effective online as in person,” says Bennett. “You and your therapist will come up with your homework. It is up to you to practice it in your own life.”