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Sex therapy: All you wanted to know
So What is Sex therapy all about? Ever thought of seeing a sex Therapist. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS TO DISPEL A FEW OF YOUR MYTHS. 

1. what is sex therapy? Sex therapy is a specialized form of professional counseling that helps women and men address concerns about sexual function, sexuality and sexual expression. These may include problems with arousal, inability to reach orgasm, painful intercourse or issues of sexual identity. Couples or individuals may talk to a therapist when they have differences in sexual desire, the need to increase verbal and physical communication, or to find ways to enhance their intimate relationships.

2. who might benefit? Sex therapy is appropriate for people of any age, gender or sexual orientation, whether they seek it out as individuals, couples, or as a group. Common reasons for seeking a therapist include: orgasm difficulties; premature ejaculation; erection problems; desire discrepancies; pain; identity and orientation issues; inhibitions; medical problems effecting sex; unusual sexual desires or behaviors; or any issue related to sexual identity, expression, or function.

Sex therapy is appropriate for people of any age, gender or sexual orientation, ... as individuals, couples, or as a group.
3. what is a sex therapist?

A sex therapist is a credentialed professional with specialized training and experience in treating sexual problems. Virtually all sex therapists have extensive education and background in another field such as psychology, medicine or social work. Becoming a sex therapist usually involves training and guided practice beyond being licensed in an original discipline. Although a relatively new field, it is a professional one, with its own set of guiding principles, code of ethics, professional organizations and journals.

4. how do I find a sex therapist? It helps to understand that the term "sex therapy" or "sex therapist" is not legally defined in most states and countries. Virtually anyone can call themselves a sex therapist. Newspaper and online ads are notoriously unreliable, and the phone book is not much better. Legitimate therapists and doctors may claim a specialty in sex therapy with little more training than a weekend workshop. It is, therefore, imperative that you seek information to help you determine how knowledgeable this practitioner really is.

It is perfectly acceptable to ask any questions you may have about the therapist, or the process, in your first session, or on the phone before you set up an appointment. Many therapists will agree to such a discussion at no charge.

Although not infallible, a good referral source in India can be IndiaDiets Counsellor. One can send his / her problems or fix up an appointment with the Counsellor who can be reached on Email ID:

Similarly a good referral source in the USA is The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists

P.O. Box 238
Mount Vernon, IA 52314
Phone: 319-895-8407
Fax: 319-895-6203

You can also find their Website at Ask for a listing of certified sex therapists in your area. Being certified ensures that the practitioner has the basic education and experience required to be a satisfactory sex therapist.

5. how can I tell if my therapist is any good? You need to screen potential therapists. Begin by finding out more about them and how they approach therapy. Some suggested questions you should ask:
  1. Are they licensed in a related field such as clinical psychology?

    If so, they should have such a license displayed in their office.
  2. Are they affiliated with a reputable university, hospital or clinic?

    These should be easily verifiable by calling the university, hospital or clinic.
  3. Have they published any research in the field?

    You can ask to see reprints or the reference if you are interested.
  4. Are they a member of professional organizations?

    Ask which professional organizations they belong to and if you can call to verify their standing.
  5. How long have they been practicing?

    This is a profession where experience is usually better than youth.
  6. Where did they get their training, and what is their degree?

    Again, if you wish, you should be able to verify this.
  7. Are they certified? By which organization?

    Most provide a certificate meant to be displayed in the therapist's office.
Certainly, there are excellent therapists that don't meet many of these qualifications, and some awful therapists who do meet all these criteria; but it is a start. Although some people feel strange asking such questions, a good therapist will welcome the opportunity to explain these issues."Sex therapy does not involve sexual contact with a therapist!" 

6. what does sex therapy involve?

Sex therapy does not involve sexual contact with a therapist! Nor should you be expected to perform any sexual activities in front of your therapist. Although there are "sex surrogates" who do have sex with clients for therapeutic reasons, these individuals only work under the supervision of a sex therapist. There really is no such thing as a "freelance" surrogate.

Sex therapy involves talking more than anything. The therapist will try to ascertain what your issues are. (When did the issue start? Under what circumstances do they manifest? What are the contributing factors?) You can expect these discussions to be highly explicit though professional and respectful. For example, a therapist may ask how often you masturbate, what you fantasize about, or how easily you have orgasms.

You can also expect the therapist to provide extensive education about sexual issues. Because so few people in our society have adequate knowledge about sexuality, this is one of the primary jobs of a sex therapist: acting as an educator providing specialized, focused education on topics such as anatomy, physical response or healthy sexual behavior.

It is not uncommon to be given homework assignments, such as reading various books, watching a video or trying a new behavior. You are always free to say that you do not feel comfortable with any suggestion and ask for an alternative.

7. how long does sex therapy last?

Generally speaking, therapy occurs via hour-long weekly sessions. Although some therapists see patients for longer periods of time, sex therapy is usually a focused experience that lasts for a few months or a year at most. Although it is perfectly okay to have regular "tune-ups" or to re-establish contact with a therapist when new problems arise, it is highly unusual to be in sex therapy for years unless you are dealing with a severe sexual disorder.

8. what is the difference between a sex therapist and a sexologist?

Think of the term sexologist as equivalent to psychologist, while a sex therapist is more like a psychotherapist. Just as a psychologist studies psychology, a sexologist does active research on sexuality. Most sexologists, like psychologists also teach and publish. Individuals who focus exclusively on clinical applications (treatment) of sexology (and psychology) are known as therapists (sex therapists and psychotherapists). To make matters more complicated, just as there are specialties within psychology, so it is with sexology -- just as there are clinical psychologists, there are also clinical sexologists (people who not only study, research, teach and publish, but also treat)

9. how does one become a sex therapist?

There are few graduate programs devoted to sexuality, so most practitioners have a background in a related field such as psychology or education and then choose to specialize. This can take the form of courses, workshops, internships or other post-doctoral trainings offered by universities, institutions, or even AASECT. Common degrees are Ph.D., M.D., or MSW. In order to become certified as a sex therapist, you must first be licensed in another field such as medicine or clinical psychology. For more information about becoming a sex therapist, consult a) Indian Medical Association in India and b)  AASECT for the US

"Your therapist should inform you of your prognosis and your progress"

10. how effective is sex therapy?

Sex therapy can be a remarkably effective and rewarding experience. However, it is not a miracle cure. Success depends on many factors including the specific problem, your level of motivation, the goals of treatment and the therapist's skills. Just as in other forms of therapy, there are some problems that are difficult to treat. Your therapist should inform you of your prognosis and your progress. If you feel that you are not making headway, you should discuss this with your therapist and possibly ask about a referral to another practitioner. On the other hand, you should make sure your goals are realistic and that you share them with your sex therapist early in the treatment.

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