Sexual functioning is a complex experience with emotional, mental and physical components that can impact your relationship, intimacy and self-esteem. Sexual issues can include pain during sex (dyspareunia), difficulty or failure to get an erection (erectile dysfunction), arousal disorders, sexual anxiety and depression, as well as questions surrounding gender identity and sexual orientation.2
A sex therapist is a counsellor or doctor who has specific training in helping individuals and couples navigate these issues. They help their clients to identify the root causes of their problems and work through them, as well as teaching healthy coping mechanisms that can be used in the future.
Sex therapy is typically done face to face in a confidential, safe and non-judgmental environment. Sessions usually last for 30 to 50 minutes and are tailored to the unique needs of each client. A sex therapist can be seen individually or as part of a couple, and they will often give their clients ‘homework’ to carry out between meetings. This homework might include re-engaging in a sensual activity that they are uncomfortable with or it might involve removing performance-based expectations.
A sex therapist will also likely help you to understand your sexual anatomy and physiology, as well as exploring any fears or anxieties that may be holding you back. They will also encourage you to take the time to consider your own sexual desires and goals in a positive, non-judgmental and compassionate way. For many people, this can be a very challenging but rewarding process.