When there’s an issue in your sex life, it can feel like the end of the world. Our closest relationships are important to us; as humans, we need connection to survive. When something is going on that gets in the way of us feeling close to our loved ones, it can be devastating and brutal to focus on anything else.
Though lots of folks don’t talk about it, most people have had problems in their sex life from time to time, and if they haven’t yet, they likely will. Sex can be messy and awkward or even traumatic in some circumstances. It’s extremely rare to have a relationship where you both want the same type of sex with the same frequency forever.
It’s common to explore your sexuality and sexual expression throughout your life, so it’s unlikely that your sexual preferences and style will remain unchanged. The natural changes that people go through as they gain more life experience can lead to mismatched needs and expectations, which get in the way of intimacy and pleasure. Many people deal with sexual functioning issues or have performance anxiety that gets in the way of their desired sexual expression. Sometimes sexual shame prevents people from having the kind of sex they want. Becoming parents and other major life transitions can create major changes in people’s sex lives. Sexual trauma can make sex feel unsafe. Many factors can make a difference in your sex life, and going to sex therapy can help you handle them in an affirming and safe way.
What sex therapy is
Sex therapy is a specialized type of therapy that focuses primarily on sexual functioning, sexual expression, and communication about sex.
Sex therapy can be intimidating to some people because sex is intimate and vulnerable. Sex is also something we’re taught culturally not to talk about, so opening up about sex to a stranger can seem downright scary.
Sex therapy offers a space to recognize that sex isn’t just about how often and how well everything works. Sex gives you an opportunity to learn more about yourself, your needs, and your desires. The vulnerability involved in sex can pave the way for a deeper connection with your partner and increased pleasure. Intimacy and pleasure are two cornerstones of the sexual experience, and sex therapy can help you identify what’s getting in the way of intimacy and pleasure for you and your partner.
Sex therapy isn’t just for folks in relationships, either! Individuals can and do benefit from working with a sex therapist. Working with a sex therapist as an individual allows you to explore your own sexuality and desires and unlearn any problematic beliefs about sex that you’ve picked up along the way.
What sex therapy isn’t
Sex, in general, can be shrouded in mystery because our culture discourages people from being open about sex. To learn things, people ask friends and trusted family members, learn from media they can access, or turn to the internet to answer their questions about sex. While there is some great information from vetted professionals, there’s a lot of misinformation in the world about sex, including sex therapy.
Sex therapy does not involve sexual contact with or in front of your therapist. Sex therapy is a type of talk therapy where you can work with a trained professional to explore issues related to sex.
You might be wondering how to know if sex therapy is right for you. Here are 8 signs that it’s time to start sex therapy:
You miss the feeling of the early stages of your relationship.
The start of a romantic relationship can feel magical. There are often lots of sparks and romance, and the sex can be really great. There’s even a name for it – New Relationship Energy. The intensity of your chemistry in the early stages can lead to memorable sex, and when that initial spark fades, it’s natural to miss it. Sex therapy can help you find ways to reconnect and feel as intimate as you did in those early days.
You and your partner have mismatched sex drives.
It’s very rare to have two people with perfectly synced sex drives. There are so many factors that impact libido, from medications to mental health, that it’s likely at some point that you’ll experience wanting sex when your partner doesn’t or vice versa. Sex therapy can help you find ways to communicate about what your sex drives are and reassure each other when insecurity arises.
You feel disconnected from what is pleasurable.
Sometimes, it can feel like you’re no longer connected to what is pleasurable for you. This can happen after major life transitions like becoming a parent or after a betrayal of trust. (It might also happen for other reasons too.) Working with a sex therapist, especially one that works from a holistic point of view that engages your whole body and spiritual self, can help you explore and find safe ways to connect with what is pleasurable for you without judgment.
You want to be more present during sex.
It can be hard to stay in the moment during sex. It’s intimate and vulnerable, and sometimes there are many things on your mind. When you can’t stay in the moment during sex and feel like you’re watching from a distance, it’s called spectatoring. There’s usually lots of self-judgment and distraction during spectatoring that keeps you from enjoying what’s happening in the moment. Sex therapy can help you find ways to return to the present moment when this happens to you.
You are healing from sexual abuse or trauma.
Trauma, especially sexual trauma, can leave you feeling profoundly unsafe. Trauma of any kind can interfere with your sexual expression because it leaves you feeling disconnected from the present. Pleasure and sexual connection can feel scary or make you freeze. Sex therapy can help rewrite those stories where you get stuck and help remind you of ways to feel safe in the moment.
You would like to explore an open relationship, polyamorous relationship, or kink.
Kinky relationships, as well as open and polyamorous relationships, can be tough to navigate emotionally, even when you’re excited about what’s going on. Working with a sex therapist who is kink-affirming and who understands the dynamics of non-monogamous relationships can be a huge source of support as you build the relationships you desire.
You are exploring your sexual identity.
Our sexual identities and desires change over time. We all learn and grow from our experiences along the way, so naturally, some aspects of your sexual identity or expression will shift over time. Sex therapy is a safe space to explore what your sexuality means to you and how you want to express it.
You want to improve your sex life.
Sometimes there’s something that’s not working in your sex life, and you’re not sure what it is. Or maybe you want to improve your sex life, either solo or with a partner. Sex is complicated, and sometimes it can take the help of a trusted third party to identify where the blocks are coming from. Sex therapy allows you to explore what’s going on and how you can react to it in a way that supports you.
Working with a sex therapist can give you space to heal, grow, and re-discover your sexual self.
Sex Therapy at CRIWB is a warm, inviting, non-judgmental space. Our multicultural therapists are trained specifically in sex therapy and can assist you in creating the intimacy and relationship you’re longing for. Get in touch today to get started.