How To Know if You and Your Partner Could Benefit From Sex Therapy

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Therapy is not simply a solution to a problem—whether the focus is personal, romantic, financial, sex-focused, or otherwise. And with specific respect to sex therapy, in particular, it's important to know that the benefit extends to folks far beyond just those who are on the brink of breakup and are in dire need of professional help. Rather, just like seeking general therapy on a regular basis can help people live their most authentic life, sex therapy can help couples (and individuals) embrace their most fulfilling sex life—even when there's no specific "problem" that needs solving.

Experts In This Article
  • Kimberly Sharky, Kimberly Sharky is a relationship and sex coach with Union Square Play.
  • Megan Fleming, PhD, sex therapist and clinical instructor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University
  • Rachel Wright, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist

With that in mind, keep reading for sex therapists' take on must-knows about the benefits of sex therapy, including what it includes, how it may benefit you and your relationship, and more.

Who can enjoy the benefits of sex therapy?

Ready for it? Everyone. And that includes the folks in a honeymoon-phase state of bliss. “Think about how many transitions and experiences we go through in our adult lives: dating, breakups, infidelity, traumatic events, fertility challenges, pregnancies, postpartum recovery, health crises, natural aging, and beyond,” says Kimberly Sharky, relationship expert and sex coach with Union Square Play. “Each of these moments has potential to interfere with our connection to our sexual selves and with our sexual partners.”

With the guidance of a specialized sex therapist, when any of the above-mentioned moments comes to fruition, folks may be better adept at processing and then proceeding in such a way that avoids negative interference with the relationship. “While the guidance of a skilled therapist is a valuable resource in times of crisis, it is really best utilized during more stable times in our lives when we can benefit from a more grounded examination of our challenges and potential,” Sharky says.

As for how often to go to sex therapy, the answer is subjective and personal (as is the case with all forms of therapy). “It depends upon the degree of support that is necessary in order to build momentum and maintain positive progress,” Sharky says. “Your therapist will include recommendations in this regard once they have met with you once or twice and will then be able to create a collaborative game plan with you.”

What can sex therapists help with?

In addition to helping folks navigate life’s big moments and their impact on us, sexually speaking, Lovehoney sex and relationships expert Megan Fleming, PhD, says the benefits of sex therapy are particularly pronounced for cultivating an authentic and realistic understanding of sex and pleasure—which is something many people don't have. “Most of us don’t receive sex-positive explicit sex education,” she says. “Too often, couples get caught up in scripted sex or sex that doesn’t feel worth having. Sex therapy gets back to the basics of giving and receiving pleasure."

“Too often, couples get caught up in scripted sex or sex that doesn’t feel worth having. Sex therapy gets back to the basics of giving and receiving pleasure." Megan Fleming, PhD

By working with a sex therapist, Sharky says couples are able to stoke more eroticism in their relationships (particularly in long-term unions). Additionally, she says that sex therapists can help couples resolve differences in sexual interest or desire. “The bulk of work in sex therapy revolves around helping couples remove obstacles to pleasure, whether they be rooted in anxiety that drives inhibition, interpersonal frustrations that deplete interest in connecting sexually, or countless other ways that the freedom and expression of great sex can be affected by everyday life and the complexities of long-term love,” Sharky says.

Considering that "the biggest sex organ is our mind and there’s no limit to our erotic imagination and therefore what’s possible,” says Dr. Fleming, working with a sex therapist to harness that state of mind is worth all folks' time.

Is sex therapy just for couples?

According to relationship and sex therapist Rachel Wright, LMFT, sex therapy can be just as beneficial for individuals as it can for couples. “Sex therapists work with individuals, couples, triads, quads, and groups,” she says, caveating that it's the individuals who put in the most dedicated work with a sex therapist who benefit most. “Understanding your libido and your sexuality is a part of understanding yourself, which is a big piece of any form of psychotherapy.”

Furthermore, seeking sex therapy after a relationship or while single in general can also be particularly helpful. “It can be liberating to address sexual concerns on one's own, which can often positively affect how that person engages in dating and early relationship-building,” Sharky says.

And in fact, for some, sex therapy may be a more honest, open, and vulnerable experience when done without the participation or gaze of another person. Basically, it can help you be your best, most authentic you, which lends itself to relationship health and general health alike.

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