Curious about sex therapy? This is what it implies

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If you’ve never had sex therapy, you can trust the way it’s portrayed in movies and on TV to get a taste.

“A lot of people I’ve worked with recently said they didn’t even realize sex therapy was a thing until they saw Sex Education on Netflix,” says Kassandra Mourikis, Melbourne sex therapist. .

The Australian Society of Sex Educators, Researchers and Therapists NSW (ASSERT NSW) defines sex therapy as a “specialized form of professional counseling that focuses on the sexual concerns, sexual functioning and sexual expression of human beings”.

It is important to remove the mystery surrounding the process, as it can help with all kinds of issues, including desire, erectile dysfunction, and sexual pain.

I spoke with a few sex therapists to find out what it really is.

How to choose the right sex therapist?

Sex therapy is a self-regulating industry. This means that untrained and inexperienced people can call themselves sex therapists.

For example, a qualified counselor may decide to work in sexology based on books they have read.

Or someone without qualifications could take a six-week course and call themselves a sex therapist.

Or, they could take an academic approach by completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in sexology, for example.

Regulatory bodies like ASSERT NSW and the Society of Australian Sexologists Ltd (SAS) impose a certain standard on sex therapists.

SAS, for example, has developed guidelines for the accreditation of sex therapists who work as psychotherapists, sex therapists, sex educators, and sex therapists.

SAS National President Lisa Torney says you can check out her list of accredited sex therapists, but there are also many knowledgeable and experienced sex therapists who are not accredited.

She recommends having a phone conversation with a potential therapist to see if it’s right for her.

Ms Mourikis suggests asking questions about their specialty and getting a glimpse of how they might help you before committing to a session.

What do you talk to a sex therapist about?

Sex therapy can help with sex education, sexual trauma, intimacy issues, physical difficulties, relationship issues, high craving or desire, sexual pain, and more.

Often, a sex therapist will specialize in one or more areas.

One area Ms. Mourikis focuses on is helping clients with sexual, genital and pelvic pain.

“Then it has to do with communicating with your partner and relationship conflict… and creating pain management plans,” she says.

“I also work with [people on] focus on pleasure or understand why [they] find it really difficult to take time for pleasure or to experience pleasure in their body and it sometimes boils down to trauma work, debunking cultural myths, undoing body image and self esteem self.”

Brisbane and Gold Coast-based sex therapist Dr Armin Ariana sees male clients more often and specializes in erection difficulties, premature or delayed ejaculation and relationships.

He says that while opening up about sex can be difficult, information shared with a sex therapist is confidential.

“The first lesson we learn is not to be judgmental and to treat people unconditionally,” he says.

Will a sex therapist watch me have sex?

I wasn’t sure we should go, but it was something that Ms. Mourikis was asked to do!

No, you will not have sex or be observed having sex during a therapy session.

Are there any accessories involved?

In Sex Education, there are a few dildos lying around in Dr. Jean Milburn’s office, played by Gillian Anderson.

“Some sex therapists may show you sex toys or models of genitals,” says Mourkis.

“They can have different types of lubricants that you can look at.

“On video chat, they tend to show role models. “

Can I see a sex therapist only in person?

While you may prefer to see a sex therapist in person, many offer both phone and virtual sessions.

For Ms. Mourikis, this method of therapy developed during social distancing and she says many clients have enjoyed it.

“A lot of people mentioned that it helped them do more in-depth work and explore things a little more difficult.”

It is also more accessible for people with disabilities or who live in rural areas, for example.

However, Dr Ariana says some people have privacy concerns about virtual meetings, or find it easier to reflect with someone physically in the room.

Can several people attend a session?

Close-up of couple holding hands
Usually, individuals or couples attend a sex therapy session.(Pexels: Sơn Bờm)

The number of people who can attend a sex therapy session will depend on you and the therapist, but usually they see individuals or couples.

“I am ready to work with a polyamorous trio”, explains Ms. Mourikis by way of example.

How long does a session last?

The average session is 50 minutes, which is actually an hour for the therapist. They will spend 50 minutes with you and 10 minutes to take notes afterwards.

Some therapy sessions can vary between 45 and 90 minutes.

How much will it cost?

Therapists typically charge between $ 90 and $ 250 or more, depending on the length of the session, their level of expertise, their location (rent costs), and other factors.

“A clinical psychologist who might specialize in sexology may qualify for Medicare reimbursement,” says Dr. Ariana.

Do you have homework?

Ms. Mourikis can assign exercises such as quizzes or reading tasks.

“Sometimes it can be a sex menu with various activities to try with your partner and find out what you like.”

Dr. Ariana could attribute the “six second kiss” or the massage techniques.

“I give them homework on how to interact, which involves physical activity,” he says.

“Other times, I might give them meditation and mindfulness tasks.”

If you’re still nervous about trying sex therapy, Ms. Torney says therapists work hard to create a relaxed and comfortable environment to meet your needs.

“People think it’s going to be awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassing – it’s not.

“Sex therapists are very comfortable talking about sex.”

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