Sex Therapy: What You Should Know

Sex therapy is a psychotherapy (Talk Therapy) is designed to help couples and/or individuals identify and address issues they may have with their sexual health, such as sexual orientation, gender identity, relationships, intimacy, sexual function, pleasure, etc.

Sexual dysfunction is an umbrella term that refers to any problems that arise during sexual activity, including struggles with arousal, erection, the ability to orgasm, or enjoyment of sex itself. Sexual dysfunction is common and has many physical and psychological causes. Sex therapy is one of the main methods of treating sexual dysfunction.

Read on to learn more about sex therapy, including what issues it may help with, what to expect during therapy, how to choose a therapist, and more.

Learn about sex therapy

Sex therapy is a type of talk therapy where couples or individuals can discuss their sexual health concerns with a mental health professional, such as a sex therapist, marriage and family counselor, social worker, psychologist, or health care provider.

Sex therapy practitioners aim to help their clients identify and treat the issues they face related to sexual health and dysfunction. Contemporary therapy tends to emphasize several directions:

  • Mindfulness (being aware of your thoughts, feelings, feelings, and emotions)
  • Psychotherapy (using talk therapy instead of just medication)
  • Inclusion (adjusting sex therapy to be more inclusive of different sexualities)
  • Couple-centric (focusing on the role of the partner, not just the individual)
  • Attitude change (change one’s view of sex)
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When is Sexual Therapy Recommended?

Progressive treatment is recommended for a number of reasons, including:

  • relationship communication problems
  • sexual performance anxiety
  • erectile dysfunction (Education Department)
  • shame and anxiety
  • sexual expression
  • Difficulty experiencing happiness
  • painful sex
  • sexual trauma
  • low libido (sex drive)
  • negative body image
  • trust after cheating

Does sex therapy work?

Sex therapy is a very effective way to help with sexual health problems. That said, for sex therapy to be effective, you need to be willing to be open and honest with your therapist about what’s going on.

This can be uncomfortable for a variety of emotional, social, religious or cultural reasons. Pushing yourself through this embarrassment and being clear with your therapist about your sexual difficulties will ensure you get the most out of your sex therapy.

If you are having trouble working with your sex therapist, or feel uncomfortable despite your efforts to discuss the discomfort with them, you may not be compatible with that particular sex therapist.

Since research shows that the therapist-patient relationship is critical to the effectiveness of treatment, don’t be afraid to expand to other health care providers until you find the one that works best for you.

selective therapist

Given that sex therapy is intimate and personal, finding the right therapist is an integral part of its effectiveness. You may have to “shop around” until you find someone you feel safe enough to share publicly.

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Tips for choosing the right sex therapist for you include:

  • View their credentials
  • Visit their website and social media accounts
  • Make sure they have the correct background (ie gender affirmation)
  • Make sure the therapist buys insurance for you

What to Expect During Sex Therapy

Because everyone participates in sex therapy for different reasons, each sex session looks different. That said, there are some basics to expect:

  • General Assessment of Sexual Behavior
  • Set goals for what you want to accomplish by participating in sex therapy
  • Discussions about your sexual experiences, beliefs, etc.


Sex therapy is an evidence-based therapeutic intervention for those struggling with sexual dysfunction. It’s a couple’s and personal choice. It’s important to be open and honest during sex therapy in order to get the most effective results from your therapy.

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Your sexual health is critical to your physical and mental health. In fact, sex has many well-documented benefits, such as better sleep, a healthier heart, a stronger immune system, and more.

Having a healthy sex life also involves your feelings and beliefs about sex. Sex is a very human need, but it can still create taboos in individuals and societies. This can lead to sexual shame and anxiety, preventing people from enjoying sex or avoiding it entirely.

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Sex therapy can help you and/or your partner address any issues you may have so that you can have the sex and relationship you want. Most importantly, know that many people struggle with sexual dysfunction to varying degrees. You are not alone, there is help.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is sex therapy covered by insurance?

    Some health insurance plans will cover sex therapy, but not all, and sex therapists may not accept all forms of health insurance. Be sure to contact your insurance provider and sex therapist before scheduling an appointment to confirm coverage. If you’re not covered by insurance, ask your sex therapist if they have a sliding scale, which can help keep costs down.

  • Will sex therapy help improve my bond with my partner?

    One of the goals you can set with a sex therapist is to improve your ability to bond and intimacy with your partner. That said, the effectiveness of sex therapy depends on your willingness to be honest. If you or your partner are uncomfortable with your sex therapist, this may be a sign that it’s time to try looking for a different therapist.