What Does a Sex Therapist Do?

Question:

How would you describe the role of a sex therapist?

Answer:

A sex therapist can be a psychiatrist, a marriage and family therapist, a psychologist, or a clinical social worker. We are specially trained in sex therapy methods beyond the minimal amount of training about sexuality that is required for each of those licenses.

There are a few graduate schools in the U.S. that specialize in training for sex therapy. Some people assemble their training by rigorous self-study and by attendance at the major sexological organizations' annual conferences. We have about a dozen scientific journals dedicated solely to sexual research. There are about six major organizations that hold conferences and trainings.

So seeing a sex therapist is like going to a gynecologist for gynecological problems rather than to a family practice physician. Both have specialized particularly in that area. That isn't to say that one couldn't get good help from a non-sex therapist for a sexual issue, it's just that the likelihood might be a bit less.

Most sex therapists have a particular awareness of sexuality that rises above personal opinion or personal experiences. We usually have several choices of ways to treat a particular issue when someone presents it. We tailor our treatment to the person(s) before us. We are not a "bigger hammer" there to coerce a person who wants less sex into wanting more. There is a sexological method to treating sexual issues. With the exception of when separate sexual surrogate therapists are added (in a very small number of cases), sex therapy is completely talk therapy.