Sex Therapy

Sex therapy is based upon the foundational assumption that sex is good and a healthy part of life for human beings. Sex is also a very important aspect of a relationship with a spouse or partner. It has the potential to be a fulfilling and fun part of a relationship, but it can also be extremely challenging and the source of tremendous frustration and conflict. Many couples site sex as one of the top sources of conflict in their relationship, yet because of the sensitive nature of the subject, fail to address the issues or get help.

We recognize that going to a professional for sex therapy can be very intimidating, so we want to ease some of that burden by spelling out for you exactly what you should expect from sex therapy.

First of all, you can expect to talk candidly about sex. The issues and problems cannot be addressed if you talk in coded or vague language. We realize this might be an awkward topic to talk about, perhaps even with your spouse/partner. Your therapist is trained to remain very professional and help you talk openly about your sexuality. 

Your therapist might suggest books or other materials that will help you acquire knowledge about the issues and challenges you are facing in your sex life. They may also suggest “homework assignments” for you to try that will help develop the skills you discuss with your therapist in session. However, you will not be required to read or practice anything that you are not comfortable with. You may decline the suggestions of your therapist at any time and they will not be offended. Every task or assignment should clearly fit with the goals of your treatment plan, which you and your therapist will discuss and revisit throughout your therapy.

You should also expect to have some of your assumptions, patterns, and behaviors challenged. After all, you are coming to therapy because there is something you want to change for the better. While you will never be forced to do anything, your therapist might challenge you to try or consider things you may have never considered before.

You will NEVER be asked to perform sexually in front of your therapist. This is unethical and if you are ever asked to do something with your therapist or in session, leave immediately and report this incident to your local authorities. They may, however, ask about sexual experiences and you are encouraged to be as open as you are comfortable.

Finally, you should expect to be treated as an individual. You should expect that your counselor will listen to you and/or your spouse/partner and to remain neutral. They will not take sides or place blame.

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (commonly referred to as simply ED) is very common, affecting millions of men in the U.S. alone. Yet only a small percentage of men ever receive treatment because of the personal and embarrassing nature of this issue.

ED should always be evaluated by a physician before sex therapy, because there may be an underlying medical condition that needs to be treated. Some of the physical problems that can increase the risk of ED include:

  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • heart problems
  • hormonal imbalance
  • drug and alcohol use
  • prostate problems
  • certain medications also can cause ED as a side effect

ED can also be caused by certain psychological issues and can be treated through sex therapy. Some of these issues include:

  • performance anxiety
  • depression
  • traumatic early sexual experiences
  • faulty religious beliefs about sex
  • low self-esteem
  • other relationship issues
  • fear of getting your spouse/partner pregnant

If ED is prohibiting you from having a healthy and fulfilling sex life, please consider making an appointment with a sex therapist who can help you.

Lack of Sexual Desire

Do you and your partner disagree about how often to have sex? Do you have trouble remembering the last time you were sexually intimate? Are you frustrated that you always seem to busy, tired, or uninterested in having sex? Do you and your spouse/partner frequently feel hurt, anger, or frustrated about the lack of sex in your relationship?

If so, you may be experiencing Inhibited Sexual Desire (ISD).
Inhibited sexual desire is one of the most common complaints of couples seeking sex therapy. ISD refers to the lack of sexual response or desire and a low rate of sexual activity.

Both men and women are affected by inhibited sexual desire, which can become the source of emotional distress and relational conflict. This is especially true when one spouse is much less interested in sex than the other.

ISD affects millions of Americans and can be caused by a variety of differing underlying issues including:

  • Depression
  • Performance anxiety
  • Faulty religious beliefs about sex
  • Past sexual trauma (rape, abuse)
  • Low self-esteem/body image issues
  • Physical exhaustion
  • Fear of pregnancy
  • Fear of rejection
  • Other relationship issues

A spouse with ISD may continue to have sex with their partner, but often only out of marital duty. There is little satisfaction or pleasure in sex. The most extreme case of ISD is sexual aversion, which is characterized by a person finding sex repulsive or distasteful. Sexual aversion occurs most often in instances where there has been past sexual trauma.

If the above description is characteristic of what you are experiencing, please know that you are not alone. This is a very common sexual issue that can be helped with sex therapy. Please contact Waterstone Counseling today to schedule an appointment with a therapist.

Sexual Trauma

According to some research approximately one in three women and one in seven men was the victim of sexual abuse as a child. This number may be higher as many instances are never reported. Victims of sexual abuse, incest, molestation, rape, or other sexual trauma may experience a variety of different sexual problems later in life, such as: inability to reach orgasm, lack of interest in sex, erectile dysfunction (ED), vaginismus (contractions of the vagina that prevent penetration), and fear of intimacy or sexual contact.

Sexual abuse lacks the conditions for a positive sexual experience - consent, respect, trust and safety. Instead, sex becomes associated with feelings of lack of control, violation, fear and mistrust. During sexual activity the survivor of sexual abuse may have "flashbacks," sudden images of the sounds, sights and feelings that are reminders of the sexual trauma. These reminders can interrupt the positive and pleasurable feelings of sexual intimacy with a trusted partner. Even when there are no vivid memories of the abuse, the survivor of abuse may have emotions and reactions during sex that cannot be explained or controlled.

The partner of an abuse victim will often become confused, thinking they are doing something wrong or that they are not desirable when in reality their partner’s reaction has nothing to do with them. The victim of sexual trauma can discover healing and move on from these past events to have a healthy sex life. However, this can be a painful and confusing journey that is best undertaken with the guidance and support of a trained professional counselor. Please contact us today to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists.

 Sexual Addiction

A sexual addiction occurs when sexual experiences become the central focus of a person’s life and they begin to neglect important relationships and commitments. The main issue of sex addiction is not the need for more sex, rather, it is to control and avoid pain. This is similar to how an alcoholic or drug addict uses alcohol or drugs to avoid their pain. Sex addiction is a person's solution to pain, past trauma, and anxiety.

Counseling addresses the root cause of sex addiction, which is often unresolved pain and trauma from the past. Many times this emotional pain must be addressed as part of the process of gaining freedom from sex addiction. The sex addict will use sex as a distraction or means to escape the pain and anxiety. Our counselors can help you learn how to cope with life and relationships without engaging in unhealthy and risky sexual behaviors.

Sexual addiction takes many forms, and may include one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Pornography use
  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Unsafe and risky sex
  • Multiple partners
  • Anonymous sex
  • Prostitution and escort services
  • Voyeurism or exhibitionism
  • Cybersex and chat rooms
  • Sexual massage

Our therapists create a safe environment that is confidential and allows you to feel comfortable talking about your struggle with sexual addiction. If you desire help, Waterstone Counseling Center provides individual and group therapy specifically targeted at sex addiction. We also provide counseling and group support for spouses/partners of sex addicts.

Intimacy Skills

Many of the sexual problems that couples face are related to a lack of intimacy in the relationship. It has often been said that sex is like a barometer, indicating the overall health of a relationship. The problem many not be a lack of sex, but rather the lack of a healthy relationship. Sometimes trying to “fix” your sex life may merely be treating a symptom of a much larger issue.

Intimacy involves an emotional closeness, knowing the strengths and weakness of your partner, understanding their fears, hopes and dreams. It involves closeness and “knowing” that is that is richer than casual relationships. Intimacy occurs when there is enough trust and communication that you both share your innermost selves. It is the foundation for a successful marriage or partnership and also a solid foundation for a thriving sexual relationship as well.

Too many marriages today try to survive without emotional intimacy. Over time a marriage lacking intimacy will become empty, lifeless, and distant. Emotional intimacy is the glue that holds relationships together, yet it is challenging for many of us to experience and maintain. Our counselors at Waterstone Counseling Center can help you overcome the challenges that have prevented intimacy in your relationship. They can help you identify unhelpful patterns and behaviors and learn new skills which will help you build intimacy.

Lack of Orgasm

One common sexual struggle is the inability to achieve orgasm (primarily among women). This is a more common problem than you might think, affecting as many as 20% of all women. While there may be a variety of reasons for this issue, some of them are psychological and can be treated through seeing a sex therapist.

Treatment focuses on the emotional and situational factors that may be contributing to your inability to achieve orgasm. Your therapist can help you explore psychological issues and fears, such as: giving up control, guilt about sex or masturbation, shame of one's body, physical discomfort or pain during intercourse, history of abuse, relationship problems, lack of appropriate stimulation, and trust issues.

Many who struggle to achieve orgasm can be helped through therapy. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment and begin the journey toward a more fulfilling sex life.

 

Waterstone Counseling Center is a full-service family counseling practice that provides a wide range of services for individuals, couples, and families in Northwest Arkansas. » Contact us to learn more