PART 1 OF MY SEX THERAPY SERIES - AIMED AT ANSWERING ALL YOUR BIGGEST QUESTIONS ABOUT SEX THERAPY
You are realising you’ve got a problem. An intimate one. Maybe you have always known (or know for a long time at least). Maybe you were wishing the problem would just go away or miraculously get better without you doing a lot or anything at all. Hey – this could happen.
Just in my experience with sexual problems, they usually don’t go away with no action or intervention. Something or someone needs to intercept.
There are so many instances that warrant seeing a sex therapist so I’ll stick to the most common ones.
But before I do, you may have tried a few other options and this makes sense. You may have tried these options…
It’s very possible that there will be a piece of information somewhere that will tell you what is happening and what you can do about it. But if you are finding that you aren’t getting the answers that you need or that are most helpful, don’t be surprised. There is only so much that can be shared in a blog or a piece of free content and that is especially true for sex. It is so individual that we can’t speak to everyone’s unique concerns.
When searching for free answers, beware looking for the answer you want rather than what it is you need to hear or learn. It’s a natural desire to keep you where you are at rather than edging to where you need to be.
These are the hard questions: Do you actually want this problem to go away? Do you actually want to be able to deal with it rather than sweep it under the rug?
I love me a good sex book! They have the power to change so much. I should know, I wrote one – it’s called Permission and it’s here if you haven’t seen it yet. What I love about books is they start to open doors and help you to get more comfortable thinking about sex as a topic. Books should also be very human in style and be understanding that this can be an awkward, challenging and even traumatic topic. Books are good when you do the exercises but can I ask – are you motivated to do the exercises without accountability? Because I’m not especially motivated haha!!
There are SO many courses out there. Oodles of them. They should expand on books and provide demonstrations. But it’s a bit like the books – are you going to do those activities and home exercises? Are you going to watch the videos and write in your journal and answer the hard questions? Courses are great for reaching people in rural areas but are not so great at accountability unless this is incorporated into the course.
If you have tried all, one or none of these things, it still may be time for you to see a sex therapist. And that’s OK. That’s natural. The other attempts didn’t fail you, it’s just that they didn’t give you exactly what you need right now.
When do you need to see a sex therapist?
When you’re a person who identifies as a woman, you’ll probably need a sex therapist when:
+Intercourse is problematic, painful or insertion isn’t possible due to a tight pelvic floor or other source of pain. A pelvic floor physiotherapist can help with the physical side in that they can undertake an examination and give you feedback about how tight your pelvic floor is and what relaxation exercises can assist – where a sex therapist is a helpful ally is with the mindset part of opening up.
I can only speak for the way that I work but I really help with navigating your mind to have it working with your body when attempting penetration. Usually, there is a dilator system involved to for practice and to gradually expose you to other forms of penetration. The ways that I teach my clients to come into their body when doing this on their own has been particularly helpful for seeing significant changes and more receptivity to sex.
+You have completely shutdown in sex and intimacy. Shutdown means that you have closed yourself off from your partner and are in a form of self-protection. What this says to me is that intimacy isn’t safe so you don’t go there. High levels of anxiety about sex and other types of touch and avoidance are key signs that shutdown is imminent.
A sex therapist can intervene with shutdown by helping you to bring yourself down in your body and source a sense of safety. It usually involves finding another way in with touch and propositioning sex that you are more comfortable with. Communication skills will inevitably come into this part of the process.
+The sexual intimacy in the relationship needs attention and TLC. Maybe juggling lots of things, being a mama, an employee, a carer, a committee member and a million other things have sapped you of energy needed for sex and affection. Maybe over time there has been a breakdown in the ways that you two relate to each other and this isn’t helping you to feel all that interested in sex.
+You say ‘I’m just not a sexual person/woman’. Woah! Statistically, that statement probably isn’t true, unless you identify as asexual. If you are repeating these words to yourself again and again and again then you are probably going to encounter blocks in your sex life because the blood doesn’t want to flow into your beautiful genitals if it doesn’t believe that there is any point in doing so. Your mind is a bit part of what happens in sex – it isn’t everything but it has a lot of weight and if you need help in that department, I’m definitely your sex therapist.
+You are struggling to feel arousal and may never have had an orgasm. I never tell clients what they should and shouldn’t feel because there aren’t any rules in sex. But if it bothers you that you aren’t feeling a lot of arousal, are struggling to get into sex and have never orgasmed but would like to then working with a sex therapist will get you a lot closer to orgasmic sensation. This is a big part of our work after all. A side note – this is more likely to have fruitful outcomes when you try and make attempts on your own and then bring those learnings in with a partner. They are also more likely to be successful when you are in a safe and supportive relationship.
In fact, a good time to explore this one is when you aren’t in a relationship and are considering dating again – you have plenty of space and no pressure. It also makes learning have meaning just for you and not someone else.
There are lots of other reasons why clients come to me – they don’t “get” sex in that they don’t connect to it or understand it, they feel like their libido is low and their partners is high (read this blog here if you need some help with that one) and they generally feel frustrated! Sex isn’t working and they need an intervention. There are tears about sex, arguments, disconnection, silent treatments… I’ve heard it all and I get it.
If you have chosen monogamy, sexual intimacy is the one thing that sets your intimate relationship apart from other ones in your life. We can get a lot of the other forms of intimacy elsewhere but the sexual kind is unique between you and them. And if you love ‘em and want to stay with them, I want to help you foster that.
If you’re a woman and it feels like it’s time for you to see a sex therapist then I’m here for you. I currently have space to have a free private discussion with you. Simply head to the sessions page and request your preferred time. Speak soon.