So you and your partner have decided to seek out a sex therapist for help with your relationship and sex life. But where do you start?
First, make sure sex therapy is right for you. Generally, therapy is recommended when both partners want to get help and when their sexual problem is several months old (or older) and caused by psychological factors not related to overall relationship problems.
The first step is finding a good therapist. For that, log on to the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists Web site at www.aasect.org. This nonprofit professional organization is the premier organization for certifying sexual health practitioners. It requires that practitioners have met advanced education and experience criteria in the area of sex therapy. The organization's Web site enables you to search for a certified therapist in your area. Most states will also require that the therapist be licensed to practice.
It is important that you find a therapist both of you can trust. Ask to meet the therapist for a "get acquainted" visit before committing to the relationship. If you or your partner feels uncomfortable, keep looking.
A major focus of sex therapy is the relationship itself, particularly communication about sex between you and your partner. Therapists also focus on any and all sexual issues affecting the two of you, from painful sex to problems experiencing orgasm to desire issues. So, make sure you are both completely honest with the therapist about your concerns.
Expect homework. This may be practicing new ways of communicating or new ways of touching each other before, instead of or during sexual encounters. Overall, you may need between eight and 20 weekly sessions with your therapist to see benefits. The cost of therapy is similar to that of other psychotherapists in your area and may be covered by your health insurance.
You don't have to worry, however, that your sexual therapist will touch you or make you physically uncomfortable. That is not allowed under the profession's code of ethics.
Overall, sex therapy works best if you are both motivated, do your homework, are still attracted to one another and have a generally good relationship.