This article was originally published on Healing Moments Counseling.
If you’re struggling with sexual health or relationship issues, seeking the help of a sex therapist can be an excellent step towards improving your mental and sexual wellbeing. However, finding a competent sex therapist, can be a challenging task. Not only is talking about sex a personal topic, there is often shame, fear, and insecurity around sharing where we are struggling.
It’s not uncommon for penis owners to struggle with talking about ED because of the stigma or for vulva owners to feel like they are the only one who struggles with painful penetration (fyi, this is far from the truth). Luckily trained sex therapists have tools to be able to create a safe space to healthily talk about sex, intimacy, bodies, and eroticism.
Here’s a guide to help you navigate the process of finding a sex therapist that is a good fit for you.
1. Consider Specializations in Sex Therapy to Address Your Specific Needs
Sex therapy is a specialized form of therapy that requires specific training and expertise. It can be overwhelming to connect with a therapist only to learn they may not be the best trained person to support you. Consider the therapist’s area of specialization to ensure that they have experience in addressing the specific sexual health concern you are dealing with.
Sex therapy is a specialized area of therapy that focuses on addressing sexual concerns and issues. There are several different specializations within sex therapy, including:
Sex Therapy Specializations
- Sexual Dysfunction Therapy: Involves addressing issues related to sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, painful penetration, and difficulties with orgasm
- Couples Sex Therapy: Focuses on addressing sexual concerns within the context of a romantic relationship, including communication issues, erotic conflicts, differing libidos, and desire discrepancy.
- Nonmonogamy & Open Relationships: Focuses on helping partners build healthy, fulfilling relationships that are grounded in mutual trust, respect, and communication, regardless of the number of partners involved.
- Trauma-Informed Sex Therapy: Involves addressing sexual issues related to trauma, such as sexual abuse, assault, or other forms of sexual harm.
- Out of Control Sexual Behavior (Sexual Addiction): Focuses on addressing compulsive sexual behavior and helping individuals develop a healthier relationship with sex.
- LGBTQIA+ Sex Therapy: Focuses on addressing the unique concerns and challenges faced by individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning.
- Kink & BDSM therapy: Involves addressing and exploring pleasure and challenges faced by individuals who engage in kink or BDSM practices.
- Gender-Affirmative Sex Therapy: Involves supporting individuals who are questioning their gender identity, exploring gender transition, or seeking to affirm their gender identity through their sexuality.
- Fertility Therapy: Supporting relationships or individuals in challenges they are facing with fertility including the emotional side as well as connecting with medical professionals to address infertility issues.
- Sexual Education Therapy: Many of us did not receive healthy sexual education growing up. Sex therapist can answer questions as well as provide healthy and useful information on how to connect with yourself or your partner(s) in an erotic way.
- Sexual Health Concerns: Supports exploring sexual health including ways to safely protect oneself or partner(s) from Sexual Transmitted Disease (STD), how to talk about an STD in a healthy way and have a great sex life, sexual hygiene, and safe sexual practices.
- Religious Sexual Trauma: Supporting members of religious communities who experienced sexual shame or received harmful messages about their sexual self which interferes with sexual health today.
Above are just a few examples of the different specializations within sex therapy.
2. Seek Referrals for Sex Therapist
Ask for referrals from friends, family, or healthcare providers. Personal recommendations can be a great way to find a therapist that is a good fit for you. Also, ask your healthcare provider for a referral, especially if you have a specific sexual health concern that requires specialized care.
3. If Referrals are not Helpful, Google: “Sex Therapist in…”
Start your search by researching sex therapists in…. A simple Google search with the keywords “Sex therapist” can help you get started. Make sure to check the therapist’s credentials, experience, and areas of specialization. Some websites, such as Psychology Today, can provide an extensive list of therapists with their credentials and specializations.
4. Check for Accreditation and Credentials
When choosing a sex therapist, it’s important to check their accreditation and credentials. Accreditation from a recognized organization, such as the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), indicates that the therapist has met the rigorous standards for sex therapy training and has committed to ongoing education and training.
In addition to accreditation, check the therapist’s credentials, such as a Master’s degree or a Ph.D. in counseling or psychology. For example, look for a therapist who is licensed to practice in the state of Washington. You can search Washington licenses here.
5. Read Reviews
Online reviews can provide insight into other people’s experiences with a therapist. However, keep in mind that reviews should not be the only factor in your decision. Some people may not leave reviews, or their experiences may not be relevant to your unique situation.
6. Look for Communication Skills, Empathy, and Open-mindedness
When choosing a sex therapist, it’s important to find someone who can communicate effectively and listen actively. Look for a therapist who is empathetic, non-judgmental, and open-minded. They should be able to create a safe and comfortable environment where you can openly discuss your concerns and work towards your sexual health goals.
Confidentiality is a critical aspect of sex therapy. Ensure that the therapist follows ethical guidelines and takes measures to protect your privacy and confidentiality.
A good sex therapist should maintain a high level of professionalism. They should be punctual, respectful, and maintain appropriate boundaries. They should also be transparent about their fees, cancellation policies, and other important information.
9. Payment Options
Sex therapy can be expensive, and it’s essential to consider the therapist’s payment options. Look for a therapist who accepts your insurance or offers a sliding scale fee based on your income. Some therapists may also offer online therapy, which can be more affordable and convenient.
In conclusion, finding a competent sex therapist, can be challenging, but taking the time to research, seek referrals, and consider specializations, communication skills, empathy, open-mindedness, confidentiality, accreditation, credentials, reviews, professionalism, and payment options can help you find a therapist that is a good fit for your unique needs. Remember, seeking therapy is a brave and important step towards improving your sexual and mental health.