If you’re considering seeing a sex therapist, we get that there can be a lot of unknowns and even myths in this space.

To help you feel more equipped, we asked our sex therapist, Lauren Bradley, to answer some of the most common questions people have about sex therapy.

1. What is sex therapy?

Sex therapy is a specialised form of counselling where the focus is to improve your sex life, address any sexual difficulties or to allow you to explore your sexual needs. Like psychology and counselling, it’s a talk-based therapy.

2. What should I expect during my first session with a sex therapist?

In the first session, we will review your sexual health history and your mental health history, identify your goals and discuss anything additional that may be relevant to your goals. You can share as much or as little as you are comfortable in the first session. We know it can be daunting speaking about sex – but remember there’s nothing we haven’t heard before.

3. How long does sex therapy typically last?

Typically, couples, groups or individuals will attend sex therapy for 6-8 sessions to work toward a particular goal. Depending on how many goals you have and how satisfied you are with your progress, you are welcome to attend for as long as you need support, even returning for a refresher after a therapeutic break.

4. What qualifications and certifications should I look for in a sex therapist?

A sex therapist should be registered as a counsellor, psychologist, mental health social worker, or mental health nurse – and they should have a Masters degree specialising in the field. Some sex therapists are psychologists with specialist training through a registered training provider.

5. How does a sex therapist differ from a sexologist?

The two terms are used quite interchangeably by practitioners – though often a sex therapist will have the registration to provide counselling and psychological services and a sexologist may not.

6. What types of issues can a sex therapist help with?

A sex therapist can help with:

  • Sparking your sex life
  • Exploring your sexual orientation or gender
  • Coming out to yourself, family and partner
  • Adjusting to new sexual needs of your partner
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Sex education
  • Performance anxiety
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Improving sexual confidence and pleasure
  • Vaginismus
  • Painful sex
  • Dyspareunia
  • Anorgasmia and the inability to orgasm
  • Sex after trauma
  • Sex after cancer
  • Sex after childbirth
  • Sex after menopause
  • Porn addiction
  • Sex addiction
  • STIs and HIV
  • … and anything else sexual you wish to raise.

7. Will I have to talk about intimate details of my sex life with the therapist?

We will support you to feel as comfortable as we can through the process, but we acknowledge it can be a bit scary to speak about sex. It does help for us to know about your intimate history, but you are welcome to share when you are ready at your own pace. If you’ve experienced sexual trauma, we will never ask you to disclose the details of your trauma as we know this can be re-traumatising, unless you wish to share and find value in doing so.

8. Can sex therapy help with problems such as low libido, erectile dysfunction, or premature ejaculation? Can sex therapy help with sexual addiction?

Many clients attend couple counselling for mismatched libido – this is a common scenario that we explore in sex therapy. Clients who are penis owners may also present with erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, and we can support improvement in erectile capacity. We can support clients who are struggling with sex addiction and sexual behaviours that are interfering with their daily living.

9. Will my therapist judge me for my sexual preferences or behaviours? Can sex therapy help with exploring sexuality?

All sexualities, orientations, genders are welcome here. We understand that sex is very personal and, as such, there is a lot of variance in what people desire and need. We will support all legal and consensual sexual activities and behaviours.

If you’re at a point of uncertainty or curiosity about your sex life, we can provide a safe space for you to explore your needs and desires.

10. What can I do to prepare for my sex therapy sessions?

Spend some time thinking about your sexual past and your goals for therapy. If you’re nervous before your first session, spend some time doing some breathing/grounding – and tell your therapist you’re nervous so that they can support you with this.

11. How effective is sex therapy in improving sexual satisfaction and overall relationship satisfaction?

We know from the research of Gottman and Gottman that couples who talk about sex have better sex lives. Our goal is to support you to be able to speak about sex in session and continue to do so once the sessions are over.

12. Can sex therapy help with trauma?

Sexual trauma can significantly impact wellbeing and your sexual relationship with yourself and others. We can support survivors of sexual trauma to re-connect with their sexual selves.

13. What are some of the common myths and misunderstandings about sex therapy?

A sex therapist will not ask you to demonstrate any sexual behaviour, touch you in a sexual way or ask you to provide any videos or photos.

14. What do you wish more people knew about sex therapy?

It can actually be really fun to dedicate some time to exploring your own sexuality.

15. How do you know if you need to see a sex therapist or a couples counsellor?

If you’re struggling to feel sexually satisfied within your relationship, are struggling with sexual difficulties, or simply want to increase your sexual pleasure – then it could be time to explore sex therapy.

16. What are some books, blogs, podcasts or websites that people can visit if they want to look into sex therapy more?

Books – Emily Nagoski – Come as you are
Podcast – Cindy Darnell – The erotic philosopher
Podcast – Triple J The Hook Up – You can submit questions for response

If you’d like to make a booking to see our sex therapist, Lauren Bradley, please get in touch with our friendly Support Team by calling (03) 9376 1958 or emailing info@innermelbpsychology.com.au.

You may also wish to explore how we support with couples counselling.