We live in a society peppered with myths, misunderstandings and much misinformation about sex.
Many people are left feeling that their personal sexual experiences fall short of the sexually-liberated, anything-goes, multi-orgasmic society portrayed in glossy magazines, newspapers and television.
The reality, then, for many people is somewhat different! Sex for them may be boring or unfulfilling - a far cry from the way it is portayed in pornographic movies, on the internet or during bragging sessions down the pub!
For some it could even be fraught with anxiety, pain, worry and fear and sexual connection could even be avoided altogether, thus putting huge strain on any relationship.
Suffering from one or more sexual dysfunctions is one of the most devastating experiences that a person can encounter. It can sap away at self-confidence and cause intense stress and worry.
But many couples or individuals with sexual problems have found psychosexual therapy has delivered a successful outcome.
Sex therapy is on offer from trained professionals who have studied the physical and psychological aspects of human sexual functioning. Many clients are self-referred while others are sent by their by GP.
Many people find at some time in their lives that their sex life is failing to live up to expectations, or it has become rather formulaic and predictable, and there can be many reasons for this. Where it becomes a problem is when an imbalance occurs between partners over the expectation of what a good sex life should be and how frequently sex should occur.
For some couples sexual intercourse, or other forms of mutual stimulation, is irregular, or even rare. But this is not necessarily a problem because it might suit both parties.
It does become a point of tension however if the frequency rate diminishes and one partner is unhappy with the situation but the other is not. Some couples experience a gradual decline in sexual activity and the reason cannot easily be pinpointed.
For others a time period when sexual fulfilment faded is easier to identify but there may be a 'hidden agenda' that manifests as a sexual problem and that's where Psychodynamic insights can help - to try and bring painful or anxiety-laden issues to conscious awareness in order to help facilitate change.
Some sexual difficulties can be physical in origin, through illness, disability or the effects of medication while others may be psychologically based and connected to past negative experiences.
Hidden anger and resentment between a couple can often play out as lack of sexual desire and sex can be used as a way of 'punishing' a partner, by creating distance through withdrawal.
Most sexual problems are made up of a combination of factors and often there is more than one sexual dysfunction present so it can be complex trying to unravel cause from effect or vice versa.
Sex therapy can help you to overcome embarrassment and communicate with your partner more openly and frankly about your sexual desires and needs. It enables you to explore and understand the reasons behind problems, and look at ways of resolving them, either as a couple or as an individual.
The therapist devotes sufficient time to put clients at ease and discuss at length with them the nature of any sexual difficulty and the context in which it occurs.
Once a thorough assessment has been made, a treatment plan will be specifically designed for the sexual problem(s) presented. Tasks are set by the therapist to be carried out at home. This helps to diminish performance anxiety and encourage more positive communication between the couple.
Levels of expectation of both intimacy and sexual performance need time to be realised. It is these personal aspects of sexual behaviour which must addressed in any treatment programme to honour and respect the uniqueness of the individual persons and the uniqueness of their relationship.
Psychosexual therapy is offered for a range of dysfunctions including:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Premature ejaculation
- Difficulty achieving orgasm
- Loss of desire for males and females
- Painful intercourse
- Sexual addiction
- Retarded ejaculation
- Anxiety and inability to relax
PSYCHOSEXUAL THERAPY Frequently Asked Questions
Who is psychosexual therapy for?
Anyone who is distressed by a sexual problem that they, or their partner, are experiencing. If the sexual problem is impacting on the quality of your relationship then seeing a specialist who can help you to overcome the difficulty could prove extremely helpful and beneficial.
How long does psychosexual therapy take?
Sexual performance, anxieties and attitudes can be a complex area. I usually offer a six-week programme to evaluate progress and discuss with clients if improvements are being noticed. Ongoing sessions can then be negotiated. I frequently review progress with you and work with you to achieve your goal. Ultimately you decide how long you want counselling for.
What counselling style is used in sex therapy?
Sex therapy tackles a number of presenting problems using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques (CBT), usually via the setting of homework tasks for three hours a week or more but also relies on Psychodynamic insights in order to help a couple bring issues to conscious awareness.
CLICK HERE for further information from the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT)