10 questions to ask yourself to help you work out if you Need sex & relationship therapy
Let’s start by saying, not everyone needs sex and relationship therapy. If you’re happy with your sex life and your relationship(s), celebrate and enjoy them!
Whether or not you need sex therapy is a personal decision, and there’s no single answer that fits everyone. However, here are some questions to consider that might help you gauge your own situation.
This article is the first of two articles about whether or not you need sex and relationship therapy. This article offers you the first 5 questions which relate more to sex therapy. The next article contains the second 5 questions, which focus more on relationship therapy.
1. Am I experiencing any sexual concerns or challenges that are causing distress or impacting my quality of life?
The most obvious example of this is if you are experiencing pain in your genitals during or after sex. It can also include things like low libido, difficulty achieving orgasm (anorgasmia, delayed ejaculation), or difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction).
A secondary factor to consider is if any of these issues then prevent you from initiating intimacy with your partner(s).
Although I can’t know the specific details of your personal situation, all of these are issues can be treated with sex therapy. You can read more about the sexual problems I work with here.
2. Do I have negative thoughts or feelings about my body that affect my sexual confidence or enjoyment?
In today’s society, all bodies are policed by impossible expectations. This often translates into feeling self-conscious with our clothes off, especially in vulnerable situations, such as being physically intimate with others.
If you have body image concerns or have negative feelings about your body, this can impact your sexual self-esteem and confidence.
Let me take this opportunity to tell you that whatever size or shape you are, you absolutely deserve to enjoy intimacy, to take pleasure in your body, and to feel confident with your partner(s). We can work on this together. You may find other professional support around body image and self-esteem, such a hypnotherapy or coaching, also work really well.
3. Have I experienced sexual trauma that I still haven't fully processed or that continues to negatively impact me?
Sexual assault and violence are far more prevalent that we like to admit. With an estimate 63% of these incidents never even reported, that’s a lot of people with a lot of pain, hurt, and sexual trauma.
On top of that, this study shows women who have survived sexual violence are four times more likely to struggle with their mental health, especially depression and PTSD.
If this has been your experience, please know you are so much more than just a government statistic and that you deserve to have a safe space to work through your experiences. You deserve help to process and heal what happened to you. If you’ve never told anyone, a sex therapist is a really good place to start. We are trained to offer empathy and understanding, and to support you through your healing process and to develop healthy coping mechanisms.
4. Am I questioning my sexual identity or attraction and seeking support or guidance?
Personally, I am delighted that more and more people are feeling safe and comfortable enough to come out as queer, non-monogamous, and kinky. There is a growing queer population in the UK, with 4% of Londoners identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
However, it can be challenging to work out who we are, who we are attracted to and how to navigate this unfolding, internally and externally. Your unique journey may involve processing feelings of confusion, shame, or uncertainty, or internalised homophobia. You may be seeking support for coming out, or transitioning, to yourself, your family, or at work.
For some people, sex therapy helps give them the confidence to speak aloud what they really want in a relationship without shame or restraint. For some clients, I’m the first person they’ve ever told, and, as they do, the shame slips off them like a heavy overcoat from their shoulders.
5. Do I know how to communicate openly and honestly about my sexual needs and desires?
As well as helping you work out what you actually want, a sex therapist can help you learn to communicate more openly and honestly about your sexual needs and desires.
This can feel like learning a new language and can range from somatic exercises to help you listen your body, to practicing specific phrases and techniques around consent and boundaries. Clearly, this is where we move towards the relationship therapy side of things.
Talking about our sexual needs and desires tends to be especially difficult for those who are a sexual minority, such as queer and neurodivergent people, and those with a history of sexual trauma. Knowing what you want and asking for it can feel almost impossible. Consequently, a lot of my clients work on addressing this question so they can feel more at home in their sexual identity and gain confidence in getting their needs met.
Wait a second - what actually is sex and relationship therapy?
I’m so glad you asked! Put simply, sex and relationship therapy is a form of talk psychotherapy that helps individuals and those in relationships address concerns related to their sex lives and relationships.
Sex therapy is not just for people with “problems.” Anyone can benefit from seeking guidance and support to enhance their sexual satisfaction and connection
Also, your sex therapist can also support you liaising with other healthcare professionals, such as GPs, sexual health clinics, and psychiatrists. For example, this can include issues such as medication, from Viagra to anti-depressants and Prep. A sex therapist with a sexual medicine background might also recommend specific hormone level checks or other useful medical interventions.
It’s also worth remembering that most of us sex therapists have specialisations. I encourage you to take the time to seek out someone who really feels like a good fit for you and your issues. For example, I specialise in working with queer and neurodivergent folks and supporting them to have non-traditional relationships. I have colleagues who specifically focus on working with bickering couples, Christian marriages, poly kinksters, and sex offenders. There is definitely at least one sex therapist out there who is right for you!
So where do I go for help?
Let me start by congratulating you on being brave enough to look for help and support. That’s a big, and often quite scary, step. Obviously, Google is your friend. Please do make sure you do your due diligence when finding any professional help, just as you would with an accountant or lawyer.
If you’re wondering how to choose a sex therapist, then this article is a step by step process to help you work out who is likely to be a good fit for you. If you’re worried they won’t get you, this article should help.
And if you’d like to book a free initial consultation with me, please do. All of who you are is most warmly welcome.