Why might you need therapy around sex and intimacy?
Sex and intimacy can be integral pieces of our relationships which impact the ways that we connect with partners. Unfortunately, there can be a lot of stigma surrounding talking about sex, especially when there is a concern in our intimate lives. These concerns are not limited to physical dysfunctions: many individuals and couples struggle with communication around sex and/or find difficulty in maintaining a healthy, pleasurable, and fulfilling sex life. It’s important not to overlook the impact that any of these concerns may have on our relationships: research shows that when sexual satisfaction is low between partners, it accounts for between 50-75% of overall relationship dissatisfaction. This means that when intimacy goes poorly in relationships, it can cause the whole relationship to feel worse off.
How can a therapist help you with your sexual and intimate relationships?
Sex and intimacy are topics that can be explored in both individual and couples therapy. Some of the most common strategies therapists may utilize to help clients with sexual concerns include:
Therapists can work with clients to better understand what it means to have a healthy sexuality. Many of us have misconceptions or have been taught myths about our own sexuality, which can be a perfect place to start in this area with a clinician. Therapists can provide clients with brief education on topics within sexuality, teach clients new ways of communicating about sex and intimacy with partners, and connect clients to helpful resources that can further one’s knowledge and understanding.
Beyond general knowledge points, there are many cases in which it can be helpful to be given specific suggestions and homework in the area of sexuality. Clinicians may provide individuals and/or couples with exercises or activities to utilize to increase comfort in their sexual relationships. Therapists may also collaborate with clients to find unique and appropriate solutions to concerns that are arising. It’s important to note that even if suggested exercises are sexual in nature, sexual activity does not occur in the therapeutic space nor between therapist and client(s).
Discussing Underlying Problems
Some presenting concerns in the area of sexuality and intimacy may require more than education and specific suggestions. In these cases, it’s likely that there are underlying emotional, physical, and psychological contributors to the matter. Similar to other therapeutic concerns, therapists and clients will work together to better understand the root causes of dissatisfaction. Often times, therapists will assist their clients in processing through previous sexual experiences, barriers to healthy sexuality in current relationships, early sexual development, and any negative experiences related to sexuality.