So you and your partner have been living for a while with an unresolved relationship issue that’s having an increasingly negative effect on your sex life.
Or maybe you’ve identified a sexual problem that’s having a negative impact on your relationship.
Now you’re wondering what therapist would be best suited to help you – a couples therapist, or a sex therapist?
The answer is – it depends on your goals and the choice of therapists available to you.
If your primary or ultimate goal is to repair or enhance intimacy with your partner, ideally you should see a couples therapist with training and experience in sex therapy.
Let me explain why:
- Sex therapy and couples therapy are two distinct types of therapy.
- While some sex therapists may work with couples, they’re not couple therapists.
- Although most couple therapists have no specialist training in sex therapy, some do.
What’s The Difference Between Couples Therapy And Sex Therapy?
Couple therapists will focus primarily on helping couples repair or strengthen their relationships, while sex therapists’ main focus will be on resolving specific sexual issues affecting one or both partners.
Many couple therapists find it difficult to talk about sex, which doesn’t help clients who may also feel anxious talking about such an intimate subject with a therapist.
So, often, sexual issues either won’t be brought up in couples therapy, or won’t be kept on the agenda long enough to be worked through.
On the other hand, sex therapists feel comfortable talking about sex and this helps clients feel at ease talking about it, too.
But unless the sex therapist is also trained in couples therapy, he or she is more likely to focus on fixing individual sexual problems than on working on couple intimacy.
How Does ‘Sex Therapy Within Couples Therapy’ Work?
In the context of couples therapy, sex therapy works as a natural part of the whole process.
Sexual issues are addressed in the same manner as any other common issues raised by couples, such as communication or trust.
It’s still ‘talk therapy’, but as with other areas of the therapy, you may be given suggestions on new behaviours to experiment with between sessions, or things to read or talk about with your partner.
What Kind Of Issues Can ‘Sex Therapy Within Couples Therapy’ Help Us With?
Some of the sexual issues often raised by couples in couples therapy include:
- Problems with physical and/or emotional intimacy
- Lack of desire or interest in sex
- Mismatched libidos
- Problems caused by porn use
- Intrusive or disturbing sexual thoughts or images
- Compulsive or inappropriate sexual behaviours
- Sex addictions
- Arousal or orgasmic difficulties
- Erectile and ejaculatory difficulties
Sex therapy as part of couples therapy can help each partner heal sexually as needed, while at the same time repairing or enhancing intimacy between them.
The Therapist You Work With Depends On Your Goals
I hope you found this post useful and feel a little clearer about addressing sex and intimacy issues in your relationship.
What kind of therapist do you think would suit you and your partner best at this point in time?
Have you tried sex therapy before?
If you saw a couples therapist, did the therapist had training in sex therapy?
If you saw a sex therapist, did she or he work with you as a couple?
In hindsight, what were the benefits or costs of your choice?
If you have a comment you want to share, feel free to get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.