What is sex therapy?
Sex therapy is a form of talk therapy that focuses on creating new understandings of, and new responses to, sexual health and sexual behaviour concerns in clients’ lives.
Similar to other forms of talk therapy, sex therapy is a series of conversations with a therapist that offers a non judgemental space to explore experiences that might feel troubling, or provoke feelings of worry or shame and therefore might not otherwise get discussed in your life. Additionally, you'll be talking to someone who understands how sex works, why it sometimes doesn't work, and how to change things to bring you to a place of meaningful sexuality.
You can expect to have conversations about the thoughts you have about the problem, the feelings that arise during and after the problem, physiological experiences you might have, how societal influences might inform how you understand what's happening, and relationship conditions that inform your experience of intimacy or lack thereof.
Through all of this, the therapist will guide the conversation, which means they'll make you feel at ease and comfortable, they'll ask you questions you most likely haven't considered, and provide you feedback about what they think might be happening, and what they think might be helpful to do differently.
Throughout the conversation, you may also have some suspicions about what's going on, and the therapist will ask you about this as well. Together, you'll come up with a better sense of what the problem is and how to move past it.
How can sex therapy help me?
Concerns about an aspect of your experience of sex can often be difficult to understand and resolve intuitively. There's a culture of shame and silence that surrounds sex and sexuality in our society.
This shame is often internalized by us as individuals, sometimes in subtle ways like “I don’t talk about what happens in the bedroom with others”, or in more overt ways like “I’m a failure (or weird, or abnormal) because of what happens in the bedroom”. This means that finding opportunities to work through a sexual issue can be difficult, and having successful conversations about it even more so.
That’s when you come to see me. I understand sex and sexuality to be just another part of our experience as people. Sometimes sex is great, it's rejuvenating, enjoyable, exciting, adventurous, and orgasmic. Sometimes sex is terrible, it undermines our confidence, it makes us feel alone or dirty. Sometimes sex is just plain boring. Whatever the sex you're having is, we'll talk about the sex you want to have, whether with your current partner, with yourself, or with someone you haven't yet met.
There's no sexual experience or fantasy that you could share with me that would be shocking or surprising to me. I work with people who identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bi, queer, asexual, pansexual. I work with people in poly relationships, monogamous, open, swinging (the lifestyle), and who practice BDSM in all of its forms. I work with people who have had sex, who have had orgasms, and people who have not.
What kinds of sexual health concerns do you work with?
In my private practice, I've worked with individuals and couples seeking treatment for the following concerns:
What are you going to ask me?
I'm going to ask you a lot of questions (and I'll do my best to make you feel comfortable answering them). Here are some examples:
Will I have to do homework?
Sometimes, but not always, you’ll leave a session with a thrapeutic task to try. These tasks are always based on the discussion we have had in that session, and can be thought of as just a small experiment that let’s you do one of three things:
Observe something: You might pay specific attention to something happening within you, or between you and your partner.
Try something: I may invite you to try to make a small change that we’ve discussed in session. This could be trying on a new perspective, or it could be trying a new behaviour.
Attempt a structured exercise: Sometimes, I might have couples try a specific exercise designed to create the opportunity to have a different experience of themselves or their partners while being sexual. I’ll always let you know the logic behind it, and why I think it might be helpful.
Think of these tasks as extensions of our work in my therapy office. Even when I don’t provide you with a suggestion, I'm going to assume that our work will continue throughout your week, because we've planted the seed for you to see things and experience things differently. You'll get used to me asking you about the differences you noticed between our sessions at the beginning of each session.
What’s your training and experience?
I was trained at the University of Guelph’s Intensive Sex Therapy Training program. This program is the most widely recognized sex therapy training program in Canada, and is run by some of the top minds in the field. I continue the development and refinement of my skills by taking supervision with my mentors and colleagues, by attending trainings with leaders in the field, and by staying on top of new ideas and new techniques as they come out.
I also have the unique benefit of being both a psychotherapist and a marriage and family therapist. As a result, I'm attuned to the ways that problems manifest and are maintained in dynamics between people. This means that I'm going to be particularly alert to a part of your experience of sex (your relationship to your partner/partners) that other therapists might not be. Contact me for a free consultation to find out if sex therapy might be helpful to you.