Frequently Asked Questions
Sex & Relationship Therapy
What is sex therapy?
Sex therapy is talk therapy with suggestions given for at-home, physical and sensorial activities, and learning new skills in the areas of intimacy, communication, and anxiety management. These skills are encouraged through mindfulness practice, cognitive-behavioral, and relationship-systems approaches.
Sex Therapy is specifically focused on addressing problems with sexual desire, sexual concerns (such as erection difficulties and orgasmic issues), as well as difficulty with sexual pain. In addition, those who have gender concerns, unwanted or troublesome sexual interests or behavior, or experience trauma-related difficulties might also see a sex therapist.
Individuals in any relationship in which there are relational issues such as an affair or where a therapist is needed to address relationship agreements between partners is another focus of sex therapists.
Do I continue with my individual and/or marital or relationship therapist? Or with medical personnel?
While it is up to the individual or couple to decide, sex therapists are trained to address typical individual mental health issues such as anxiety and depression with the help of adjunct professionals for medication, as needed.
Sex therapists also coordinate with other medical professionals such as urologists, gynecologists, endocrinologists, fertility specialists, physical therapists and others to coordinate care.
Sex therapists are also well trained in working with couple or relational group concerns such as communication and other relationship skills such as negotiating differences. As we say, “it is impossible to get the genitals together if the hearts and minds are not.”
Is Sex Therapy covered by my insurance?
Some insurance companies do cover sex therapy. Others will cover conjoint and family therapy but not sex therapy. We advise you to check with your insurance company. We will be happy to file your insurance papers for you, but cannot guarantee full payment by them, so we ask you to pay us at each session.
How many sessions of Sex Therapy are usually required?
Sex Therapy was developed by William Masters and Virginia Johnson to do no more than is absolutely necessary to address the sexual concern. Depending on a number of factors including the nature of the specific issue, the goals of the individual clients, and the individual relationship strengths, sex therapy can be brief and intensive or longer-term if required.
The number of sessions needed can usually be predicted following a 45-50 minute consultation session. One example is that an uncomplicated case of erectile dysfunction (ED), usually requires between 10 to 14 sessions. For cases in which there is trauma or other complicating factors, therapy will be somewhat longer.
How often are sessions held?
In-office therapy sessions often take place weekly at first. Then they may be scheduled every other week as clients receive the necessary, initial, and foundational skills. Sessions may then take place twice a month or monthly as indicated, and then even less often and only when a booster session is required.
What hours are available for scheduling?
Sessions can be scheduled throughout the week from morning through mid-evening. For weekend sessions or Couples Intensives, special arrangements can be made.
Can sessions be conducted via Skype or other formats?
Skype, FaceTime, and other technological approaches may be used but only if appropriate, only if confidentiality can be assured by the therapist, and only with clients who reside in the same state in which the therapist is licensed. Linda is licensed to practice in Missouri and Constance has a psychology license in Florida.
Additionally, these sessions cannot be billed to an insurance company because, by definition, all DSM-5/ICD-9 diagnostic codes pertaining to therapy require face-to-face contact. In any event, we prefer to be in the room with clients, particularly in the early phases of treatment. However, arrangements may be made to utilize these technologies if ethical and legal conditions are met.
Finding the Right Sex or Relationship Therapist
We often tell our clients, “Don’t forget to recommend me to your friends and family!” Not surprisingly, this suggestion is often met with a bit of laughter. The good work we do in sex and relationship therapy is not likely to be recommended by word of mouth or even discussed with anyone but very close friends. Most of the clients we see, especially for sexuality concerns, are referred by other professionals such as gynecologists, urologists, pelvic floor specialists, and other therapists who are familiar with our work.
So, how do you select a sex and relationship therapist wisely from the internet? This is not an easy task because in many states anyone can claim to be a “sex coach,” “sex therapist,” or “relationship therapist.” They can purchase an ad or use other methods to get you to their website. Here are some suggestions for selecting a sex or relationship therapist:
1. Ask if they are licensed. A therapist may be a Licensed Psychiatrist (M.D.), a Licensed Psychologist (Ph.D. or Psy.D), a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a Master’s in Counseling (Licensed Professional Counselor or Mental Health Counselor), or have a related degree such as a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family therapy (M.A. or MFT) or Pastoral Counseling. If a therapist has obtained at least a Master’s Degree but is not yet licensed in his or her state, this non-licensed status should be noted on his or her website. If you are not sure, check with your state’s Department of Professional Regulation on that bottom sentence here. to verify a therapist’s licensing status. Sometimes practitioners advertise themselves as “sex coach” or “sex educator.” A sex coach, sexuality educator, or sexuality counselor can assist with some sexual difficulties, but those labels do not assure license or certification status.
2. Check their education. A therapist’s academic degree should be granted from an accredited university. A minimum of a Master’s Degree is recommended.
3. Make sure they are specialized. To be a well trained sex or relationship therapist, a therapist should have specialized education and training in assessment and general psychotherapy (in order to address common issues such as anxiety and depression), in relationship skills and couples counseling (most couples need some assistance with communication and other relationship skills), and also in sexuality and sex therapy training and experience. Hopefully he or she will have obtained sufficient academic training and supervised clinical experience to meet the MAXIMALstandards of certification by an organization such as the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). This assures the objective validation of the highest level of expertise. Since there are so few therapists who have completed the rigorous, time consuming, and costly training and supervision required to become an AASECT Certified Sexual Counselor or Therapist, it may be difficult to identify someone who is AASECT-certified. If that is the case, look for someone in the process of undergoing AASECT certification, under the supervision of a certified sex therapist, or at least someone whose specialty is relationship and marriage therapy, who has taken seminars in sexuality, and who is familiar with the field. Someone who is certified in Imago or Gottman therapy, or has earned an American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) Certification, usually meets at least minimal standards for relationship and sex therapy training.
4. Make sure they have experience. Obviously, someone who has specialized in working with sexuality concerns for a decade or two may have better insight and skill than someone who has not. This may include professionals in the adjunct helping professionals such as specialists in infertility, etc. Look to see if they have published in their field, are affiliated with sexuality and/or relationship organizations, and have done professional presentations on the subject of sexuality and/or relationship therapy on a regular basis.
5. Are they able to relate to you? Perhaps the most important consideration is your ability to connect with and feel understood by the helping professional you select. Is the therapist sensitive to and comfortable with your particular sexual or relationship concern? Most therapists will encourage an initial five to 15 minute telephone conversation at no cost to help you determine whether working with them would be the right fit.
How To Tell The Difference Among Therapists
Are you confused about the differences among the terms psychologist, psychiatri
Sex Therapists are mental health professionals who may have any of the academic degrees and licenses listed below but who, in addition, have undergone rigorous post-graduate training in sexuality and sex therapy. This training should meet the academic and supervised experience criteria necessary to become certified as a Sex Therapist by a certifying organization such as the American Association of Sexual Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). While states do not license Sex Therapists, some have established specific standards by which mental health professionals must adhere in order to represent themselves to the public as Sex Therapists.
b. Psy.D’s: These psychologists focus more heavily on clinical training and less on conducting research during their graduate education.
Psychiatrists are trained as Medical Doctors (M.D.’s), and receive specialized training in psychiatry during their residencies. They primarily prescribe psychotropic medications. Although they used to provide therapeutic services, in this day and age they most often focus on the medication aspects of mental health concerns.
Social Workers are mental health professionals who receive two to three years of graduate academic training and supervised experience prior to obtaining their Masters degree in Social Work (MSW). After supervised post-degree experience they are licensed by the state as Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW).
Marriage & Family Therapists
Marriage & Family Therapists are mental health professionals who have received two or three years of graduate course work and supervised training prior to obtaining their Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) or something similar (e.g., Masters in Clinical Counseling). If they are licensed to practice it is usually as a Mental Health Counselor or something similar.
Psychotherapist is a general term that refers to mental health professionals who provide therapeutic services. It does not refer to any specific kind of training or service provision. Psychotherapists may include psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, among others. These mental health practitioners have usually received two to three years of graduate course work and clinical training prior to obtaining whatever mental health-related academic degree they pursued.