At its most distilled, sex therapy is a form of talk therapy. What sets sex therapy apart from other forms of talk is that during sex therapy people talk specifically about the ways that their sex, sexuality, gender, sexual trauma, sexual behaviors, and kinks are informed by and can affect their romantic, sexual, familial, and platonic relationships, explains Laurie Mintz, Ph.D., a sex therapist and author of Becoming Cliterate & A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex.
“The main focus is helping people solve for their sexual challenges and find ways to enhance their sexual satisfaction and sexual functioning,” she tells mbg.
People can attend sex therapy as a single, couple, polycule, or any other relationship structure where they’d benefit from troubleshooting sexual issues, which might include erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, sexless relationships, low libido, anorgasmia, dysparenia, and much more, she says. Other issues like healing from sexual trauma, shame, or infidelity can also be addressed in sex therapy.
In order for someone to be a sex therapist, they must become a licensed mental health professional (i.e., licensed psychologists, therapists, or clinical social workers) and have received specialized training that enables them to treat clients with sexual issues and concerns, says Mintz.