Sex Therapy for Sexual Problems, Difficulties and Dysfunctions

How many people have sexual problems?

Research on sexual dysfunction has found that over 40% of women and 30% of men experience sexual dysfunction. Sexual problems are especially associated with poor emotional and physical health and negative experiences in sexual relationships.  These issues increase as we age.

You are not alone if you and/or your partner is experiencing sexual difficulties. You don’t have to suffer alone and in silence.

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What is Sex Therapy?

Sex therapy is a form of psychotherapy designed to help clients examine their sexual attitudes and beliefs, and make desired changes in their sexual lives. Sex therapy may be provided in a variety of different formats including individual, couple, family and group counseling. The focus of therapy may be explicitly on sexuality or on areas related to or affecting sexuality and sexual functioning. In sex therapy I will work together with you to identify areas of concern, clarify treatment goals and develop a plan of therapy designed to achieve treatment goals that we agree upon together.

Clients often come to sex therapy to:

  • Resolve difficulties such as low or no sexual desire, difficulty with arousal and/or orgasm, pain with intercourse, erectile problems, early or late ejaculation
  • Address negative effects of medication, trauma and/or illness on sexual functioning
  • Heal from the negative effects of sexual abuse, assault and trauma
  • Clarify and resolve concerns regarding sexual orientation and sexual identity
  • Address conflicting sexual expectations between partners
  • Enhance sexual pleasure
  • Understand and control sex addiction, sexual compulsivity, internet porn addiction, cybersex addiction, love addiction and/or illegal sexual behaviors

As a Sex Therapist and Certified Sex Addiction Therapist providing sex therapy services to the Madison Wisconsin area for over twenty years, I will help you to resolve your sexual difficulties and disorders so that you can make informed choices to develop enjoyable, healthy sexuality. In addition to sexual counseling, I provide educational workshops and confidential referral.

In our highly sexualized culture where sex is everywhere it would seem as if it would be easy to talk about sex. But in reality sex is hard to talk about. Especially when things aren’t going well. In sexual counseling, I work to help you learn about your sexuality and become comfortable talking about it with the significant people in your life.

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What happens in Sex Therapy?

Sex therapy is done sitting in the professional office fully clothed. Talking is what we do in sex therapy. Any sexual activities that happen take place in the privacy of your home by yourself or with your partner. It is illegal and unethical for a counselor, psychotherapist or sex therapist to be sexual with his or her clients.

A first step in sex therapy is doing a thorough evaluation. I will do an assessment of your current general functioning as well as a specific sex history. Understanding how you are doing currently helps me to understand if there are other issues that may be effecting your sexual functioning, i.e. illness, medication, life circumstance, stressor, abuse.

I will ask you to get a thorough physical exam by your health care provider – encouraging you to tell them about the sexual problems you are experiencing. I may ask you to sign an authorization for release of information giving me permission to talk to and coordinate services with this provider. If you are seeing a psychiatrist or psychotherapist I will also ask to coordinate services with them. I believe you get better services when you have a team working together to support you.

The sexual history is an important part of your therapy. This gives us – you and I together – an opportunity to learn about the experiences in your life that influenced you as you learned about sexuality. This knowledge can help you to understand specific patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving related to your sexuality.  We then have the opportunity to reinforce what is working well and identify and make changes to what is not functioning well for you to have the kind of sexual life you would like to have.

If you are in a relationship I like to bring in the partner so that we can work on sexual issues together. Often in couples one partner blames the other for the sexual problems. I have found that it is integral to address both people in the relationship and deal with the histories and current experiences and desires of each. Each member of the couple effects the other in an integral way. When I think of a sex life for a couple it is a sex life of two not just one alone. Working together as a team helps each person take responsibility for what they bring to the relationship including the sexual relationship. This increases the chance for sexual intimacy.

At times I will ask you and your partner to do exploratory exercises at home. These may be exercises to identify and explore thoughts, feelings, values and attitudes about sex. The focus of the exercise may be to help improve communication about sexuality. I will encourage you to take the time to learn about your own sexuality as well as your partner’s sexuality, to learn what works and doesn’t work for each of you. These are not tests and I don’t expect you to do them “right”. I want to help you to build resilience as individuals and as a couple. A goal of therapy is for you learn to ask for what you want and what feels good sexually and say no to what feels bad to you.

I use specific sex therapy techniques that have been shown by research to be helpful with specific sexual difficulties. I adapt these to the need of the clients with whom I am working. You never have to do anything you don’t want to do or that is outside of your value system.

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I feel embarrassed talking about sex with my partner much less with a therapist I don’t know – what should I do?

You are not alone in having these concerns. Many people who I talk to are initially very uncomfortable talking about sexual issues. They usually find that as we address the feelings and thoughts that have contributed to this discomfort they do feel more comfortable.

Often it is helpful just to call and talk to me about your concerns. I can answer any questions and reassure you that I work to help you feel respected and safe as you deal with these difficult issues.

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What if my partner does not want to come to therapy?

I encourage you to come in on your own even if your partner is not yet ready or not willing to come to therapy. We can discuss the issues that are of concern to you and begin to identify and address the difficulties you can work on for yourself. We can leave the invitation open for your partner to meet with us. You do not need to wait until your partner is ready to start to work on your own issues that effect your sexuality.

Sometimes partners need to address their issues with their own therapist before coming to couples sex therapy. You and your partner can sign releases of information for their therapist and myself to coordinate therapy. I can help to make a referral to a sex therapist who can be of assistance.

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Where can I find out more about sex therapy?

Explore my Book Selections to find suggested reading and the Links – Internet Resources List I have compiled to help you learn more about these issues.

To learn more about sexual problems and disorders I address in sex therapy, read about:

Visit Shari’s Blog for articles, news and selected informational videos on these subjects and related topics, including:

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How can I contact you to get further information?

Here is my Contact Information and Office Information.

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