Sex. Perhaps the most common activity among humans. Male or female, sex plays a significant role in our lives. From cradle to grave, our sexuality is part of who we are, how we react to many situations, and why we make certain decisions. We cannot escape the role of sex in our behavior.
However, sex isn’t always easy. It is not always comfortable. It is not always fun and games. Sometimes, sex becomes a cause of great distress or even a burden. But it does not need to be.
As with many problems we face in life, therapy can help restore our sexual health. Sex therapy is used for both individuals and couples.
What is sex therapy? How can it help?
The first goal of sex therapy is to create a warm, non-judgmental atmosphere where you can relax and open up about your sexuality and matters which trouble you.
As a therapist, understand that I do not directly participate in your journey to sexual freedom, rather, I facilitate open, honest discussion. My role is to guide you through the issues which are causing you distress, to help you understand and appreciate how you can take control of your sex life.
Therapy addresses concerns related to sexuality, sexual dysfunction or sexual performance either in individual or couples therapy. Some clients seek my help in addressing specific issues related to sex. In other cases, sexual concerns arise as a result of other, seemingly unrelated issues.
Common sex problems include:
- Low sexual desire
- Erectile dysfunction
- Premature ejaculation
- Body image concerns
- Intimacy issues
- Pain during intercourse
- Hypoactive sexual desire
- Impaired ability to communicate sexual needs/desires/preferences
How can sex therapy help?
As with other issues which may cause distress to a person, sexual issues often have an underlying psychological cause. The brain has been called the largest sex organ, but the tongue has been classed as the most important.
This makes perfect sense when we consider that sex starts with our thoughts, but the tongue allows us to communicate with our partners. Oh, and it IS a strong muscle, so there is that.
Sex therapy helps because a sexual problem could be as simple as stress or as complex as early childhood trauma. Among couples, it could be simple communication.
Thus, the first step in sex therapy is to complete an assessment, which we will do together. This will provide us with clues as to what is causing the problem. This will also allow us to put together a kind of roadmap, a path to treatment we will follow in helping you regain sexual health.
In some cases, sex therapy provides rapid relief while in others, it may take some time. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to human sexuality — it is as unique as you are. But there are some common techniques that can help and it is my job to provide you with the tools you need for positive change.
Sexuality, sexual enjoyment, fulfilling partnerships, and masturbation are completely normal and healthy parts of a full and expressive sex life. Regardless of sexual orientation, problems related to sex are common, even for those in committed relationships.
I understand that talking about your sexual life is not easy, so I create a comfortable, safe environment that normalizes talking about bodies and intimacy. Sex therapy is always confidential, empathetic, and free of judgment.
Click here for information about therapy for couples.
I treat men individually for a variety of short-term or ongoing sexual challenges. These include sexual dysfunction, premature ejaculation, the negative impacts on self-esteem or relationships, erectile dysfunction, inhibited or delayed ejaculation, low sex drive, compulsive behaviors, pornography addiction, sexual trauma, and potentially underlying substance abuse or addiction.
Some of the sexual problems facing men have to do with underlying issues, some with physiology, some with the rigors of aging, or other causes. No matter the reason, the psychological impact of sex problems on men can be difficult to handle. I help by providing a non-judgmental, fun, relaxed environment for helping men work through these issues.
I treat women individually for a range of sexual and intimacy issues. These include lack of arousal, inability to climax with or without a partner, painful intercourse, healing from trauma or abuse, sexual difficulties related to surgery, illness, or menopause, sexual side-effects of medications, negative body image and self-esteem.
It is not uncommon for sexuality and intimacy to be related to other psychological or emotional issues. Our sessions will broadly address your whole sense of physical and internal wellbeing with care and sensitivity.
Click here for information on individual therapy.
Common questions about sex therapy
Fear and embarrassment are the two most common emotions people feel when first attending sex therapy. But know first you have nothing to fear and I will never do anything to embarrass you. You can be yourself here and move at your own pace.
To help ease your mind, consider some of the most common questions people have about sex therapy:
Do sex therapists touch you?
No. Sex therapy is still therapy and as such, it is a client-patient relationship. Touching in the sense of getting involved sexually is an ethical no-no; nor is doing so helpful to you. Quite the opposite, getting involved in such a way would be detrimental to your sexual health. That said, I naturally may shake your hand, but that is the limit of contact.
What do we do at our first sex therapy session?
Your first sex therapy session is a get-to-know-each-other session. It is a time to become comfortable with each other and explore the general nature of your concerns. Together we will complete an assessment and discuss therapeutic steps to take in order to help you and/or your partner.
Will we have to get nude in sex therapy?
No. In fact, the American Psychological Association does not recommend this practice. Although there are some counselors who encourage their patients to engage in sexual encounters in-office, this is not a best practice.
What should you not tell a sex therapist?
Nothing. There is nothing you should keep from your therapist. If you want to find relief from your sexual difficulties, you should be as open and honest with your counselor as you can.
This is not to say you will be totally comfortable right away, but in time, you should be able to reveal even your most hidden thoughts and desires. No matter how awkward you feel, the only way your therapist can help is to know what is causing you discomfort. Remember too that everything said in therapy is confidential.
How much sex is healthy?
While there is no “right” answer to this, studies do show that people who have sex regularly enjoy health benefits like reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, lower stress levels, increased immunity and better sleep.
Why do men lose interest in sex?
In general, men who are sexual do not actually lose interest in sex. Instead, a man may experience sexual dysfunctions which causes them to withdraw a bit.
For instance, if a man is in a relationship and notices he no longer gets “morning wood,” he may stop snuggling up to his partner in the morning for fear the condition will be noticed. This is in part because most men are rather embarrassed if they cannot “get it up.”
The interest in sex is likely still present, but performance fears can easily alter his behavior in ways that are noticeable to you, his partner.
How often should couples have sex?
Studies indicate that on average, couples have sex about 51 times per year, or just under once a week. However, this is an average of both younger and older couples: Younger couples have sex more often while older less so. Again, there is no right or wrong to this. Every relationship is different and so long as the frequency is acceptable to both, it is fine.
Is it ok to have sex everyday?
There is nothing wrong with having sex every day. However, if having sex daily is causing a problem, it needs to be addressed in therapy. For instance, if, in the daily quest for sex someone is engaging in risky behaviors or feels like their sexual appetite is out of control, there are likely underlying psychological issues that need to be addressed.
How long should good sex last?
The answer to this depends on how a couple defines sex. If talking about vaginal sex, the average time is between 7 and 13 minutes. Less is often unfulfilling and more can cause discomfort.
However, we must also account for foreplay and afterplay, which can extend the sexual experience far longer. In other words, the length of time for “good sex” is different for each couple. The most important thing is that both are in agreement; if not, couples sex therapy can help.
What is the main cause of erectile dysfunction?
There is no single “main” cause of erectile dysfunction. Instead, the condition often arises from a combination of many factors including tobacco/drug/alcohol use, medical conditions including medications, injuries, being overweight, and psychological conditions including stress, depression and anxiety.
How do you fix erectile dysfunction?
Because erectile dysfunction (ED) may be indicative of physiological and/or psychological, problems, resolving it requires knowing the exact causes. Reversing ED may be accomplished through medications, surgery, lifestyle changes, and counseling, usually a combination of two or more.
My partner cannot get an erection; is it my fault?
Absolutely not. Nor is it the fault of your partner. While many women tend to blame themselves or feel that they are no longer attractive to their partner, this is not the case.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is usually a complex condition that may be related to both physiological and psychological factors but is totally unrelated to sexual desire and attraction.
One goal of sex therapy when a man is unable to achieve erection is to discover the underlying cause of ED and help couples get through it together.
I simply don’t like sex. Is there something wrong with me?
No. Roughly 1% of the population can be rightly termed asexual. This means that they simply lack sexual attraction. There is nothing wrong with you. AS Society places so much emphasis on sex, coping with this reality can be difficult.
If you believe you are asexual and are struggling with your place in society, sex therapy can help.
Do I have to reveal everything in couples therapy?
No. It is not unusual for partners to want to keep some issues to themselves for a time. This is not to say they want to keep secrets, but rather, that there may be some things they are uncomfortable openly revealing at the moment.
When I help couples, each person reveals what they want, when they want. If there is ever anything you need help with which you do not want to openly discuss in couples therapy, I am happy to meet with you as an individual. This way, I can help you get to the point where you can open up to your partner if that is your wish.
Just know that there is no set process for sex therapy. Each couple is different, so the path to change is unique to you. I facilitate according to your needs.
Sex therapy on your terms
People are busy. I know this. This is why I offer the most flexible options for sex therapy in Chicago. Not only do I offer both weekend and evening sessions, I do not limit sessions to “Your hour is up.” Far too often, those words are spoken just as a breakthrough unfolding.
Thus, I offer sex therapy when you need it, as long as needed, and in an environment that is conducive to open, honest, engaging dialog. Talking about sex can be embarrassing for some, so I take careful strides to make sure you are as comfortable as you need to be.
If you have any questions about sex therapy at Lev Counseling or would like to schedule a time to chat, call me now or send me a message through the contact form.