What is Sex Therapy?

What is Sex Therapy About?

Sex therapy is treatment of sexual problems: for example, impotence (inability of an adult male to achieve or maintain erection); frigidity (in an adult female, the inability to achieve orgasm); premature ejaculation; or low sex drive.

The World Book Rush-Presbyterian
St. Luke's Medical Center Medical Encyclopedia

The techniques involved include counseling, psychotherapy, behavior modification, and marital therapy. When possible, both partners usually attend therapy. There are generally good success rates in treating sexual problems by these techniques.

Legitimate sex therapy has nothing to do with sexual surrogates or other paid sexual partners.

Sex Therapy Takes Time and Work

Sexual dysfunction conjures up feelings of guilt, anger, insecurity, frustration, and rejection. Sex therapy is slow and requires open communication and understanding between sexual partners. Therapy may inadvertently address interpersonal communication problems.

What Happens in Sex Therapy?

Sex therapy is conducted by a trained therapist, doctor, or psychologist. The initial sessions should cover a complete history not only of the sexual problem but of the entire relationship and each individual's background and personality. The sexual relationship should be discussed in the context of the entire relationship. In fact, sexual counseling may de-emphasize sex until other aspects of the relationship are better understood and communicated.

There are several techniques that combat sexual dysfunction and are used in sex therapy. They include:

  • Semans' technique: helps to combat premature ejaculation with a "start-stop" approach to penis stimulation. By stimulating the man up to the point of ejaculation and then stopping, the man will become more aware of his response. More awareness leads to greater control, and open stimulation of both partners leads to greater communication and less anxiety. The start-stop technique is conducted four times until the man is allowed to ejaculate.
  • Sensate focus therapy is the practice of nongenital and genital touching between partners in order to decrease sexual anxiety and build communication. First, partners explore each other's bodies without touching the genitals or breasts. Once the couple is comfortable with nongenital touching, they can expand to genital stimulation. Intercourse is prohibited in order to allow the partners to expand their intimacy and communication.
  • Squeeze technique is used to treat premature ejaculation. When the man feels the urge to ejaculate, his partner squeezes his penis just below the head. This stops ejaculation and gives the man more control over his response.

Good Sexual Relationships Take Time

Habits change slowly.

All the techniques must be practiced faithfully for long periods of time to learn new behaviors.

Communication is imperative.

Can I find a sex therapist online

next: An Introduction to Sex Therapy

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 17). What is Sex Therapy?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Last Updated: July 29, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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