What is a Sex Therapist?
You may have wondered what a sex therapist does, as I’ve labeled myself as one on social media and my website. Not long ago, I would have wondered this myself. So I thought I would spend a moment telling you what this role means to me.
I help people explore aspects of their sexuality, identity or relationship dynamics. We talk about desire, connection, and sexual function. People come to me because they are experiencing out of control sexual behavior, sex addiction, or unwanted sexual behavior. Others show up to discuss a shift in identity around gender or sexual preferences, wanting help in transitioning their gender presentation, or wanting to understand themselves better. And others want to play with kink/BDSM, and other sexual practices, or need to shift negotiations in a current sexual relationship.
That’s a pretty broad list, isn’t it? Sexuality is a huge component of who we are, and touches many aspects of our lives. In addition to the above, I also help individuals and partners navigate communication, discrepancy in desire, intimacy, and roles in relationships in the usual ways that are expected of a relationship therapist.
We use to think of sexual health as simply protecting ourselves from STI’s (sexually transmitted illness) and preventing unwanted pregnancy. There is so much more to it! Sexual health:
- Is consensual and non-exploitive (two different and often conflated terms)
- Stays relevant throughout our lifespans
- Expresses itself in many diverse forms
- Involves honest communication and shared values
- Includes pleasure!
Sexual health means navigating the tension between safety, honesty and pleasure. The goals for each of these may compete with one another (although that’s another topic for a future blog post).
Sexual health is not a static state that we achieve, but rather a dynamic balance we continue to navigate throughout our lives.
It’s important to know that anyone can call themselves a sex therapist. A certified sex therapist (CST) holds an advanced degree in counseling, therapy or related field; achieves a number of hours of sex therapy training and supervised clinical experience; and is credentialed by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). An AASECT certification is renewed every three years.
I feel lucky to be part of such a rich and vibrant community of sex therapists and educators as we have here in the state of Colorado, and around the country.
Let’s Talk About Sex
I realize sex can be hard to talk about. It’s vulnerable; it’s personal. We’re flooded with conflicting messages around shame, competition and what it all means about our personal worth.
If you’d like to practice talking about sex, or you’re tired of carrying the weight alone, please know that I am here and ready to help.