Sex and relationship therapy is a form of counselling which allows individuals and couples to openly explore a problem, how it is impacting on them and to discover new ways of overcoming it. It can help untangle some of the complex issues that may develop in relationships as well as enable clients to learn new skills and approaches to intimacy. Some people seek sex therapy or relationship counselling not because they have a particular problem but because they want to enhance what they already have – and reach their sexual potential.
Sexual and relationship difficulties may occur for a number of reasons and they can be very distressing. Their origins might be physical, psychological, emotional or contextual – or a combination of these.
Some of the most common difficulties that can arise include:
- Relationship and communication problems
- Loss of, or differences in, desire
- Erectile dysfunction
- Difficulties with arousal and orgasm
- The effects of the menopause
- Pain during sex
- Fertility concerns
- The impact of sexual abuse or assault
- Sexual difficulties in relation to illness and medication
- Sexual addiction and phobias
At the end of the assessment we will discuss a range of possible treatment options, tailored to your particular needs. Treatment for psychosexual and relationship problems can vary and may include a mixture of the following approaches:
- Psychotherapy – sometimes simply talking and increasing awareness about a problem can help unblock behaviours
- Psychoeducation – for example, to look at the biological processes behind arousal and desire
- Practical and thought-provoking exercises to do at home, alone or with a partner
- Tools to help with relationship dynamics and to help encourage clearer and more effective communication
Sometimes it might be necessary for me to refer you to specialist services for diagnostic tests (such as blood tests or scans) or for oral treatments such as Viagra or anti-depressants.
Length and Frequency of Sessions
Sessions are 50 minutes long and carried out on a weekly or fortnightly basis, depending on the nature of the problem. If you are in a relationship I may encourage both partners to attend – as a sexual or relationship difficulty rarely ‘belongs’ to just one person.
Sex and relationship therapy can last just a few sessions (for instance, if the problem is very specific or purely physical) or it can be longer-term for more complex issues.
Sex and relationship therapy is a collaborative venture between you and the therapist and can be an interesting and creative process for all those involved. It has been around since the 1950s and has proven success rates; however, there is no quick fix or magical formula – and it is really only you (and your partner if you are coming as a couple) who can make the necessary changes in your lives. Therefore, it is important that you feel ready and committed from the outset – and that you are able to make time between sessions to carry out the homework activities as well as to think about what has been discussed in therapy.