Welcome to our Sex Therapy FAQ page. We know that some people may have questions about Sex Therapy.
So, we wanted to ensure you that as an organisation we’ve heard it all and we’re here to help. We have nearly 40 years’ experience in supporting people with their sex lives.
Please see below answers to the most common questions about Sex Therapy.
Is my Sex Therapist qualified?
All our therapists have undergone training to become counsellors and couples counsellors and then additional training in psychosexual therapy. They are supervised by an experienced sex therapist and trainer, and they have access to continuous further development, which ensures they are up to date with relevant training and information.
The decline in our sex life has had such an impact on our relationship generally. How do we know what to deal with first?
It can be really difficult when you’re in the thick of a problem to work out which came first – the sexual difficulties, or the relationship problems? Speaking to a therapist can help you work out what’s what and then deal with what comes first
One of the good things about TLC: Talk, Listen, Change is that you can access both couples counselling and sex therapy. So, whichever turns out to be the priority, you can access support for both of these things through us.
We’ve lost the spark in our relationship, will sex therapy help?
There are no guarantees in this area, but it’s a really good reason to come to sex therapy. Talking things through can help you understand how it’s happened. If you had a spark once, there’s a very good chance you can find it again. This can be difficult on your own, perhaps you can’t see the wood for the trees.
Sex therapy is about a re-set, creating something new together, and most importantly – learning to communicate about that. You can learn more about what both you and your partner want and prefer. Within that atmosphere, you can rebuild something that really works for both of you.
I’m/my partner is too embarrassed to get help
It can be an embarrassing subject to talk about, most of us aren’t used to talking to other people about our sexual relationships. Sometimes, not talking about it can be one of the problems, and can lead to us comparing ourselves to other people. Most often, these ideas are inflated or unrealistic. The media would have us believe everybody is having sex all the time. The reality is something quite different.
Your embarrassment is understandable and if you can get over that initial hurdle, and know that you’d be speaking to somebody experienced in talking about sex, then you’ll probably find it’s a lot less awkward than you think it’s going to be.
We’ve tried everything in the book and it hasn’t helped. How will sex therapy make a difference?
Just talking to somebody who is not in involved in your relationship can make a difference. The therapist is impartial and may be able to help you see things that you can’t. The sex therapist also has knowledge, skills and experience in dealing with these problems.
Additionally, even if you may have tried some of the things suggested by the therapist, it can make a huge difference being guided through them by another person to whom you are accountable when you attend appointments. You can also take problems, as they arise, to your sessions to speak to your therapist about.
We want to have a baby and we’re not having sex.
Because the sex therapy programme often involves an embargo on sex (an instruction that you’re not to have sex, in order for anxiety to be reduced), there can be a conflict if conceiving is your absolute priority. However, this is something you can discuss with your therapist and you can decide between you how this might be managed.
If sex is problematic then your chances of conception are probably reduced. If you can put plans to have a baby on hold for a while, your chances of having a good sex life, with the help of therapy, will improve.
Will anyone know we’re coming to Sex Therapy?
What is talked about in your sex therapy sessions at TLC: Talk, Listen, Change is private and confidential within our organisation. However, in exceptional circumstances where an adult or child is at risk, we may be required to disclose information in order to prioritise the safety of yourself or others. At your initial consultation you will be provided with our Consent Form which explains this in more detail.
Will we ever have to take our clothes off in therapy?
No - you will never be asked to take your clothes off in therapy. All you do in the therapy room is talk and your therapist will set you homework tasks, which may, at some stage, involve taking your clothes off. These tasks however will be outside the sessions with your therapist, in the privacy of your own home, at a time which is comfortable for you.
Will my therapist touch me/us?
Your therapist will never touch you. Therapy only involves talking in the therapy room.
How is sex therapy different to couples counselling?
In Sex Therapy, you will be set tasks to do at home and there is quite an extensive assessment before you start. The idea is that you are focusing on fairly specific behaviours, whereas counselling focuses more on talking about a variety of issues you may be facing.
How long does it take?
Each individual and couple is different. Your therapist will work with you for a programme that works best for you and/or your relationship, depending on your issues.
Will there be a sex-ban? Why?
In order for you to learn to relax around sex, sex is banned to allow you to re-engage with touch and pleasure, rather than unhelpful thoughts. It’s important that there is not a possibility of sexual activity as this provides a new atmosphere where you can enjoy and practice being in the moment, without worrying about what may or may not happen. This allows people to get back in touch with sexual pleasure.
Why do I have to go through my whole sexual history?
It’s helpful for the therapist, so that they can understand your story so far. It helps them make a programme tailored to your needs. Many people find the assessment really useful – getting insights into their own experiences.
I’ve experienced sexual abuse, can sex therapy help?
Sex therapy can help you to engage with the pleasure of sex, when sexual contact may have meant something completely different to you in the past. An experienced sex therapist will make a careful assessment about the timing of your therapy and discuss this with you. If you have already had some therapy for the sexual abuse, then this may be a good time to have sex therapy. If, during the programme, memories of the abuse are triggered, then your sex therapist will talk this through with you and signpost you to appropriate support where needed.
One of us wants to get sex back on the agenda and the other doesn’t. What do we do?
This is such a common problem and is very familiar to sex therapists. It can be difficult when you and your partner have differing sex drives. What often happens is – you both become even more distant, because one person is pursuing the sex and the other is distancing themselves from it.
Sex therapy can help you to understand more about that process, and to understand that it’s often not personal or a rejection of the other person, it’s just a difference in appetite. The sex therapy programme can help you have a fresh start and find something that works for both of you. In that process, many discoveries can come to light that can be really positive.
I don’t think my partner will come to therapy.
You can certainly get something from sex therapy if you come on your own. However, if you’re in a relationship, it really is beneficial if you attend with your partner. Sometimes we find partners don’t attend initially, but in time they will join. Talking to your sex therapist independently can still be helpful, as it may provide you with some ideas that you can take back to your partner for discussion.
I think I might be addicted to porn.
Addiction or compulsion to porn or sexual activity is a difficult thing to manage. Often it requires specialised treatment and sex therapy may or may not be the right avenue to pursue. An assessment by a sex therapist can help you understand what may be the best service for you and can signpost you to appropriate support if they feel sex therapy isn’t the best route.
What if I have fetishes?
Kink and fetishes are of themselves, not problems. However, there may be an issue if they are having an impact on your relationship, or it could be that you’re not entirely comfortable with certain behaviours yourself. Either way, speaking to a therapist can be helpful. They won’t try to talk you out of your fetish, but they can support you with any problems it may be causing you and your relationship/s.
What if my issue can’t be fixed/resolved?
Sometimes, things may not be fixed in the way you initially wanted them to be, but you’re still happy with the outcome. This is often the case in sex therapy. If you are still struggling, our sex therapists are very knowledgeable and will be able to signpost you to appropriate services to help you further.
Questions about medical issues:
Do I need to see my doctor before therapy?
Sometimes it’s advisable to consult your doctor, in order to exclude any underlying conditions of problems. If this is the case, your therapist will recommend that you see your doctor and will help you to plan what to say.
I have a physical problem that’s contributing to the sexual difficulty. Can sex therapy still help?
Many people come to Sex Therapy because they have a problem, of which a part is physical. Often, even if there is an underlying medical cause, anxiety can be layered on top of this. Speaking about this with a sex therapist can make a huge difference. It can build your confidence by talking to someone about your worries.
Will my doctor need to be told/included?
There is no need to tell your doctor you are having sex therapy, unless you wish to. The only exception might be if there is a cause for concern about any underlying medical conditions. This would always be discussed in therapy.
How can painful sex be helped by talking therapy?
Sometimes, painful sex can actually be caused by anxious thoughts and feelings. Understanding these emotions can often help with this as we can gradually introduce you to what is causing the anxiety. Our programme gently guides you through tasks, which don’t initially involve any sexual activity.
Surely problems with erections are a medical problem?
Sometimes they are and this won’t be excluded as a possibility. Often, even if there is a medical problem, anxiety can exist on top of that and sometimes make the problem worse. Sex Therapy can help you communicate with your partner/s about the problem and create a shared understanding of what’s happening, so that it doesn’t become personal.
Questions about Accessibility:
I have a disability, can I attend?
You certainly can attend. We have ground floor therapy rooms and toilets. We believe everybody has the right to the support they need and we want to ensure that a healthy sexual relationship is accessible to everybody, regardless of their ability or disability.
We’re in a same-sex relationship, can we attend?
You certainly can. TLC: Talk, Listen, Change is an inclusive organisation and we support people of all genders and sexualities.
Can I pick the gender of my therapist?
You can indicate that you wish to have a particular gender of therapist. However, please note that this may result in longer waiting times for appointments, as it will depend on your availability and that of the therapist.
I have a life-limiting illness / I am recovering from being unwell, can I come to sex therapy?
Yes. You are welcome to discuss your journey so far with your therapist.
Often in the throes of a health-crisis, your sexual relationship may take a backseat, particularly if your life is at risk. But also, at times like this, intimacy, touch and comfort may be especially important. We understand that finding your way back to intimacy may not always be easy. Our sex therapists will be sensitive to your issues and help you to get to a place you feel comfortable with.
Click here to return to the Sex Therapy information page or click here to book in.