Visiting a Sex Therapist:
Even qualified sex therapists may differ widely in their basic approaches to the treatment of sexual problems, but some generalizations can be made. First of all, you can expect to be talking explicitly and in detail about sex. One cannot solve sexual problems by talking around them! Neither can one gain new sexual information unless clear, direct instruction is given!
Second, you might expect to be offered the opportunity to add to your knowledge by reading selected books and/or viewing clinical films designed specifically for use in sex therapy. You should not, however, do anything which you do not understand, and you must reserve for yourself the right to question the purpose of an assignment. It is your right to decline or postpone acting on the suggestions of your therapist, rather than allowing yourself to be pushed into behavior which might actually increase your discomfort. Every assignment, task, or experience presented by the therapist should fit into an understandable and acceptable treatment plan – and you have the right to question the procedures.
Third, you should expect sex therapists to be non-judgmental and to portray their own comfort in giving and receiving sexual information. While you might expect to be challenged and confronted on important issues, you should also expect to experience a respectful attitude toward those values which you do not which to change.
Fourth, unless your therapist is a licensed physician wishing to conduct a physical examination, you should not expect to be asked to disrobe in the presence of your therapist. Sexual contact between client and therapist is considered unethical and is destructive to the therapeutic relationship. Neither should you expect to be required to perform sexually with your partner in the presence of your therapist. Overt sexual activities just should not occur in your therapist’s presence, even though the talk, material and the assignments must, by the nature of the problem, be specifically sexual and at times bluntly explicit.
Finally, you should feel that you are heard and adequately represented in your sexual therapy. That is, you should that you have been stereotyped as “female,” as “gay,” as “too old,” or in any other way that interferes with your sense of unique identity within the therapeutic setting. You should feel that you are being treated as an individual, not as a category!
Sex therapy is a new, dynamic approach to very real human problems. It is based on the assumptions that sex is good, that relationships should be meaningful, and that interpersonal intimacy is a desirable goal. Sex therapy is by its nature a very sensitive treatment modality and by necessity must include respect for the client’s values. It must be nonjudgmental and non-sexist, with recognition of the equal rights of man and woman to full expression and enjoyment of healthy sexual relationships.