My favorite disclaimer is a quote used in many contexts but fits so nicely in this one:
“Sex is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be discovered.”
I can really only speak about sex therapy with me, but in general, the experience should be comparable (we hope). I like to think of sex therapy as a journey, an experience, a process, and an adventure. There usually won’t be one easily identifiable, concrete, black and white solution, and there shouldn’t be, because we are extremely complex individuals made up of multiple overlapping dynamics, identities and experiences. Even in situations where there are clear challenges, i.e. a medical concern or biological factors, they are never in isolation of feelings, impact, perceptions and attitudes- all of which play a part in how we engage or disengage through intimacy and sex with ourselves and with others.
So what then, is sex therapy?
It is your space and time to carve out for yourself or for your relationships to explore- to outline your vision and hopes for how you want sexuality to play a part in your life; to expand your vision of sex; to discover and re-discover elements of the self that align with pleasure, satisfaction, eroticism and desire; to learn and re-learn techniques that may bring you closer to that alignment; to challenge values and critically assess the norms we have learned culturally and societally since childhood in a non-judgmental space; to empower a sense of risk and vulnerability through a secure attachment and bonding experience; to increase connection to the self and to others; and to experience and re-experience self-love. I believe that anyone can benefit from sex therapy.
So what can you expect?
Par for the course, lots of conversation about sex! As a society, we struggle to know how to talk about sex, and so having the privilege of journeying with others into such conversations is invigorating and can definitely be expected in sex therapy. I don’t want to minimize how scary this can be, however you will have your own safety and boundaries in place to ensure the practice you get in therapy works for you and your process.
You can definitely expect to find comfort in how common of an experience it is to feel distress, anguish, fear and un-comfortability around talk of sex or your experiences of sex. So many of us just hope we are “normal” or “going to be okay,” and I can definitely promise you, you are. Just because no one is talking about these things, doesn’t mean they are only happening to you. While each of us has our own unique stories and narratives and experiences, we are all subject to human universals and feel the same feelings.
You can expect to find increased hope and motivation as you progress, and you can expect to build confidence in a new narrative of healing, expansive thinking and excitement.
You can also expect homework- a lot of what happens in sex therapy happens on your own time within the confines of your own privacy, so don’t be surprised when your sex therapist warns you about that! This is where the motivation comes in handy- homework takes time, it takes energy and it takes commitment. Think of it as an equal priority to cooking dinner or going to the gym- you’ll be happier if you did it.
Apart from that, expect an individualized and unique experience because this journey is yours and yours alone, no two people have the same challenges, desires or hopes, so give yourself permission to dream and to feel satisfaction based on your own personal vision, without comparison or judgement.
Thank yourself for taking the first step of the adventure by asking these questions and building your curiosity around welcoming new conversations and new possibilities!