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Sex Therapy


Sex therapy involves the therapeutic treatment of sexual disorders such as impotence, premature ejaculation, retarded ejaculation, hypoactive sexual desire, painful coitus, and orgasmic disorders. These problems, while not subjects of polite conversation until relatively recently, have been found to be extremely common, and further, to be sources of considerable emotional distress and interpersonal conflict in relationships.

Masters and Johnson, pioneers in the sex therapy field, have stated that at one time or another half of all marriages have significant sexual problems.

Other studies have suggested that at some point in their lives 10 percent of women are anorgasmic, 7 percent of men are impotent, and 18 percent of men suffer from premature or retarded ejaculation.

Sex Therapy for Inhibited Sexual Desire

This condition is characterized by loss of interest in sex, is thought to trouble one in five adult women during their lives. Additionally, surveys of married couples find that over half complain of encountering interferences that block their full enjoyment of sex.

While universally emphasizing correcting sexual misinformation, the importance of improved partner communication and honesty, anxiety reduction (including fear of performance failure), sensual experience and pleasure, and interpersonal tolerance and acceptance, sex therapy includes three different levels of intervention to address the various sexual problems mentioned above, depending on the nature and causes of the problem involved.

Sex therapists believe that many sexual disorders are rooted in learned patterns and values. These are termed psychogenic disorders. As they are growing up, children observe interaction between their parents and others and are the objects of various messages about their sexuality.

Transference to Children

Conflict or other problems, including sexual problems in marriages, can be transmitted to children and result in the formation of unhealthy attitudes about sex, about sex organs, or about the body in general.

Moreover, parents, religious institutions and societal norms may convey very repressive attitudes about sexuality that contribute to the formation of diverse sexual dysfunctions. Problems of this nature are believed by sex therapists to constitute the majority of sexual disorders.

An underlying assumption of sex therapy is that relatively short-term outpatient therapy can alleviate learned patterns, restrict symptoms, and allow a greater satisfaction with sexual experiences.

In cases where significant sexual dysfunction is linked to a broader emotional problem such as depression or substance abuse, intensive psychotherapy and/or pharmaceutical intervention may be appropriate.