Is It Time to See a Sex Therapist?

PLUS: Sex Therapy Exercises To Do at Home

THE NEW YORK TIMES – In the summer of 2017, six years into her marriage, Kayti Christian booked her first sex therapy appointment.

Ms. Christian and her husband grew up in evangelical families, steeped in the belief that any sexual desires outside of marriage were sinful. When they got married, they expected sex to be intuitive — even transcendent. Instead, Ms. Christian said she and her husband felt numb during intercourse and ashamed after.

They prayed. They asked their pastor for guidance, but it did not help. Finally Ms. Christian, now 32, started searching for local certified sex therapists.

They went to five sessions; sometimes together, sometimes alone. The couple’s therapist recommended simple exercises, like facing each other, holding eye contact and stating their sexual desires out loud.

Sex is complicated

“It might sound silly, but talking about sex while not having sex was something that felt revolutionary to us,” said Ms. Christian, who is working on a memoir about evangelical purity culture.

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Sex is complicated for just about everyone — influenced by an ever-changing web of psychological, physical, cultural and social factors. And many individuals and couples can benefit from therapy to better understand their sexuality.

Sex therapists say their field has long been misunderstood — seen as a last resort for people in doomed relationships, or a fringe practice that involves embarrassing hands-on exercises.

For people like Ms. Christian and her husband, it can take years of suffering before they finally turn to a sex therapist for help.

There is emerging evidence that we may be in the midst of a collective rough patch, sexually speaking. Over the past two years, several studies suggest, people were having less sex and worse sex, particularly in the early days of the pandemic.

A 2020 Kinsey Institute survey found that 24 percent of married people in the United States were having less frequent sex than before the pandemic, and 17 percent of women reported a decrease in sexual satisfaction.

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Yet addressing sexual problems — whether they emerged during the pandemic or not — is challenging … READ MORE [subscription may be required]

Not ready to discuss your sex life with a stranger? Try this tonight … 

Sex Therapy Exercises To Do at Home

Respark – If you’ve ever been to sex therapy or couples therapy you’re probably familiar with the concept of “sex therapy homework.”

There are a lot of sex therapy exercises that are meant to be done at home, alone with yourself or your partner(s), that can be very beneficial for enhancing intimacy and working through anxieties surrounding sex.

The purpose of sex therapy exercises is to help one improve their sex life by acting on the things you may discuss in therapy. In this sense, “what you will learn in sex therapy is just the beginning, and by engaging in “sex exercises” you will learn not only the fundamentals of what constitutes good sex for each partner, you will also learn to broaden your horizons and try things you may have never thought about before.” (marriage.com)

An article for Marriage.com by expert blogger Sylvia Smith says the following regarding sex therapy exercises to do at home:

“The more you try what you have been taught in sex therapy homework exercises, the more skillful you will become.” (marriage.com)

More than this, Smith refers to sex therapy as something that takes time and practice:

“Sex therapy, like all therapy, is not a one-shot deal.  You do not suddenly get answers for all that ails you in one appointment and leave as a new sex superstar.” (marriage.com)

With all of this in mind, you’re probably wondering how to find sex therapy exercises to do at home. There are a lot of prompts that other sex therapists have been kind enough to share online, but it’s always helpful to consult your own sex therapist to find out what specific sex therapy exercises may help you.

“Homework” Assignments

One of the most basic sex therapy exercises to do at home would be that of communication. By communication, I don’t mean regular conversation, but rather utilizing a set of specific prompts to help you or you and your partner(s) enhance your communication. These prompts “might be the same (or similar to) as these:

  1. When do you feel sexiest?
  2. When do you feel least sexy?
  3. What do I do in bed that you really like?
  4. What do I do in bed that turns you off? … READ MORE. 
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