Breaking down the importance of working with a sex positive therapist to get the best care for your sexual issue(s). (By: Jessica VerBout, LMFT, CST)
Though American culture continues to struggle truly talking about sex, there is an increasing recognition of the importance of open conversations about sexuality and sexual well-being (albeit still can feel a bit uncomfortable for some people -- and that's totally normal!). To navigate the complexities of human sexuality and address related concerns, individuals often seek the support of therapists. However, not all therapists possess the necessary knowledge, sensitivity, and understanding of sexual matters. This is where the role of a sex-positive therapist becomes so important for your psychosexual (fancy pants word for the meaning of a "sexual issue caused by a mental health or psychological concern"). In this blog post, I'll break down some of the reasons working with a sex-positive therapist is important and how a sex positive therapist's approach can foster personal growth, self-acceptance, and healthier relationships.
Okay, how is a sex positive therapist different?
Sex positive therapy is "an inclusive and non-judgmental approach that acknowledges and validates diverse sexual identities, orientations, and desires." Meaning: A sex positive therapist will not judge you for what you find alluring, erotic, sexually exciting, no matter who, or what, you're into. Similar to a good psychotherapist, a sex positive therapist will strive to create a safe and welcoming space for clients to explore their sexual concerns and experiences without fear of shame or discrimination, as they understand the importance the type of environment t heir clients are in impact their willingness to open up about their sexuality. A sex positive therapist recognizes that healthy sexuality is an integral part of overall well-being and they strive to address a wide range of topics such as sexual dysfunction, trauma, sexual identity, and relationship issues. Okay, what does a sex positive therapist treat?
>> Challenging Societal Stigmas: Societal stigmas surrounding sexuality can greatly impact individuals' self-perception and sexual well-being. Sex-positive therapists challenge these stigmas by providing a safe and supportive environment where clients can express themselves openly, within a safe and encouraging space. A sex positive therapist will explore ways clients can embrace their desires, preferences, and fantasies, fostering a sense of self-acceptance and empowerment (and how to express themselves in consenting, healthy ways). By dismantling societal norms and judgments, sex-positive therapy helps clients navigate their sexual journeys with confidence, authenticity, and resilience.
>> Addressing Sexual Dysfunctions: Sexual dysfunctions can significantly impact an individual's quality of life and relationships. Whether it's erectile dysfunction, feeling you ejaculate too soon or not soon enough, low libido, or pain during penetration, these issues can cause distress and strain on an individual and within their relationship(s). Sex-positive therapists are trained to address sexual dysfunctions by exploring physical, psychological, and relational factors that contribute to these difficulties. Commonly used therapeutic interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness techniques, and education, to help clients regain sexual well-being and enhance their overall satisfaction. Sometimes the treatment a client finds the most useful is learning how to accept the changes to their sexual functioning and redefining what it means to be sexual, with their "new" body or bodily function. Overall, a sex positive therapist is interested in helping clients discover pleasure -- in whatever way a client is able to find it! (Only focusing on orgasm and/or penetrative sex tends to be too focused on "performance-based sex," which ends up being discouraging, altogether. But it is not to completely dismiss the work on these aspects, either!)
>> Navigating Sexual Trauma: Sexual trauma can have long-lasting effects on a person's mental, emotional, and sexual health. A sex-positive therapist creates a safe space for survivors to process their trauma, offering support, validation, and guidance throughout their healing journey. They use trauma-informed approaches that prioritize consent, boundaries, and empowerment -- sometimes this may be in the form of consensual, safe kink. By working with a sex-positive therapist, survivors can gradually reclaim their sexuality, rebuild trust, and cultivate healthier relationships based on communication, consent, and respect.
>> Enhancing Intimate Relationships: Sexual satisfaction and open communication are vital components of fulfilling intimate relationships. Sex-positive therapists assist individuals, couples, and other relationship types (i.e., poly, thruple, etc.) in fostering healthy sexual dynamics, exploring desires, building on assertive communication, and understanding each other's needs. They provide a space for couples to discuss concerns, negotiate boundaries, and learn techniques to improve sexual intimacy ("Pleasure is the measure!" -Emily Nagoski, PhD). By promoting understanding, empathy, and consent, sex positive therapy fosters stronger, more fulfilling relationships.
Working with a sex-positive therapist can be a transformative experience! Through empowering individuals to embrace their sexuality, overcome challenges, and cultivate healthier relationships, sex positive therapists strive to build a non-judgmental and inclusive atmosphere to do the important work of helping clients dismantle societal stigmas, address sexual dysfunctions, and support survivors of sexual trauma (among other things). By encouraging open conversations, self-acceptance, and consent, sex-positive therapy contributes to the overall well-being and happiness of individuals, couples, and any other relationship structure. If you're seeking support for sexual concerns or want to enhance your intimate relationships, consider working with a sex-positive therapist in your area.
Begin your pleasure discovery:
The therapists at InnerStrength Therapy Services offer all of the above in comfortable in-person therapy or by convenient, confidential online therapy in Minnesota.
Check us out to find your sex positive therapist and begin you pleasure discovery today: www.innerstrengththerapy.org