Couples’ sex therapy is similar to typical couples therapy, with a few exceptions. As with general couples therapy, it is more than a couple sitting together venting about one another or their problems. Couples therapy takes work, commitment, and a willingness from both partners to show up even on the hard days.
Starting Couples Sex Therapy
As with most therapy, the first session usually involves some policy review, paperwork, and clarifying expectations. This session will also cover essential background information and establish the reason for therapy and any goals. Couples’ sex therapy differs in that there will also be a discussion of well…sex, and sexual histories. Depending on the couple this may take more than a single session. Individual sessions may be necessary for more in-depth discussions of sexual histories including masturbatory practices and past partners. If you feel it would be helpful to have one on one space, just ask your provider if that is an option.
Subsequent sessions will explore the root causes of underlying issues and the therapist may take on the role of educator or mediator in different scenarios. You’ll learn a lot of new information and skills in therapy and the therapist should assist in finding ways to apply those skills outside the office and into your day-to-day life.
Couples’ sex therapy additionally will likely include a lot of unlearning the misinformation and harmful narratives around sex and relationships. Most people, especially in the US, grow up with little information about sex and have to learn from peers, experience, or porn. Therefore work will be needed to debunk myths and develop a better understanding of what sexual health and pleasure are.
The Importance of Communication
While communication is often a focus in couples therapy, it is even more important in couples sex therapy. It is one thing to learn to communicate effectively in your relationship, and quite another to do that in a sexual context. There will be many discussions outside the bedroom that include pleasure, frequency, boundaries, and aftercare. Additionally, communication in the moment, both verbal and non-verbal will be part of the work.
Couples’ sex therapy will likely come with homework or “date night” assignments to practice the skills discussed in the session. Sex is a behavior and therefore a lot of the work will be around the act itself. You should feel comfortable discussing details with your therapist and your partner to establish what works for you.
While the focus may be on sexual issues, more general topics also have a place in couples’ sex therapy. Sexual issues can frequently be symptoms of larger dysfunctions in a relationship rather than the root issues. For example, children will change roles in the home and each parent may struggle to find time to be both a parent and a partner, or a history of infidelity is making the vulnerability of sex challenging.
There are many factors that can affect a couple’s sex life. Even if the relationship is perfect outside of sex, there is always space to touch on other topics, as each person is a complete and complex individual.
Moving Forward After Couples Sex Therapy
Through couples sex therapy you’ll be able to leave past beliefs about sex behind. You’ll create an erotic life that is flexible and unique to you and your partner’s pleasure. Additionally, you’ll develop the skills to continue exploration and communication which are key for maintaining the spice in long-term relationships.
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