Sex Therapy

at Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids

Sex Therapy
In Grand Rapids, MI and West Michigan At Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids, MI

What is Sex Therapy?

At some point in your life, you may encounter challenges in your intimate relationships. Whether you feel emotionally disconnected from your partners, have intimacy issues, or have sexual health concerns, it’s natural that these difficulties impact your relationship satisfaction and overall well-being.

The goal of sex therapy is to provide a safe, confidential space where individuals and couples can openly discuss and work on their issues related to sexual well-being with a licensed therapist.

Sex therapists are professionals who understand human sexuality and use tailored interventions to assist individuals in improving the mental and emotional aspects of their sexuality. During the sessions, you will learn how to communicate safely and effectively with your partner to address concerns and explore your desires to improve your sexual satisfaction.

Core Issues Addressed in Sex Therapy

People who benefit from sex therapy can experience sexual dysfunction, intimacy issues, communication barriers, or mental health concerns related to their intimate lives.

Here are some of the issues a sex therapist can help you address during sessions:

Topics of intimacy

Talking about intimate problems has long been stigmatized in many cultures. As a result of cultural and social norms, many people still feel uncomfortable talking openly about sexuality. However, topics of sexuality are important aspects of healthy relationships and individual well-being.

Since intimacy issues directly impact your mental health and relationship satisfaction, one of the goals of a sex therapist is to address various aspects of intimacy.

Examples of other issues that could be discussed are:

  • Libido discrepancies (meaning you both have different levels of sexual drive)
  • Issues with desire and pleasure
  • Anorgasmia
  • Dyspareunia
  • History of Sexual Trauma
  • Premature Ejaculation
  • Delayed Ejaculation
  • Communication issues around desire and pleasure
  • Kink Exploration
  • Increasing Communication around sexuality
  • Working on creating a safe environment for sexual expression
  • Religious trauma surrounding sexuality
  • And more.

Mental health and trauma

Individuals who have a history of trauma may find it hard to establish satisfying sexual relationships. The reason is that the effects of their past traumatic events still manifest in their sexual lives. This leads to intimacy barriers and an inability to experience pleasure without guilt.

When unresolved mental health issues are present, they can manifest in the following ways in a relationship:

  • Pain – Emotional distress because of past negative experiences might manifest as physical discomfort during sex.
  • Pleasure – Mental health issues can reduce your ability to enjoy sexual activities. A therapist will work with you to reconnect with your body and experience pleasure.
  • Communication barriers and issues – Sexual trauma or other sex-related negative experiences can make it hard to communicate your desires and boundaries. Consequently, sex therapy often focuses on enhancing communication skills and teaching you to express yourself openly.

Sex therapists understand the connection between trauma, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues and relationship satisfaction. Therefore, during therapy sessions, they help clients understand how it affects them as individuals and their relationships. Here are some of the ways they work with individuals who deal with various mental health struggles:

  • Process past traumas in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Dissociate past negative experiences from current positive ones to deal with pain during sexual activity.
  • Reclaim pleasure in their sex lives by creating new, positive sexual experiences.
  • Overcoming communication barriers and learning how to express their sexual desires.

In order to address all these factors, sex therapists usually use Bitzer’s (2013) biopsychosocial approach to sexual concerns (Rosen & Kranz, 2020). This model considers sexual issues through a multifaceted lens and relies on biological, psychological, social/relationship, and cultural factors while addressing sexual problems.

Why You Should Engage in Sex Therapy

Working with sex therapy comes with numerous advantages that can significantly improve both personal well-being and relationship dynamics.

According to Peggy Kleinplatz, a Canadian sexologist, one of the most beneficial clinical implications of this type of therapy is that it helps individuals redefine and reconceptualize sex. In the context of heterosexual relationships, the conventional sex script often focuses on intercourse as the culmination and primary goal of sexual activity. This, in turn, pushes couples to measure their sexual satisfaction by how often they engage in intercourse, instead of discussing or exploring what they actually enjoy. Sex therapy encourages couples to step away from routine sexual scripts and explore what makes each partner feel most alive and connected (Kleinplatz, 2010). 

Couples who want to improve their emotional connection in relationships can especially benefit from mindfulness — a strategy sex therapists often use to help them become more aware of the presence of their partner. As a result, they can better understand their partner’s point of view and respond to them in a less judgmental way (Kleinplatz, 2018).

For example, Mindful Sexual and Relationship Therapy (MSRT) can improve a couple’s sexual experience by incorporating mindfulness techniques directly into their intimate interactions (Brotto et al., 2014).

What to Expect During Sex Therapy

Sessions of sex therapy typically involve open, honest discussions where you and your therapist explore emotional, psychological, and physical factors that affect your sense of intimacy and sexual satisfaction. Even though your discussions will revolve around intimate topics, your therapist will create a comfortable and open environment where you will be able to discuss your sexual concerns freely.

In particular, some of the questions that your therapist might ask during initial sessions might be similar to the following:

  • What is preventing you from connecting with your partner?
  • Do you need to say “No, not right now,” or negotiate for something?
  • other than what your partner is requesting?
  • Do you need more privacy when having sex?
  • How do concerns about birth control or STIs play into your feelings during intimacy? (Ellison, 2012).

Reflecting on these questions will help you and your therapist identify underlying issues that impact your sexual satisfaction. Afterward, your therapist will develop a specific approach that might involve exercises for you and your partner to try at home, techniques to improve communication, or strategies to reduce anxiety related to sexual activities.

How to Find a Qualified Sex Therapist

If you have decided to get professional help to overcome the intimate challenges in your relationship, you should know that a lot can depend on the professionalism and skills of the sex therapist you’re going to work with. A good therapist will offer a space where you feel respected and understood, which is important for your healing.

At Health for Life Counseling, we understand the sensitive nature of sexual health concerns. Our licensed therapists are available both online and at our offices in Grand Rapids, MI, or Ada, MI to help you address and overcome your challenges.

Note that with us, you can take advantage of various insurance options, including  Aetna, Meritain Health, Cofinity, Optum, and more. You can take a look at the full list of insurance providers we accept here.

Therapists For Sex Therapy in Grand Rapids, MI

Nicole Cass

Sex therapist using creative Solutions and Trauma-Informed Counseling for Couples, Adults, and Teens

Brittani Decess

Counseling through a trauma-informed, inclusive, and equitable lens for individuals, relationships, and families.

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Grand Rapids, MI

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