Sex Therapy

In our years of experience training systemic therapists, we have often encountered students and colleagues who assume they need to (or perhaps simply prefer to) refer to other clinicians those clients who raise sexual issues in therapy. We think this is unfortunate, given that a systemic or relational framework offers a unique and generative foundation from which to create positive sexual change for clients. Additionally, many brief therapists have been trained to never consider as a clinical issue a topic that clients themselves do not raise; this path unfortunately may give clients the impression that we are unwilling to address issues of intimacy. Because sex is both a physical expression and a passionate one, you may indeed be uncomfortable entering the bedroom with your clients. After all, you may surmise, “I don’t know them that well.” As one student once said to us, “What do you expect me to do? Just ask them, ‘how’s your sex life?’!” 

Well, in fact, yes, we do. Why not? It’s an excellent question. The dramatic potential for sex to enhance intimacy and create new layers of passion renders the topic an enormous resource.

We find that traditional approaches to sex therapy are often pathologizing of people and their problems. We prefer to access the expertise and wisdom of our clients, pointing them away from seemingly terminal diagnoses and toward creative conversations that can allow new understandings of and possibilities for sexual desires and behaviors.

As family therapists, we are legally and ethically permitted to work with individuals and couples who request our help regarding their sexuality, but the designation “sex therapist” is reserved, at least in Florida, for those professionals who have completed a state-approved course of study in this specialization. We thus do not hold ourselves out as sex therapists, but rather as brief therapists who work with sexual issues.

You can read more about our relational approach to working with clients' sexual concerns in Quickies and our article entitled "Relational Sex Therapy."