Sex therapy is a type of psychotherapy intended to help individuals and couples deal with sexual issues. Sex therapy is a form of talk therapy rather than hands-on therapy. Everyone in the room is completely clothed during a sex therapy session, and there is no contact.
Physical exams may be recommended by sex therapists to rule out medical causes of sexual dysfunction. Some may also advocate for the use of sexual surrogates for people who are working on sexual issues but do not have a partner with whom to practice. Sex therapists, on the other hand, do not do medical exams or have sexual contact with their clients.
What Exactly Is Sensate Focus?
Masters and Johnson invented the sensate focus technique in the 1960s as a sex therapy approach. It consists of a set of behavioral exercises that couples practice together to improve their closeness and connection.
Sensate Focus’s foundation
The foundation of sensate concentration is comprised of seven aspects. They are as follows:
- Developing a shared sense of responsibility among partners for addressing sexual wants and problems
- Providing sexual function and sexual activity information and education
- Being willing to change one’s mind on sex
- Getting Rid of Sexual Performance Anxiety
- Assisting couples in improving their communication about sex and sexual approaches
- Reducing harmful habits and sex roles in the relationship
- Giving couples homework to assist them in improving their sexual connection
Acceptance of shared responsibility and desire to perform homework as suggested by the sex therapist are two of the most crucial factors in sensate focus success. Mutual accountability is important because it frames sexual troubles as a problem of the partnership rather than a problem of the individual who has been designated as “the sufferer.”
Structured homework assignments are the component that distinguishes sensate concentration from other behavioral methods. Senate concentration is distinguished by the fact that it momentarily removes stressful actions from a couple’s sexual menu. After removing the sources of stress, the therapist advises a precise formula of measures to take in order to improve the couple’s sexual lives.
Sample Sensate Focus Exercice
Sensate attention has two primary goals: to reduce performance anxiety and to improve communication. A typical early homework assignment for a couple in which one spouse has erectile dysfunction would be as follows:
“I’d like you to arrange two nights in the following week where you can spend at least an hour together. One of you will set up the date on the first night, and the other on the second. Whoever is organizing the date will prepare the bedroom with clean sheets, excellent lighting, and calming music for you two.
“You’ll both take a warm shower before your date to unwind. You’ll do that since you’ve told me you’d rather be wearing underwear for this first exercise. The individual arranging the date will then assist their date in getting comfortable on the bed. They’ll then spend half an hour exploring and appreciating the sensation of touching their partner’s body. For the time being, we’ll avoid touching genitals because we want to keep this experience as stress-free as possible.
“After a half-hour, you will change. The second partner will then get an opportunity to perform the same type of exploration. The purpose of this homework is not to offer your partner a massage. Instead, it is to appreciate touching and being touched without any expectations. That is why it is critical to communicate during this occasion. Tell your partner what you enjoy and dislike. Tell them what feels wonderful and what makes you uncomfortable or something you’d like them to quit doing.”
Why is Sensate Focus Used?
Sensate concentration has been demonstrated to be useful as a component of sex therapy in addressing a variety of sexual dysfunctions in both men and women, including:1
- Pain during sex
- Premature ejaculation
- Erectile dysfunction
- Arousal disorders
- Disorders of Desire
Sensate focus is a couples-based technique. It can be utilized by couples of all ages, gender identities, and sexual orientations. Much of the research has focused on heterosexual relationships. Nonetheless, many therapists have adapted it for same-sex and different orientation couples.
There has been a lot of research done on the use of sensate focus, either alone or in combination with other strategies, to improve couples’ sexual satisfaction.
The approach has also been utilized as part of sex therapy for those experiencing sexual difficulties as a result of medical diseases such as breast cancer. Sensate concentration is widely accepted by sex therapists and other specialists who treat sexual dysfunction.
This is especially true when used in conjunction with good information regarding sexual performance and function. Sensate attention is a highly safe method that most people can master. This is due, in large part, to the fact that sensate focus is especially meant to be a progressive and gentle process of reducing performance anxiety and stress associated with sexual engagement.
Many sex therapists claim that sensate focus is a simple and effective approach to build intimacy and connection in couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex.
How to Find a Sex Therapist
There are various methods for locating a sex therapist. Searching the supplier list for your insurance company is frequently the most cost-effective option. Look for a mental health practitioner who specializes in sex therapy.
You can also search therapist listings, such as Psychology Today, for sex therapists and cross-reference it with your insurance list. Finally, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists maintains a directory of sex therapists on their website, AASECT.org. AASECT certified sex therapists must complete both training and clinical supervision in sexual health and therapeutic practices.
Be warned that not all sex therapists accept insurance. The cost of sex therapy will most likely vary based on where you reside.
Having said that, sex therapy is frequently time-limited. Pure sex therapy is generally expected to last no more than 10-12 sessions. However, the number of sessions required will vary based on the issues you want to address and whether you are also seeing a sex therapist for general therapy.