People are usually discreet because they are under the impression that consulting a sexologist is abnormal and means they have a problem. Obviously, many people decide, one day, to go ahead and make an appointment to invest in their sexual and personal well-being.
It can take a while before you realize that you need help. It is normal, when you are facing difficulties, to look for solutions on your own. Sometimes, you let things go thinking that patience is a virtue but old sayings are not always in touch with our reality. So, how will you know if it is time to consult? How long will you wait before you call? What kind of therapy will you choose? It is not always easy to find answers and to know where to ask…
Signs that you need to consult
Anyone who feels the need to go further, to understand their desires or to bring changes to their couple or to their sexual or personal life can consult. However, some signs imply that it would be beneficial for you to consult. Any of these signs can be enough to motivate you to go. Sometimes, you will identify more than one.
It could be beneficial for you to undertake sex therapy if:
- You are going through reoccurring frustrations related to your sexuality or your couple;
- Sexuality leaves you in a state of inner turmoil;
- Your partner and you have frequent disputes over sexual matters;
- You feel that your partner is not comfortable with their sexuality and they don’t seem to be able to find the words to express it;
- Your relationship is on the verge of a breakup;
- Sexual difficulties or conflicts are tearing you apart;
- You get the feeling that no matter what you do to feel better in your love life or sexual life, you always return to the same point.
- You are unable to solve the problem;
- You have nightmares or unpleasant dreams following a trauma or a bad sexual experience;
- You are so focused on your sexual difficulties that it takes up too much space in your mind;
- You find it hard to keep doing what you usually do because you are too bothered by your problems.
The reasons for consultation
There are many reasons why people decide to consult in sex therapy. There are:
- Emotional reasons (lack of self-confidence or self-esteem, emotional dependency, difficulty of being intimate, jealousy, poor body image, etc.)
- Conjugal reasons (marital conflict, separation, extramarital relationship, domestic violence, etc.)
- Sexual reasons (decrease or lack of desire, pain during sex, lack of orgasm, sexual compulsion or addiction, performance anxiety, sexual abuse, questioning your sexual orientation, disturbing sexual behavior, etc.)
- Health reasons (related to grief, stress, pregnancy, postpartum depression, abortion, infertility, miscarriage, menopause, a sexual disease, etc.)
Should I consult alone or as a couple?
Before you decide if it is better to consult alone or as a couple, you should first try to figure out whom, between the two of you, have the most difficulties. If the problem concerns you both, you should go together. Trust your instinct. Do you think it would be beneficial for your couple? Would you rather do this alone? If you are not sure, the therapist can assess in the first consultations if it is better for you to consult individually or as a couple. The one who has the most prominent symptom (lack of desire, premature ejaculation, etc.) is not necessarily the one who finds it most difficult. Sometimes, the partner has a hard time living with the other’s symptoms and needs to consult to learn how to live with this situation. You must evaluate who really needs the change and the advice.
I have decided, now, what do I do?
Several options are available. If you are lucky enough to know someone who already consulted and who liked their sex therapist, you can ask for contact information. That way, you will have a trusted resource. Many websites can help you find local sex therapists, such as the Association des Sexologues du Québec (ASQ). You can search by name or by city. Make sure that the person you choose has a master’s degree in clinical sexology (counselling). The ASQ makes sure that all of its members graduated. Since personal finances can be an issue for many, some universities, like UQAM, have sexology clinics where you can consult supervised interns. If you do, you will help train future sex therapists while saving some money.
Starting a therapy is a step towards change. Don’t be surprised if your therapist asks you questions about things that are not related to your problem. You are not different in your sexuality and in your day-to-day life. You have the same weaknesses and the same defense mechanisms. Therefore, it is normal to talk about your everyday life. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, the therapist doesn’t just teach sexual techniques. In fact, it is not always necessary. Instead, they will make you think about your situation to allow you to understand what you are going through and to bring necessary changes to your usual ways. It is not always easy to seek help. However, you must remember that the more you wait, the longer it may take to solve the problem. Once the results will begin to show, you will be proud of the courage it took to undertake this process.