What is Psychosexual Therapy?
The term psychosexual therapist is interchangeable with sex counsellor, sexuality counsellor, sexologist and sex therapist. A psychosexual therapist is a specialist with an undergraduate degree in health or allied health, such as medicine, nursing, psychology, social work, counselling, physiotherapy or occupational therapy, and has further training and education in psychosexual therapy/sexual health/sexology.
Psychosexual therapy focuses on the experiences an individual and his or her partner(s) has with sexual function/dysfunction, commonly referred to as sexual difficulties. Some of the common sexual difficulties include: loss of libido or desire for sex, lack of sexual enjoyment, pain experienced during sexual behaviour such as vaginismus, vulvadynia, difficulty experiencing orgasm, fear of sex, body image issues related to sexual intimacy, erectile difficulties, such as rapid or delayed ejaculation, compulsive sexual behaviours, sex and porn addictions, performance anxiety, mismatched sex drives in a relationship, and/or differences in sexual preferences.
A psychosexual therapist will assist the individual and his or her partner to resolve the sexual difficulty by focusing on the behavioural aspect of their function/dysfunction, combined with counselling and/or psychotherapy to address any underlying issues that contribute to the person’s and/or couple’s experiences. The psychosexual therapist is sex positive, non-judgemental and is comfortable in discussing a wide range of sexual health and relationship issues.
Some psychosexual therapists work with broader sexual issues that many individuals and couples face. These may include relationship therapy, sexual orientation and identity, gender diversity, puberty and adolescent sexuality, older people and sexuality, sexually transmissible infections (including HIV/AIDS), sexuality and disability, and sexual and reproductive health issues.
Psychosexual therapists employ techniques and strategies from a range of psychotherapeutic approaches and/or theories, depending on the needs of the client(s). Psychosexual therapists may use cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness, emotionally-focussed therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, systemic therapy, gestalt therapy, person-centred therapy, narrative therapy, or psychodynamic therapeutic approaches.
- An accredited Clinical Psychosexual Therapist of the Society of Australian Sexologists has met a high standard of practice, in theory, clinical experience (at least 1,000 hours) and supervision.
- An Associate Psychosexual Therapist is a person who has met criteria and is undertaking further training to attain the level of Clinical Psychosexual Therapist.
NB. In Australia Psychosexual Therapy/Sexology/Sex Therapy is not yet regulated, which means that anyone can refer to themselves in this way. Despite someone advertising himself or herself as a sex therapist or sexologist, or even providing sex therapy, this does not imply that they have had relevant postgraduate education or training in sexual health/sexology. In Australia undergraduate degrees in medicine, nursing, psychology, social work and counselling, do not necessarily have sexology subjects as a requirement of their degree.