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What does a sex therapist do?

A sex therapist helps people with sexual problems.

Sex therapists are qualified counsellors, doctors or healthcare professionals who have done extra training in helping people with difficulties relating to sex.

Why do people see sex therapists?

Many people have a problem with sex at some point in their life. Some people deal with these problems themselves but, for others, sexual problems can cause a lot of distress and unhappiness.

A sex therapist can help people with various sexual problems, including:

In men:

In women:

  • lack of desire
  • difficulty having an orgasm
  • pain during sex or inability to have penetrative sex

For more information, read more about male sexual problems and female sexual problems.

What happens in a sex therapy session?

A sex therapist will listen to you describe your problems and assess whether the cause is likely to be psychological, physical or a combination of the two.

Talking about and exploring your experiences will help you get a better understanding of what is happening and the reasons. The therapist may also give you exercises and tasks to do with your partner in your own time.

Each therapy session is completely confidential. You can see a sex therapist by yourself, but if your problem affects your partner as well, it may be better for you both to attend.

Sessions usually last for 30-50 minutes. The therapist may advise you to have weekly sessions or to see them less frequently, such as once a month.

How can I find a sex therapist?

If you have a sexual problem, it’s a good idea to see your GP first as they can check for any physical causes. Your GP can refer you to a sex therapist if they think it will help you. However, sex therapy is not available on the NHS in all areas, and an NHS clinic may only offer a limited number of therapy sessions.

You can also find a sex therapist privately, which you’ll need to pay for. It’s important to see a fully qualified therapist. Look for one who is a member of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) or the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine.

Organisations such as Relate also offer sex therapy for a fee.

Read the answers to more questions about sexual health.

Further information:


Help with your relationship: couples therapy

Relationship counselling is for couples who want to resolve issues within their relationship. In this video, relationship counsellor Denise Knowles explains what couples therapy involves and who it can benefit.

Media last reviewed: 25/04/2015

Next review due: 25/04/2017

Page last reviewed: 17/12/2014

Next review due: 16/12/2016