Those with sexual problems often do not know where to turn for help. Some go to a marriage counselor, a sex addiction counselor or a general practitioner, but none of these counselors are well trained to solve significant sexual concerns. Others find a board certified sex therapist, which makes a lot more sense.
Marriage counselors are often efficient at improving communication, but most have very little background in human sexuality and typically none in sexology. Since marriage is a sexual relationship, it is ironic that the training of marriage counselors is so remiss when it comes to sex. Marriage counselors and others who are not trained to deal with sex draw on their personal biases for their “treatment plan.” It would be more appropriate to realize their limitations and refer their clients to a board certified sex therapist.
A qualified sex therapist is board certified by AASECT and/or one of three other national boards that certify sex therapists and sexologists. I discussed these boards in two earlier blogs, but AASECT is by far the most recognized and rigorous organization that certifies sex therapists. Some who claim to be certified are not certified by any of these boards, but instead by some unknown and typically unmentioned group–an ethical issue.
There are far too many counselors who claim to do sex therapy on Psychology Today’s website or a similar counseling site, when in fact they have few to no legitimate qualifications! In this sense, Psychology Today’s verifying arrow means absolutely nothing! These counselors misrepresent their competency and training.
A counselor who claims to do sex addiction therapy may or may not be certified by CSAT or a clearly religious certification by an unknown board. None of these certifications qualify a counselor to solve basic sexual and relationship problems. Instead, sex addiction counselors focus on those they proclaim to have too much sex, or view too much pornography on the Internet. Most of them moralize about the imminent dangers of lust. Many use the same 12-step program used for alcohol or drug addiction.
Sex is not a drug. An addiction occurs when a person is dependent on something external to the body, such as a drug. Sex is part of us. There is no such thing as sexual addiction! This does not mean some are not unbalanced about sex. Some are obsessive compulsive about sex, and they need to find more balance, but this does not mean they are sex addicts who deserve to be put down and thrown in the proverbial treatment clinic along with Tiger Woods!
The kind of therapist these unbalanced people need is a board certified sex therapist who does basic cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Sex addiction has become far too common a term in the media and in everyday life. It is largely a media-created concept with no basis in sound research and theory.
Both sexual addiction and hypersexuality were rejected for their lack of conceptual clarity and empirical validation in the DSM-V, the manual therapists use to diagnose mental health problems. These concepts were not even recommended for further research.
Even if sex addiction therapists were useful, unless they are also board certified sex therapists, they still are not trained to improve sexual relationships or to deal with common sexual and relationship concerns such as E.D., P.E. and anorgasmia. The problem is that the two trainings are in direct conflict. Even if a sex addiction therapist also has a board certification as a sex therapist, the two approaches negate each other. Sex addiction is sex-negative. Sex addiction counselors fail to get at internal locus of control so a client can take charge of their own problems. Most of them rely on the 12-step program, which has no relevance for satisfying sex.
The answer is to find a board certified sex therapist that will commit to and follow through on developing and fine-tuning a crisp and effective treatment plan. If a therapist does not have a comprehensive website, it is nearly impossible to know what you would get if you decided to work with the therapist. A brief profile on Psychology Today or another Internet website does not give enough information to make an intelligent choice.
This is the Information Age. The Internet makes it possible to make wise choices about products and services. It is intelligent to talk with different therapists before committing to one. A website should clearly indicate the degrees, board certifications and professional accomplishments of a therapist. It should also detail how the therapist addresses a range of problems, what the therapist’s specialties are, and whether the specialties are clearly justified by actual training and experience.
Finding a suitable match between a therapist and a given couple or individual and the presenting problem can be exhausting, but it pays to do your research before you decide. There are lots of issues. The fee a therapist charges is usually the first question asked, but there are other equally relevant issues besides cost. Trying to save a buck may not facilitate a thorough solution to a problem! It depends on how much you value finding a complete solution.
Specialists usually charge more than generalists. Even specialists do not charge the same fee. In most cases, you get what you pay for. More qualified and accomplished therapists typically charge more than those who have just hung out their shingle. The most qualified therapists are not providers, as they would not be able to charge what they are worth. They usually offer receipts that help clients get out-of-network reimbursement from their insurance. Unfortunately, this reimbursement is likely to cease in coming years with the full impact of Obamacare on such coverage.
It is important to prioritize a relationship enough to find the best sex therapist available, and to take the therapist’s suggestions. Enhancing a relationship or an individual’s sexual health should be more valued than buying an expensive cell phone or eating out at a top-end restaurant. As I pointed out in an earlier blog, materialism and technology often interfere with intimacy!
If you have a sexual problem, find a board certified sex therapist that you are clearly comfortable with. Otherwise, you will be spinning your wheels in the sand!