A WALK ON THE BEACH
A GUIDE TO PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
relationships - dating - love - intimacy - health
The way you think about your relationships, the skills and attitudes you bring to them and the time and effort you put in can make all the difference. People are social creatures and relationships matter to us. We enjoy them, we cry over them and we're curious about how to get our relationships to be the way we want them. How well your relationships work can have a big impact on how satisfied you feel with life. Stimulating, resilient, satisfying relationships with partners, friends and family rank high on many people's wish list for a happy life.
SEXUAL HEALTH - 9. SEX THERAPY
If you're having problems in your sex life you may want to consider getting professional help.
How to decide whether sex therapy is for you.
What is sex therapy?
Sex therapy offers help for people with sexual problems.

It's been around for over 40 years now, so it's not a newfangled trend. It has proven success rates and is a service which is regularly referred to by counsellors, GPs and other medical professionals.

Sex therapists are trained counsellors or medical professionals who've undertaken additional training in the physical and psychological issues associated with sexual functioning.

What sort of problems do therapists deal with?
The problems fit into three basic categories: can't get it up, can't get it in, can't be bothered. In fact, therapists tackle pretty much any sexual problem that isn't sorting itself out! It may be a problem you've had for ages or it might be something that's developed after a previously good sex life. You may know exactly what has caused your particular problem - or like many, you may be mystified.

Some sexual problems are purely physical. They could result from disability, illness or a side-effect of medication. Some are purely psychological, originating in negative childhood messages or sexual trauma. Or perhaps the problem stems from relationship difficulties. The majority of problems have a combination of physical and psychological elements.

Typical problems resolved
* Erection problems
* Ejaculating too quickly
* Difficulty reaching orgasm
* Painful intercourse
* Problems with penetration
* Can't get sexually excited
* Gone off it altogether
* Sexual addiction

What sort of people go?
There's no one type of person who sees a sex therapist. You may be gay, straight or bisexual. I've seen people in their teens and in their 70s. I've seen unemployed barristers, Muslim virgins and Anglican priests. If you have a partner who won't go for therapy, you may still find, as may have, that a few sessions on your own can be really helpful.

It seems to be harder for some people than others to ask for help about sexual problems. It's a very personal subject and most of us have been brought up with the myth that sex should always come naturally.

But, in reality, sexual problems affect pretty much everyone at some stage in their life. For some the problem resolves itself over time, but for others it's very valuable to call in the experts.

How does it work?
First, your therapist will discuss the problem with you and help you identify if the cause is physical, psychological or a combination of the two. If you're in a relationship, you'll also explore if there are any unresolved tensions or anxieties that are significant.

You may decide that relationship counselling would be useful to resolve some particular issues. If that's the case, you may do that with your therapist or you may see someone else and then return to your therapist to sort out the sexual problem.

Your therapist will put together a personalised plan of exercises for you (and your partner if you've got one) to do at home. These exercises will help you grow in self-awareness, sexual knowledge and sexual skills. At the same time, they will help to persuade your body to respond to sensual and sexual stimulation and overcome your specific problem.