Sexual issues and therapy
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Gail Evans BASRT Accred UKCP Reg. B.Sc M.Sc. CQSW CertCC, Dip PST
15th August, 2007
Seeking help with an emotional or life issue can be hard, taking courage and commitment to get across the threshold to meet a therapist and tell them what the problem is. If you are troubled by a sexual issue in your life this can seem even harder, because, depite what is portrayed in the media, there is still a lot of shame, stereotyping and ignorance surrounding many sexual issues. Sadly, this can be as true of a counsellor or psychotherapist as the general population - not all training exposes trainees to sexual issues and to exploring their own sexuality and prejudices.
If you want to explore an issue in the sexual area (e.g. your sexuality, orientation, gender, a sexual worry, problem or dysfunction) you need to know your therapist can talk frankly with you, putting you at ease to discuss openly. You have the right to check this out in advance of an appointment, before committing yourself. Email communication can be an ideal way of doing this. You might want to ask if the therapist is willing to discuss your issue and whether they have any training, qualifications or experience in the area of your concern. The therapist might also want to check that you are genuine and not a hoax caller (e.g. if you are mentioning very personal things) by asking you a few questions.
Some people will want to know if their prospective therapist has personal experience of their issues, perhaps feeling it important to know their sexual orientation for example. Some therapists will be willing to answer such questions honestly and others will prefer to maintain their privacy. You need to decide how important it is for you to know.
Sexual therapists work with a wide range of sexual issues and are accustomed to helping put people at ease. Relationship/couple counsellors should also have familiarity with speaking about sexual issues. The British Association of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (www.basrt.org.uk/) is one place to find trained and accredited sexual and relationship therapists. I am sure there are many counsellors and psychotherapists who will be equally as comfortable, but don't be hesitant to check it out.
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