Sex Therapy

“What is the relationship between love and desire? How do they relate, and how do they conflict? Therein lies the mystery of eroticism.”
—Esther Perel


A few words about the specialty of sex therapy and being a Certified Sex Therapist:

In the State of Florida, the title of “Sex Therapist” can only be used by people who have met the requirements of Florida statutes. Currently, these statutes mandate 120 hours of continuing education units, divided into 12 specific areas relating to sexuality. All therapists practicing “sex therapy” or advertising themselves as a “sex therapist” must meet these requirements. Otherwise, they are considered to be practicing outside their scope of expertise and can be fined and/or lose their license.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sex Therapy:

What is a sex therapist?

A sex therapist is engaged in the study of human sexuality, and is interested in understanding what people do sexually and how this doing creates a sense of being. Sex therapists learn about the broad spectrum of human sexual behavior, including knowledge about the many factors that influence and affect our way of feeling and seeing ourselves as sexual beings.

A sex therapist is a master’s level therapist who offers sex therapy in a clinical setting to help people understand and accept themselves as sexual beings. Sex therapy clinicians are sex-positive and maintain a broad perspective of human sexuality, including factors involving biological, psychological, sociological, anthropological, and historical sexual issues.

Are there certifications for a sex therapist?

The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) is the most respected national organization that certifies therapists. AASECT certification requires more continuing education units than does the State of Florida, as well as two years of supervision, while seeing sex therapy cases, from someone who is a certified by AASECT as a Supervisor. I am currently under supervision with a certified AASECT supervisor.

“I have been a professional in the sex therapy field for over 25 years. I have helped other professionals obtain their certifications to practice sex therapy during that time. In my geographical area there have been few serious candidates for supervision because of the extensive education requirements and the extended supervision requirement. I was going to allow my “supervisor” certification to lapse as my professional career is winding down. Then I met Peggy Albano, and I knew I wanted to train one more person. She has the right combination of intellect, empathy, and “natural instinct” for working with the people who struggle with the anxiety/shame of sexual disorders. I have no doubt that she will be successful in helping people who want to improve their functioning and their lives. I heartily endorse her entry into this field.”

—Deborah Huntley, Ph.D.; Licensed Psychologist

Do I have to be in a relationship and bring a partner to the sessions?

You do not have to be in a relationship to benefit from sex therapy. Sometimes a person’s embarrassment or insecurity about his or her functioning is a major factor in keeping that person from pursuing partner relationships. If the client is in a committed relationship, then some sessions may include just the individual and others may include the partner. These specifics will be decided and discussed in advance.

What are some of the concerns individuals and couples may have in order to seek out a sex therapy specialist?

In my practice I see individuals and couples with one or more of the following concerns:

  • Sexual desire issues
  • Difficulty with arousal/erections
  • Difficulty with orgasm/ejaculations
  • Sexual trauma/abuse issues
  • Concerns about sexual orientation/gender
  • Sexual compulsivity/addiction
  • Internet pornography problems
  • Sexuality exploration
  • Negotiating kink/alternative relationships
  • Fear of or aversion to touch, and/or intimacy
  • Difficulty communicating sexual needs and desires
  • Sexual relationship structure (monogamous, polysexual, open, swinging, etc.)
  • Infidelity

What is sex therapy like?

Sexual therapy is similar to other forms of “talk therapy.” You and/or you and your partner will meet in my office. We will discuss your concerns and what you’ve tried already to seek improvement. I take a detailed history of your concerns, and together we construct therapy goals, which may involve exercises performed in the privacy of your own home. Some parts of sex therapy may include homework assignments to help your body learn different patterns of response. Some aspects of therapy will be more about resolving uncomfortable feelings. This is often accomplished by talking about how these feelings were created, either from the here and now or from a past experience.

How do I know if this is a sexual problem or more of a relationship problem?

Many times the answer is “both.” Sex therapists need to first obtain a degree in one of the mental health disciplines and be licensed by the State of Florida, and then secure additional training specifically in sexual health issues. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. As a result, I am able to work in both areas. If a couple is having resentment and neither partner is feeling cherished, their sex life is likely to suffer. Moreover, if there are sexual difficulties, one or both partners may begin to withdraw from other aspects of the relationship until there are minimal, if any, areas of agreement and connection.

How do I know if my problem is “mental” or “medical”?

I encourage all of my clients to seek consultation from their general family practitioner, gynecologist, or urologist, and to have medical factors evaluated and treated, if so advised by these professionals. Sometimes the medical treatment is all that is necessary. Often, if a problem has existed for a period of time, anxiety can become attached to all sexual endeavors. The anxiety can become the issue that is most problematic. There are certain types of medical problems and treatments (e.g., prostate cancer) when the client is left with a body that no longer functions as it once did, and the individual or couple may want some caring help to find other ways of pleasuring each other, exploring different expectations, and perhaps some enrichment exercises to help cushion this loss.