Is Gender & Sexuality Counseling Right For Me?
Sexuality is often confounded with sexual orientation; but the concept of sexuality is much broader: your sexuality encompasses not only your sexual preferences and history, but also your gender identification, body image, and the subtle ways in which your culture, religion, family, age, and biology shape your sexual views and expression.
In other words, your sexuality is more than “the who” and “the what” that turns you on—although, it’s all of those things too, as well as the comprehensive list of sexual activities that you’re most definitely NEVER going to try. (Sorry dating app Dave or blind date Jen!)
And while we’re on the topic of our boundaries… This is going to be cringe-worthy awkward, isn’t it?
Well, definitely not cringe-worthy! But, every person varies in their level of openness when it comes to discussing their sexuality. That’s where our counselors come in: we’ve seen it all before and we’re not stuck on somebody else’s definition of “normal”—but we are devoted to helping you unstick “stuck” sexual problems. And just as sexuality is so much more than your sexual orientation, we think that you’ll find that Gender & Sexuality Counseling is more versatile than serving solely as an extension to Couples Counseling. Although… our therapists are pretty awesome in that department too!
Listed below are 9 common topics that are frequently encountered in counseling sessions that address challenges related to sexuality and sexual wellness.
Common Sexual Dilemmas & How Gender & Sexuality Counseling Can Help
- Low Sexual Arousal: Both men and women are capable of experiencing an abrupt decline in—or even a sudden absence of—sexual arousal. In women, the reduction of sexual desire (which may entail diminished pleasure experienced during sex or an unexpected drop off in sexual fantasies) is known as Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder. In men, the equivalent of this condition is termed Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. Despite minor differences in labelling, a vanishing libido can have the same impact: creating personal dissatisfaction with sexual fulfillment or leading to rifts in your relationship, as a befuddled partner struggles to understand, “Did I do something wrong?”. Counseling for low sexual arousal can help you to identify emotional obstructions or aging resentments that may be contributing to your loss of libido, and as needed, connect you with a healthcare provider whom you trust to evaluate probable medical causes for your condition.
- Sex-Related Anxiety & Performance Issues: Erectile Dysfunction (or “Impotence”), Delayed Ejaculation, Premature Ejaculation, and Female Orgasmic Disorder can all be caused by the fear that a potential partner will evaluate your performance as insufficient—or simply “bad”—in bed. Feelings of shame or embarrassment about sex, body image concerns, and engrained religious or cultural beliefs that depict sex as “shameful” or “dirty” can have a similar paralyzing effect, squashing your libido before any of the “good” stuff can occur. Counseling for sexual performance issues can help you to alleviate some of the self-generated pressures that you place upon yourself to be sexually flawless, as well as allow for you to evaluate how spiritual and cultural objections to sex frame your intimate experiences
- Divergent Sexual Desires: When the frequency—or rather, infrequency—of sex becomes a hot button topic in your relationship; when you love your partner… but you’re starting to worry that you both might be sexually incompatible; when your partner is aroused by things that give you the wrong sort of tingles inside (it’s called “shudders”, btw); or when your busy lifestyles don’t sync up for intimate time… Gender & Sexuality Counseling for Couples can help you to articulate your sexual desires while also asserting your boundaries and carving out much-needed TLC time to resuscitate your intimacy
- Absent Orgasm: Yup, it happens to the best of us! Identify where your medical and mental roadblocks to orgasm lie; learn strategies for enhancing your pleasure with your partner; eliminate distractions; love your body; and recover sexual confidence after a partner’s act of infidelity
- Sexual Orientation: Resolve bewilderment and confusion regarding your sexual orientation; Come out to family, friends, romantic partners, or co-workers; Come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or non-conforming in later life; Cope with LGBTQ+ discrimination, prejudice, and violence; Navigate the dating world—from first sexual encounters to testing the waters of a committed relationship
- Gender Identification: Achieve self-acceptance about your identification as transgender or non-binary; Come out to family, friends, significant others, or employers; Decide whether or not to undergo hormone replacement therapy or medical transition; Cope with transphobic violence or discrimination; Date as a non-binary individual in a binary-obsessed culture
- Sex Addiction: Secure control over impulses to engage in risky sexual behaviors (including promiscuous, anonymous, extramarital, or unprotected sex); Support a partner through sex addiction recovery and heal from infidelity (where applicable); Address the root causes of your sexual addiction (for example, a past sexual trauma or co-occurring problem with substance abuse); Access focus groups (such as 12-Step) to form a network of therapeutic support
- Sexual Compulsions: Develop management strategies for compulsive behaviors, including: pornography addiction, compulsive masturbation, exhibitionism, frotteurism, paraphilias, sadism/masochism, voyeurism, phone sex, the consumption of prostitution services, and more+
- Sexual Abuse/Trauma: Confront issues (depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, impulsive/compulsive behaviors, eating disorders, more+) stemming from an incident(s) of sexual abuse, assault, or harassment; Regain trust in interpersonal and intimate relationships; Connect with other survivors of sexual trauma and share effective tactics for recovery
How Can Gender & Sexuality Counseling Help Me?
Counseling for Gender & Sexuality can not only help you boost your sexual self-esteem, but it can also encourage you to tackle difficult sexual issues such as performance anxiety or sexual trauma, and can enhance the quality of your intimate relationships. Your therapist will help you to:
- Identify and articulate your sexual concern—whether your query is related to a sexual addiction or compulsion, a sexual orientation or gender identification issue, or an obstacle to be ironed out in couples counseling; and communicate your sexual desires, boundaries, and preferences with your romantic partner
- Overcome the mental roadblocks that are preventing you from having a satisfying sex life; and refer you to a qualified healthcare provider who can diagnose and treat the medical impediments that interfere with your sexual arousal, performance, and capacity for orgasm
- Access resources to maintain your sexual health, including regular STD testing and access to contraceptives or sexual education
- Reconnect sexually with your partner—when your busy lives keep you both permanently on separate pages; when your bedroom life could use a passion boost; when incompatible sex drives devolve into screaming matches; or when one partner has committed an act of infidelity and/or resentments run high…
- Confront sexual issues from traumatic past experiences that hinder your arousal and ability to trust
- Manage sexual addictions or compulsions that wreck your intimate relationships or cause you to experience significant personal distress
- Resolve gender or sexual orientation confusion, initiate your exit from the “closet”, and cope with LGBTQ+-phobia in your community
- Learn how to love the skin that you’re in—imperfections and all!