Sex therapy is a type of psychotherapy that promotes the sexual and emotional well-being of people, and aims to help those individuals who experience difficulties in their intimate or love life as a result of a sexual disorder or who are not comfortable with themselves in some aspect of their intimate life.

Scientific evidence shows that this form of therapy is very effective; however, many people have difficulty talking about their sexual problems, largely because they feel failed, ashamed and even guilty.

Interview with psychologist and psychotherapist Mar Puigmartí

Today we wanted to talk to Mar Puigmartí, a psychologist and psychotherapist specializing in sex and couples therapy, so that she can tell us exactly what sex therapy is and help us understand why we should not resist going to it because we have fears and false beliefs.

Mar offers psychological therapy at Mensalus Institute of Psychological and Psychiatric Assistance, one of the most prestigious psychology and psychotherapy clinics in Spain.

Good morning Mar, tell us, why is it so difficult for us to talk about sexuality openly?

Although we have made progress in the area of sexuality, many fears, myths, restrictions and taboos surrounding it still exist today, which prevent us from living it freely. Society is constantly overwhelming us with dubious information, full of prejudices and gender stereotypes that lead us to internalize and accept messages that, if we do not question them, will end up making it difficult for us to live our sexuality, and therefore to talk about it.

It is important to know that it is part of us from birth to death, playing an essential role in our development and growth throughout our lives. Offering quality affective and sexual education would promote a greater and wider knowledge about sexuality, allowing us to live it in a more positive and healthy way, and conceiving it as a source of pleasure and satisfaction, as well as communication and expression of affection. Understanding sexuality in this way would make it easier to talk about it openly and naturally.

What are the main problems that men and women present in terms of their sexual life?

The most common sexual problems are known as sexual dysfunctions. In the case of men, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction and lack of desire are the most common dysfunctions. In women, the most common are anorgasmia, lack of desire, vaginismus and dyspareunia.However, it is not uncommon to find problems of dissatisfaction, difficulties in sexual communication, cases of hypersexuality or sex addiction, paraphilias, phobia or aversion to sex, etc.

All of them, besides affecting the quality of life of the person, usually interfere with their relationship with their partner, if any.

Is it always necessary to have a problem to go to sex therapy or is it possible to do it for other reasons (for example, to vary and enrich the erotic repertoire of the couple)?

You don’t have to have a problem to go to sex therapy because you can work on other issues. For example, there are many people who come because they want to enhance their sexual possibilities: acquire resources to get out of the monotony and enrich their sexual repertoire, develop skills to reinforce sensuality and eroticism, increase sexual self-esteem… In this type of therapy, people’s sexual and emotional well-being is promoted.

What do you think is the biggest impediment to going to sex therapy?

Pre-established ideas and false beliefs regarding sex make it difficult to ask for professional help as it is a very intimate aspect that is sometimes difficult to share. Those who suffer from this type of problem usually live it in a silent and hidden way, trying to deny and hide their difficulties and often avoiding having sex. They usually verbalize feeling shame, guilt and frustration, and all this ends up generating discomfort and suffering in the person.

However, there is no need to be embarrassed or paralyzed when such a problem arises. Sex therapy is very effective and the help of a professional to work through the difficulties that arise in this area is very positive for living a satisfactory sexuality.

So, if for many people sexuality is a very intimate subject and sometimes difficult to talk about, how do you overcome this obstacle in your sessions with patients?

It is important to create a close, safe and non-judgmental environment about their thoughts, feelings, emotions, tastes, fantasies… It is essential that patients can express themselves without fear, from freedom and respect. In this way, we can accompany them in this process so that they understand what is happening, help them to resolve doubts, gain confidence and security, and motivate them to make the changes that are necessary for their well-being.

What are the benefits of not having taboos regarding sexual relations with your partner?

Having no taboos allows for open discussion of sex with the partner, makes sexual communication more fluid and allows both members to express their desires, preferences and sexual tastes with ease. All this reinforces the complicity in the couple, besides growing erotically and increasing sexual satisfaction.

Also, if at some point sexual difficulties arise, they will be less anxious because it will be much easier to talk about it, to feel understood and to seek solutions together.

What benefits does sex therapy bring to patients?

Sex therapy helps the person or couple with their sexual and emotional difficulties, providing resources and tools to live sexuality in a pleasant way.

This type of therapy brings many benefits to patients: having a space where they can talk about sexuality, solve sexual difficulties that may arise, acquire new techniques for the enjoyment of their intimate relationships, obtain greater sexual self-knowledge, increase self-esteem, enhance erotic creativity, acquire communication skills with the partner …In short, to be protagonists of their sexuality.

More and more people are using online therapy, do you think it is effective for this type of problem?

Thanks to new technologies, online therapy has become more present in the field of psychotherapy as it is proven to bring many benefits. Going to a sex therapist is not easy for everyone because, since it is such a personal and delicate aspect of people’s lives, it is more difficult to ask for help.

Online sex therapy has become a very effective alternative for treating this type of difficulty as it makes it easier to ask for professional help in a discreet and anonymous way without having to travel. Thus, through the screen, people can feel more comfortable and can express what makes them feel uneasy or suffering in order to receive the appropriate treatment and overcome their difficulties.

What advice would you give to the readers of Psychology and Mind to have a satisfactory sex life?

We must start by taking responsibility for our own pleasure. It is essential to review and question what model of sexuality we want to live by in order to get rid of everything that takes us away from it. Knowing oneself, one’s body, connecting with the here and now of pleasure and giving oneself permission to feel is key to enjoying a satisfying sexuality. Furthermore, transmitting our desires and needs to our partner will strengthen confidence and allow us to enjoy a full sex life as a couple.