When you have a toothache, you go to the dentist. If you aren’t feeling well, you schedule an appointment with your doctor. But who can help you when your sex life isn’t doing well? Meeting with a sexologist can do wonders for your intimate connection and sexuality. Whether you are experiencing a dry spell, you’re having trouble reaching climax, or your sex has been boring, a sexologist can help you overcome intimacy issues.
Sexual Wellness Specialist Liz Mallers pulls back the curtain on sexology, what a sexologist does, and what you can expect during a sexology session.
First up, what is a sexologist?
During small talk with my Uber driver or a new friend, the first question I usually receive after telling them my profession is, “What do sexologists do?” A sexologist is someone who studies human sexuality. Some examples are sex therapists, sexuality educators, and sex counselors. Different titles basically mean the same thing: a sexologist can help you with your sex and intimacy issues.
Sexologists can provide therapy, education, and counseling on a wide range of topics related to sex, including:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sexual health
- Relationship issues
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
What kind of qualifications or training do sexologists have?
Professional sexology doesn’t require licensure or certification (aside from sex “therapists”), though many have advanced training from sexuality-specific institutions and programs; these are the professionals you want to look for. A sexologist may have a Master’s Degree or PhD in a sexuality-specific or adjacent field, such as psychology or relationship counseling.
Along with my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, I have my Master of Education degree in Human Sexuality Studies with 9+ years of education and experience combined. During my coursework, I completed Sexual Attitude Reassessment (SAR) training, where I was exposed to all different kinds of scenarios that tested my reactions. The SAR training taught me my internal biases, privileges, and boundaries. Through that training, I learned which sexuality concerns I will and will not treat — for my well-being and my clients.
SAR training also desensitized my shock factor. Some clients worry that their kink or issue is too “weird” or “abnormal,” but I have yet to be shocked by anyone (and believe me, some people have tried!).
What can a sexologist help me with?
A sexologist can treat a wide range of concerns when it comes to your sexual health, intimate relationships, and sexuality. Depending on the professional’s certifications and background, there can be different focus areas.
A clinical sexologist, or sex therapist, has a clinical degree to treat mental health issues. They must be licensed in their state as a therapist, and would typically have extra training in sexuality-specific issues. Sex therapists can help a client from a mental health viewpoint, treating issues such as sexual trauma, gender dysphoria, and sexual dysfunction issues. They provide psychotherapy on complex problems, oftentimes working with a client long-term.
A sexuality counselor can come from a wide range of professions, such as a clergyperson, nurse, physician, or school counselor. With training in sexuality issues, a sex counselor can offer problem-solving for short-term, immediate concerns. A sex educator should have training in the education of sexuality. They might work with school-aged children or adults, providing comprehensive sex ed through various forms such as workshops, developing curriculum, or one-on-one psychoeducational sessions.
Our culture lacks comprehensive, quality sex education. Therefore, many sexologists spend time teaching comprehensive sexuality education, including topics like boundaries and consent, communication skills, sexual inhibitions, performance skills, exploring sexual curiosities, and general sexual health. Sexologists can also help people with mismatched libidos, performance anxiety, body image issues, and unsatisfying sex.
Sexologists can also help people with sexual function challenges. Sexual function issues plague more people than you might think, affecting 41% of reproductive-age women and over 50% of men aged 40-70. Sexual dysfunction concerns include delayed or early (premature) ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, difficulty reaching orgasm, pain during intercourse, and low or no desire. Depending on the cause of your intimacy issue, your sexologist may refer you to a trusted medical doctor or another professional.
What happens during a sexology session?
While each sexologist may have a different approach, I’m a hands-off, clothes-on, talk-only professional. I strive to make you feel as comfortable as possible. I understand that we discuss incredibly vulnerable and personal details during our sessions. My hope is that you feel like you are confiding in a trusted friend who happens to have comprehensive knowledge about sexuality.
Aside from signing a consent form, there isn’t any prep you need to do before your first session. Our 50 minutes together will be conversational. You’ll tell me about the issues bothering you in your sex life, and we’ll discuss what the root cause might be and what solutions to try. Depending on the issues presented, I might ask questions like how affection was role-modeled to you by your parents, when you first noticed your sex drive decreasing, or whether you’re able to climax during solo gratification.
What kinds of topics are discussed during a sexology session?
During our time together, I act like a detective, asking loads of questions to get a good understanding of your concerns, the foundation of your sexuality, and what your goals are. I help you unlearn inhibiting factors that come from poor sex education, which plague just about everyone in our culture. I then work with you to rebuild your understanding of sexuality for a healthy and positive foundation.
I spill tips and tricks for your specific situation, ranging from how to ask for what you want in bed to remaining present with your partner to enhance your sexual pleasure. Although many of the issues I treat are common, each client has unique experiences and struggles. When working together, I meet you wherever you are on your journey and provide step-by-step guidance to reach your goals. During most sessions, I’ll share targeted exercises to do at home to encourage improvement and expedite success.
Who should schedule an appointment with a sexologist?
I see individuals and couples. While my typical client is in a long-term relationship, some are single. Clients usually come to me with initial complaints of differing libidos, miscommunication about sex, or sexual function concerns. While I treat a wide array of intimacy issues, I do not treat sexual trauma. If someone needs help with healing from sexual trauma, they should seek a mental health therapist or sex therapist.
What if I feel uncomfortable talking about sex?
Many folks are nervous or embarrassed to talk about their sex life with anyone, let alone a stranger. That’s normal! It’s okay to feel this way. A sexologist is trained to create a safe and welcoming environment, free of judgment and shame. You can inquire about their confidentiality policy to confirm that your private and personal information will be kept between you two.
If you’re worried that you aren’t sure how to express your concerns or describe your problem, fear not. A sexologist can help give you the language to adequately define your wants and needs.
A sexologist can help conquer your sex challenges.
Problems in the bedroom are practically inevitable for any long-term relationship or marriage, but that doesn’t mean they must last forever. Working with a sexologist can be significantly beneficial to get you and your partner having great sex again. You might even have more enjoyable sex than you had before.
If you have concerns surrounding your intimacy, we can assist you. Our Sexual Wellness Specialist, Liz Mallers, has virtual availability for anyone in the US.
Our practice offers in-person appointments in Charlotte, NC, and Carefree, AZ. We also have virtual sessions available for those who live in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Texas. Contact us to get started to ease your discussions and enjoy a happier sex life.