September 28th, 2015
In US culture, personal sexual expression is still a topic that is little discussed and very much stigmatized. While this is true for the population in general, it is also true for psychotherapists. The fact that sex therapy is a speciality rather than a skill all therapists are expected to have speaks volumes. In my field, sex is often seen as a side issue to a person’s well being, rather than integral. Many therapists are taught to see sexuality through a pathological lens. Anything outside of heteronormative, marital, & monogamy-seeking behaviors is often seen as problematic. For these reasons, it’s very important to be able to identify a sex-positive therapist when you need to work on sexual concerns about which you feel some shame or embarrassment.
But what is sex-positivity? Generally speaking, it is a perspective that regards all consensual sexual expression as healthy. It encourages growth, exploration, and pleasure in the sexual realms. And sex-positivity doesn’t look at sexuality on a hierarchy. For example, sex through a mobile app isn’t better or worse than intimate sex between a married couple. When a therapist is sex-positive, they understand that sexuality has many purposes and fulfills many different needs.
So how can you determine if you’re seeing a sex-positive therapist? Here’s some questions to consider:
*Does my therapist look down on hooking up through mobile apps like Tinder or Grindr?
*Does my therapist see sex workers in general as exploited people? And the people who are customers of sex workers as the exploiters?
*Does my therapist think that there can be too many sex partners?
*Does my therapist think that people who are in open or poly relationships are afraid of intimacy and commitment?
*Does my therapist think I spend too much time thinking about sex? Do they think my “preoccupation” comes from childhood issues?
*Does my therapist use diagnoses such as sex addiction, porn addiction, and love addiction?
*Does my therapist think that BDSM and other kinks and fetishes are rooted in past traumas and, therefore, unhealthy?
*Does my therapist shy away from using language like rimming, blow job, and fucking?
*Does my therapist quickly use diagnoses like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation instead of asking questions about desire, anxiety, and self-consciousness during sex?
*Does my therapist think that expansive gender and gender expression is disturbing or a problem that needs to be solved?
If you answer yes to these questions, you might want to further question your therapist. A sex-postive therapist would never shame you for your sexual expression. A sex-positive therapist is comfortable talking about sex and the wide range of expressions. A sex-positive therapist would help you claim your individual sexual expression and deal with the shame and stigma society puts on you if your expression falls out of the norm. And a sex-positive therapist understands that if everyone was fully comfortable with their sexuality, the norm wouldn’t even exist.
If sex is something you need to talk about in therapy, it is worth the effort to find a therapist who is truly sex-positive. You will be glad you did.
Need a sex-positive therapist in Dupont Circle, Washington, DC? Contact Mike Giordano, LICSW at 202-460-6384 or Mike.Giordano.MSW@Gmail.com.