In Love

SEX THERAPY

SEX THERAPY SACRAMENTO

Sex therapy is important because love and intimacy are intertwined into so many parts of our lives, having an impact on who we are and how we connect with others. It is no wonder that this can create such anxiety!

 

We might find ourselves with worries like:

 

  • “Will I ever feel comfortable talking about or initiating sex with my partner?”

  • “Is there something wrong with me?

  • "Am I enough?”

  • "Can sex feel fun and positive again?”

 

No matter the specific issue, sex therapy helps you get reconnected with yourself and develop a more secure sexual connection with your partner.

 

Because sex and intimacy can feel so important in our lives, relationships, world and society, we can benefit from talking about it in both individual or relationship counseling.

This page was written by our sex therapy and couples counseling specialist Annika Yokum. This page outlines her approach to reigniting intimacy.

Who can benefit from Sex Therapy?

  • Individuals, couples, or partners struggling with concerns related to desire, arousal, orgasm, and painful sex (e.g. erectile dysfunction, hypoactive sexual desire disorder, dyspareunia, vaginismus)

  • Individuals or partners wanting to build connection and trust

  • Couples struggling with communication around sexuality or intimacy

  • Survivors recovering from sexual trauma

  • Individuals or partners who don’t feel represented in media portrayals of sex, love, or intimacy

  • Individuals, couples, or partners challenged by kink interests 

  • Individuals and couples navigating non-monogamy

  • Partners struggling with differences related to preference, initiation, or desire

  • Women struggling with sexuality pre or postpartum

  • Breast cancer/ prostate cancer survivors (sexual variation is very common after either)

  • Individuals seeking LGBTQ+ affirmative-therapy

  • Individuals struggling to unpack different beliefs or messages related to sexuality or intimacy

  • Anyone who wants to feel less anxious, more empowered, and have a deeper understanding for their own sexuality!

Many couples struggle with issues related to sex and intimacy.

The issues I bring up above are typical among the couples I have worked with and more broadly in the U.S. In fact, studies show that sexual dysfunction is very common: around 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men report some degree of difficulty (1). Further, about 34% of couples find their sex life unsatisfying, which may be a result of people not feeling free to talk openly about their sex life with their partner. For example, in one such study, only 3 out of 8 of the study respondents admitted to being honest with their partner about their sex life (2).
 

While this lack of total honesty prevents sex from being more fulfilling, it also is a natural response. We put a lot of emotional value on pleasing our partner and it might be hard to talk about things that are meaningful to us because we are afraid to hurt their feelings or make things worse if we  bring it up. However, therapy allows couples to work on these issues and have an open (and less hurtful) discussion when supervised by a trained professional (like me). 

Common myths about relationships that Sex Therapy can address:

"Men like to have sex more than women, because they have a higher sex drive. That must be the case for my relationship to be normal​." 

Reality: Every couple has a different match of sex drives, which can change over time. 

 

"Sex is supposed to be or look or feel a certain way."

 

Reality: We have been conditioned by society, our culture, upbringing and other influences (like media) all of which impact how we view and think about sex. 

"How does talking about sex help? It's a body thing, not a head thing."

 

Reality: Because arousal happens in the brain (3), this has led to some to refer to the brain as “the biggest erogenous zone” in the body. Talking about sex with your partner can lead to increased understanding and a more satisfying sexual relationship.

Supportive of “non-traditional” arrangements + kink positive therapy.

Let me be clear that I welcome and affirm people of all identities, in all relationship configurations, in all types of situations. I honor and acknowledge your knowledge and experiences and want to support what you know works best for you. As a result, I work with partners that don’t operate as a traditional couple, perhaps they have an open relationship or any other “non-coupled” arrangement.

 

So in this way when I say "couples" throughout this page I mean any type of loving romantic relationship between any people. In the same thought process, kinks are seen as “non-traditional” but many couples find sexual connection through them, so I am open to any exploration that a couple decides to pursue. I am a sex positive and kink friendly therapist that will meet you where you are at. 

My Approach to Sex Therapy involves 5 Steps:

  1. Create safety

  2. Ask questions, investigate deeper issues. Early on we meet individually with each partner for a session or two to discuss how to talk about their personal challenges causing the least harm to their partner and the most success for the relationship

  3. Discuss emotions, feelings and goals openly

  4. Rethink sex, thoughts and actions

  5. Identify common goals and set a plan. At times I offer homework and tools for couples to try in order to find a closer connection.

At its core, my philosophy is that sex should be a place for you to be safe and comfortable and have fun. Any sexual goals we set during our sessions are based on this and doing no harm. 

Sex Therapy at Whole Wellness Therapy helps Sacramento couples get reconnected.

We often come to think of sex in “all or nothing” ways that prevent us from being adaptable as our relationships or needs change. I believe you should be the expert when it comes to your own sexuality, needs and experiences. Starting from a young age, we are “taught” about sex by our schools, family, friends and media, but often these messages don’t seem to reflect our own experiences.

Sex therapy is effective for anyone hoping to feel more empowered and free when it comes to sex, love and intimacy. My mission is to help you feel confident in your relationship with sexuality.

Through sex therapy you can begin to relate to sex in a way that works for your relationship or you as an individual, without these societally imposed boundaries. Therapy helps you unpack your beliefs, feelings and relationship  with sex and intimacy, and offers you a place where you can grow and heal—even from past trauma.

What Sex Therapy is NOT:

  1. Sex therapy IS a form of talk therapy, so I will only be talking about sex with you. 

  2. I am NOT a surrogate or coach who is involved with your physical sex life. I don't teach sex techniques or anything of the sort.

  3. Sex Therapy does NOT involve any nudity in session.

  4. Sex Therapy is NOT exam based. I will not give you tests to repeat sexual facts, though there may be some sex education I recommend at points. 

A case study of one of my Sex Therapy couples:

 

I worked with a couple (let’s call them Mary and James) who came to therapy for help with sexual issues. While they reported that their relationship was great, they struggled with sex and intimacy. This often left them feeling like something was wrong or “broken” in their relationship and the distance began weighing on them. They both knew that they loved each other and wanted to fix the issues that were driving them apart, but they just didn't know how.

 

As we talked more, we discovered that Mary’s past involved sexual trauma. And so every time James tried to initiate sex, Mary pulled away being reminded of her past. When he came on strong directly asking for sex, she shut down. This continued into the demand-withdrawal cycle I talk about with my couples counseling work. Every time he approached her she withdrew more until they both gave up. 

 

We started by building physical safety between the two with Mary empowered to call the shots and pursue James. We started with small physical acts like hand holding and progressed to her initiating sex. Additionally, for the first time in their relationship, they were able to talk about sex during sex, and so could adapt, change and build a better and more fulfilling sex life together. 

 

After our work together, they told me they both felt safer and affirmed by sex. They had new language and tools to proceed on their own and finally felt connected again. 

Common questions about Sex Therapy:

"Is sex therapy confidential?"

Yes! Sex is very personal, and though it can be difficult to talk about, sex therapy sessions give you space to do so. Anything said in the session remains in the session, and is kept completely confidential. My goal is always to do no harm. 

"I'm nervous to talk about my sex life, even with a sex therapist. Is that normal?"

Being nervous is about sex therapy (or therapy in general) is 100% normal. Many couples come to me thinking that sex is something that should never be talked about with a stranger. They're worried that doing so will feel uncomfortable or embarrassing. Let me assure you, I have heard it all. In fact, anything you say in session can be very helpful, so please feel free to be as open as you're comfortable with. I try hard to create a space that involves myself, and yet is a private experience. I won't feel awkward about it so neither should you. 

"I'm worried sex therapy will make things worse."

Many couples fear that talking about sexual issues will make them worse. Since we care so much about pleasing our partner, and can struggle with messages of shame related to expectations around intimacy, it can be scary to feel and vulnerable to talk about sex and intimacy. However, our partner cannot read our mind. Often people find it feels like a huge weight has been lifted when they are able to work through challenges related to sex and report feeling more connected and safer with their partner once they voice these feelings or concerns. 

"Can I overcome past trauma and enjoy sex again?"

Absolutely. It can feel daunting or confusing to try to work through emotions or reactions related to painful past or present experiences. I specialize in working with people to overcome traumatic experiences related to sex. I have many years working with survivors of sexual assault and worked as a certified rape crisis counselor on the East Coast. I believe everyone is capable and deserving of healing and feeling safe and positive towards sex and intimacy. 

 

"Will I have ED for life? Will I (or my partner) always be on Cialis?"

 

Not necessarily. Again, the mind is the biggest erogenous zone and the source of arousal. While changing your blood flow works as a band-aid solution, only sex therapy provides lasting relief to problems related to sexual anxieties. If we discover that some form of anxiety is behind your ED, for instance, we can work together to resolve the root problem, reducing or eliminating the need for such medications entirely (4).

The quick fix is rarely the best fix.

Too often we jump to the quickest solution when we experience relationship struggles. When dealing with ED, for example, that "quick fix" is almost always a pill, which can have potentially dangerous side effects (5). When it comes to a lackluster love life, the quick fix can be to distract ourselves with working too much, focusing on parenting solely, social media or more dangerous things like drugs and alcohol.

That is why at Whole Wellness Therapy we take a complete look at your life, and seek to help you find solutions that work best, not those that simply work the quickest (most couples express starting to feel some relief and progress after only a few sessions, however). We believe that a healthy diet, exercise, good sleep and a well trained mind, are all factors in helping to resolve deeper issues when it comes to love.

 

Sex Therapy can help you take your love life off hold. 

With our approach, you will find that reconnection is possible and that therapy can be a rewarding opportunity to grow closer and feel more secure with your partner. If your love life has been stagnant, reignite the spark. Call us today to get started.  

Whole Wellness Therapy offers sex therapy online and at both of our Sacramento counseling office locations. 

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Read more about our Sacramento counseling office

2618 J Street, Suite 2

Sacramento, CA 95816

Read more about our Fair Oaks counseling office

4125 Temescal Street, Suite G

Fair Oaks, CA 95628 

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2618 J Street, Suite 2, Sacramento, CA 95816 | 4125 Temescal Street, Suite G, Fair Oaks, CA 95628 

Phone: 916-619-7744

916-579-6797

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