Listen to “144: What is Sex Therapy Like – Paula Leech” on Spreaker.
What is Sex Therapy Like
Paula shares that mindfulness plays a key role in sex therapy which ties in mind and body by focusing on sensate focus and behavior. The therapy is purely verbal and while it implies a physical element, that only happens in a clients home away from their therapy so that progress can be made. Paula emphasizes that a major part of her clients have underlying anxiety struggles. She points out that sex therapy is used to treat this before ever focusing on sex.
Who needs sex therapy?
With a degree in Family therapy, Paula thinks about the ‘who’ differently. Her approach includes her client’s partner/s to get better insight into her patients’ struggle.
Paula also helps single clients. She points out erectile dysfunction as an example of a problem she tackles with her single clients. Her work with these clients includes understanding their bodies and giving them tools to help themselves.
Working with Paula
Paula’s first sessions are honest consultations used to get to know each other as taking the first step into therapy can be daunting for clients. She moves on to providing the way forward and answering any questions around this. Obviously this varies with each clients unique situation since her clients experience a range of difficulties from sexual trauma to pelvic floor issues.
Paula’s direct communication and transparency is a different approach to this kind of therapy but welcomed by her clients as they find her more relatable.
In this type of therapy, clients are exposed to an extent and Paula reveals that fear is part of the process. One of the most common fears she finds with her clients is the fear of being judged. Another one is fear of loss of a relationship if a struggle is not overcome during the therapy.
Frequency of sex often comes up with Paula finding that couples need permission to not engage in sex. Her candid and simple reaction to this is based on whether the parties are happy.
Paula shares an interesting angle to look at things from when experiencing sexual struggles, highlighting that being too involved in your partners problem takes away from you focusing on you and helping from that point of view.
Finding a Sex Therapist
Legitimate sex therapists have an AASECT certification. Therapists do around 160 hours of courses and 300 hours with patients before being certified. Training ensures that therapists themselves are aware of their biases and comfort zones to better aid their patients.
Paula received her bachelor’s degree in Family and Human Development at Arizona StateUniversity and then went on to receive her master’s Degree in Family Therapy at the University of Massachusetts, in Boston. Post family therapy licensure, Paula became AASECT (American Association for Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and therapists) certified as a Sex Therapist and worked with individuals, relationships, and families in private practice in Boston, Massachusetts for ten years.
In that time, she received AASECT certification as a Supervisor of Sex Therapy and co-founded a sex therapy agency and training institute where we saw clients in addition to training therapists to become competent, confident sex therapists themselves. Paula continues to regularly present at various training institutes as well as Universities and therapy agencies across New England.
Links and Resources
Webinar: How to make Sex easy without making it feel like an obligation