Monday, April 19, 2010

Finding a sex therapist

Recent events reminded me how difficulty it is to find a clinician with skills in the area of sexuality. I thought it might be helpful to highlight a few strategies to find a clinician who specializes in sexuality. I forget the difficulty many clients have in talking about sexuality. I’ve been in the field for 16 years at this point; sometimes it feels like all I do is talk about sex. (Is it possible to talk about sex too much?) Client’s will often say, “I’ve never told a previous therapist about this…..” and then go into an story regarding their life, sexual history, acting out, or assault.

1) Advocate for yourself. Check out a number of websites, including SASH.NET and AASECT.ORG. (For example, between the two websites, about 15 clinicians are listed in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.). Call your insurance company for referrals to see clinicians experience working in sexual matters.

2) Call. Most clinicians will take a 10-15 minute phone call to see if an initial interview should be set. Be direct and open in the phone call. This is not the time to beat around the bush. Use the time efficiently. Put your issue out there. I’m struggling with Internet porn. I’ve been sexually assaulted. Do you work with clients in this area? What is a summary of your treatment approach? Do you have any resources available on the web?

3) Ask for referrals. If the clinician responds no, ask him/her for referrals. Repeat the process until you have 1-3 clinicians who you might want to meet.

4) Set-up a meeting. Some clinicians will have free 1/2 hr sessions, others don’t. The intake interview is as much for you as it is for the clinician. Feel free to ask questions to the clinician as well. How busy are you? What is your training/experience in this area? How many clients have you worked with on this topic? The more forthright you will be, the more likely you will find a clinician who can help in your recovery.

Remember, the therapist is there for you, not you for the therapist.

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