Common Myths and Misconceptions about Sex Therapy

Common Myths and Misconceptions about Sex Therapy

Created on 17/04/2023
Updated on 18/05/2023

If someone told you, “I’m working with a sex therapist”, what might come to mind? What assumptions might you make about what they are working on, or what events led them to seek a sex therapist? 

As a sex therapist, I often get questions about what kind of clients I see, and what sort of concerns or topics I work with in my practice. Sex therapy can be an incredibly powerful resource that helps clients improve their relationship with sex. However, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about what sex therapy is, and what sort of people go to a sex therapist. 

So, what are these misconceptions, and what actually is sex therapy?

Misconceptions and Corrections


Misconception - One of the most common misconceptions about sex therapy is that it only approaches sex from an addiction-focused lens. For example, folks might think that sex therapy aims to diagnose and treat sex, masturbation, or porn addiction. The development of this misconception is primarily due to the shame, secrecy, and rigidity around sex in our society. Because we’re generally not educated about sex, masturbation, or porn, most of us are forced to figure it out on our own. 

Correction - While some sex therapists might focus on addition, the field has evolved significantly. Sex therapy hopes to explore and deshame your relationship with sex. Approaching sex therapy solely from an additional lens tends to reinforce shame and perpetuate the idea that sexuality should be “fixed” or condemned. 

Rather than label you an addict, many sex therapists will be curious about the role sex plays in your life, and support you in developing skills and strategies to make it more sustainable and in line with your values and desires. 

Sex and Trauma Only

Misconception - The idea that you talk only about sex and sex acts with a sex therapist, is another common misconception. You might believe that if you work with a sex therapist, you can only talk about sex and sexual trauma and that your therapist isn’t equipped to discuss other factors in your life.  While these topics are certainly in the scope of sex therapy, it is not an exhaustive list. This myth reinforces the fallacy that sex is traumatic or completely separate from the rest of your life, when in fact, it’s very much connected. 

Correction - Sex therapy is interconnected with lots of different things! If you work with a sex therapist you might explore trauma, anxiety, depression, relationships, life changes, stress, the list goes on. Sex therapy prioritizes talking about sex and sexuality, however, it integrates different facets of your life and supports you in identifying unique goals and patterns to facilitate growth.

Performance Issues

Misconception - Another common misconception about sex therapy is that you only go to a sex therapist if you’re having trouble achieving or maintaining an erection, you have difficulty staying wet, or have challenges related to orgasm. Often labeled “performance issues” these topics certainly come up in sex therapy, however again, this is not the only concern that is treated.

Correction - Sex therapy will talk about your relationship with your body. Be that erections, painful intercourse, areas of discomfort or sensitivity, masturbation, and general knowledge. A lot of us didn’t receive much education about sex, and what we did learn was that all bodies look and behave similarly. 

The rigidity of this education actually reinforces shame, heteronormativity, cisnormativity, and ableism. Your therapist will likely explore these phenomena with you, and you might be surprised by how related these concepts are to how you see your body.

A Quick “Fix”

Misconception - It’s really common for folks to come to sex therapy looking for a quick fix. They come in thinking something is wrong with them, and that a therapist’s job is to repair them, quickly, and send them on their way.

Correction -There are a couple of things that are wrong with this myth. The first is that therapists “fix” you at all. We don’t. This assumes that you’re broken, and you’re not. Sex therapy will explore the concerns you have, validate them, and identify ways to support you. Sex therapy is collaborative, while a sex therapist has education and training, you are the expert on you. Together you will come up with strategies and goals to work through during your treatment. 

The second issue with this myth is that sex therapy is quick. While you might have one specific goal in mind (and it’s ok if you do), sex therapy, like all therapy, takes time. Your therapist will want to get to know you and your relationship with sex, and will likely spend time destigmatizing shame. This is a relationship uniquely crafted to your needs and can take some time, so be patient with yourself (and your therapist. 


Sex therapy is a legitimate, transformative mental health practice. It includes psychoeducation, relationship building, exploration of pleasure, self-discovery, and identity development.

Systemic ideologies such as compulsory sexuality, heteronormativity, and monogamy enforce harmful ideas about what sex should and should not include, who should be having it, and when. The results of these harmful messages are that we are conditioned to believe that anything outside of that archetype is wrong. This leads people to categorize their experiences with sex as problematic, secretive, addictive behaviors to be corrected. In actuality, sex is creative, expansive, pleasurable, and uniquely yours. 

So, does sex therapy sound right for you?

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