Psychosexual Therapy in Perspective: Strategies for the Non-specialist Counselor

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Book chapter/entry

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Psychosexual therapy may present special challenges for the health care provider. The sensitive nature of the problem, as well as the specific issues themselves, may leave some therapists uncertain regarding their ability to effectively counsel individuals having such problems. This chapter provides an essential understanding of sexual issues so therapists can confidently address problems with both knowledge and strategies that help individuals and/or couples overcome sexual difficulties. The chapter gives an overview of the sexual response cycle, so the therapist acquires an understanding of the salient issues surrounding sexual problems and discusses the classification of sexual problems based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Then, application of standard therapeutic procedures in the treatment of sexual problems is provided, including examples of specific sexual problems in both men and women. Benefits and limitations of psychosexual therapy for the treatment of sexual problems are discussed, with attention to those that ameliorate specific sexual response problems vs those that target overall sexual relationship satisfaction. A final section considers the value of using a therapeutic strategy that combines a psychosexual approach with the use of effective pharmacological and/or biomedical options.