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Serious Sexual Problems

Robert Stokes
Robert Stokes

Dear Robert,

My wife and I are having serious sexual problems. My question is how do we find a qualified sex therapist? I've heard some horror stories about quacks and we got enough problems without getting involved with someone who doesn't know what they're doing.

J. D., Albany


Dear J. D.,

Unfortunately, anyone can hang a shingle and call him or herself a "therapist." The term alone has no real meaning. In order to find someone reputable, contact either the Society for Sex Therapy and Research: 11 East 82nd Street, New York, N.Y. 10028, 212-288-4546; or the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists: 435 North Michigan Ave, Suite 1717, Chicago, Il 60611, 312-644-0828. Both publish national directories, which you can use to find a therapist in your area.

Next, make a list of a few counselors in your area and give each a call. Ask about their training and education. Look for someone who has had in-depth post graduate training in sex therapy (including personal supervision) in addition to a graduate degree from a recognized college or university. Ask about a treatment program and costs. Ask about what therapy can do for you, and avoid anyone who makes inflated promised. When you find someone who "feels right," make an appointment to meet him or her.

"Keep in mind, you and your spouse will be telling this person your most intimate feelings. It's perfectly normal to be a bit hesitant at first, but if after a few sessions, you still fill uncomfortable, by all means, find another counselor.

If your therapist suggests a course of treatment about which you have doubts, you are well within your rights to call one of the organizations mentioned above and ask them if this is standard practice. Remember, sex with the therapist should never be part of a legitimate program, and if your therapist suggests it, immediately report him or her to the proper authorities.

Robert Stokes


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Personal Advice is a question and answer column that answers a wide range of reader-submitted questions. Personal Advice is solely an educational feature and is not intended to replace the advice of a physician, attorney, and/or marriage counselor.