According to the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) and World Health Organization(WHO), “Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled. Sexual health covers not only medical or reproductive issues but all aspects of sex like sex education, sexual behavior and sexual attitudes. Therefore, to be sexually healthy, we should have positive and respectful attitudes towards sex, sexuality, and sexual relationships. In physical terms, sexual health deals with how well one tackles issues such as unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and safer sex practices”.
According to the American Board of Sexology, Sex Therapy is the application of professional and ethical skills to deal with the problems of sexual function and intimacy of individuals. It assumes that sexuality is a valid concern to professionals and that it is the right of individuals to expect a competent professional when seeking assistance with sexual concerns. Sex Therapists focus their specialized skills to help individuals and/or couples to deal with their sexual concerns.
While sexuality seems to be more openly discussed in our society, it also appears that many lack information and knowledge about this important personal topic. The priority of sexual function varies depending on the individual, but for many, it seems closely connected to the individual’s identity of self. Given this, problems in sexual function may lead to a lower sense of self-worth, i.e., “When I cannot feel good about my sexuality, how can I feel good about myself?” We are also at a point in society in which definitions of “traditional relationships” are being re-evaluated, challenged and redefined. Alternatives to marriage are being explored and are becoming more accepted than at any other time in our history. Regardless of the structure of the intimate relationship shared, sexuality serves a valuable function for most couples. It becomes an expression of caring, not only for the partner, but for oneself. It can become a powerful bonding element in a relationship, which often must endure considerable demands on time, energy and commitment. Dissatisfaction with the sexual relationship and the loss of that shared intimacy, in many instances, may lead to negative feelings, perceptions, and attitudes which can hurt the relationship. Many committed couples and marriages may end because of unresolved sexual differences and difficulties.
Sex therapists work with a wide variety of concerns related to sexuality. Some concerns may include: erectile dysfunction; sexual desire discrepancy; pain during intercourse or pain that prevents intercourse/non-consummated relationships; early ejaculation; problems with orgasm; problematic pornographic viewing behaviors; out of control sexual behaviors; or low sexual desire. Couples may seek help when it becomes apparent that differences exist in their sexual desires or when a sexual dysfunction may impede the quality of their sexual relationship. The need for couples sexuality education, more effective verbal/physical communication, and to increase sexual erotic intimacy may lead many couples to the sex therapist’s office in their pursuit to enhance their sexual and intimate relationship.
The qualified sex therapist may also be an appropriate provider to individuals wishing to decrease sexual inhibitions, manage out of control sexual behaviors, or change undesirable sexual behaviors. In addition, individuals questioning their sexual identity, gender identity, or sexual desires and behaviors may consult a sex therapist.
Parents may contact a sex therapist to consult about the sexual curiosity and experimentation of their children and seek insight into ways to foster the healthy development of their children through effective sexual education.
According to the National Coalition of Sexual Freedom, the following descriptions may be helpful to better understand the awareness level of a Kink Professional.
Kink-Friendly = open and non-judgemental of kink concepts and lifestyles, with general knowledge only.
Kink-Aware = have specific knowledge of kink concepts and lifestyles, have researched and educated themselves in these areas. May have some previous experienced providing professional services to individuals with these interests.
Kink-Knowledgeable = have previously provided professional services to multiple individuals in the lifestyle. Very experienced in kink concepts and lifestyle.