Throughout my training to expand my skills in sex counselling, sex therapy, and as a relationship therapist there were courses on all sorts of approaches to psychotherapy: cognitive-behavioural, existential, Gestalt, Rogerian, psychodynamic… it’s a lot to keep in mind as a therapist studying the material let alone as someone looking for tools and approaches to better understand their sexuality.
Here’s the good news: Success in therapy has little to do with the modality the therapist uses!
That’s why I wanted to share with you what the ingredients to successful sex therapy actually are, and specifically, the weighting of each contributing factor so you know what kinds of questions to ask your next sex therapist before you start working together.
In the research we reviewed there were 3 parts to successful therapy that go basically like this:
- 10% of success is related to the modality.
Some people find a lot of success with a specific approach and that matters! It probably relates to the next piece of the puzzle, too. But if therapy’s success was hinging on an approach, we could simply distribute videos, or books, or workshops that take you through a structured step-by-step process and we wouldn’t need therapists. And for a small percentage of the population that kind of an approach works well, but for many of us it doesn’t and that’s because of the next two pieces for success.
- 30% of success is related to the work you put into it.
An even bigger piece of the puzzle is how committed you yourself are to the process. Your willingness or abiity to show-up for yourself. Your willingness or ability to try something new. And the reason I am saying willingness AND ability is because there can many understandable and out-of-your-control reasons that you are unable to engage in the process.
Most therapists seem to be white, cis-women, and that could be a huge barrier (especially considering the next point). Many therapists in the city don’t work in accessible offices. Therapy that is free often means you can’t choose your therapist (a major issue especially when we consider the next point) and if you do want to choose your therapist you’re likely paying out of pocket if you don’t have third-party health insurance. These are often not considered when we talk about this statistic and they absolutely impact people’s ability to engage with therapy. You are NOT “self-sabotaging” if these are barriers to engaging fully in therapy or at all.
But let’s say you’re willingness to do the work is related to the modality, that’s still less than half the success of therapy being related to you and the modality.
- 60% of success is related to your relationship with the therapist.
In other words— do you like your therapist? Does the therapist like you and can you feel that mutual respect and general positive regard for one another? If so, you have very good chances of having a successful therapeutic experience!
No-cost therapy offered through agencies in which you don’t have control over who your therapist will be can make this part very difficult. But if you find yourself in this position, don’t fret: you may be able to find a therapist with sliding scale options that meet your budget restrictions. Or you can use no-cost services as a way to learn about what kind of therapists are more or less a good fit for yourself so when the day comes that you may be able to access those services elsewhere you can communicate your needs to the agency or consult with as many therapists as you need before you find the right fit.
Asking about a therapist’s modalities may still be a worthwhile question as it can tell you a little bit about the therapist’s beliefs, values, or style— but if you don’t know a lot about modalities, don’t worry. You can go with your gut, pay attention to your senses, and ask yourself, “how did it feel to talk to this person?”
Sex is a particularly difficult topic for a lot of people, as well, so finding someone with whom you can feel at ease, judgement-free, and comfortable is paramount.
Book a no-fee consult with myself today to see if we’re a good fit!