While sex therapy goes back at least to the 3rd millennium BCE, Dr. Alfred Kinsey of Indiana University was one of the modern researchers who greatly advanced our understanding of human sexuality. Starting in 1938, he taught a course called “Marriage and Family,” for seniors and married students. He began collecting sex histories at that time, and by 1941 had gathered nearly 2,000. He earned a $1,600 grant from The Committee for Research in Problems of Sex to continue his work at that time. By 1947, that committee had given Kinsey’s team $40,000.
Masters and Johnson
Another big breakthrough came with William Masters and Virginia Johnson of Washington University in St. Louis, who began researching human sexual response, dysfunction and disorders using human subjects in 1957.
The duo founded the Masters and Johnson Institute, where they worked together until 1994, doing sexological research and offering workshops for colleagues, educators and sex therapists.
Masters and Johnson are particularly known for their four-stage sexual response model (excitement, plateau, orgasmic and resolution). They also introduced couple’s therapy and behavioral intervention, taught therapists sensate focus exercises, and used cognitive behavioral therapy, which are all still used.
Sex Therapy in the 21st Century
Today, sex therapy is most often provided by licensed psychologists, social workers, physicians and licensed therapists. They bring advanced training in sexual and relationship health to their practices.
Certified sex therapist, who hold graduate degrees, are credentialed by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).
Modern couples counseling can address all things sexual, from functioning to emotional difficulties in your marriage. Common issues couples bring to therapy include:
- sexual desire and arousal
- sexual interests or orientation
- impulsive or compulsive sexual behavior
- difficulty with ejaculation or orgasm
- past sexual trauma
“Talk” therapy is supplemented with “homework,” and therapy usually lasts 2-5 months.