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The scoop on sex therapists

Tristan is a love stylist who, through internal and external makeovers, guides her clients on all matters surrounding falling in like, falling in love and falling into bed. She is also the author of MENu Dating: Taste Your Way to the Mai...

Sex therapy 101

Your bedroom: where the magic isn't happening anymore. Did you know that with the wave of a sex therapist's wand and a little work from you and your partner, you can reignite the fire and make it burn hotter than ever before? Here's how sex therapy works and why you should try it.

Couple in bed

What's gone wrong with your sex life?

Maybe your partner comes too fast, you have completely lost interest, sex is painful or one of you can't reach orgasm. Feigning nightly migraines to avoid his attempts at a quickie, however, is making it clear that the two of you have gotten off of the good lovin' track and need help to get back on. It's normal for couples' sex life to ebb and flow, but sex is a natural part of a relationship, and you deserve a fulfilling sex life with your partner.

To go or not go

The easiest way to decide if sex therapy is for you is to ask yourselves three questions: 1) Are you unhappy with your sex life? 2) Is your sexual dissatisfaction causing problems in other areas of your relationship? and 3) Have you exhausted other options such as reading books, magazine articles, etc? If your answers are yes, yes and yes, a visit to a love doc is in order.

What can you expect from a sex therapist?

Will we have to get naked?

Not yet. Your clothes will stay on -- at least, while you are in session. And there is nothing to be nervous about; sex therapy is actually really fun if you allow yourself to trust the process. Sex therapy is talk therapy, and your sex therapist does this all day long. Whatever you tell her, she's heard something twice as embarrassing. Plus, it's her job to make you feel comfortable about the uncomfortable, so let go of your nerves and get ready for a great adventure.

What exactly do we talk about?

During your first session, your therapist will talk to you about your concerns. Throughout the sessions, you uncover the roots of those issues and learn skills and techniques to enhance your communication and intimacy so that those issues are no longer present in your partnership.

Rumor has it that there's homework

Rumor has it correctly -- and that is the really fun part. Your sex therapist will offer assignments to put what you are uncovering in your sessions to work. (This is the part when you will get naked.) Tasks may include reading about sexual techniques, focusing on what you sense during sexual activities, implementing new techniques and more. You will discuss the findings of your homework assignments during your sessions to help you move forward.

WE're in... what next?

How to choose a sex therapist

Seek a referral from your physician or inquire with the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists or the American Board of Sexology, both of which certify sex therapists for recommendations. Most importantly, choose someone with whom you and your partner feel comfortable. You can interview as many therapists as you want via phone through mini consultations that last approximately 20 minutes. During these phone calls, ask questions about educational and training background and methods -- and try to gauge if his personality meshes with yours. If all things line up, book an appointment. You don't commit beyond one appointment, so if you are not feeling the right energy, move onto the next one.

How long does it take? What will it cost?

Depending on the issues that need to be unraveled and the progress of the couple, sex therapy can last anywhere from a few sessions to about 20; sessions typically last an hour. Fees generally run from $50 to $200 per hour.

More sex advice

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Here's the scoop on how to put the spark back into your relationship.

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