Clare from the MS community: What happens at an appointment with a sex therapist? What sort of questions might you ask?
Martin Burrow, Psychosexual therapist: Well, the first thing that will happen is you’ll have an assessment. So if it’s as a relationship, as a couple, then the couple will come for an assessment and in that assessment what you’ll do is talk about the reason that you’re there, and you’ll also talk about what it is that you’d like to achieve by coming. So – and those could be lots of different answers.
By the end of the assessment, the sex therapist will usually work out whether it’s relationship counselling with a sexual focus or a specific psychosexual therapy programme that you might need. It won’t be black and white and a decision might not be made in that session.
Normally, following that session, what happens is that both partners come back individually for something that’s known as a history taking session, where lots more historic and current questions are asked to each member, same questions to both of them.
And at the end of that the two of them will then come back for a fourth session, which is called a round table interview where the three of, the therapist and the two clients, will discuss what they’ve said, any thoughts that anybody has, and then make a plan from there in terms of what the next steps might be.
Clare: Okay, that sounds quite challenging to talk about sexual history. If somebody is uncomfortable about disclosing things to their partner, would they be able to have boundaries around what is and what isn’t talked about?
Martin Burrow: Absolutely. So one of the questions in the history taking session that you would be having individually is, you know, how much of what you said today are you comfortable with sharing with your partner, and then there’ll be further conversations about okay, so if they don’t know about this particular thing because you don’t want to talk about it, what will we do if it causes a problem in the sessions. So, all of that stuff is covered, you’re not ever made to talk about things that you don’t want to.
Clare: Right, okay.