Sexuality is part of everyone’s life and should be a pleasurable, satisfying and enriching part of life. But sexuality can also be very complex. You can be confident that your problems will be addressed in a sensitive, compassionate and confidential manner. The treatment approach is short-term, problem focused and solution-orientated for long lasting results.
Dr Craig has been the head of Psychosexual Services of My Sexual Health for a number of years. It is currently the biggest multidisciplinary Sexual Health team in South Africa and she is a firm believer in the power and positive impact of a multi-professional team approach.
Sexuality has fascinated people since the beginning of time. Every person has sexual feelings, attitudes, and beliefs but everyone’s experience of sexuality is unique because it is processed through an intensely personal perspective. It is impossible to understand human sexuality without recognising its multidimensional nature.
Sex can be the greatest source of pleasure and happiness in our lives – it can boost our personal sense of well-being and health, and it also fosters precious feelings of intimacy with a partner. A healthy sex life can contribute much to the quality of your relationship and sense of connectedness. It is however important to remember that good sex can only support an already healthy relationship. Sexual problems therefore tend to only be symptoms of some or other problem within the relationship. The basis of an enhanced and enriched sexual and sensual relationship is intimacy. The quality of what happens in bed depends largely on the quality of what happens out of bed.
Dr Craig is dedicated to and passionate about educating people with practical skills and professional information on how to enhance and maintain successful sexual and emotional intimacy within a relationship. Elmari aims to help men and women to become comfortable with their own sexuality – to view sex as a positive God-given gift, and to empower and guide them to be able to enjoy and express their sexuality.
WHAT IS SEX THERAPY?
Sex therapy is multi-dimensional in nature. Sex therapy has been used professionally since the 1960s, but obtained mainstream recognition with the publications of Masters & Johnson (1966, 1970). Sex Therapy is a professional and ethical treatment approach to problems of sexual function and expression.
Sexual problems that are frequently addressed are:
Low Libido - Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder
Inability to reach Orgasm (Anorgasmia)
Painful Intercourse - Sexual Pain Disorders: Dyspareunia, Vaginismes, Primary Provoked Vetsibulodynia and the like
Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD)
Inability to Ejaculate
Sex and Disability
Since the 1960s sex therapy has become a major specialty within the fields of psychology, psychiatry and medicine. Sex therapy shifted from being considered to be an individual problem, to being a couples problem, thereby becoming part of marital and couple therapy. When added to the fact that sex is not only important at an individual, personal level, but also socially and politically, it accentuates the importance of effective sex therapy in couple therapy.
Although the short-term, behaviourally oriented approach to the treatment of sexual dysfunction has proven to be an effective treatment modality, couples that experience severe marital or relationship distress demonstrate a poorer prognosis for treatment in a variety of forms of sex therapy.
Sexual dysfunctions do not occur in a vacuum, and they must be viewed within the context of the total system of the client. This being the case, it is obvious that a comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach to the treatment of sexual dysfunctions must include a thorough evaluation of the couple’s relationship. The integration of sex therapy and couple therapy changes the way problems are understood from an individual to a systems perspective.
Human sexuality is multi-dimensional in nature, and no single dimension of sexuality is universally dominant. This stresses the importance of a holistic approach to therapy. Human sexuality includes biological, psychological, behavioural, clinical, moral and cultural aspects. Sexuality plays an integral part of human functioning from birth until death.
WHAT IS SEXUAL HEALTH?
All sex therapy approaches appear to share the underlining assumption that there is a “natural” or “healthy” state of sexual functioning that therapists aim to restore for the client. Petitgirard (1992:5) describes sexual health as the positive expression of a person’s sexuality: “… sexual health is not just about sexual intercourse and reproduction. It includes such issues as self-esteem, self-expression, caring for others and cultural values”.
King, Cameron & Downey (1991: 268) define a sexually healthy person as someone who feels comfortable with his/her sexuality and who feels free to choose whether or not he/she wishes to try a variety of sexual behaviours. Sexual health is defined by the World Health Organisation (1975:41) as: “The integration of the physical, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual being, in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love”.
Common Ground Sexuality (Author unknown, 2001:5) defines sexual health as: “… women’s and men’s ability to enjoy and express their sexuality, and to do so free from risk of sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, coercion, violence and discrimination. Sexual health also means being able to have an informed, enjoyable and safe sex life, based on self-esteem, a positive approach to human sexuality, and mutual respect in sexual relations. Sexual health enhances life, personal relations and the expression of one’s sexual identity. It is positively enriching, includes pleasure, and enhances self-determination, communication and relationships”.
In The Promotion of Sexual Health: Recommendations for Action (Author Unknown, 2000:6), sexual health is defined as: “…the experience of the ongoing process of physical, psychological, and socio-cultural well-being related to sexuality”.
It is therefore evident that human sexuality and the term sexual health are multidimensional. The notion of sexual health however implies a positive approach to human sexuality, and the purpose of sexual healthcare should be the enhancement of life and personal relationships and not merely counselling and care related to procreation and physical problems.
Sexual health is not just about sexual intercourse and reproduction. It includes sexual self-esteem, self-expression, caring for others and cultural values. In sum, our sexuality is experienced and expressed in all that we are, what we feel, think, and do!