I was recently at an event in Chicago where I was mingling and meeting new folks while taking in the city views. In the typical back and forth of new people conversation, an inquiry of what I do for a living came up. This is where the conversation can get interesting. You see, I’m a Certified Sex Therapist. I work with people in the greater Chicago area who are struggling in their emotional and physical relationships. Pretty normal stuff for someone like me. Not so normal for someone who has never met a sex therapist or even heard about sex therapy before. Once that cat is out of the bag, I typically experience the conversation going one of two ways. While some people might be a little intimated by what that means (which I totally respect and understand), others are naturally curious and will start asking a lot of questions. And I get really excited when people ask questions.
So why do I tell complete strangers what I do for a living? Because I understand that at some point, they may need a therapist like me. A specialist who can work with their deeply personal issues in an informed and non-judgmental space. Someone who has the specific qualifications to work with them so they can feel confident and fulfilled again.
Here’s the thing, relationships are hard work. They demand consistent efforts towards intimacy building, self-awareness and vulnerability. And when people run into issues in their relationships, they typically experience issues with their sex lives. For a lot of people, sexual intimacy problems can lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and a whole lot of other stuff. So, when I tell people about my job, I want them to know that this kind of resource is available to them, if and when it’s ever a need.
There are multiple reasons why someone may seek sex therapy. The most common issues I see in my practice are mismatched desires between partners (i.e. one partner wants to have more sex than the other), sexual dysfunction, low sexual self-awareness and sex after trauma or illness. Other issues range from sexual communication issues to painful intercourse. I love educating people about their sexualities, breaking down not-so-correct social constructs and creating a space for a new and healthy narrative. I value my job and the people I work with. Every day, I am impressed by the work my clients undertake to improve their lives. I will continue to spread the word about sex therapy because there’s no other profession I’d rather be in.
~ Michelle Herzog, LMFT, CST
Sex therapists are trained to work with a variety of relationship configurations and sexuality preferences and problems. There are a number of wonderful helping professionals out there in the sex therapy community. If you are looking for a qualified professional in your area, please visit the professional directory page at the American Association for Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).