We all want to feel loved and desired. To feel the delicious anticipation, the electric touch, the joy of giving, the freedom of spontaneity, the eroticism of a shared fantasy and, yes, sometimes the uninhibited thrill of the taboo.
It’s a natural human drive. Sex and sensuality have the power to give you a sense of intimacy with your partner that nothing else can. It’s your unique and secret bond. And of course it’s also a lot of fun!
Which is why it’s so upsetting when fear gets in the way. It’s like some of the colour has been drained out of the world. Some of the joy of life stolen from you. You can feel like just the husk of the self you wish you could allow yourself to be. The self you wish you could share with your partner.
Instead, you find yourself dreading your partner’s touch, you feel guilty and inadequate, and you may even invent grievances and conflicts as a way to disguise or rationalise your avoidance of sexual intimacy. And the whole time, you’re constantly reminded of your fears by our hyper-sexualised culture and media.
This sort of fear, and the relationship difficulties it causes, is usually the result of a sexual phobia.
Do I have a sexual phobia?
Most people are a little inhibited and self-conscious when it comes to sex. But if the prospect of sexual relations or sexual intercourse makes you feel anxious and inhibited, then you may have a sexual phobia.
The scientific name for a sexual phobia is ‘genophobia’, ‘coitophobia’ or ‘erotophobia’, and it’s usually caused by something that happened in your past. Something that has led to a subconscious fear of intimacy or losing control, an aversion to being touched, body image issues or low self esteem. This affects how you see your relationship, and how you see yourself and your partner within that relationship. For example, you may have an unconscious wish to withhold enjoyment from yourself or your partner (or both). Obviously you don’t consciously want to withhold pleasure, but unfortunately our conscious and unconscious desires usually aren’t the same.
Alternatively, your sexual phobia might be the result of performance anxiety. However therapy is necessary to assess.
NOTE: Many people assume their sexual phobia was caused by some forgotten or repressed sexual abuse, but that’s not always the case. It might, for instance, simply be the result of encountering sexuality too early – either directly or vicariously. This can leave a mark, even if the emotional response isn’t registered at the time. (Retroactive meaning is common after the encounter.)
Whatever the cause, the important thing to remember is that you don’t have to put up with your sexual phobia for the rest of your life…
How do I overcome my sexual phobia?
Treatment for your sexual phobia is pretty straightforward. It usually involves hypnotherapy, counselling or psychotherapy.
At Bayside, we have qualified, highly skilled practitioners in all of these disciplines. Our goal is to uncover the deep-seated, unconscious sexual desires and conflicts that determine your unique view of sexual relations – the meanings you ascribe to it and the roles you see yourself and your partner playing. Then we help you change those unconscious conflicts.
In other words, we treat the cause of your sexual phobia, not just the symptoms. (We don’t generally treat sexual phobia with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), because it focuses on behaviour and conscious thought, which are both just symptoms of the problem.).
What do I actually have to do?
While there’s no ‘quick fix’ for any psychological issues, you won’t usually have to do any difficult, exhausting mental exercises or ‘homework’. It’s mostly exploring and sharing your feelings, childhood memories, experiences, dreams and sexual fantasies. Typically through:
- Hypnotherapy involves safely entering a relaxed trance and challenging embedded, unconscious beliefs and inhibitions. (Note that it’s not a quick fix; it only works when combined with other methods such as counselling.)
- Counselling is a short-term talk therapy where you talk to us about the things you’re consciously aware of, and we give you strategies and relief from many symptoms. (You can do this online if you’re not located near us, or you’re not comfortable talking face-to-face.)
- Psychotherapy involves speaking in great depth about your early childhood memories, dreams, daydreams and sexual fantasies. It’s all about learning about your deep-seated, unconscious desires and modes of enjoyment.
Depending on your unique situation and personal preferences, we may also use Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Art Therapy, Person Centred, Psychotherapy, Counselling, Couples Counselling and Psychoanalysis. We have qualified practitioners from all those disciplines.
How long will it take?
Everyone’s different. The causes and severity of your sexual phobia are unique to you, so your treatment and timeframe will be unique to you too. Some people take just a few weeks, some a few months, some years.
How will I feel afterwards?
Once you’ve overcome your sexual phobia, you’ll feel… normal. When you think about sex, you’ll feel liberated and shame-free. And when your partner initiates sex, or you think they’re going to, you’ll no longer feel anxious.
You’ll finally be free to relax and let yourself enjoy sex, sensuality and everything surrounding it. To share a romantic night in, to book a naughty weekend away, to buy and enjoy sexy lingerie and playful sex toys.
In other words, your sex-life and the joy of intimacy will no longer be constrained by your fears, but instead will be limited only by your imagination.
Is it a permanent fix?
There are no guarantees in psychotherapy, but we do know that the more effectively you treat the cause of your sexual phobia, the more likely it is that your recovery will be permanent.
Who would I be working with?
We have six trained therapists comprising counsellors, hypnotherapists and psychoanalysts on staff, here at Bayside Psychotherapy. Until we know more about you and your situation, we can’t say exactly who you’d be working with. But rest assured, they’re all qualified, highly experienced professionals, and it’s a completely non-judgemental environment. Plus they’re all lovely, compassionate, understanding people.
What if I’m uncomfortable talking about this stuff?
Many people are uncomfortable talking about sex. Particularly people with sexual phobias. That’s a completely natural feeling.
Fortunately, you can still overcome your sexual phobia; you just have to take it one step at a time. Your first step would be some talk therapy – where we identify which initial treatment will suit you best, and will be most effective for your particular situation.
Often the answer is hypnotherapy. This is a very easy and non-confrontational way to start examining your drivers. (In fact, you can even begin to do it at home, by yourself, with the help of our sexual phobia hypnotherapy audio download.)
Hypnotherapy is just one option, though. It’s a good way to ease into the therapy process, but it won’t overcome your sexual phobia by itself. It only works in combination with other methods like counselling.
Of course, after having done a bit of hypnotherapy already, most people are more comfortable sharing with a counsellor or psychotherapist. Plus we offer both face-to-face and online counselling so you can continue to ease into the process.
What’s the first step?
Everyone’s situation is different, so your treatment will be unique to you. Your first step should definitely be to contact us for a confidential chat. We’ll then be in a better position to recommend the most effective combination of therapies for you.
Contact us now
Call (03) 9557 9113 or email us now. Anything you share with us is completely confidential, and there’s absolutely no obligation.