Maybe you and your long-term boo have some bedroom bloopers you want to work through. Maybe you have your own personal challenges around sexuality and want to know, "Am I normal?" Whatever the case may be, if you're reading this, it's because you're curious about the idea of sex therapy—plus, how you can access it from the comfort of your own home.
Sexual well-being is part of overall well-being, and online sex therapy can be a great way to get support from a professional in creating a healthy and positive relationship to your sexuality. Ahead, three sex therapists answer all your questions about sex therapy and recommend the best online sex therapy services that could help you and your partners.
What is sex therapy?
At its most distilled, sex therapy is a form of talk therapy. What sets sex therapy apart from other forms of talk is that during sex therapy people talk specifically about the ways that their sex, sexuality, gender, sexual trauma, sexual behaviors, and kinks are informed by and can affect their romantic, sexual, familial, and platonic relationships, explains Laurie Mintz, Ph.D., a sex therapist and author of Becoming Cliterate & A Tired Woman's Guide to Passionate Sex.
"The main focus is helping people solve for their sexual challenges and find ways to enhance their sexual satisfaction and sexual functioning," she tells mbg.
People can attend sex therapy as a single, couple, polycule, or any other relationship structure where they'd benefit from troubleshooting sexual issues, which might include erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, sexless relationships, low libido, anorgasmia, dysparenia, and much more, she says. Other issues like healing from sexual trauma, shame, or infidelity can also be addressed in sex therapy.
In order for someone to be a sex therapist, they must become a licensed mental health professional (i.e., licensed psychologists, therapists, or clinical social workers) and have received specialized training that enables them to treat clients with sexual issues and concerns, says Mintz.
How does online sex therapy work?
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, online therapy has become more popular. And online sex therapy functions more or less how other online therapy does, according to Mintz. The main difference? While a therapist specializing in phobias might help a client unpack and treat their specific fears, a sex therapist will help a client with their specific sexual concerns, explains licensed couples' therapist Jamie Schenk DeWitt, LMFT.
Once you connect with a therapist you like, you'll meet regularly over some kind of video call for your therapy sessions. Your first session with a sex therapist will start just as any first therapy session: with some basic intake questions. "The therapist will get a history of the specific concern that brings you in, asking questions about how long has it been going on and whether or not any specific event precipitated the concern," explains Mintz. In future sessions, the therapist will help the client work through the issues through a combination of verbal processing, visualization, and hands-on homework assignments.
You read that right: homework assignments. "Often, sex therapists give their clients sex therapy assignments to practice on one's own outside of session," she says. Typically, those homework assignments are sexual in nature, such as looking at your genitals in the mirror, masturbating, or saying a set of affirmations about your body in the mirror, for example.
"Sex therapists will also often help clients by providing realistic science-based information about sex," says Mintz. For instance, they might tell a client what the research shows about how many people with vaginas need clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm, she says. "They might also try to reduce shame with science-based information," she says. For instance, they might share statistics in order to help a client understand just how normal their turn-ons are.
How we picked.
There are a wide variety of specialties in the field of sex therapy, including women's desire, sexual pain, trauma, consensual nonmonogamy, and much more. Our list of online sex therapy providers accounts for that diversity.
We asked sex therapists to share the sites they recommend. But we also looked at the reviews from real people who have tried and found sexcess with the platform.
Generally speaking, one of the best features of online therapy services is that they tend to be more wallet-friendly compared to in-person therapy. That's why we made sure that most of the options below can be utilized by people who don't have a ton of disposable income.
mbg's picks for the best online sex therapy to try:
Best for LGBTQ+ clients: BetterHelp
- Wide variety of therapy formats available
- Affordable price point
- Queer- & trans-affirming care available
- Does not specialize in sex therapy
One of the largest online therapy providers, BetterHelp puts therapy right into the palm of your hand. A telehealth platform, BetterHelp is designed to connect patients with providers who can professionally and effectively help them navigate their issues—including sex, intimacy, and porn issues—right from the privacy of their own home.
BetterHelp can provide high-quality sex therapy to people all across the gender and sexuality spectrum. However, because BetterHelp is the world's largest network of licensed, accredited, and experienced therapists, they have more gender-affirming and queer-informed therapists on tap than any other provider on the list. "[My BetterHelp therapist] has created a safe, judgment-free zone for me to talk out what's weighing me down while also celebrating the good," wrote one reviewer.
From the get-go, queer and questioning individuals will be thrilled by how inclusive the platform is. Even the intake questions are surprisingly inclusive, giving patients the opportunity to select from a wide variety of genders, sexual orientations, and pronouns.
Price: Varies based on where you live but about $60 to $90 a week
Best for couples: ReGain
- Affordable price point
- Specifically geared towards couples
- Offers queer, kink, & non-monogamy affirming care
- Insurance not accepted
- Partners must be in same location for sessions
An offshoot of BetterHelp, Regain is an online couples’ therapy platform that specifically works with couples navigating difficult times in their relationship. Yes, this could include sexually difficult times. Two users share a joint account in which they can communicate with their couples therapist. The communication is visible to both people in the relationship, and all people chat, enabling dialogue and healthy back-and-forth. (Though, individuals can request a one-off session with the expert, should they want).
Price: Varies based on where you live, but about $60 to $90 a week
Best for those on a budget: Talkspace
- Easy to use & highly accessible
- Affordable price point
- Available nationwide
- Text & audio-based therapy may feel less intimidating
- No free consultation
- Does not specialize in sex therapy
If you’ve ever listened to a podcast, odds are you’ve heard about Talkspace. After all, the chat-based therapy platform advertises its services on a wide-variety of social media and entertainment platforms.
While Talkspace does not specialize in sex therapy, it does have certified sex therapists on its roster. To get started, you’ll select the kind of care you’re looking for (online therapy, psychiatry, or couples therapy), and then answer a handful of questions about your concerts. The intake form is not sex-specific, but there are a few slots for you to type-in your specific concerns.
In addition to being a good fit for people on a budget, Talkspace is a good option for people who have Zoom and video fatigue. While there is a video-based option, the chat- and phone- based options are an accessible option for the more introverted amongst us.
Price: Varies based on where you live, but rates start at $260/month
Best reputation: Modern Intimacy
- Can schedule a free 30-minute consultation
- Clients can access classes, blog & podcast at no additional cost
- Only available in a few high-population states
- Insurance not accepted
Modern Intimacy is a highly regarded sex therapy provider with online and in-person sex therapy offerings for Florida, Illinois, Colorado, California, and New York residents. Its team of psychotherapists offer trauma-informed, queer-inclusive, and kink-positive care for people with a range of underlying issues, from trauma to sexual dysfunction. Through research-sharing, shame-busting, and sex-based homework assignments, the Modern Intimacy clinicians support singles, couples, and multi-person relationships through their journey from shame and pain to pleasure and orgasms.
Price: $150 to $300 per session
Most intensive: Couples Therapy Inc.
- High success rate
- Available in the majority of states
- Expert team has a variety of specialties
- Insurance not accepted
- Does not specialize in working with nonmonogamous couples
Couple Therapy Inc. has a different schtick than the other online sex therapy providers on this list. Unlike other online sex therapy practitioners, which typically allow people (or couples) to come in willy-nilly when your schedule allows, Couples Therapy Inc. is capital-S Structured. The company requires that you and your partner complete three two-hour assessment sessions as well as three three-hour therapy sessions all within a three-month period. No doubt, that's intense, but it's also highly effective. "What three benefits resulted from working with Couples therapy Inc.? Saved my marriage, saved my marriage, saved my marriage," wrote one reviewer.
With experts who specialize in a variety of problem areas ranging from low libido to infidelity, Couples Therapy Inc. is for any couples who want (or need) to heal their dynamic in and out of the bedroom. They also have special private sex therapy retreats.
Price: $3,500 to $6,500 per three-month intensive
Best for nontraditional relationships: The Expansive Group
- Sliding scale available for BIPOC & clients with disabilities
- Team specializes in working with queer clients
- Queer, gender, kink & nonmonogamy-affirming care
- Only accepts insurance from Illinois residents with Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO
- Currently a waitlist for sliding-scale clients
Created with Casey Tanner, LCPC, CST, the certified sex therapist behind the popular queer sex education Instagram @queersextherapy, The Expansive Group is an affirming care provider that offers in-person and virtual therapy for pleasure-seekers, gender-revolutionaries, dreamers, and disruptors. The Expansive Group team of experts specialize in providing queer-affirming, gender-expansive, kink-positive, and nonmonogamy-affirming care to people who are in or interested in any kind of sexual or relational format.
Price: $150 to $250 per session (sliding scale available)
How to find a local sex therapist.
While online sex therapy services can be very convenient, you don't have to go through an online service to get access to professional care virtually. These days, most individual therapists—including those in private practice—will also offer virtual therapy sessions, meaning that you can just look for certified sex therapists in your area and then ask for online sex therapy sessions. (The "in your area" part is important because that'll make it more likely that they'll accept your insurance if you have it. Most therapists are also only licensed to practice in the state they currently live in.)
With that in mind, here are three tips for finding a local sex therapist:
Use an online directory.
One of the best ways to find a sex therapist local to you is to look at the directory list of the two most highly respected, credible sexuality organizations, says Mintz. Those are:
When you scroll through directories, keep a special eye on the provider's specialization, as well as whether they do telehealth sessions in addition to in-person care, she suggests.
Talk to your friends.
Word-of-mouth is also a great way to find a sex therapist you click with. "If you have a friend who has gone to sex therapy and feels positively about it, ask them for their therapist's name and number," suggests Mintz.
If that feels too close to home, you could ask your pal for the name of the office their provider works at—they might have a colleague who's currently accepting new clients.
Ask another one of your health care providers.
"If you have a service provider that you trust, ask if they have other clients who have spoken positively about being in sex therapy," suggests Mintz. If so, see if they can get the name and phone number of this recommended expert for you. Many health care professionals and insurance providers may also have referrals ready to go for these very situations.
Can you do sex therapy by yourself?
Yes! You can always choose to do sex therapy individually by yourself, regardless of whether or not you have a partner. You do not need to be in a relationship or dating to attend sex therapy. Alternatively, you can also choose to attend with a partner or partners.
What happens in sex therapy or counseling?
During sex therapy or counseling, your therapist will use questions and conversation to guide you in understanding, processing, and addressing your beliefs, blockages, needs, and wants related to your sex life. Your sex therapist might also give you certain homework activities to try at home in between sessions, which might involve journaling, mirror work, solo sexual practices, or other more hands-on activities.
"The goal of sex therapy is to improve your relationship to sex, your body, intimacy, and your sexual identity," says Schenk DeWitt.
What are some sex therapy techniques or exercises?
Sex therapy is a type of talk therapy, so talking with your therapist (and/or any partners you choose to bring) will be the primary method used in sex therapy. That said, the specific therapeutic techniques and activities your sex therapist uses will depend on their specialty, as well as what technique would work best for you.
Online sex therapy specifically is a good option for people who can't find a local sex therapist who is a good fit, those who feel comforted by the distance created by a screen, and people who don't have access to transportation. Whatever way you choose to access it, though, sex therapy is a wonderful way for people to fill their lives with more body confidence and pleasure and less shame, pain, and judgment.