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Mar 28, 2017

Understanding Motivation in Sex Therapy

In working on a sexual issue, there is a common phenomenon that is counter-intuitive. This isn’t an issue that directly relates to sex, but instead relates much more to motivation. As a sex therapist, I work with many clients who come into therapy looking for expert advice. After a few weeks of participating in therapy, many of those same clients are puzzled, and even frustrated with themselves. They can’t understand why they haven’t followed much of the advice at all.

In sex therapy, motivation is almost always at the center of therapy. There are specific exercises that sex therapists can assign to their clients. However, if these assignments aren’t utilized, then there won’t be progress at all.

There are countless ways that motivation can impact a person’s actions. However, there are two primary classifications that all psychotherapy deals with in regards to motivation. Some motivation is internally based, while some is externally based. Motivation can be based on internal values, or responses from the world around a person.

Many of the people who come in for sex therapy come in due to external factors. They feel the frustration from their partner. They are trying to satisfy their sexual relationship. They are trying to fulfill the socialized roles that people are told that they should fulfill in sex. They are also concerned that their relationship is slowly falling apart.

Others do come in because of internally based motivational factors. They have personal goals and values surrounding the problems they are facing. They recognize their own barriers to reaching a life of contentment and sexual well-being.

Many of the people who seek out therapy struggle with internal motivation. This doesn’t mean that there is no motivation that comes from within these people. Instead, it usually means that they aren’t able to identify these factors. This makes it difficult for them to make changes, because they struggle to understand their own barriers. They just understand the barriers from outside of them.

There are underlying causes for problems with sex, which are more complex than physical symptoms alone. Many times the physical symptoms are related to emotional responses, such as insecurities, fear, and depression. They can also be related to feelings about relationships. Understanding these factors can be a deeper, more complicated task. However, without taking the time to understand these elements, motivation can be hard to find.
Michael J. Salas is a counselor in Dallas, Texas who specializes in relationships and sexuality. Read more about his specialties and counseling perspectives at

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