by: Dr. Lila Hakim, C.Psych. & Dr. Dino Zuccarini, C.Psych.
Sexuality is an important part of who we are. At CFIR, we promote healthy sexuality. An important first step is to ensure that individuals and couple partners have access to accurate information about sex and how our bodies work, and an understanding of the physical (e.g., contraception, sexually-transmitted infections) and emotional risks involved in expressing ourselves sexually. Healthy sexuality also involves being comfortable with ourselves (i.e., liking our bodies, finding ourselves attractive, being aware of and accepting our desires and fantasies, feeling capable sexually, knowing our sexual boundaries and asserting our limits), being able to experience sexually arousing feelings, communicating our sexual desires, and engaging in satisfying intimate-sexual relations with others.
Sexuality, however, can also be a source of great distress. Distress can occur when we do not have accurate knowledge or information, or are experiencing sexual functioning problems or sexual and pornography addictions. Some of our sexual issues flow from a lack of, or inaccurate, knowledge about how our bodies actually function, or distress over fears of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. A lack of knowledge can create anxiety about decisions and choices and sexual expressions.
Sexual functioning problems related to desire, arousal, and orgasm are also a source of emotional distress for individuals and couples. The causes of such problems are vast. Sexual functioning is affected by a wide range of organic, biological, and medical issues, as well as social, cultural, and psychological factors. Some of us become overly consumed by negative thoughts and emotional reactions about oneself (e.g., our bodies, genitalia, sexual performance), or our sexual partner. We may also engage in relationship or sexual patterns that diminish arousal and the desire/interest in sex. Some individuals experience sexual pain or other difficulties during sexual intercourse due to a complex blend of physical or psychological factors.
Some individuals will struggle with sexual or pornography addictions, including the use of internet porn, massage parlours, or risky sexual encounters. In these situations, individuals and their relationship partners may experience significant distress. Sexual functioning issues, regardless of their origins, can block an individual and couples from experiencing positive feelings, such as joy and pleasure, within the sexual aspect of the relationship. Sexual issues can also spill over into other aspects of the relationship, including emotional and physical intimacy.
CFIR psychologists and clinicians have published research and theoretical articles in peer-reviewed journals, and written book chapters in the area of couple and sex therapy. We help you by providing a comprehensive psychological assessment to help you understand the causes of your sexual difficulties and then develop the most appropriate treatment plan to address underlying causes. We are well-informed about contraception, sexually-transmitted infections, and the physical aspects of sexual functioning, and the psycho-social issues associated with these topics. We also support clients to develop sexual authenticity through supporting them to clarify desires and remove blocks to the expression and assertion of their sexual needs in relationships. We also help to resolve sexual functioning issues to restore one’s sexuality as a source of joy, sensuous pleasure, and connection.
The Relationship and Sex Therapy Service at CFIR offers clients comprehensive assessment, psychotherapy, and counselling to address a wide range of relationship and/or sexual issues for both individuals and couples. In terms of treatment, we offer individual, couple, and group therapy to help you to develop stronger relationships, heal relationship injuries, improve or add new relationship skills (e.g., communication, problem-solving and negotiation skills), and address sexual issues that interfere with sexual satisfaction and fulfilment, regardless of sexual orientation.
Read more about our Relationship & Sex Therapy Treatment Service.