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  • Why Sex Therapy can be Helpful to British Asians

    Sex therapy is a type of counselling used to overcome issues of sexual intimacy. DESIblitz explores how it can help British Asians with their sex life.

    Why is Sex Therapy not popular for British Asians?

    Asians are not always open when talking about their own experiences with sex

    Sex therapy remains a sensitive subject amongst British Asian communities.

    While younger generations of British Asians are more open to discussing sex in with friends and peers, they still hesitate to discuss bad or difficult experiences of sexual intimacy with an aim to address the problems

    Many Asians who struggle with sexual inhibitions or issues are unaware that professional help and support is available.

    Sex therapists offer counselling sessions for specific sexual problems, and can help overcome physical and/or psychological issues to do with sex.

    DESIblitz explores how sex therapy works in promoting sexual well-being and why it can be helpful to British Asian relationships.

    What is Sex Therapy?

    Sex therapy is the application of specialised treatment approaches and techniques that address psychological issues which affect sexual functioning and well-being.

    It helps because it addresses people’s fear and reduces anxiety about themselves as sexual human beings.

    When people begin talking about sex it starts the process of eliminating shame and increasing intimacy.

    The Stigma of Sex and Sex Therapy among British Asians

    Why is Sex Therapy not popular for British Asians?

    Many British Asians do not want to talk about sex. Conservative cultural traditions in South Asian society, as well as religion, can prevent many Asians having open views about sex.

    Being brought up in a conservative society can leave some Asians embarrassed or ashamed to seek help with sexual problems.

    Many can also fear what their friends or family might say if it became open knowledge that they were accessing sex therapy.

    South Asian culture teaches us that sex should only be used for procreation and that it should be a private matter.

    As a result, there are various factors that can affect British Asians seeking sex therapy.

    Counselling with a sexual therapist can uncover issues of jealousy and insecure feelings over a partner’s previous relationships and sexual experiences.

    For example, how many partners they have previously had, or how much they know about sex, etc

    With arranged marriages still popular among Asians in the UK, a lack of sex education and experience prior to marriage is also an important factor.

    Many couples fear that openness about sex can lead to promiscuity, and the need to seek fulfillment elsewhere. For instance, ‘If we talk about sex and we both learn so much about it, he or she may leave me’.

    Being Open about Sexual Intimacy

    Why is Sex Therapy not popular for British Asians?

    Therapy and counselling are useful methods in which to encourage Asians to become more open about sexual intimacy.

    Asians are not always open when talking about their own experiences with sex. They tend to hold back on some aspects of the ‘History Taking’ or assessment in fear of being judged.

    But a good therapist will use their expertise to draw out relevant information and create trust between the couple and the therapeutic relationship.

    Couples are usually very tentative and wary. They observe each other to see who will take responsibility in leading the conversations.

    While couples may seek help for a sexual problem, communication with each other can be a key barrier. They may find it difficult to be open about how they feel, and how they communicate it. Do they listen and hear each other’s views?

    Once this is addressed and improved, the topic of sex becomes easier to talk about. This also creates a level playing field and balance for open discussion.

    Common Issues Related to Sex

    Why is Sex Therapy not popular for British Asians?

    So what are some of the common issues British Asians have related to sex?

    A lack of desire to have sex can be an issue for both men and women. But both sexes can also experience specific sexual problems.

    Men can experience erectile dysfunction, i.e. have difficulty getting or keeping an erection.

    They can also face premature ejaculation or other ejaculation problems.

    Women, on the other hand, can have difficulty getting an orgasm. In some cases, women can experience pain during sex (Dyspareunia) or be unable to have penetrative sex.

    Vaginismus involves the involuntary tightening of muscles around the vagina whenever penetration is attempted. Reasons for this can be due to a fear of penetration.

    How Sex Therapy Can Help

    Why is Sex Therapy not popular for British Asians?

    In one case study, an Asian man contacted a sex therapist for work related stress.

    This issue was the catalyst for him accessing therapy. It  later transpired that he had issues with his relationship and he suffered from premature ejaculation and sexual performance anxiety.

    The therapy continued with the couple thereafter. Sex was talked about openly and the problem was shared.

    Discussions around sexual myths, male/female sexual arousal circuits, sexual health, intimacy, communication and understanding sex in its entirety as opposed to sexual intercourse were all part of the work in the sessions.

    The couple was given a sexual programme to practice at home and openly feedback their feelings – both positive and negative, and any fear and anxiety they had at the following meeting.

    The result of this open discussion was that the couple began having healthy intimate sex, and better communication and understanding of each other’s needs and sexual preferences.

    There was a significant reduction of shame and guilt to being sexual beings and having sexual needs, reduced anxiety over sexual performance and a significant improvement over control of ‘point of inevitability’ ejaculation.

    What to do if you and your Partner are having Sex Problems

    You should seek professional help with a ‘Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist’ via ‘Counselling Directory’, ‘Find a Therapy’ or College of Psychosexual and Relationship Therapists.

    You should ensure that the therapist is familiar with South East Asian Culture with a wide range of knowledge and experience.

    You can even narrow the search down to the area you live.

    Here are some useful websites and organisations to contact about Sex Therapy:

    • Relate ~ Sex therapy for couples and individuals
    • Counselling Directory ~ a full UK directory to help connect you with professionals in your area

    For couples who are struggling to enjoy a happy sex life, therapy can be very helpful in reducing anxiety and pressure.

    Communication about sex is the key to enjoying sex with your partner, and it is not something to shy away from.

    Saidat Khan is a Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist and an Addictions Specialist from Harley Street London. He is a keen golfer and enjoys yoga. His motto is ''I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become'' by Carl Jung.

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