Sex Therapy

Whether you specialize in sex therapy or see couples and individuals, you are likely to come across couples struggling with issues related to sex.  These resources can help you improve you skills and better help those clients.

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sex therapy sensate focusSensate Focus in Sex Therapy: The Illustrated Manual by Linda Weiner and Constance Avery-Clark

Sensate Focus in Sex Therapy: The Illustrated Manual is an illustrated manual that provides health professionals with specific information on the use of the structured touching opportunities used regularly by Sexologists to address their clients’ sexual difficulties (Sensate Focus 1) and enhance intimate relationships (Sensate Focus 2). This book is the only one to: vividly describe and illustrate the specific steps of, activities involved in, and positions associated with Sensate Focus; emphasize the purpose of Sensate Focus as a mindfulness-based practice; and distinguish between the purposes of Sensate Focus 1 and Sensate Focus 2.


sex therapy

What Every Mental Health Professional Needs to Know About Sex by Stephanie Buehler

The second edition of this acclaimed guide to understanding sexuality and working with clients on sexuality issues is extensively updated to reflect recent scientific, practical, and social developments in the field. It provides updated information on relevant disorders in the DSM-5, new theoretical approaches, new pharmacological treatments, updated information on STDs, new understandings of transgender individuals, the impact of same-sex marriage laws, controversies over sex addiction, and much more. Chapters are enhanced with the addition of new take-away points, additional worksheets, and a glossary.



sex therapy books

Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic by Esther Perel

One of the world’s most respected voices on erotic intelligence, Esther Perel offers a bold, provocative new take on intimacy and sex. Mating in Captivity invites us to explore the paradoxical union of domesticity and sexual desire, and explains what it takes to bring lust home.

Drawing on more than twenty years of experience as a couples therapist, Perel examines the complexities of sustaining desire. Through case studies and lively discussion, Perel demonstrates how more exciting, playful, and even poetic sex is possible in long-term relationships. Wise, witty, and as revelatory as it is straightforward, Mating in Captivity is a sensational book that will transform the way you live and love.


Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy, Fourth Edition (Principles & Practice of Sex Therapy) by Sandra R. Leiblum

This widely adopted text and clinical reference provides a comprehensive guide to assessment and treatment of all of the major female and male sexual dysfunctions. Leading authorities demonstrate effective ways to integrate psychological, interpersonal, and medical interventions. Every chapter includes detailed clinical examples illustrating the process of therapy and the factors that influence treatment outcomes.




new sexuality studies

Introducing the New Sexuality Studies edited by Steven Seidman, Nancy L. Fischer, and Chet Meeks

Introducing the New Sexuality Studies is an innovative, reader-friendly anthology of original essays and interviews that introduces the field of sexuality studies to undergraduate students. Examining the social, cultural, and historical dimensions of sexualities, this anthology is designed to serve as a comprehensive textbook for sexualities and gender-related courses at the undergraduate level.

The book’s contributors include both well-established scholars, including Patricia Hill Collins, Jeffrey Weeks, Deborah L. Tolman, and C.J. Pascoe, as well as emerging voices in sexuality studies. This collection will provide students of sociology, gender, and sexuality with a challenging and broad introduction to the social study of sexuality that they will find accessible and engaging.

The loss or lack of interest in sex is a common complaint in sex therapy. Organized around in-depth case presentations, this book showcases effective treatment approaches for individuals and couples. The contributors are highly skilled therapists who explore the complexity of sexual desire problems and offer detailed descriptions of clinical techniques. The book illuminates the complex interplay of biological, psychological, interpersonal, contextual, and cultural factors that need to be considered in assessment and intervention. Concise chapter introductions by editor Sandra R. Leiblum summarize key themes and provide a context for understanding each author’s approach.



Neuroaffective science―studying the integrated development of the body, brain, and mind―has revealed mechanisms linking psychological and biological factors of mental disorders, including addiction. Indeed, its paradigm-shifting theoretical umbrella demonstrated that substance and behavioral dependencies share identical neurobiological workings, and thus that problematic repetitive behaviors are genuine addictions―a state increasingly understood as a chronic brain disorder. Clinical experience strongly suggests that sex addiction (SA) treatment informed by affective neuroscience―the specialty of Alexandra Katehakis―proves profoundly transformative.

Katehakis’s relational protocol, presented here, blends neurobiology with psychology to accomplish full recovery. Her Psychobiological Approach to Sex Addiction Treatment (PASAT) joins therapist and patient through a relationally-based psychotherapy―a holistic, dyadic dance that calls on the body, brain, and mind of both.

Handbook of Clinical Sexuality for Mental Health Professionals (500 Tips) edited by Stephen B. Levine, Candace B. Risen, and Stanley E. Althof

The Handbook of Clinical Sexuality for Mental Health Professionals, 3rd Edition, builds on the authors’ authoritative first person voice on sexual matters of the previous editions. The work reflects the field’s growing sophistication about sexual disorders and their therapies. The scope has been expanded to keep pace with new literature and research in the field, and eight additional chapters have been added. New topics include the politics of diagnosis, persistent genital arousal, asexuality, post orgasm illness, scientific findings concerning origin of orientation, and partnering with the pharmaceutical industry. Easily accessible, the Handbook is divided into sections that touch on fundamental knowledge and skills; treatment; men’s major sexual concerns; women’s major sexual concerns; problems common to both genders; the diversity of sexual lives; and future and trending topics. Written in a personal, supervisory style, the book will help new therapists anticipate clinical contingencies and help experienced therapists refine their thinking and teaching.

come as you are

Come as You Are is not a book about sex therapy per se.  However it is an excellent introduction to the biological and psychological aspects of women’s sexuality.   This is a such a great resource that it made it on the list for both therapists and their clients.  You can read our full review here.





where should we begin? sex therapy

Where Should We Begin by Ester Perel is not a sex therapy book but an Audible original.  This is a series of 10 counseling sessions where she addresses a wide range of sexual difficulties in a very diverse set of couples.  Each episode is less than an hour but is full of insight and beautiful therapy.  This is highly recommended for any one working with couples in general and especially those interested in treating sexual challenges.




Gott Sex with Julie and John Gottman

The Gott Sex series contains nine video modules focused on intimacy, connection and communication about sex.  Instead of focusing on physical tips or challenges, they hone in on the need for couples to communicate.  The physical kit comes with 115 pages of exercises for couples to try between sessions. The online version has printables of everything in the kit.
The DVD set Gott Sex is available from third parties on Amazon but you can get either version and learn more at the Gott Sex website.



If you are not a sex therapist but you help individuals and couples with sexual challenges, you might benefit from from the ARHP fact sheet: Sex Therapy for Non-Sex Therapists.  For more information on becoming a certified sex therapist, please look through the requirements at the AASECT website here.


If you know of another book that belongs on this list let us know here or tell us about it in the comments.  Make sure you’re also following The Therapist’s Bookshelf on Facebook and Instagram.

Many therapists enjoy recommending books to their clients to supplement the work they are doing together.  We also use books to help ourselves grow as people and practitioners.  Remember though that books are never a replacement for real human connection or for therapy when it’s needed.  If you find yourself needing a therapist, a great place to start is Psychology Today.  If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline


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