Pornography, or sexual imagery, is a loaded topic in our world. Some research says that up to 30% of online searches are related to sexuality. But what does that mean?
A very important question to ask would be “is the sex I’m looking for consensual?”
Does it include the agreement of all parties involved? Non-consensual sex refers to sex with minors (those under 16 or 18, depending on the state you live in). It includes things like voyeurism (e.g. peeping through windows), exhibitionism (exposing one’s genitals to non-consenting others), and rape.
Consensual sex includes many things, some of them seemingly normal e.g. missionary style sex between a man and a woman, to things less conventional, like the act of being tied up by a consenting partner.
People look at sexual imagery for a variety of reasons. Teenagers do it because puberty results in physical changes to their bodies. They become curious. Unfortunately, many have no one to talk to to get their questions answered. So what do they do? They look online at sexual images for answers. They look to the pornography industry (an entertainment medium) to learn about sex. But the adult entertainment industry is designed for just that: entertainment. It’s not intended to educate and teach people about sex. It’s an understandable strategy for teenagers, but not an effective one.
Some adults look at porn because they want to understand themselves better. Why does this turn me on and not that? Maybe they’re embarrassed to disclose to a partner about a sexual turn on. Instead, they watch others have the sex they want to be having via pornography.
Some folks look at sexual imagery as a way to de-stress or as a coping mechanism for boredom. It’s a way to fill unstructured time, ward off loneliness and anxiety and manage other unpleasant emotional states.
I won’t be going through a check list of acceptable and unacceptable sexual behaviors. I will be asking about consent to make sure that sex therapy is the best intervention. If your disclosures include non-consensual behaviors, other interventions would be discussed.
Our task is to help you identify where you’re feeling sexually conflicted. We utilize principles like honesty, consent, and non-exploitation to help you clarify which sexual values are important to you.
As long as what you’re doing is consensual, there is a great variety of ways in which people express themselves. I want to help you find a way to express your sexual self in a way that is consistent with your own values. Sex therapy is an effective way to do that.
The formal assessment is when we will determine if your use of sexual imagery is out of control, or problematic. The focus is to then design an effective treatment plan to help you reach your desired outcomes.