Dr. Bettin elaborates on how different amounts of therapy are beneficial for people in different situations. As you get to know each other, you and Dr. Bettin will decide together what works for you.

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It’s ok to feel nervous or unsure about sex or relationship therapy. Call Dr. Bettin directly on her confidential line 804.819.9191 to have any of your questions answered.

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What is the goal of sex therapy?

Sex therapy goes beyond resolving sexual issues by aiming to improve your overall quality of life, yet each individual or couple will have their own specific goals for therapy. Whether partnered or single, and no matter what sexual orientation or gender identity, or lifestyle choice or challenges we all deserve a life that includes safety, comfort, pleasure, and intimacy. As a sex therapist, I’ll work with you to create a non-judgmental atmosphere of care and understanding so that you can begin to identify, clarify, and accept what the sexual side of you really wants and needs. We’ll work collaboratively to help shift you away from frustration, disappointment, pressure, anger, guilt, and hurt and steer you towards intimacy, connection, openness, honesty, trust, acceptance, love, and joy.

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What exactly is sex therapy?

Sex therapy, like relationship and marriage counseling, is based on open conversation in a comfortable, non-judgmental atmosphere where both couples and individuals feel safe. Whether partnered or single, and no matter what sexual orientation, gender identity, or life-style choice or challenges, we all desire a life that includes safety, comfort, pleasure & intimacy.  Unlike most other types of counseling, sex therapy focuses on human sexuality and intimacy, two facets of our nature that are sometimes difficult to discuss. But the more you become aware of your wants and desires, the closer you come to self-acceptance and self-understanding. Because intimacy plays such an important part in any relationship, sex therapy often ends up including aspects of relationship therapy, and vice versa.

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Do we engage in any sexual behaviors during our therapy session?

No. Sex therapy does not involve any sexual activity between client and therapist (a breach of ethics at best, and in many cases, a crime) or between clients themselves. While suggestions may be given for various non-sexual and sexual activities to try at home, you can rest assured that sex therapy sessions are purely about open, honest communication.

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Who seeks out sex therapy?

Individuals and couples of all ages, backgrounds, orientations, and lifestyles find ways to change their lives with sex and relationship therapy. The one trait most clients share is a frustration at having lived with these obstacles in their lives for such a prolonged period of time.

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What concerns does sex therapy typically address?

Your reasons for seeking out sex therapy are almost certainly related to a sexual aspect of your life that creates stress for you and/or your partner. For instance, sex therapy often addresses concerns about:

  • Low or absent desire, mismatched desire, or an abundance of desire

  • Arousal, performance, satisfaction, or love-making skills

  • Erectile difficulties or premature ejaculation

  • Sexual orientation or gender identity

  • Body image and/or physical changes that accompany weight gain, pregnancy, menopause, or aging

  • Medical issues- side effects of medication, high-risk pregnancy, infertility, cancer, pain, surgery, STIs, depression, anxiety, etc.

  • Grief and loss

  • Trust and safety in situations of infidelity, trauma, and abuse, as well as the emotions brought out by confronting confusing or shameful experiences

  • Troubling sexual compulsions, fetishes, behavior, fantasies or desires.

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What’s the first step in working with you?

First, we’ll talk on the phone so we can decide together if we’re a good fit for an initial, in-person consultation. I’ll ask for a brief overview of your concerns. If there’s a couple’s issue, we’ll make the decision whether to schedule your first session alone or with your partner. In all cases we’ll try to schedule a time that works best for you.

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What happens at our first session?

Though the time varies (individuals will attend 60-minute sessions and couples will have 90 minutes), you can expect to spend a great deal of our time together talking about your concern, starting from when you first noticed signs of a problem and continuing up to the present. You’ll have the chance to ask me as many questions as you need, and I’ll be asking you to answer several questions as your story unfolds. This initial visit allows us to get to know each other and decide if we’re a good match. In order to get the most out of your therapy, it’s extremely important that you feel comfortable and connected to your therapist. If, after our first session, you or your partner don’t feel comfortable with me or feel that I won’t be helpful to you, I will be happy to help you find another therapist who might be a better fit.

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What can we expect during future sex therapy sessions?

Sex therapy sessions are much like other therapy sessions. We’ll continue to talk about what your concerns are, focusing on not just your thoughts and feelings, but also your actions, and how they have affected you and others in your life. The difference between sex therapy and other types of therapy is that with sex therapy comes a very normal level of discomfort with openly discussing sexual concerns. When we reach these moments, we’ll work together on saying things that you may never have said before. Part of my job is to encourage you to speak your truth and challenge restrictive stereotypes. By this process of talking, listening, exploring, and questioning, we will both come to a better understanding of exactly what is getting in the way of you leading a happier life. Then, you’ll be able to actively work towards creating meaningful intimate experiences.

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If I/we need sex therapy, can I/we also have relationship therapy at the same time?

Yes! In fact, those two areas of our lives are so interconnected that exploring one may be necessary in order to get the most out of the other.

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What should I do if my partner refuses to join me in therapy?

This can be a very frustrating situation, and each circimstance is unique. In most cases it is beneficial for one person to come for therapy even if their partner doesn’t want to. Relationships are like a dance... even when only one person changes the steps, the dance changes.

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What’s the difference between traditional couples therapy for sexual concerns and sex therapy for couples with sexual concerns?

Couples therapy typically embraces the premise that sex will get better as relationship problems are tackled. Sometimes that’s true, but when it’s not, an unresolved sex problem can actually affect the relationship itself. Sex therapy, on the other hand, focuses on improving a couple’s relationship and sex life by paying attention to and addressing the problems in both areas simultaneously. Instead of shoring up the relationship in hopes that intimacy will follow, sex therapists help couples examine both their sex life and their relationship dynamics in order to improve both!

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If we’re in couples therapy, will we ever have the chance to see you individually?

In most cases, each person will have a confidential, 60-minute session with me towards the beginning of their couple’s therapy. This time alone often helps individuals answer more clearly and honestly as I ask some of the tougher questions. It’s especially important that each partner understands that anything we discuss in these sessions is considered strictly confidential. I’ll never bring up anything you and I talk about individually in a couples session.

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Why do doctors refer patients to sex therapists?

Some sexual problems have emotional, spiritual and psychological roots that need exploring. Even if a medical professional rules out a physiological cause for a sexual problem, they may refer to a sex therapist for help.

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Should I talk to my doctor about my sexual concerns?

Absolutely, but you’re not alone if you feel hesitant to do so. Many patients feel uncomfortable talking about sexual issues to their doctor, and doctors, in turn, often wait for the patient to bring them up. It’s always best to share as much information with your doctor as you can, and a sex therapist can help you formulate your questions and concerns in a way that feels comfortable. Additionally and only with your permission, therapists can contact health care providers for relevant information that might help resolve your problems.

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How many sessions do people usually need with sex or relationship therapy?

During our first therapy session, it’s important that we begin to establish your goals. Some people may only require a few sessions to address the challenges that they have been facing, while others may need more time to explore deeper issues that have gotten in the way of their happiness.

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Do you take insurance and what are your payment policies?

Because I believe that participation in insurance panels compromises the care I provide, and the privacy and confidentiality of my patients, I don’t participate in any insurance plans. However, many insurance companies offer out-of-network benefit plans that would partially reimburse your direct payment to me, provided that you submit the coded invoice furnished to you. Please consult your insurance provider for more information.

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What are your office hours?

I see clients Monday through Friday, with some evening appointments available. Please call anytime for an appointment. If you leave a message, please indicate the best time for a return call. I try my best to return your call the same day.

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Where is your office?

My clients agree that having our sessions in my private home office helps to create a safe, comfortable environment. Located in Midlothian in the Harbour Pointe subdivision of Brandermill, off Hull Street/Rte 360, my office is easy to find and has plenty of parking space. Click here for directions.

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