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Finding a sex-positive therapist isn't always easy

Dr. Marty Klein shares where to start the search

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I've been a fan of your Savage Lovecast for a long time, but I had to write after hearing Marty Klein's awesome talk about the fallacy of "sex addiction." I am 27, and for most of my adult life, I have suffered from complete sexual dysfunction with partners. I was ashamed and thought I was too sexually screwed up to be with a partner because I'm kinky. (I have a fetish for tights and pantyhose.) I was also afraid to seek help out of fear of being labeled "abnormal" or "addicted to porn." I managed to get a little better thanks to an encouraging, kinky, porn-loving, sex-positive female partner. In spite of feeling better, I am still having problems with partners. What are some good resources for finding a sex-positive therapist like Dr. Klein? I have been referred by several people to someone listed as a "certified sex addiction therapist," and I worry this is exactly the kind of unhelpful, sex-negative therapist that Dr. Klein mentioned on your podcast.

NON-Addict Despite Dumb Intolerant Counselors' Theories

"If the public knew how little sexuality training most therapists receive, they'd be stunned," said Dr. Marty Klein, a sex therapist, marriage counselor, psychotherapist and author. "You can get licensed as a marriage counselor or psychologist without hearing the words 'clitoris,' 'vibrator' or 'amateur porn.' So 'How do I find a sex-positive therapist?' is a very important question."

Klein advises you start by contacting the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT.org). "NON-ADDICT should look for a member in his area," says Klein. "But the group is small, and not all of them will share his sexual values. Here's what he should ask a potential therapist: 'What are your sexual values?' 'How do you define healthy sexuality?' 'Are you comfortable talking about kinky sex?' 'Do you think monogamous, heterosexual, genitally oriented sex is ultimately better than other consensual arrangements?'" The kind of sex-positive therapist you seek will answer straightforward questions like that over the phone before you make an appointment for a session. "And regardless of the answers, if you sense a professional is queasy talking about sex, move on to another candidate."

Klein says there are many ways to find a local, progressive, sex-positive therapist. "He should call his local Planned Parenthood or LGBT center, a gynecologist or urologist, or the person who teaches sexuality at his local university, or a local divorce lawyer" and ask for a referral, advises Klein. You could even call a priest. "Most clergy send their sexuality cases to one or two local therapists, some of whom are quite progressive."

To hear Dr. Klein talk with me about pornography and the "sex addiction" racket, go to thestranger.com/lovecast and listen to Episode 326. To read Dr. Klein's brilliant takedown of the sex-addiction industry ("You're Addicted to What? Challenging the Myth of Sex Addiction," The Humanist, July/August 2012), go to tinyurl.com/addictedtowhat. To find out more about Dr. Klein and his work, go to martyklein.com.

I'm a guy who can't orgasm during oral sex. I can during vaginal. It's frustrating, as I can see it bothers my girlfriend. But while I get close, I don't quite reach the apex of that hill. I suspect it's a control issue. During vaginal, I have some level of control — during oral, I don't. Help.

Almost There

Maybe it's not a control issue, AT. Maybe oral doesn't do it for you — it can't get you up and over them thar hills — because ... oral doesn't do it for you. If it were your girlfriend who had difficulty climaxing from oral alone — let's say she required a vibrator to get her over them thar hills — the standard-issue, sex-positive, lady-empowering advice would be to accept that it's just the way her pussy works. I would order you to incorporate the vibrator into oral and/or vaginal sex and not stress out about it. And if you were putting pressure on your girlfriend — if you were making it clear to her that this "inability" to climax from your oral skills alone bothered you, if you were having a sad each time she "failed" to climax during oral — I would slap you around for being an insecure prick.

Why shouldn't the same advice apply here?

Vaginal gets you all the way there, oral gets you almost all the way there — maybe that's just how your dick works. On the off chance there could be a psychological block, AT, experiment with letting her get you almost all the way there and then stroke yourself to get the rest of the way there. Stroke to the point of no return — "orgasmic inevitability" — and then put your dick back in her mouth and blow your load. With time and without sads, AT, you may find the number of strokes you need to get up and over the hill diminishing until you don't need them at all. Or you may not — because this may be how your dick works.

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