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Therapeutic sex is typically a process by which sexual contact and intimacy are used as therapeutic treatment for a variety of emotional or psychological issues. This type of practice can be fairly controversial, however, especially when used by a therapist with his or her client. Human sexuality is certainly an important element in mental health, though the way in which sex can be used to help someone who may be dealing with certain issues is debatable. Therapeutic sex can be used within a relationship between spouses or significant others, in which case it is often utilized by one partner to help the other.
The basic idea behind therapeutic sex is that sexual contact and activity can be a healthy and important part of the identity and psychological stability of many adults. A number of different emotional and psychological problems can alter a person’s sex drive; intimacy and sexual contact can be used inversely to impact various problems. Someone who is suffering from depression, for example, often experiences reduced sex drive and less of a desire to be in physical contact with others. The use of therapeutic sex, however, can trigger the release of different chemicals within a person that can actively combat other chemical imbalances caused by depression or other conditions.
One of the major issues some people have with therapeutic sex is the way in which it can be used. There are sex therapists who offer their services to clients, interacting with them through sexual stimulation and contact. Other professional psychologists, counselors, and therapists often feel that such contact between a professional and a client is inappropriate and may be used by some therapists to take advantage of their clients. There are also arguments by some lawmakers and religious leaders that this type of therapeutic sex is an alternate form of prostitution and should be similarly regulated.
Outside of this controversy, however, there is evidence that indicates that a healthy sexual relationship and contact between loving partners is important for strong mental health. Therapeutic sex, therefore, can be experienced within an established relationship to help one or both people within the relationship. If someone suffered physical or sexual abuse as a child, for example, the use of therapeutic practices to establish intimacy and trust between that person and a partner may be crucial to the development of a healthy relationship. Therapeutic sex can also be helpful when someone has undergone a physical change, either through natural aging or due to an accident, and is experiencing difficulty regarding his or her body image and accepting such changes as part of his or her sexual identity.