Sex therapy and insurance coverage

Originally Published: February 26, 1999 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: November 8, 2013
Share this

Hi Alice,

I think you are doing a great job in answering people's concerns and questions about sex. I am wondering if sex therapy will be covered by an insurance policy. (This might be insurance related questions.) I just want you to throw some light on this. I want to seek some medical help for my quick ejaculation.

Sick of Quickies

Dear Sick of Quickies,

Sex therapy is a counseling technique that helps clients change their behaviors and attitudes in and outside of the bedroom. It has been found to be effective in clients who come to therapy alone, but it’s even more effective (50 to 70%!) with the involvement of the client’s partner(s). Because sex therapy is evidence-based form of psychological therapy and proven to be effective for many clients, some insurance companies provide coverage. However, if your insurance doesn’t cover sex therapy, don’t fret — you still have several other options.

Sex therapy usually lasts between five to 20 hourly sessions, often scheduled twice per month. Many sex therapists use the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) treatment modality, which promotes behavioral changes by evaluating connections between the client’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Sex therapists that practice CBT often assign “homework,” which encourages clients to practice new behaviors between sessions. As the therapy progresses, clients discuss their at-home experiences to hone in on the specific issues they’d like to work on.

Depending on your specific concerns and health status, you may need to see a sex therapist that works with a team of healthcare providers, including your primary provider, psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor, and/or physical therapist. Sex therapists often request complete medical evaluations before or shortly after the treatment begins in order to properly diagnose the problem and identify the appropriate treatment plan. This evaluation can help determine between the physiological and psychological concerns. Additionally, when a sex therapist recommends medication, she or he must collaborate with licensed prescriber (physician, nurse practitioner, psychiatrist, etc.).

Columbia students on the University-sponsored Student Health Plan who wish to see any type of counselor, including a sex therapist, should begin by scheduling an appointment with Counseling and Psychological Services (Morningside Campus) or Mental Health Services (Medical Center Campus). In many cases, sex-related concerns can be addressed by on-campus providers. However, should your campus provider refer you elsewhere, you’ll need to contact the off-campus provider to determine whether services will be covered.

If you’re not a Columbia student and you wish to find a sex therapist or counselor near you, use the provider locator on the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) website. Always look for a certified or licensed sex therapist with a graduate degree and credentials from AASECT. Certified sex therapists do not have sexual contact with clients and conduct their work in accordance with regulated standards. Once you select a therapist, call her or his office to determine whether services are reimbursable by your insurer. Or, if you’d like, you can ask your primary care provider or call your insurance company directly and request a referral to a provider in your area. If your insurance doesn’t cover therapy, many therapists are willing to adjust their fees or work out a payment plan. You can also look for a sex therapy clinic (which are usually less expensive than private therapists) near you by calling your local hospital or university medical center.

Whether you choose to tackle your concerns alone or work with the support of a sex therapist, there are several techniques you can try on your own. For example, you can try delaying orgasm and prolonging arousal. These exercises help men learn to change undesired behaviors (including premature ejaculation) on the road to climax. Bernie Zilbergeld's book, The New Male Sexuality, offers insight, perspective, information, and other useful suggestions in this area as well. Remember that practice makes perfect — for these strategies to be effective, they must be used often, as you’re teaching your body a new skill. Good luck!

Alice