sex therapy, treatment of sexual disorders and dysfunction, including impotence, orgasmic dysfunction, vaginismus (spasm of the muscles of the vagina), premature ejaculation, and lack of sexual responsiveness, not caused by a physical problem. Pioneered by Masters and Johnson in the early 1970s, sex therapy is based on the premise that sexual behavior is learned and that problems can be alleviated through sex education, sensitization exercises, and improved communication between sexual partners. Treatment is generally short-term and focused on the sexual problem, although in some cases sex therapists also address underlying problems in the relationship. It is most successful when it includes the patient's sexual partner.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.