Clinical Psychologist Dr. Eli Mayer’s Non-Judgmental Approach Helps People Improve Their Sex Lives

The Short Version:  Dr. Eli Mayer faced discrimination as the first openly gay doctoral student in his graduate program. But after he graduated and started his practice, the AIDS crisis hit, and many of his gay patients in New York City appreciated that he could relate to them. Initially, Dr. Mayer focused on traditional psychotherapy, but after studying sexuality, he became a certified sex therapist. Today, his patients, who are couples and individuals, benefit from a blend of both techniques. Many couples find comfort with his sex therapy techniques and often achieve results faster than with traditional psychotherapy.

When Dr. Eli Mayer was applying to his doctoral program in the early 1980s, he kept his sexuality quiet because he knew some universities wouldn’t accept an openly gay student. His decision to come out during his second year at Yeshiva University put his academic studies in peril when the faculty became divided over whether to expel him. He stayed in the program, but some people there would never speak to him again.

Dr. Mayer went on to become a licensed clinical psychologist. After graduation, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, he started a practice as one of the first openly gay psychologists in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

Dr. Eli Mayer’s personal experiences as a gay man help him understand his clients.

“This neighborhood was like the land of the living dead; it was like jumping out of a horror film,” he said. “I had many patients coming in and out, and…

Read more: Clinical Psychologist Dr. Eli Mayer’s Non-Judgmental Approach Helps People Improve Their Sex Lives

can sex therapy save your relationship?

All couples who have a physically intimate relationship are likely to experience peaks and troughs in their sex lives. Like other aspects of any relationship which ebb and flow, this may not be a serious concern. But when sexual issues begin to negatively impact the relationship, it may be time to consult with a licensed psychologist who is also certified as sex therapist.

Left unattended to, these issues may create friction or lead to resentment which can destroy an otherwise good relationship.

If you recognize any of the following warning signs in your own situation, sex therapy is indicated, and could be the key to saving your relationship:

1. DISCUSSING SEX LEADS TO ARGUMENTS:

If discussing sex leads to arguments, you and your partner are unable or have lost the ability to work together on overcoming roadblocks to a good sex life. Try as you may to approach the subject, attempting to discuss it only seems to make things worse. This often leaves one or both of you feeling guilty, accused, or inadequate (and very few people feel sexy that way). Left unattended, these feeling will undermine even the strongest relationships.

A skilled, experienced psychologist with expertise in sex therapy will be able to help you develop the skills to overcome the roadblocks which have you from communicating your way to a better sex life.

2. SEX FEELS LIKE AN UNAPPEALING OBLIGATION:

While at the start of your relationship sex may have felt exciting and enjoyable, it has now lost that…

Read more: When Sex Therapy Can Save Your Relationship

Psychotherapy had unfortunately earned a bad reputation decades ago when the prevailing view in the field was that the only form of “healthy’ sexual activity was penetrative sexual intercourse between a man and a women.  Any deviation from this was considered an expression of psychopathology and carried such derogatory labels as “perversions.” 

Indeed it wasn’t until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association would even allow for the fact that not all people who enjoyed having sex with someone of the same sex were sick and in need of treatment to “cure” them. Fortunately, much has changed over the years in the attitudes of society, and there is much greater room for sexual expression than in previous years. 

Still because of this painful history, and because to this day there is far too much ignorance in the field, people who may not identify as specifically gay or straight, or for that matter fall neatly in line with being either 100% male or female, fear that should they seek help from a psychotherapist, or a sex therapist, that they will be told that they are “abnormal” and that the very things they take pleasure in doing, or how they experience themselves will be what the therapist wants to change.

Each of us, no matter where we appear on the spectrum of gender or sexual expression, are vulnerable to the same sexual concerns that people work on productively in sex therapy. 

For example, heterosexual women are not the only ones who…

Read more: Do Sex Therapists Try to Make You Have “Normal Sex"?

Feeling depressed? You are far from alone. In fact, depression is so common that mental health professionals often refer to it as “the common cold” of mental disorders. According to data released by the National Institute of Mental Health in 2012, it is estimated that roughly 16 million Americans have had at least one major depressive episode that year. That’s 6.9% of the population! And according to the World Health Organization, over 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide.

Is it Depression or Sadness?

All of us become sad at various points in our lives. This is both normal and a healthy expression of emotion. For example following a loss or disappointment, any healthy person would feel sad. What distinguishes depression from everyday sadness is that it doesn’t seem to go away. If the sadness persists over a period of weeks or longer it is likely that you are depressed.

Here are some other feelings that are quite common when someone becomes depressed: Feelings of “emptiness” extreme irritability over minor things, anxiety and restlessness, easily angered, loss of interest in things that usually interest you, repeatedly thinking about things that have gone wrong for you, feelings of hopelessness, and thoughts of death or suicide.

There are also common physical signs of depression that you can look for. These include a change in appetite. Some of us lose our appetite when we are depressed, while others start eating more as a way to comfort themselves. Sleep changes are also typical.

Some…

Read more: Depression- Should I Treat It With Pills Or Therapy?

Why Straight Rural Men Have Gay “Bud-Sex” With Each Other is the title of Jesse Singal’s article on sexuality in this week’s (Dec. 18, 2016) New York Magazine. In it she describes the work of the University of Oregon’s sociology doctoral student Tony Silva who looked at rural white men who identify as "straight" and have sex with other men, in his paper Gender & Society.

The subjects of his paper were 19 straight (or mostly straight) identified men who had advertised for male sexual encounters in rural areas. Perhaps the simplest way of describing the findings is that the men interviewed tended to be masculine in their behavior and enjoyed sex with other masculine men, but it did not detract from their identity as heterosexual.

One needs to understand that “being gay” is an identity, and not an objective fact. It is how one thinks of oneself, just as one might think of themselves as “Italian” although they are a 3rd generation American and only one set of their grandparents had entirely Italian blood. In my years of practice I have come across men who rarely have sex with woman yet identify as straight, as well as men who have sex almost entirely with woman yet identify as gay, and of course, all points in between.

One of the interesting findings reported by Singal is that an important piece of preserving their identities as straight men was that they themselves were masculine in their behavior, as were the men…

Read more: Helping A Buddy Out... When Straight Men Have Sex With Each Other

Types of Therapy

 

Individuals

This may be long or short term therapy. Often people are interested in help through a particular crisis in their lives, for example, the end of a relationship, or help after a traumatic event. In these situations, short-term psychotherapy is usually what people choose.

 

Couples Counseling

In this type of therapy, I meet with you and your partner to resolve problems that are troubling you as a couple. I am comfortable and experienced working with couples of all sexual orientations and have no pre-suppositions that the couple should or should not be sexually exclusive.

 

Sex Therapy

Sex Therapy is effective both when working with couples and when working with an individual. This therapy is very focused on the sexual problem and utilizes many techniques and exercises that on a very practical level help you overcome your difficulties and concerns.