Using Emotionally Focused Therapy to Treat Sexual Desire Discrepancy in Couples

Abby Girard, Scott R. Woolley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Couples in committed relationships encounter a multitude of issues. According to Metz and McCarthy (2010), when couples report high sexual satisfaction, it accounts for 15% to 20% of their overall relationship satisfaction. However, when couples report low sexual satisfaction, it contributes 50% to 70% of their overall satisfaction with their partner. Issues of sexual desire, currently referred to as sexual desire discrepancy, are among the most difficult to treat. Although there are many factors contributing to the issue of sexual desire discrepancy, current literature highlights the importance of emotional intimacy as an outcome and predictor of increased sexual desire. Given the complex nature of sexual desire, clinicians often lack the understanding and treatment options that are systemic. By viewing sexual desire discrepancy as a relational problem that can be treated using emotionally focused therapy, clinicians are better equipped to work with emotional and sexual factors that impact desire and couple distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)720-735
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Sex and Marital Therapy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 17 2017


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