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The Short Version: Dr. Shannon Chavez is a nationally recognized expert, educator, and certified sex therapist who specializes in intimacy. She takes a unique mind and body approach to sexual wellness and helps women, men, and couples overcome issues both large and small. Dr. Chavez is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in California and Arizona as well as a Certified Sex Therapist. Through therapy, education, and coaching, she teaches clients how to build healthier, more satisfying sexual relationships.
Dr. Shannon Chavez wants her clients to enjoy positive sex lives and encourages them to put in the work necessary to achieve their goals — even if it may be difficult to talk about the issues at first.
“Unfortunately, for most people, the topic of sexuality is embarrassing, uncomfortable, or even taboo, but the inability to discuss sexual concerns and problems may be the greatest barrier to achieving sexual health and wellness,” she said.
She believes sexuality is a critical component of overall health and well-being. When we don’t have the love, affection, and intimacy we crave, it can hurt other areas of our lives. Using her extensive training, Dr. Chavez helps people break down the barriers that keep them from having the sex lives they deserve.
“People always ask me, ‘Do I need sex therapy?’ Every single one of us has sexual issues at some point in our life, so when you are considering therapy or coaching, remember that it can be designed for any issue,” Dr. Chavez said.
She also wants people to understand that sex therapy and coaching are part of a highly specialized field, and that other therapies aren’t a comprehensive solution when intimacy issues are involved.
“It’s very different from traditional psychotherapy — it’s about solutions empowering you to take charge when it comes to your sexual health,” said Dr. Chavez.
Dr. Chavez began her career in private practice after working at an integrated sexual health clinic with a gynecologist and a pelvic floor physical therapist. They specialized in women’s sexual health. When she started her own practice, she decided to incorporate that same mind-body approach.
“Anyone that I’m working with starts here. We assess all aspects of health — physical, emotional, even socio-cultural. From lifestyle to how their culture or community is impacting their sexual wellness,” she said.
She views each patient holistically to create the most accurate wellness plan. Her private practice clients are primarily adults, and Dr. Chavez works predominantly with those who want to get past some barriers to sex.
“Sometimes it’s just getting some education and resources. Other times it’s going in-depth and looking at relationship history, sex history, and working through deeper concerns,” she said.
While Dr. Chavez often works with men and couples, women’s sexual health is her specialty. Her warmth and connection with women are especially beneficial to her patients.
“Some women I’ve worked with felt that they weren’t heard, or the clinician didn’t understand their concern from all aspects — which is why the mind-body approach is so helpful. Women feel more comfortable with their bodies, and they approach sexual health without feeling shame or helplessness,” she said.
She has also experienced clients who are scared to ask their doctor for information or feel the need to get permission to explore their bodies and their sexuality. Her approach puts those clients at ease and allows them to ask questions about sensitive subjects.
“I take it slow and meet the client where they’re at. Sometimes we just start by providing a comfortable space for her to figure out what that is. What is great sex? What is a healthy sex life? How can we do that without feeling defeated or overwhelmed?” Dr. Chavez said.
Relationship counseling can be beneficial for couples, but, often, sessions fail to address all aspects of the relationship, and intimacy can be too big an issue to go unaddressed.
“I hear couples say, ‘We went to couples therapist, and she never brought up sex, and we don’t know how to talk about it, but it has been an issue and a barrier for quite some time,’” she said.
Sexual needs are essential to a relationship, but often get swept under the rug in the face of seemingly larger problems. Dr. Chavez works with couples to open up the lines of communication about intimacy. As a certified sex therapist, she customizes an approach to meet a couple’s specific needs. She examines both the psychological and physiological factors affecting a couple’s sexuality.
Dr. Chavez also corrects the myths and misconceptions about sexuality, helps couples identify barriers to sexual fulfillment, and provides a solid education on intimacy. She supplies couples with the resources, tools, and skills to enjoy a healthy, rewarding sex life.
Not all sexual issues need long-term therapy. Sometimes couples have one area of concern keeping them from achieving sexual satisfaction. For issues like these, Dr. Chavez offers sex coaching.
“Coaching is one of the most widely used services in my practice. I think it’s because people are looking for more focused, short-term solutions for their issues,” she said.
The coaching process begins with an assessment and a consultation over the phone.
“I ensure clients know what sex coaching is and how it works — either in the office or through teletherapy. After the assessment, we set goals, timelines, and make a commitment to the work,” she said.
For most clients, sex coaching is a weekly occurrence, and Dr. Chavez usually has them dedicate at least four sessions to address all of their concerns. Coaching can last anywhere from four to 10 sessions depending on the issues, and Dr. Chavez provides clients with a solid educational foundation first. She dispels common myths and works through some of the misconceptions they may have. She even has clients talk about why past treatment didn’t work.
Sex coaching can be done in person at her Beverly Hills office or online for residents of California and Arizona. Dr. Chavez coaches clients online because she wants to help more people with these issues — especially those for whom in-person meetings aren’t feasible.
“Online coaching reaches people who may not have resources in their communities. It is also beneficial for people who have social anxiety about going into an office and meeting with a clinician. It breaks down those barriers and helps people assess services from the comfort of their home,” Dr. Chavez said.
Dr. Chavez has empowered many of her clients to work toward healthy, satisfying sex lives, and she started her practice to fill a void she saw in sexual wellness education.
“I got into this field because I felt there was a real lack of awareness, education, and services around sexual health. It’s a niche in need, and I feel grateful and honored to work with people who really want to address these issues,” she said.
One of her patients, L.D., a female in her late 50s, recounted her experience with Dr. Chavez, writing in a testimonial: “Therapy helped me normalize my worries and moved my view of sexuality to a wider view encompassing the broad range of creativity I already use. Thanks, Dr. Chavez for being so open to shifting away from the typical medical model of sexuality and giving me a new, full experience.”
“I’m working with quite a few organizations that are creating products or services around sexual health. My role is to bridge the barriers to talking about sex. With products, it is important to understand how they work and how they can be incorporated into sexual wellness.” — Dr. Shannon Chavez, Licensed Sex Therapist and Clinical Psychologist
In addition to private practice, Dr. Chavez also partners with other organizations to bring her message — and expertise — to more people in need.
“I’m working with quite a few organizations that are creating products or services around sexual health. My role is to bridge the barriers to talking about sex. With products, it is important to understand how they work and how they can be incorporated into sexual wellness,” she said.
Dr. Chavez plans to add more speaking engagements and workshops centered around sexual wellness this year so she can help as many people as possible lead fulfilling sex lives.