Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Marilyn Stern, Ph.D., CRC

Committee Member

Linda Callejas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Deborah Knudson-Gonzalez, MD


sex counseling, pleasure, sexual health, rounded theory


Female sexual desire disorder is often discussed in the literature, but there is a paucity of data on how sex therapists conceptualize and treat this disorder. To address a gap in the current literature, this study collected the perspectives and attitudes of clinicians working with patients presenting with low sexual desire. This qualitative study aimed to understand how sex therapists’ conceptualization of female sexual desire disorder is used to make decisions about diagnosis, treatment, and assessing patient progress. Grounded theory methodology was used to examine the attitudes and beliefs held by sex therapists. Results were used to generate a framework of conceptualization relevant to the symptom of low sexual desire and to explore whether clinicians have pre-existing belief systems that inform their perception of a desire problem and treatment plan. Results indicate that belief systems and cultural context are bidirectionally related, and this interaction informs how sex therapists perceive low desire issues and their patients’ perspectives about sexuality. The conceptual framework developed may help clinicians consider all factors pertinent to the symptom of low sexual desire in the conceptualization of assessment and treatment interventions with clients in clinical practice. This study may benefit researchers and practitioners alike by highlighting perspectives from sexuality experts that help to better understand and address sexual desire moving forward. Because results were symptomology-focused rather than diagnostic, future research should explore diagnostic education in sex therapy training.