Mindfulness-Based Therapies for Sexual Dysfunction: a Review of Potential Theory-Based Mechanisms of Change

Abstract

A number of recent clinical trials have suggested that mindfulness-based therapy may be an efficacious treatment for sexual dysfunction. However, little is known regarding the mechanisms of action for these treatments or whether these mechanisms are unique to mindfulness-based therapies. Such knowledge would aid in maximizing the impact and dissemination of these interventions. This article provides a review of potential mechanisms utilizing empirically supported theoretical models of sexual dysfunction and mindfulness meditation. These mechanisms include (a) shifting locus/quality of attention during sex, (b) decreasing negative sexual schemas, (c) altering negative expectancies/goals for sex, (d) reducing behavioral/experiential avoidance, (e) lessening engagement with negative sex-related cognitions, and (f) improving the relational context. Current evidence for the importance of each potential mechanism is summarized and recommendations regarding future directions of research are provided.

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Stephenson, K.R. Mindfulness-Based Therapies for Sexual Dysfunction: a Review of Potential Theory-Based Mechanisms of Change. Mindfulness 8, 527–543 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0652-3

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Keywords

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Mindfulness
  • Mechanisms
  • Mediators