Project information

Sex Therapy Online

Relate will pioneer an innovative online psychosexual therapy (PST) resource tailored to help adults overcome sexual difficulties and build healthy relationships. This service will improve access to people considered disadvantaged or “seldom seen or heard”.

We would like to launch this innovative new national service from April 2012.

Charity information: Relate

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  • Need


    Sexual difficulties can make people feel very alone. Some people feel so fearful, self-conscious or ashamed and they can suffer for months or even years without discussing their worries to anyone, even their partner. At Relate, we know that sexual difficulties often lead to relationship breakdown, and similarly relationship conflict leads to sexual difficulties, which has a negative impact on families and the wider community.


    Over recent years, Relate has identified the need to offer services online as internet access continues to increase, as do the numbers of people seeking confidential support through this medium. This project will make sex therapy available to people online by means of a secure portal, where individuals can monitor their progress, access services and interact with a Relate trained psychosexual therapist in immediate, real time through a variety of mediums.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Sex therapy is not available on the NHS in all areas of the UK.


    » There are currently only 28 towns across the UK that offers NHS psychosexual services and there's almost invariably a waiting list.
    » As they do with existing Relate services, people would self-refer or would be referred via the NHS, their GP or other health care professional.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...Sex therapy will be more readily available and people with major sexual problems will be less embarrassed to get the professional help that they need.

    Aim 2

    People want support when and where they need it.


    » Relate’s Sex Therapy Online service will provide this support and meet the individuals need to fit their lifestyle.
    » This project will enable more individuals experiencing distress or emotional anguish to access psychosexual therapy (PST) in a new way.
    » Through a secure and confidential online portal, beneficiaries will be able to confidently get the help they need when and where they need it.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...easy access to sexual advice, information and proffesional psychosexual therapy.

    Aim 3

    There is a current lack of trusted and quality resources available.


    » Individuals can be assured that they will receive a service from an established organisation, with trained professional sex therapists.
    » Coupled with over 70 years experience, Relate has close links with the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT).

    What success will look like

    Success will be... therapy undertaken with a specialist in the causes and treatments of sexual dysfunction.

    Aim 4

    An online service has the ability to meet people ‘where they are’.


    » Essential for people who find it difficult to access services due to finances, geography, disability or caring responsibilities.
    » This service will improve access to people considered disadvantaged or “seldom seen or heard”, such as those with disabilities.
    » Relate believes that therapeutic services should be available to all people without discrimination, regardless of post-code or physical ability.
    » Relate’s experience also suggests that a higher proportion of men and younger people in particular choose to access services online.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...people can get they help they need from the comfort, confidential anonymity of their own home.

    Aim 5

    The service will offer:


    » Self evaluation tools to help people identify presenting issues, support content and materials giving information about specific problems.
    » Secure interactions with a therapist using email, web cams and live web chat. Assignment of tasks and the monitoring of an individual’s progress.
    » Alerts and notifications to individuals via email and SMS text technologies. An evaluation of outcomes once a person’s therapy has been completed.

    What success will look like

    Success will therapy available to people with a Relate trained psychosexual therapist in immediate, real time through a variety of mediums.

  • Impact


    The service will be marketed and advertised through local Relate centres (in over seventy locations throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland), online and appear in various internet search engines (when people look for help with sexual problems, stress and anxiety); in health centres, hospitals and GP surgeries. Relate have pre-established links with 3000 GP’s in England.


    Managing risk is an ongoing activity at Relate. Relate has an established approach to identify, evaluate, and consider possible responses, and take action and monitor. Relate Senior Management Team will take overall ownership of all risks associated with the project.


    Reports of progress will be regularly sent to donors in exchange for your much needed financial support. This will be by way of case studies, respondent feedback and statistical evidence.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £118,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £110,000 IT IT system development
      £8,000 Service delivery Therapist IT hardware and software service delivery
  • Background


    Our online and telephone counsellors are based at our national central head office in Doncaster, where we run our ‘Response’ services, such as our national 0300 number and our email and telephone counselling services. Relate Central Office is also where we provide the training and supervision for counsellors to enable them to work online.


    Sex therapy can help adults of all ages, whether heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian or gay; single people and couples who are married, cohabiting or living separately; people living with chronic illness or disability, and those who are otherwise healthy. This service will improve access to people considered disadvantaged or “seldom seen or heard”, such as those with disabilities, who find it difficult to access services, on low income or with caring responsibilities.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Traditionally, counselling and therapy services have been delivered face-to-face. Relate support over 4,000 people annually with psychosexual therapy in a face-to-face setting via its network of over 70 local centres. 80% of our beneficiaries report we have had a positive effect in helping them to maintain or strengthen a relationship and 90% report that they have achieved the outcome they wanted after engaging with our services.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Stephen Thorlby-Coy

    Responsible for developing and maintaining access channels for Relate clients.