Dr. Suzanne Pelka received her Bachelor of Arts Degree with honors from UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. in 2005 from The University of Chicago in Human Development. She has been a Research Fellow at UCLA with The Center for Culture and Health, The Foundation for Psycho-cultural Research (the FPR) and The Center for Society and Genetics.
As a therapist, I can be most accurately described as a “sexuality specialist.” Of course I see individuals who come in to address various (non-sexual) relationship issues, but my treatment specializations include: individual and couples’ sex therapy; sexual addiction treatment; sexual anorexia treatment; male sexual dysfunctions, female sexual dysfunctions; erectile dysfunction, couples sex therapy, and resolving past sexual traumas.
I do a good deal of couples’ sex therapy particularly surrounding issues wherein one partner is experiencing low sexual desire and, the other, much higher desire. Many couples (be they heterosexual, gay or lesbian) come in feeling hopeless that they will ever be able to get on the same page sexually. Some have recently experienced major turning points in their lives such as the birth of a baby, recent unemployment or trying to recover from an infidelity in the coupleship. The individuals in other couples believe they have always had different libidos and sexual styles. Still, many other client couples attest that they enjoyed a passionate early sex life that, over time, disappeared completely. The work and writings of John Gottman, David Schnarch, Esther Perel and Harville Hendrix influence the ways in which I work therapeutically with couples.
Many of my patients struggle with specific sexual problems such as rapid ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, painful intercourse (i.e., vaginismus, vulvodynia/ vulvadynia). I help patients process and heal from the anxiety and previous experiences that keep them from moving forward towards experiencing healthy sexuality. I have also helped numerous men and women who, prior to treatment, had not much – if any – sexual experience at all. I have found that new patients come in carrying so much shame surrounding whatever particular sexual circumstance they find themselves in – be that struggling with a sexual dysfunction, a pornography addiction, a non-sexual marriage or total sexual inexperience. I have enormous compassion and respect for people who are brave enough to come in and get treatment to finally resolve and lay down these heavy burdens. I understand how hard it is to make that first phonecall and explain what you need help with. You are brave to seek help and, trust me, you are not alone in your circumstance, no matter how bleak things feel. So many people, from all walks of life and socio-economic status, even young newleyweds, struggle sexually.
I have worked with many men and women in the gay and lesbian community struggling with any of the afore-mentioned issues as well as with internalized homophobia and “coming-out” issues. In addition to life satisfaction, any of these problems can effect sexual performance and libido.
Basically, anything that stresses us out, causes depression or anxiety, in addition to a host of other factors (including diet and medical factors), can inhibit our libidos.
I have specific training in treating people struggling with sex addictions (pornography addiction, sex and love addiction), sexual anorexia, sexual phobias and philias. I am a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT), having trained under Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., author of “Out of the Shadows” and numerous other relevant publications. Not only do I work with individuals struggling with erectile dysfunction, couples sex therapy, sexual addiction and/or pornography addiction themselves but I also work with their partners and spouses. I have run several groups for partners/spouses of sex addicts to help them find the support they greatly need and process and heal from the trauma of discovering their partner’s addiction.
Unresolved trauma and consequent unmanaged anxiety underscores most every aforementioned sexual problem. Resolving the trauma and learning to manage anxiety in healthy ways, both in and outside of the bedroom, is key. Our work together will accomplish these goals and you will be well on your way to enjoying a full, happy and healthy sex life.
My style of therapy is wholistic. I integrate principals, tools and practices that derive from many therapeutic approaches including psychodynamic, EMDR (eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing), CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy), solution-focused and family systems therapies.
Marriage and Family Therapy license # is 48129.
OUR SEXUAL SPECIALTIES
What our clients are saying
Dr. Pelka provided me a safe environment and a trusted ear, where I could for the first time speak the words of my abuse. She always listened, never judged, and provided me with great insight into myself.
With Dr. Pelka’s knowledge and guidance, she carefully helped me work through very old, painful and traumatic experiences in a calm and restorative way. I can honestly say that I am a happier, healthier and much more centered person thanks to finding Dr. Pelka.