The couple had gone to the psychiatrist because he said he was a sex therapist. But the wife refused to return for a second session after the doctor recommend that she "stick my husband with pins" if his sexual performance was not satisfactory.
Another therapist suggested that the sex life of couples could be improved if they would allow him to come to their homes and watch them make love.
These incidents were among the abuses cited to the House Environmental Affairs Committee today at a hearing on a proposal to license sex therapists in Maryland.
Proponents of the bill testified that sexually frustrated couples are being mistreated by well-meaning but poorly trained psychiatrists, social other couples seeking help are being taken advantage of by massage parlors, houses of prostitution and fly-by-night sex clinics.
The bill was backed by Dorothy DeMoya, a nurse, who with he gynecologist-obstetrician husband formed the first dual sex therapy team trained by William Masters and Virginia Johnson at the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation in St. Louis. She urged passage of the bill "as a first step to resolve the growing problem."
Because no state regulates sex therapists. Mrs. DeMoya said couples "desperate for solutions fall prey to anything - potions, pills, promises . . ." offered by ill-prepared individuals beneath their belt feel they can open up shop as sex therapists."
An opponent of the bill, Dr. Jon K. Meyer, the director of the sexual behavior consultation unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said the "intent is good," but said the measure would "accomplish the opposite" by licensing paramedical therapists, when sexual paramedical therapists, when sexual disorders should be treated only by specially trained physicians and psychologists.
Dr. Meyer predicted the "fad for sex therapy is passing," and that the demand will decrease as more physicians are capable of treating sexual disorders.
He said the organizations that would set standards for licensing, the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (Aasect) lacks the "prestige or status equal to the task."
Meyer compared sex therapists to leaders of "sensitivity groups of 10 years ago," a fad that has since dwindled.
Other opponents included the Maryland Psychiatric Association and the State Board of Medical Examiners, whose spokesman agreed with Meyer that a board of sex therapists might "legistimize the practice of minimally qualified persons."
But proponents insisted there is an immediate need to license therapists. The Rev. Robert O. Burdette of Kensington, a Methodist minister and sex educator, said persons seeking sexs therapy often are under emotional and physical stress, incapable of making normal judgements. He said they need to be able to rely on the state to qualify legitimate therapists.
Dr. James Frawley, a obstetrician-gynecologist, said half of his patients have some problem related to sex and a state law is needed to "eliminate the charlatans and quacks" so physicians can refer patients to therapists with confidence.
Michael E. Abell, vice president of the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County and chairman of its social action committee, said the bill, sponsored by Del. Marilyn Goldwater (D-Montgomery) meets the major concern of his organization: it would improve existing standards and permit persons seeking help to have confidence in the ability and integrity of the therapists while not restricting legitimate counselors who do not consider themselves primarily as sex therapists.
Mrs. DeMoya said the woman who was advised to stick pins in her husband during lovemaking to help him overcome problems came to the DeMoyas after two unhappy experiences with "sex counsels" in the Washington area.
After quitting the $50-an-hour psychiatrist, the couple enrolled in a $40-an-hour clinic run by a social worker who advised the woman to refrain from intercourse to avoid "putting pressure" on her husband during therapy. The couple quit the clinic when, after nine months of treatment, the husband was impotent, Mrs. DeMoya said.