Sex

Sexuality is something we all share. Just as you might enroll in university to learn or go to a doctor if you’re not feeling well, there are times when you might seek out a sex therapist or sex coach:

  • sex therapists primarily help with “problems”
  • sex coaches primarily focus on performance and pleasure
  • sex therapy and coaching may be “talk only” or in some cases may include hands-on experiences

To discuss how sex therapy or coaching could help you, contact me.

What is Sex Therapy?

Sex therapy is an umbrella term for any kind of exploration, healing or problem-solving connected with sexuality. It could be developing confidence, eliminating anxiety, healing after some kind of sexual trauma, or dealing with very specific problems such as low libido or having a different sexual appetite from your sexual partner.

A sex therapist could help you overcome a multitude of problems relating to sexuality, many of which can also impact other areas of your life as well. Here are some examples of situations that a sex therapist can help with:

  • overcoming erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation
  • overcoming pleasure blockages and developing/discovering orgasmic ability
  • addressing intimacy or communication problems
  • recovering from sexual abuse or rape
  • establishing and enforcing boundaries
  • reducing/eliminating shame

A sex therapist could also help you explore your sexuality and deepen your understanding of its various aspects, including your sexual identity, sexual attractions/orientation, your varying drive to engage in sexual connection, and the relationship between your sexuality and spirituality.

What is Sex Coaching and how is it different?

Sex coaching, like sports coaching, is mostly about helping people develop their ability and advance their skill. This could be something as simple as learning to be comfortable talking about sex, or getting past chronic pre-date jitters. As with sex therapy, a sex coach is more accurately a sexuality coach who deals with much more than just the how-to of sex. Sex coaching is often an effective alternative to sex therapy for minor problems, particularly if they’re rooted in a lack of confidence or lack of experience.

Sex therapy is more about getting the car roadworthy; sex coaching is more about maintenance and driving habits. Sex coaching is often a followup to sex therapy, i.e. after the “problem” is solved, you may want to learn practical skills and techniques to increase your confidence, and many sex therapists also provide coaching. Sex coaching can also be the route to expanding your sexuality in any direction, developing your personal style, enhancing your intimacy, pleasure and inner experience, or revitalizing your sex life.

Which style of sex coaching is most appropriate for you depends on your goals.

Imagine a professional sports coach who, week after week, did nothing more than interview the team captain a few days after the game and give feedback. Based solely on the interview, the coach would make a few suggestions and help the team captain develop a plan for the next game, perhaps drawing a diagram or two, and send the captain off to play, hoping for the best. Some sex coaching is like that.

Some sex coaching is more like tennis or golf coaching and includes demonstration, observation and immediate feedback, and occasionally “hands on” instruction so you can refine your technique. (Imagine how different it would be if your coach never actually watched you swing a golf club or tennis racquet and you had to describe where you were, how you stood, exactly how you held the club or racquet, the precise angle of contact with the ball, the wind direction and speed, and so on, so your coach could try to visualize your swing and tell you what you might do differently to get the result you wanted.)

What is Somatic Sex Therapy?

Somatic Sex Therapy is a holistic healing approach that combines hands-on techniques (“bodywork”) with traditional sex therapy techniques. Like telling the story uses the “mind memory” to release pain and promote healing, “body memory” is used to assist in the healing process.

A key part of talk therapy is retraining the mind – letting go of old beliefs and experiences, and incorporating new ones. Somatic therapy is primarily about retraining the body, so it can respond differently. Combining the mental and physical aspects in therapy creates more opportunities for healing and change by facilitating integration of the entire experience.

Somatic Sex Therapy uses various kinds of touch to promote healing, including “laying on hands”, hugs, holds, massage, stroking and other kinds of contact, as appropriate to the client’s need. Somatic therapy has some things in common with what is popularly called “healing touch” or “therapeutic touch” but somatic therapy is not an “energy”-based therapy like Reiki and others that often involve limited touch or sometimes no touch at all. Somatic Sex Therapy could include receiving or giving the kinds of touch that you might actually experience in a sexual context. While Somatic Sex Therapy is generally done fully clothed, there are situations where (similar to therapeutic massage) removal of some or all clothing is appropriate.

There are a number of alternate titles and sub-specialties for a Somatic Sex Therapist, and many different approaches to combining the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of sexuality: Sexual-Somatic Therapist, Mind-Body Sex Therapist, Body-oriented Sex Therapist, Sexual Embodiment Therapist, Holistic Sex Therapist, Reichian Sex Therapist, Sexual Bioenergetic Analyst, Sexual Therapy Practitioner, Sexological Bodyworker, Sex Surrogate, Surrogate Partner, Sacred Intimate, Spiritual Sexuality Master, Sexual Energy Specialist, Sexual Shaman, Phoenix Fire Man/Woman, Qadishtu/Qadesh, Dakini/Daka, Tantrika, Tantric Master and Tantric Healer. Each of these professionals have a different focus and range of techniques. Some combine bodywork with psychotherapy techniques, some are primarily bodyworkers and would work in conjunction with a traditional (no touch) Sex Therapist, and some focus on the spiritual aspects of sexuality.

Why would I want a Somatic Sex Therapist instead of a regular therapist?

Sometimes, “talk therapy” isn’t enough.

Somatic Sex Therapists help clients with a wide variety of problems, some of which have nothing to do with sex. What makes Somatic Sex Therapists different is their comfort level with sexuality and physical touch, and their ability to include an appropriate physical element to support you in achieving your goals. Consider the limitations of talk therapy in these example situations:

  • “I get really anxious when someone sits too close to me on the bus.”
  • “I’m lonely, but I can’t stand anyone touching me.”
  • “I was raped. I want to date, but whenever a man touches me, I panic.”
  • any problem where physical touch is a “trigger”

Somatic Sex Therapists are particularly helpful for resolving:

  • boundary and trust issues
  • body image problems
  • communication problems
  • anxiety or aversion to touch and/or intimacy
  • pain caused by “pelvic floor guarding”, e.g. vaginismus or vulvodynia
  • shame relating to fetishes or any other physical desires
  • arousal problems
  • lack of desire or lack of pleasure sensation
  • sexual addictions

By including the physical dimension in therapy, Somatic Sex Therapists have the ability to bring greater depth to your work, and often shorten the amount of time needed to achieve the change you want.

What should I expect in a session with a Somatic Sex Therapist or Sex Coach?

You should expect the same things you would expect from any other professional. The obvious difference is that in addition to the usual conversation, sessions could include physical touch. You may be guided and encouraged to explore, but you are always in control of the limits in a session from moment to moment.

Whether the context is verbal or physical, you can expect that your boundaries will be both challenged and respected. In coaching, this can mean trying out different points of view or doing something differently than you are accustomed to, and thereby developing greater choice and flexibility. In therapy, this often means going into your “discomfort zone” so that you can access an experience and your therapist can support your resolution or reframing of that experience. Generally, once you start having a reaction, your therapist will pause and help you work through that reaction before moving on.

Your feedback is an important part of any session, and especially important in sessions involving touch. You may experience subtle internal reactions that aren’t evident, or your reaction may be obvious but unexplained. Volunteering your inner experience, such as “I’m feeling ____” or “I’m thinking ____” or “I’m remembering ____” or “I want ____” is usually helpful, just as it is in any relationship.

At all times in any session, you have the choice of saying “no” and you can expect your therapist or coach to honour that boundary. You can also expect to explore why you’ve put up that boundary and – if it’s relevant to your goals – have it appropriately challenged again.

Therapists and coaches help you develop your emotional and spiritual self much like personal fitness instructors would help you develop your physical self. As your “personal trainer”, a therapist or coach will help you do the things you’ve had difficulty doing on your own. You may initially find those things somewhat awkward or unpleasant, and you may experience pain before you see the results you want. As you develop, your sessions will be adapted to meet your changing needs and desires.

To discuss how sex therapy or coaching could help you, contact me.

©2010,2011

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