Couples Sex Therapy
WHAT YOU WANT VERSUS WHAT YOU DO
When I ask clients what they want from sex they usually talk about pleasure and closeness but, unfortunately, that’s not what they focus on before or during sex. Most clients agree that “communication” is critical to good sex yet very few people are able to do it honestly or effectively.
Fearing rejection or judgment, people often reject, withhold, and disguise key parts of their own sexuality—so that their partner won’t have a chance to reject them. Sadly, they never really say what they want. People make sex very complicated, and then blame sex or their imperfect bodies.
REAL LIFE STRESS SPILLING OVER TO THE BEDROOM
Fear of rejection and judgment isn't the only sexual issues that couples face. Familiarity, advancing age, work pressures, the challenges of raising a family, and household responsibilities all conspire against a regular fulfilling sex life among many otherwise loving couples who feel too harried to get physical. Also, it is easy for emotional distancing to spill over into the bedroom. With all of these many people have a problem with sex at some point in their life. Almost every couple that I see has struggled with this at some point.
These struggles manifest in multiple ways: low or no sexual desire; different levels of sexual desire than your partner; erectile dysfunction, difficulties communicating about sex with partner; complaints about sexual boredom; sexual challenges brought on by illness, age, medications, trauma or life cycle events; body image issues; issues with orgasm or arousal; and out-of-control or compulsive sexual behavior.
WHAT SEX THERAPY DOES NOT DO
It is in this state of frustration and hopeless that people come to me for help. Here's where we need to be careful. Trying to improve “functioning” usually only causes more struggles. Improving friction doesn’t provide what they really crave from sex: a sense of relaxation, playfulness, self-acceptance, and connection. New techniques, lubrication, or erections are not guarantees of desire or satisfaction. In my experience, treating people’s genitalia backfires when a couple is seeking pleasure and passion.
WHAT SEX THERAPY IS
Instead, I will help you focus more on satisfaction than on function. Together, we will unravel the myths about sex, bodies, and gender that keeps you stuck with less intimacy, less connection, and less validation than you deserve. We will shift from performance to pleasure.
In our work together, we start by talking about what’s happening for you. (There is no touch or nudity involved in sex therapy). We will consider:
The sexual problem or difficulties you are experiencing
Current patterns of sexual function and sexual practices
Affectionate non-sexual behavior in the relationship
Your emotional connection
The history of your sexual development/experience (childhood, puberty, adolescence, adulthood)
Medical history (a physical exam by your physician is recommended)
Some sexual problems come from a single source, but others are rooted deeply into our childhood experiences, our perceptions and feelings about our bodies, our physical health and well being, the cultural and religious communities in which we were raised, our personalities, and our intimate partnerships. Once we have a clear picture of what is happening, we will make a plan for how to address it, which often involves out-of-session homework. The homework typically begins with non-sexual touching assignments – all of which you do in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Other homework or areas of focus may include:
Changing how partners initiate sex with each other.
Learning how to sex "no" to sex and make it a positive interaction.
Exploring what feels good to you.
Shifting the sexual experience from performance to pleasure.
Experimenting with making love with your eyes open.
Acknowledging the hurt or shamed inner child who shows up in bed and allowing him/her to heal and mature.
Our work together is based on an affirmative, sex-positive, and non-shaming perspective.
WALKING ON SACRED GROUND
Many people feel intimidated or shy to begin addressing such personal issues in psychotherapy. I will respect your boundaries and work to make you feel at ease. My clients tell me that my directness and easy manner in discussing sexual issues helps them feel comfortable. I will be careful to track your progress as we go; it’s not just a question of how to change a behavior or a symptom as though no real people are involved. I realize that we are walking on sacred ground and will treat your intimacy and marriage bed with the utmost respect.