Our sexuality is a primary foundation to our lives. Sex in itself is a creative process of opening up to life and allowing it to breathe through us, however in today’s times (and it has been this way for many thousands of years now) the power of sex has been forbidden by ego baring religion that was more focused on controlling the masses then on uplifting them. After thousands of years of brainwashing, the once therapeutic form of sex work, known as humanistic sex therapy, has been virtually done away with and thought of as a sin even. But for many researchers, educators and therapists who take the time to dig deep into our history of sexuality and relationship we discover a beautiful dynamic healing tool which is once again resurfacing and making a stand as the consciousness of our world shifts.
Through the use of somatic sex therapy and coaching practices a patient/client can once again capture and embody one of the most vital aspects of themselves: Their sex. They can start to heal life long wounds and investigate safe, loving ways to embrace their desires and authentic selves, thus teaching how to do the same for someone else, weather that be a person they share an intimate relationship with or otherwise. Somatic sex coaching opens up the interconnectedness of all of life, reestablishing the positive, healthy links between our sexuality and our emotional, mental, physical, psychological and spiritual selves.
Such a holistic healing approach was once common day use for many people. If we look back to Ancient Greece even, the Greek physician Galen (129 A.D.-200A.D.), historically, one of the most influential authors on medical subjects, focused on the subject of women’s unmet sexual desire and defined it as a disease. Coining the term Hysteria (Greek for “Suffering Uterus”) to describe the anxiety, irritability, sexual fantasies, pelvic heaviness and excessive vaginal lubrication in sexually deprived or particularly passionate women. This should sound pretty common term even today, as we are a sexually deprived society and many women today complain of these sorts of issues and more.
Somatic Sex Coaching is a holistic healing approach that combines hands-on techniques (“bodywork”) with traditional sex coaching 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, 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.