Recently a client said to me, “I’m nervous to talk with my wife about my sexual needs, because you are the only person who knows that part of my life.” This statement really struck me—both because it revealed the tremendous intimacy of the therapeutic relationship and also the fact that my client, like many people, is not talking with his sexual partner openly about his desires.
At my first job out of graduate school, I provided HIV education to recovering addicts, most of whom (including the men) had prostituted themselves when they were using drugs. As part of my training, the agency sent me to a week-long training on sex. One of the exercises at the training involved the therapists writing every slang term we could think of for very every sexual act and body part on white boards around the room (you can imagine the laughter that ensued…) The result of this training (and the next 17 years of counseling clients) is that I have learned to talk very comfortably with people about their sexual lives. And for many, it is the first time they have verbalized some of these sexual components of self.
In therapy, people share and process their sexual experiences, attractions, fantasies, fetishes, addictions and longings (not much shocks me at this point in my career…) Many also discuss the obstacles that keep them from having the sexual lives they want. These include body issues, relationship issues, trauma history, guilt or shame induced by religion or culture, dysfunctions, side effects from antidepressants or other medications, etc.
There is a “chicken and egg” relationship between sex and relationship problems—sometimes it is hard to tell which came first. After one couple filled a session discussing their various relationship issues, the wife concluded, “I really think if we were having good sex, these issues would not be as big of a deal. So, I’d like us to work on our sex life.” Her husband’s eyebrows shot to his hairline in surprise and he blurted, “Fine by me!”
Like love, sex encompasses the mind, body and spirit. At the very least, it provides stress release. At its greatest, sex is transcendental. It’s a dance of giving and receiving, connecting and letting go. Sex can become better as you move through life, gaining experience, body awareness, confidence and capacity for emotional and relational intimacy.
Most people desire a fulfilling sexual life and yet many do not prioritize it or talk about it. Therefore, I encourage you to do the following:
Because everything is interconnected, you will find that when you awaken your sexual self, you will tap into powerful life energy that will inspire the rest of your life to blossom.
“The sexual embrace can only be compared with music and with prayer.” ~Havelock Ellis
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Last reviewed: 17 Sep 2013