Integrating Sexual Interventions Into Marital Therapy
Traditionally, marital and sex therapists have approached couple problems in very different ways. This workshop focuses on integrating sexual interventions into marital therapy. Sex therapy is a specialty of couple therapy. An integrated approach to sexual and couple problems serves clients well. Sex problems, especially involving desire, are the most common mental health concern in the United States.
Healthy marriages are satisfying, secure, and sexual. The 15-20% role of sexuality is to energize the couple bond and reinforce feelings of desire and desirability. The paradox is that dysfunctional, conflictual, or avoidant sexuality has a powerful effect of destabilizing the person and threatening marital stability. Sexual problems are the most common reason couples break up in the first five years of marriage, whether a first or second marriage.
This workshop will help clinicians become comfortable and confident in addressing sexual questions and problems. We confront the traditional male-female power struggle over intercourse frequency and replace it with a new understanding in which both women and men value affectionate, sensual, playful, erotic, and intercourse touch. The clinician becomes comfortable dealing with sexual problems directly and utilizing psychosexual skill exercises to address desire, arousal, orgasm, and pain problems. We explore new, empirically-validated approaches to affairs, trauma, pornography, and fertility problems.
Being an “askable” pro-sexuality clinician in helping couples discuss sexual questions and problems is of great therapeutic value. This includes redefining sex as much more than intercourse, confronting the male-female double standard and advocating for female-male sexual equity, integrating a medical intervention into the couple style of intimacy, pleasuring, and eroticism rather than expecting the medication to do it all, emphasizing giving and receiving pleasure-oriented touching rather than sex as an individual pass-fail performance test, and adopting the Good Enough Sex (GES) model to enhance couple sexual satisfaction.
A core theme in this workshop is to advocate for healthy sexual attitudes, behaviors, and emotions in the context of a respectful, trusting marital commitment. Contrary to gender stereotypes, what men value in a long-term marriage is that “my spouse has my back” and what women value is a vital, satisfying sexual relationship. There is solid scientific evidence that couples can be sexual in their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Healthy couple sexuality promotes marital satisfaction.
- Utilize a comprehensive couple psychobiosocial model for assessment and treatment of sexual problems.
- Emphasize acceptance of individual and couple psychological, relational, and sexual strengths and vulnerabilities while confronting “shameful” sexual secrets
- Affirm the value of a satisfying, secure, and sexual marriage where the 15-20% role of sexuality is to energize the bond and reinforce strong, resilient sexual desire.
- Help the couple choose the relational style which is the best fit and the sexual style which is the best fit (It is likely that the relational and sexual styles will be different).
- Enhance sexual desire and satisfaction with aging so the couple maintain a satisfying, secure, and sexual marriage after 60.
- Design an individualized relapse prevention plan to maintain sexual gains and grow intimacy and sexuality in the marriage.