The traditional belief was that sex problems were a symptom of relationship problems so that when the relationship improves with enhanced communication and intimacy sex would automatically be better. Another therapeutic belief is that the key to healthy sex was increased arousal and orgasm. Neither of these beliefs have received empirical validation.
The new mantra in the sex therapy field is desire/pleasure/eroticism/satisfaction. The most important dimension is desire. It is desire problems (secondary desire dysfunction for both women and men) which brings couples to therapy. Sexual problems are the most frequent mental health complaint in the United States, more common than anxiety and depression combined.
This workshop will help therapists feel comfortable and skilled in addressing sexual questions and problems. These include anti-sex and anti-pleasure learnings form childhood to unrealistic eroticism demands from the media. Knowledge is power so we will confront old and new sexual myths. So many clinicians and clients lack scientifically validated psychological, bio-medical, and social-relational sexual information.
The four-session assessment model allows the clinician to understand how the couple have become stuck in sexual power struggles and avoidance. More important, how to design a treatment plan so that psychological, bio-medical, and social-relational factors are addressed and resolved. The challenge is to develop a new couple sexual style so that sexuality has a positive 15-20% role in their relationship.
Sexual secrets including a trauma history, past or present affair, a variant arousal pattern, compulsive use of pornography, or deeroticizing the spouse destabilize the client and threaten the relationship. Although not all secrets should be shared, sharing secrets in a therapeutic manner during the couple feedback session is motivating and empowering. An important therapeutic adage is the client can learn from the past, but cannot change the past. The power of change is in the present and future.
Many clients say, “I love my spouse but am no longer in love with him.” Even though they still feel intimately connected, they have de-eroticized the spouse. The challenge for couples (married or partnered) is to integrate intimacy, pleasuring, and eroticism into their relationship. So many couples have a contingent relationship-believing if the spouse knew their sexual history and vulnerabilities, they would not be loved. This is a very hard way to live. Competent, ethical couple therapy emphasizes the person being their “authentic sexual self” and experiencing couple sexuality so that it has an energizing role in their lives and relationship.
Have the skills to conduct a comprehensive psychobiosocial assessment to understand and treat desire, arousal, orgasm, and sexual pain problems.
Learn a range of strategies and techniques to help couples integrate intimacy and eroticism to create strong, resilient sexual desire.
Deal with desire and other sexual problems directly. Help the couple choose the right sexual style for them (which is likely to be different than their relational style).
Confront the individual pass-fail perfect performance model and replace it with the couple pleasure-oriented Good Enough Sex (GES) model to enhance sexual satisfaction.
Learn to implement psychosexual skill exercises to enhance desire/pleasure/eroticism/satisfaction.
Design an individualized relapse prevention plan to maintain therapeutic gains and enhance their intimate sexual relationship