Sex Counseling

"Sexuality provides a revealing window
into the understanding of an individual
or a relationship."
- David Schnarch




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Sexual energy block?
Oversexed? Undersexed?
Sexual guilt? Sexual shame?
Difficulty with orgasm? Difficulty with trust?
Monogamy problems? Non-monogamy problems?
Classic concerns: impotence, frigidity, premature ejaculation?
Conflicts over frequency? Conflicts over safety?
Concern over fantasies and fetish urges?
Sexually inhibited? Sexually insecure?
Performance anxiety?
Addicted to sex?

Few topics are more sensitive than sexual issues. But if David Schnarch is right, that sexuality provides a revealing window view into our psychology, then we cannot ignore sex on our journey of self-knowledge.

Nowhere is the overlap between mind and body as evident as in the realm of sex. Clients often assume they can overcome sexual problems just by learning a few mechanical skills. Of course, physical and health factors have to be taken into account (e.g. technique, medication, diabetes?), but since emotions and thoughts have such a direct and powerful influence on how our bodies function and feel during sex, genuine healing for sexual issues usually requires a psychological component.

One observer of our time has said, "Christianity and the Victorian Era have both created an ineradicable film of guilt over sexuality in our culture". Indeed, many religious authorities and institutions desperately try to separate spirituality and sexuality. But is it true that sex is an enemy that must be subdued before spiritual practice can happen? Or is sex a powerful creative force and a potential vehicle of self-fulfillment and spiritual-awareness?

D. H. Lawrence believed that "sex is sacred because it opens us to the energy behind all life." He and others say that anything we do with our deepest energy is simultaneously sexual and spiritual. Dr. Jung too thought of libido very broadly as the primary life force moving through us - as electricity moves through the filament of a light bulb. In an episode of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, an elderly character reflects on earlier days with her deceased husband: "It isn't the sex I miss. It's the sunsets." In this view, the energy of sex is everywhere.

Couples sometimes ask for help with sexual issues only to discover their real need is for increased intimacy. In sex counseling, solutions are rarely as simple as one would hope. "In most cases," says David Schnarch, "Reproductive sex is a very 'natural' function. If that were the only issue, few of us would have much trouble." But usually the issues are much deeper than mere biology, and very delicate to discuss - to say the least.

How do proud men broach the subject of Viagra? How can teenagers discuss same-sex attraction? How can sex addicts feel safe to share the reality of their compulsive (often anonymous) encounters? Perhaps more than any other form of therapy, sex counseling requires an open, non-judgmental therapist (repeat: NON-JUDGMENTAL!). A bi-sexual client will close down fast when he or she detects the therapist has branded him or her as using bisexuality as a cover for being gay or lesbian. A transgender client will find no benefit from a therapist who judges his or her transition. And the spouse who feels deplorable about a recent extra-marital affair can find no healing if the therapist has a particular moral agenda.

Whatever the origin, the fact is that few of us in North American can escape facing embarrassing, frustrating, and disturbing sexual issues sometime during our lifetime. Sex counseling offers us a safe place where we can be vulnerable and seek help for these problems that affect us so profoundly.

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