One of the trickiest issues for people like me is what to call ourselves.
‘Sexological Bodyworker’ is quite a niche term.It isn’t widely known, and almost everyone who has the qualification has it as a part of their practice, but not all.
‘Sexual Educator’ seems too formal, although somebody did find me the other day by googling “Sex Tutor”, someone else by googling “Sex Lessons for Couples”. ‘Sex Counsellor’ is a possibility, although it suggests that the work is restricted to talking, when it isn’t.
‘Sex Coach’ was my initial description of myself, until I realised that people thought I was going to make them into sexual athletes.
Anything with the word Tantra gets enquiries from people asking if they can watch while you massage their wife while naked.
I settled on the term ‘Sex Therapist’ with some trepidation. I was worried that I’d be attacked by psychotherapists, who defined ‘Sex Therapy’ as psychotherapists specialising in sex issues talking to clients, and wouldn’t take kindly to intruders. On the other side, I was worried that potential clients might think that my work was just talking.
I decided upon it after talking to my nephew, and telling him what I did. Unprompted, he said “Oh, that’s sex therapy”. I thought that if a 21 year old Italian guy with no background in either therapy or sexuality described it in that way, then that was probably the term I should use.
And generally, the term works. It puts off men who are just interested in sexual services. There’s nothing wrong with that, obviously, but it isn’t what I wanted to do. My interest was in helping people grow and develop, and to have happier, more connected and bigger lives.
The most obvious area where the term isn’t optimal is with Couples.
Couples will think that they need therapy – sex therapy and the other, talking kind – when the relationship is in crisis and a break up looks likely unless something is done.
They wouldn’t go to Relate or a Couples Therapist unless there was a crisis, and I think they bring a similar assumption to seeking sex therapy. The relationship as a whole needs to be in crisis, or at least the sexual part of it does.
That means that couples generally don’t consult me until their issues of sexual relating have become of quite long standing. That’s ok, I can work with them, but there is often a layer of resentment and disappointment which can make things trickier and which takes time to work through.
Part of the problem is the word: Therapy. It carries the connotation that there’s something wrong.
That potentially excludes lots of couples who would benefit from my work.
–couples who have a good sex life and would like it to be even better
–couples who have an ok sex life, but it’s not as good as it was
–couples where the sex has never been that great, for one or both. but it’s just accepted as “how it is”.
But the primary type of Couple which it excludes, and who would benefit most from working with me, are Couples in a new or new-ish relationship, where their sexual life hasn’t yet fully taken a fixed shape.
Because there’s less sediment, less predictability, and a greater willingness to try something new, not because the familiar has failed, but because it’s exciting and enlivening to grow.
It is a wonderful thing to be able to occupy our full erotic space. But often, there can be a reluctance to suggest something new, because there’s an implication that what’s there already isn’t enough. However, if it’s me suggesting that you give it a go, it becomes much easier: it’s an adventure, not an accusation.
And we only know what we know. Perhaps it’s never occurred to us to think of sexuality through the lens of Tantra, or Energetic Practices, or Innocence, or Play. You won’t know the full extent of your land until someone gives you a map.
The term “therapy”, with its connotation of healing, also doesn’t work so well for individuals who think more in terms of adventure, growth, exploration and expansion rather than healing. So they – you – may pass over something which could be very beneficial.
And that’s a pity.
If you’re interested in exploring this further, you can contact me here