With a wide range of psychotherapies available, sex therapy is a type of it that is not much talked about. It is proven effective in several ways.
It is a misconception that sex therapy is only for couples. Individuals as well as couples can benefit from it.
Talking about sex and discussing sex problems normally can be challenging for people. This causes them to ignore this therapy completely.
Sex therapists are licensed, mental health professionals. They tend to heal your mental health problems with the usage of sex and relevant things. Sensate focus exercises are an example of how mental health is targeted and healed using sex.
Although you need to make sure the therapist is right for you. See signs of a bad therapist here.
Sex therapy is not just limited to physical therapy. For cases like libido and performance anxiety, it evolves to talk therapy. I hope this point cleared your misconception.
The next question to arise is; when do we need sex therapy and sensate focus exercises? A fun fact is that we require sex therapy in more scenarios than we think we do.
In situations of libido, performance anxiety, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, inability to reach orgasm, inability to control sexual desires, and unwanted fetishes. Getting sex therapy in these situations is a necessity and is proven to be effective on a lot of levels.
Seeking sex therapy is significant since having a healthy and fulfilling is an essential and normal part of your life.
When you face problems regarding your sexual health, there is a high possibility that you will find it difficult to function normally hence opting for sex therapy can be a good and effective way to go about it.
How does sex therapy work?
No, you are not required to have sex in a therapist’s clinic at all. Nor will you be asked to have sex with your therapist. God, this sounds so wrong! If you imagined this after hearing the word “sex therapy”, it is not what you think it is.
Sex therapy is like any other therapy. It requires talking about the issue and your feelings with your sex therapist.
Another point I think I should mention is that you do not always have to opt for a couple sex therapy. You can talk to your therapist about individual sexual issues you face as well. There is no compulsion.
Even in couple sex therapy; your therapist will remain neutral and aim towards reconciliation of sexual issues between you and your partner.
It should be kept in mind that sex therapists only deal with psychological factors that affect an individual’s sex life and health. If someone is facing a physical health issue, they will be directed towards a medical specialist immediately.
Sex therapy is proven effective because the therapist talks about the issue and its underlying cause with the patient. This will increase their communication and will help the patient to accept the situation.
Moreover, seeking professional help in regard to sexual health and problems also improves performance and reduces anxiety attached to it.
This helps the individual identify the root cause and work effectively on it to eliminate the problem and possible effects that are an outcome of the problem.
Moreover, sex therapies also include exercises. An example of it is Sensate Focus Exercises. They are a part of sex therapy and are proven effective to solve certain sexual problems and mental illnesses.
Introduction to Sensate Focus Exercises:
Back in the 1960s, Master and Johnson invented the technique of Sensate Focus as a part of sex therapy.
The idea was to treat sexual dysfunctions and disorders using a type of sex therapy; sensate focus exercises.
It consists of certain behavioral exercises and techniques that are practiced between two partners to improve their intimacy and sexual health.
Sensate exercises and techniques are given as homework in sex therapy for the couple or individual to practice and improve their sexual relationship using the technique.
Mutual responsibility plays an extremely important part when it comes to the effectiveness of sensate focus in sex therapy.
Moreover, sensate focus techniques and exercises will only be effective if both the partners are willingly devoted to it. If it is forceful or the wish of just one; it will not be as effective since healthy sexual relationships require two-sided willingness.
If you are wondering when is sensate focus required, the next line is your answer. Sensate focus techniques and exercises are eagerly required to reduce performance anxiety and to increase communication between couples during sex and on the whole.
Mostly homework and sensate focus exercises require touching and exploring your partner.
The touching and exploring are not just limited to genital areas but the idea is to find pleasure in being touched and explored by your partner.
The idea of sensate focus is “touch”. If we think about it, touch is one of the most important elements of our life. Touch is also linked with sexuality hence sensate focus exercises target touch to improve sexual health.
This will increase their comfort in bed as well as reduce the chances of performance anxiety unless and until it is a physical health problem.
If it is mental, sensate focus exercises can help you enjoy your sexual life on many levels through these techniques and exercises.
Another idea of touching and exploring your partner is to increase communication. If you like your partner touching a specific body part of yours; tell them and communicate.
Similarly, if their touching of a body part makes you uncomfortable; you should communicate with them to make the entire experience more comfortable and easy.
Sensate focus exercises as a part of sex therapy are also used for several other complications during sex. They include extreme pain during intercourse, premature ejaculation, and several sexual disorders.
These might not sound significant to you but going through any of these disorders can acutely affect your regular functioning since having a healthy sexual life is a necessity. This is possible through opting for sensate focus exercises, what is the wait for then?
Majorly, sensate focus exercises and techniques are only for couples. This is because of the sexual practices and exercises required to make sensate focus therapy effective to treat the above-mentioned disorders.
It is always preferred that a couple should start with sensate focus exercises with the help of a therapist however if someone wants to start on their own for the sake of their comfort, it is not a bad start.
Sensate focus can also be called practicing mindfulness since you are focusing on and improving your mental health through your sense of touch and focus. The idea of sensate focus exercises is to touch mindfully.
Let your experiences of sensate focus decide their effectiveness themselves.
Reasons why you should do sensate focus exercises:
Like any other disorder, sexual disorders also require treatment and therapy. They should not be taken lightly. Sensate focus exercises are a really good treatment for a number of sexual disorders that can make your sexual life unpleasant.
Situations in which you should do sensate focus exercises are mentioned below. If you are suffering through any of these sexual disorders or situations, you should definitely give sensate focus exercises a try:
Pain during sex:
Pain during sex seems a common issue. However, it is common to experience pain during sex occasionally. If you experience pain more often than you should, it can be a psychological problem.
To eradicate the problem of experiencing pain during sex, you should give sensate focus exercises a try for sure. Doing these exercises will give you a chance to explore your body and pleasure out of sex.
It can be extremely uncomfortable to experience pain during sex hence getting help and advice from a sex therapist will be beneficial and will surely help you make your sex life comfortable and joyful.
I mean come on, what is life without a good sex life?
Premature ejaculation is common and it can have two reasons; a physical complication or mental.
If it is diagnosed with a mental issue rather than a physical, sensate focus exercises can help you battle this issue and make your sex life as good as ever.
Sensate focus exercises last between ten minutes and an hour hence giving them a try if you are experiencing premature ejaculation can be a good way to go about it.
You can ask a sex therapist for help or you can start it basically on your own. The idea of sensate focus exercises is to ensure that your body is fully available during sex; including the mind.
Erectile Dysfunction or Impotence:
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to keep up with erection before or during sexual intercourses. This can cause several hurdles when it comes to intimacy.
This is mostly treated by medication and other medical procedures.
However, it can also be treated using sensate focus exercises and a few researches root for sensate focus exercises as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.
Taking a high dose of medicines can be overwhelming at times hence doing sensate focus exercises in situations like these can be a lighter way to make it better.
These three situations along many other disorders and situations can be treated and healed using sensate focus exercises.
Hence do not always jump to complicated treatments, try something out which requires you to stay in your own comfort zone; sensate focus exercises.
Phases of sensate focus exercises:
Before you indulge in sensate focus exercises, there are a couple of things you should ensure for maximum effectiveness and comfort.
The idea of sensate focus exercises is mindful touching therefore to achieve mindfulness; you should be able to focus entirely on what you are doing.
Moreover, sensate focus exercises should not be mistaken as foreplay. These exercises are done to explore just pleasure and touch for the sake of better sexual health and well-being.
This is why sex therapists recommend that sensate focus exercises should not be practiced during routine intimacy. These exercises range from 10 minutes to an hour and should be done mindfully with the purpose to engage your senses n the present.
Moreover, to make sensate focus exercises more effective, it should be taken care of that you are in the mood to be touched and explored since that is the sole purpose.
To make the ambiance and vibe better, you can try incorporating hall music, candles, dim lights, oil diffusers, and anything that will help lighten the experience of sensate focus exercises for you.
The idea of sensate focus exercises is sensations, not romance.
Below mentioned are the phases of sensate focus exercises:
This is the initial phase for the person to start feeling a sense of touch. It is advised that the partners take turns in this phase. Initially, one partner should touch and explore the other partner’s body for 10 minutes and then the other should repeat.
During phase 1, genitals should not be involved. Partners should avoid touching each other’s penis, vagina, and breasts since this stage is to just feel and explore.
This step also does not include genital touching to ensure maximum comfort throughout the experience since touching genitals at the very start can make things awkward for some people.
This phase is also about feeling a sense of touch mindfully. The partners continue touching each other and giving them space and time to feel the touch.
However, in this phase, they can slowly start touching genitals. This is done to increase intimacy and communication.
This phase should also be started with non-genital touching and the genitals should be touched later.
They can initially touch each other’s ears, stomach, neck, or any other body part to give them pleasure. Slowly after this, they can induce the touch of genitals.
This step also includes a technique called “hand-riding”. This technique means that the person giving the touch will hold the other person’s genital. The person receiving the touch can show their desire by patting on the partner’s hand.
For example, if they desire a harder rub or a stronger touch, they can tap on their partner’s hand to let them know about their desire and mood.
This phase incorporates mutual touching between the partners. They can now start touching each other further with mutual consent.
It can involve rubbing, kissing, hugging. You can use your lips and hands in this one. Master and Johnson also recommended the use of lotions or other lubricants to enhance the medium of touch.
This will ensure better sensuality and mindfulness when being touched or while touching. After all, the idea of sensate focus exercises was comfort while touching, right?
Sexual intercourse and any act that can lead to orgasm should be avoided at this stage since this stage is to explore the idea of touch, not your usual intimacy.
This is the last stage of sensate focus exercises. It is known as sensual intercourse. You read this correctly, right? I wrote sensual intercourse, not sexual.
This phase will require the partners or the individual practicing sensate focus exercises to go through phase 1, 2, and 3 again before reaching the final.
It is advised to not have sex or orgasm until you have experienced phase 4 multiple times.
This is because the idea of sensate focus exercises was not to help you reach an orgasm, but to help you explore being touched and touching your partner or self.
This can include body to body pressing, genital meeting, rubbing genitals against each other, being in a sex position yet not having sex but exploring, and anything that will regulate your feelings regarding touch.
If a sudden inserting of the penis in the vagina occurs, it is recommended to not begin intercourse immediately. You should rather stay in that position and feel the warmth and intimacy mindfully.
You can also try different things at this stage that can improve your experience since the idea of sensate focus exercises is to explore and touch.
At last, you can proceed towards sex to enjoy your idea of new sexual intercourse with loaded feelings and sensations.
Benefits of sensate focus exercises:
Sensate focus exercises can benefit individuals in several ways. They can enhance their sensation and feelings towards touch that can improve intimacy.
Being more sensual and being able to feel more sensations can also enable individuals to reach orgasm more easily and sensually.
This can eradicate a lot of hurdles and complications that couples faced in their intimate life.
Moreover, sensate focus exercises also increase comfort during intimacy between partners. If one partner was previously uncomfortable with the idea of sex, sensate focus therapy and exercises can increase their comfort with the idea of sex.
Along with increased comfort, sensate focus exercises also increase communication between partners during sex. They can openly communicate regarding what they like during intimacy and what they not.
This can make their sex life better and more pleasurable.
This is why sex therapists suggest sensate focus exercises to couples that are undergoing difficulties while having sex emotionally.
Moving on, sensate focus exercises are also used to treats sexual disorders like erectile dysfunction, pain during sex, and inability to orgasm or premature ejaculation.
It is not necessary that couples who are experiencing some sort of sexual disorder can only practice sensate focus exercises.
If you have a normal and healthy sex life, practicing sensate focus exercises can help you improve intimacy and increase sexual pleasure and fulfillment.
Thus sensate focus exercises can be tried by everyone.
If you have some serious problem, then it is recommended that you should seek treatment from a sex therapist since only a specialized therapist can guide you precisely.
Sensate focus has been used for a couple of decades by sexologists and sex therapists to treat several sexual disorders and to treat unhealthy sexual relationships.
There is no doubt in the claim that having good sex is extremely necessary for healthy emotional and physical wellbeing hence treating any complications regarding sex is necessary.
Moreover, since sensate focus exercises practice non-demand touching, it will fully divert the individual’s attention to the moment of touching or being touched. This will later be beneficial during sexual intercourse.
It will teach individuals to remain in the present and to focus on the act hence when individuals will go through sex; they will be completely active and will experience the entire process with pleasure.
This will also make it easier for them to reach an orgasm since they will be physically and emotionally active during sexual intercourse.
On the whole, if you are an individual experiencing difficulties in exploring your sexuality or a couple with some sexual complication or disorder; opting for sensate focus exercises is your best bet.
Seek a sex therapist’s advice if needed and begin the process of sensate focus exercises or mindful touching.
It is time for you to experience sex and intimacy with a completely different perspective