Recovering your sexuality after cancer
My guest is a certified sex therapist and sexologist with a lot of important information to share on sex therapy for women with cancer. She is the creator of the class Rediscovering My Body After Cancer and has a book and online class in the works based around the class.
When I asked her how she got started in the field, she says that she had always enjoyed teaching in a group setting, and providing cancer support really became a great opportunity to do impactful work in the field.
Soon she would develop a class that women could come to for answers, and things have taken off from there, resulting in a large number of women who are better equipped to navigate the often disorienting world of cancer. This is such an important topic, so please listen along.
Body Image Through Body Maps & Trauma Treatment
The class, Rediscovering My Body After Cancer, started as a 6-week class, but soon Tara realized that 6 weeks was too long to commit to – especially for women with cancer who might not have the motivation or energy to attend every class or commit to such an intensive process. They cut it down to 4 weeks, and within those weeks they cover a few key areas.
The first area they cover is body image. Many cancer survivors have scars or various bodily alterations that make it hard to maintain a positive body image. And for those who have, or are dealing with, negative body image: it can be next to impossible to care about having sex if you don’t feel good about yourself. They manage body image through a body map. This is such a great exercise for sharing with others and for each woman to get connected to their own sexuality and share aspects of it in a group setting. Tara says it’s a simple exercise, but one that is a crucial starting point for moving forward and building a positive foundation for each woman.
The group then moves onto more treating trauma. A big part of the course is to treat trauma through shaking procedures, which are a common practice in a lot of trauma treatment efforts. Tara doesn’t specifically share the shaking exercises involved, but there are a lot of resources you can check out online, including Traumaprevention.com.
The Power of Being in a Group
There is so much uncertainty and complexity in everyone’s experience with cancer and the resultant effects it has on feeling sexy. Living in the group, as Tara describes it, is an incredibly enriching experience because everyone shares their experiences and perspectives for finding their own sexuality. And often all it takes is to express and vocalize one’s struggles or hope for rediscovering sexuality for the act to become fruitful. The group can bring out so many positive things about that can lead to transformation and growth.
She calls it a very normalizing process. It can get the ball rolling on discussions between partners about desire and sexuality, which can be a tough conversation to initiate for a woman who has a negative body image because of cancer.
A Place of Healing for Women with all Types of Cancer
Tara says that she works with a lot of breast cancer survivors, as well as other survivors, who all benefit from the group setting and the educational opportunity. There are many occupations – massage therapists deserve a lot of kudos – who function as educators on various facets of bodily pain. But there are still limitations in the amount of information that women cancer survivors are getting regarding sexuality. Many assume that someone else will delve deeper into the subject, often resulting in women who experience a lot of unnecessary pain during sex.
Resources for Tara
Her website: https://bouldersextherapy.com/
Boulder Sex Therapy Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BoulderSexTherapy/?ref=page_internal