My guest, Charlie Glickman, has been a sex educator for over 25 years. But it wasn’t until about 15 years ago that he realized the power of bodywork for managing and working through sexual shame. After solely teaching and writing as a sex educator, Charlie experienced firsthand just how powerful somatic therapy can be in a sexual shame context. So, he then developed his own course and practice around that discovery. This episode traces the advent of his important work in the field and moves beyond that to deliver practical insights and knowledge on the topic. A really, really important topic that I hope you get a lot from. Thanks for listening!
What is Sexological Bodywork?
When asked to define the term, Charlie says that sexological bodywork is “somatic education in erotic embodiment.” To further break this down, he sums it up as follows: the central focus is on the somatic aspects – the body.
Education, in the context of sexological bodywork, is achieved when his clients leave a session with more knowledge and experience than they had coming in. This is a huge goal of the practice.
Erotic embodiment encompasses erotic activity, but also, it adds staying present and truly “embodying” the eroticism in the moment, in all moments, that it happens.
The Power of Flirting
Charlie shares interesting insights on a couple who struggled to discern each other’s sexual signals. When speaking to the wife, Charlie asked her to practice flirting with him, in a professional capacity, during one of their one-on-one sessions. After doing so, Charlie said that it was hard to tell she was even doing so because her body signals were not doing the communicating for her. Instead of feeling rejected by her husband, she realized her husband probably had no idea when she was flirting. This also turned out to be the case on the opposite end of the spectrum: the husband was wary about flirting because he didn’t feel like his wife was all that into him.
Charlie says that his practice factors in consent as one of the most important facets of bodywork. To that extent, Charlie will not do any bodywork unless the patient lays out exactly what they are ready to do that day. There should be no guesswork when it comes to consent, and he says it’s always a good thing when boundaries are established and there’s enough trust and accountability so tht the patient can immediately say “no” and be respected in that wish.
The Many Areas of Sexological Bodywork
Charlie gives an overview of all of the areas he focuses on as a sexological bodyworker. These focal points range from asking for consent, telling your partner what you want, maintaining boundaries, managing shame and rejection triggers if your partner says no to sex, and pleasure mapping.
Charlie also works with patients who have experienced or are experiencing trauma, with the goal of getting back to a healthy state of equilibrium despite those traumas. Additionally, he works with those who have gone through considerable transitions in their lives: hysterectomies, gender transitions, postpartum mothers, and a wide range of circumstances that contribute to a diverse sampling of sexological bodywork needs.
How do Prospective Patients Know When They’re Ready for Bodywork?
Charlie says that if the idea of bodywork sounds a little too intimidating or scary, sexological bodywork might not be right for you. He says it could be that you just need to talk to a sex therapist or a practitioner and ask some questions to test the waters out. And because there are so many specialists in the profession, it really does help to do a little bit of research on various practitioners to see if what they offer and the testimonials they provide speak to your personal experience.
Charlie says it’s completely normal to feel nervous about going to a sexological bodyworker. If you aren’t a little bit nervous, you probably don’t need what he or she has to offer, as he says in the episode. But overall, it can be an immensely powerful practice that you should definitely look into!
Resources for Charlie:
Charlie’s Website: http://www.makesexeasy.com/
Betty Martin’s Wheel of consent video: https://bettymartin.org/videos/