Listen to “145: Sensate Focus – Linda Weiner” on Spreaker.
Sensate Focus Exercises
Sensate focus is a touching technique for couples or individuals that stimulates the primal part of the brain to enjoy a fully immersive experience with your partner. The technique starts with focusing on temperature, texture and pressure and uses a tactile sensation to move away from distraction.
Linda uses the technique for almost everything ranging from low/ no desire, sexual dysfunction, trauma, body image issues to rekindling connection between couples.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
With each individual experiencing sensation differently, Linda highlights building up sexual tension with touch. From Linda’s experience, there is often a need to manage each level as it is approached. She removes conflict and pressure from couples relationships, by taking on the instruction/ control role. Her sessions help couples identify the difference between vulnerability and rejection.
How Do You Start With Sensate Focus?
With no hard and fast rule, couples can choose certain factors in their environment to ensure that they are at ease eg clothing (or no clothing). Linda’s rules include no kissing and no talking. She points out that talking uses the front of the brain and therefore brings individuals back to logic. Linda mentions that the toucher is supposed to touch for their interest while the person being touched, needs to experience the touch and provide feedback if something is not comfortable.
Linda shares that avoidance is one of the main issues that couples encounter. She reveals how she handles this delay tactic fairly. For clients that don’t like the technique, she reminds them about the basic three areas of focus temperature, texture and pressure. Partner pressure is an obvious obstacle that Linda notices with her clients. She uses a great analogy to help us accept our differences and move couples through the basic steps at their own pace.
Linda Weiner, MSW, LCSW, Owner of Sex Therapist St Louis, LLC is a Certified Diplomate in Sex Therapy, a Supervisor for Certification in Sex Therapy & Sexuality Counseling and a CE provider for the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).
She earned a B.A. in Psychology from American University and an MSW from the University of Missouri. Linda trained at Masters & Johnson Institute and was employed there for five years as the director of Training & Workshops and as a Research and Clinical Associate. Evolving into private clinical practice as a therapist specializing in sexual and relationship concerns, Linda later began publishing on Sensate Focus mindful and somatic touch techniques with co-author, Dr. Constance Avery-Clark. Following the publication of a number of journal articles and a book chapter, Sensate Focus in Sex Therapy: The Illustrated Manual was published in 2017.
For 15 years, Linda served as an adjunct professor at the Brown School, Washington University. Linda has presented nationally and internationally and has been interviewed by a number of media outlets including CNN. Her current interest is in transmitting information about the use of Sensate Focus techniques to physicians and Allied health professionals who represent the first contact with sexually distressed individuals.
Links and Resources
Listen to “144: What is Sex Therapy Like – Paula Leech” on Spreaker.
What is Sex Therapy Like
Paula shares that mindfulness plays a key role in sex therapy which ties in mind and body by focusing on sensate focus and behavior. The therapy is purely verbal and while it implies a physical element, that only happens in a clients home away from their therapy so that progress can be made. Paula emphasizes that a major part of her clients have underlying anxiety struggles. She points out that sex therapy is used to treat this before ever focusing on sex.
Who needs sex therapy?
With a degree in Family therapy, Paula thinks about the ‘who’ differently. Her approach includes her client’s partner/s to get better insight into her patients’ struggle.
Paula also helps single clients. She points out erectile dysfunction as an example of a problem she tackles with her single clients. Her work with these clients includes understanding their bodies and giving them tools to help themselves.
Working with Paula
Paula’s first sessions are honest consultations used to get to know each other as taking the first step into therapy can be daunting for clients. She moves on to providing the way forward and answering any questions around this. Obviously this varies with each clients unique situation since her clients experience a range of difficulties from sexual trauma to pelvic floor issues.
Paula’s direct communication and transparency is a different approach to this kind of therapy but welcomed by her clients as they find her more relatable.
In this type of therapy, clients are exposed to an extent and Paula reveals that fear is part of the process. One of the most common fears she finds with her clients is the fear of being judged. Another one is fear of loss of a relationship if a struggle is not overcome during the therapy.
Frequency of sex often comes up with Paula finding that couples need permission to not engage in sex. Her candid and simple reaction to this is based on whether the parties are happy.
Paula shares an interesting angle to look at things from when experiencing sexual struggles, highlighting that being too involved in your partners problem takes away from you focusing on you and helping from that point of view.
Finding a Sex Therapist
Legitimate sex therapists have an AASECT certification. Therapists do around 160 hours of courses and 300 hours with patients before being certified. Training ensures that therapists themselves are aware of their biases and comfort zones to better aid their patients.
Paula received her bachelor’s degree in Family and Human Development at Arizona StateUniversity and then went on to receive her master’s Degree in Family Therapy at the University of Massachusetts, in Boston. Post family therapy licensure, Paula became AASECT (American Association for Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and therapists) certified as a Sex Therapist and worked with individuals, relationships, and families in private practice in Boston, Massachusetts for ten years.
In that time, she received AASECT certification as a Supervisor of Sex Therapy and co-founded a sex therapy agency and training institute where we saw clients in addition to training therapists to become competent, confident sex therapists themselves. Paula continues to regularly present at various training institutes as well as Universities and therapy agencies across New England.
Links and Resources
Webinar: How to make Sex easy without making it feel like an obligation
Bridging Sex Therapy and Sexual Medicine
Today’s show is going to delve into talking about sex with both your therapist and your physician, potentially, and how that collaboration can benefit your struggles can make a difference.
Listen to “124: Bridging Sex Therapy and Sexual Medicine – Dr. Pebble Kranz and Dan Rosen” on Spreaker.
I interview Dr. Pebble Kranz and Dan Rosen. He is a sex therapist, and she is a family practice physician. Both of them have had extensive training in sexual health and sexual treatment, and they started a clinic together.
What we talk about applies to you if you have some sexual struggles, because it is essential that your providers be communicating and collaborating and that you are getting the best of both worlds.
Dan Rosen became licensed as a Clinical Social Worker after attending NYU’s school of social work. He became a Certified Sex Therapist in 2014 and chaired the AASECT Ethics Advisory Committee from 2016-2018.
He has been providing local training for psychotherapists and medical residents since 2008 as well as teaching sex therapy as an instructor at the University of Buffalo 2016-2017.
While the European Society of Sexual Medicine does not credential social workers, Mr. Rosen participated in the same training program as Dr. Kranz benefiting from the truly global perspective on sexuality and sexual health. Integrating sex therapy with psychodynamic psychotherapy, treatment of sexual abusers, EMDR, CBT, IFS, and couples counseling has been uniquely rewarding.
Now, as a member of the Rochester Center for Sexual Wellness team, Dr. Kranz and Dan are bringing this global perspective on sexual health to Western New York.
Dr. Kranz is Board-certified as a family physician and trained at the University of Rochester Family Medicine Residency Program with an area of focus in the psychosocial aspects of primary care.
Family medicine appealed to her as a specialty because of its whole-person, whole-family, and whole-community approach to medical care. Family medicine residents at the University of Rochester train alongside marriage and family therapy trainees and are explicitly taught to work systemically and to collaborate with mental health providers.
Dr. Kranz’s prior medical training included almost no information on sexual function and dysfunction, nor did it expose me to a range of interventions for treatment. All along, her patients made it clear that this was an important part of their lives.
She completed a fellowship through the European Society of Sexual Medicine. Dr. Kranz now participates in both the medical school and residency curricula to improve exposure to sexual medicine. She and Mr. Rosen opened the Rochester Center for Sexual Wellness in 2017, providing comprehensive assessment and treatment for sexual concerns in individuals and couples of all genders.
Rochester Center for Sexual Wellness: https://rochestercenterforsexualwellness.com/
The organizations mentioned:
KinkAware Professionals: https://www.ncsfreedom.org/resources/kink-aware-professionals-directory/search-kap
Creating Relationship Satisfaction
Dr. Sara Nasserzadeh is a global thought leader in psychosexual therapy, couple counseling, and social psychology. A former member of the International Federation of Journalists, Dr. Sara combined her journalism experience with her expertise in sexuality and relationships, to host a program called Whispers for the BBC World Service. The show received the BBC’s Innovation of the Year Award in 2007 and continues to gather Farsi-speaking viewers around the world. In 2007, she earned the World Association for Sexual Health runner-up award for Excellence and Innovation for her human development work. Harper’s Bazaar named her as one of the Best Love Doctors, and DatingAdvice.com named her one of the 10 Best Sex and Dating Experts in 2015.
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.