Holistic Health Solutions, Suite 54, Chatswood Village, 47 Neridah St, Chatswood NSW 2067, 0425 218 022

What is holistic sex therapy?

Sexuality is a private part of living and is usually not discussed openly. Sometimes your first sexual experiences and feelings can be clouded by insecurity or shame. You may never have had the courage to talk to somebody about it, not even your partner or your best friend. Partners may begin a sexual relationship based on misunderstandings, misinterpretations and false expectations. The outcome? A lot of disappointment and relationship distress.

Holistic sex therapy is a counselling therapy centred on intimate feelings, actions and the history of your sex life. Holistic sex therapy helps you to clarify and validate your feelings which generates hope and a better attitude towards your sexuality and emotional health. You may feel unsure how to describe your situation, but rest assured, holistic sex therapy is not an exam. It provides practical advise and support giving you a range of directions on what to work with.

Because you don’t hear the details about other people’s sexual problems, you may feel alone and stuck in yours. You are certainly not alone! Just by naming the problem and talking about it you may already feel a lot better. You will find that your 'emotional self' has been listened to. If you feel overwhelmed to go forward, talking about your issue may take the threat away of making a move.

Factors which contribute to sexual difficulties

External aspects such as work load, financial stress, medical conditions (chronic illness & physical discomforts) and the use of strong substances (prescriptive medications, recreational drugs including cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs) can have detrimental effects on sexual drive.

Internally, lack of emotional well being (feeling depressed and anxious), current or previous relationship difficulties, traumatic events & experiences, or negative beliefs about sexuality add emotional weight and sexual tension.

The combination of any of these factors can create a blockage of sexual drive, a drop of sexual desires or, the opposite, an increase of sexual activities.

Taking all possible causative factors into consideration, I look for the best way to address sexual issues. A holistic approach ensures that all aspects are identified and integrated into the therapeutic process.

How the therapy works

I like to resolve the source of the issue and with sexual problems this can come from a range of psychological areas. The therapeutic methods I use are designed to help you get a sense if your problem is caused by:

  • Emotions - examples are worries and anxiety about sexual performance, sadness or anger as a result of having been hurt previously, fear of physical or emotional pain, feeling emotionally tired and depressed, or other unexpressed emotions which have built up inside.
  • Blockages - some examples are closing or appearing sexually disinterested to protect yourself, not knowing how to open to your partner emotionally, disengaging to cope with repeated rejection, frustration and dissatisfaction, or feeling not ready or too vulnerable to engage romantically with a partner. Blockages may take more subtle forms, such as decisions to withdraw affection, giving up, or avoiding sexual issues by keeping busy in other areas in your life.
  • Negative thoughts about sexuality - such as limiting beliefs about sexuality and your body. Cultural beliefs may generate guilt or shame which can create barriers to sexual pleasure.
  • Other causes - for instance the effects of traumatic sexual experiences, or patterns of compulsive and impulsive sexual activities and behaviours.

Processing emotions

Picture your body as a container filled with a sea of emotions. During fine weather the sea is flat, but a storm of anxiety can create a charged atmosphere inside. When emotions have become active, a response can usually be felt somewhere in the body. A traumatic upheaval or crisis may involve a whole set of different emotions flooding the entire body. Stressful emotions often build up, leave their mark and do not only contribute to sexual problems, but can also create them. This is why I focus on identifying and processing emotions, especially, the ones related to the sexual issue you are experiencing.

Mind-Body

You may rarely think about the interactions between the mind and the body. Isn't sexual desire supposed to happen naturally? I believe that the mind is the place of thinking and the body the place of feeling. Through formal schooling we are educated to think and develop thinking skills. We are not trained to observe our feelings to the same extent which means that we may not recognise certain bodily clues. This 'educational' shortfall creates gaps of perception between the body and the mind and a lack of awareness between thinking and feeling.

It is possible to tap into a broad range of sensations and bodily perceptions with specific meditative techniques designed to generate awareness of the body. I have developed methods of body awareness which allow you to monitor emotions and even locate and then regulate sexual desire. I consider that establishing these links helps to broaden the range of feelings such as opening and sexual readiness. This way of working on yourself creates bridges between yourself and the body. You will feel that you are connecting again and trusting your body more.

Summary

The style of therapy I offer is based on a thorough understanding of emotional mechanisms and sexual patterns, because the internal (emotions, thoughts & sexual drive) governs the external (relationships to others). I have found that there are usually precise reasons why somebody suffers a particular sexual and/or relationship issue. Looking for the causes is helpful because, once identified, interventions can be targeted appropriately. Using effective methods, you will gain clarity about your problem and you will understand what you can do to alleviate it. I give you directions and tools that empower you to help yourself.

Typical problems I work with:

  • low or no desire
  • lack of orgasm, inability to become aroused
  • couple dynamics, desire differences between partners
  • difficulties with intimacy & lack of connection, relationship fears
  • pain during intercourse, vestibulitis (pain at the entrance of the vagina) vaginismus (inability to have vaginal penetration)
  • sexual difficulties related to recurring urinary tract infections, menstruation difficulties, fertility problems, contraception issues, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause
  • premature ejaculation & delayed ejaculation
  • performance anxiety, erection problems
  • male inability to climax intra-vaginally
  • body image, sexual anxiety
  • physical, sexual and emotional abuse
  • traumatic sexual experiences (rape, incest, molestation)
  • compulsive & impulsive sexual behaviours (i.e. compulsive use of erotica and/or internet for sexual purposes, compulsive cruising & multiple sexual partners)

I help you

  • Learn to talk comfortably about sex in a safe and non-judgemental environment
  • Grow in intimate connection with your partner by learning to communicate
  • Acknowledge the changes that you need to make to improve your relationship
  • Realise that working on your sexuality is healthy and necessary
  • Look forward to trust your body responses and enjoy sexual activities

Frequently asked questions

What happens in sex therapy?

Sex therapy begins with you describing what the nature of the problem is, how the issue has evolved and how it affects your relationship now. This may involve taking a thorough sexual and relational history. It is normal to feel a bit nervous around talking about sex. I am trained to put you at ease while we talk openly about this difficult topic.

Sex therapy does not include undressing or nudity. Sex therapy does not permit sexual contact between the therapist and client.

My partner is reluctant and refuses to try therapy, can I still begin?

Yes. Sometimes just mentioning the possibility of therapy brings fresh hope and openness into a relationship. But at other times, your partner may really not want to disclose private issues. Often, the partner is concerned that they will be blamed for all the problems, or they don’t believe therapy will help change the way things have been for so long. Starting therapy by yourself may bring enough momentum to you and your relationship that your partner begins to see the benefit. I can show you ways to approach your partner that do not create further defensiveness. Individual sessions remain confidential.

I don't feel like having sex and my marriage is suffering. Is there help for me?

I hear this complaint from many clients, and I am able to help most of them. Lack of sexual drive is often due to specific factors which over time inhibit desire. Within the first couple of sessions, I will help you identify when and how your natural sexual energy has become stuck. I have found that with proper guidance and support, many clients feel motivated to want sex again.

Participants wanted for research: The meaning of low sexual desire

What is this study about?

I am conducting a research project as part of evaluating my usual clinical practice with clients. You are invited to attend a standard course of mindfulness and meditation-based sex therapy sessions to explore sexual desire problems and to gain understanding about the nature of your lack of sexual interest.

Who can take part?

Men and women 18+ years old, single or partnered, who have in the past or are currently experiencing the following:

  • Reduced interest in sex; loss of sexual desire; lack of sexual thoughts or fantasies; less enjoyment of sexual pleasure; avoiding initiating sexual activity; reduced sensations during sexual encounters.
  • You may or may not feel distressed about the lowered motivation to have sex.
  • Symptoms described above may be recent or have been present for many years.

What does this study involve?

You will be asked to attend between one and ten 90 minute face-to-face mindfulness and meditation based sex therapy appointments. As part of the therapy you will be asked questions about your perceptions of sexual desire and how this has influenced any of your behaviours. You will be invited to examine details of your life that you feel have impacted on your sexual desire.

During the meditation part of the session you will be invited to direct your awareness to your body and, if appropriate, describe any feelings and sensations. You will also be invited to share any changes of perceptions which happen during the course of the therapy, including aspects you found instructive and helpful.

Your permission is asked for the therapy sessions that you attend to be audio recorded. Your involvement in the research is part of the normal consultation I offer clients in my clinical practice. You will be asked to pay the standard fee for each session.

Who is carrying out this study?

This study is being conducted by Andrea Haas, who is a psychologist and clinical sex therapist in private practice and a PhD candidate from the Centre for Health Research in the School of Medicine at the University of Western Sydney. The study forms part of the requirements in fulfilment of the Doctor of Philosophy degree and has been approved by the University of Western Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee (Approval number: H11143).

Andrea Haas is being supervised by Professor Jane Ussher, who is an academic at the Centre of Health Research, and a Clinical Psychologist.

If you would like to participate or find out more about this study please contact Andrea Haas on 0425 218 022 or through email at andrea@andreahaas.com