Home Social aspects of sexuality Committed relationships The role of relationship therapists & counsellors

The role of relationship therapists & counsellors

Adults are embarrassed about sex because of their emotional insecurities. Our emotional needs include a need to impress, a need to belong and a need to be valued. Some people lack self-esteem, which stems from anxiety. We avoid discussing relationship issues for various reasons. We want to avoid conflict. We don’t want to admit that we have behaved badly, that we have said things we shouldn’t have or that we were wrong. We may want to continue behaving in a way that suits us but that we cannot justify logically.

Relationships involve a balance of power, with each partner negotiating (even if only with silent or moody behaviour) to get what they want. We don’t want to put ourselves in a position where we might feel under moral pressure (because the force of logic is against us) to consider changing our behaviour just to please a lover. Men worry about losing out on sexual opportunities. Women worry about having to give more than they want to.

As with all things in life, the less we expect, the more content we are. Some people never question their sexual experiences. Many women, who are unresponsive, are not bothered about a lack of orgasm. You cannot miss what you have never known. Others, who do have questions, assume that there must be a solution. But some situations don’t have a solution. They are just way they are. People find that hard to accept. So they pay for therapy perhaps hoping for reassurance. Sex therapy focuses on relationship issues that a woman needs to be amenable to offering the sex a man needs. Men’s relationship issues are easy. As long as they get regular sex, men are happy.

Therapists assume that their work qualifies them as objective observers of sexuality in the population. But a therapist is trained in techniques that help with relationship issues. Women may talk about their sexual experiences in terms of orgasm but this does not mean they truly have one. A therapist’s clients provide sexual histories but a therapist cannot easily challenge a paying client. Sex research is quite different. A researcher needs the personal qualities that ensure they can challenge and question. A researcher should be intellectually independent, free from political bias and prejudices.

There is, of course, money to be made by suggesting that there is a recognisable condition that can be treated in some way or a problem that can be solved by a sexual therapist. We are easily persuaded that other couples have discovered something we have not. However, one has to ask why such vital information is not made available to everyone. If such information existed, it would surely not be secret for long? Therapists provide reassurance rather than explanations. Many so-called solutions do not stand up to scrutiny but everyone is too embarrassed to complain.

A woman can conceive without ever having an orgasm. So-called female sexual dysfunctions rely on the idea that women should orgasm from intercourse, yet this belief is not supported by research. The only real evidence (if you can call it that) for women who enjoy sexual pleasure through intercourse comes from erotic fiction. The sexual bravado of a few individuals of both sexes adds to the confusion over how and when female orgasm is achieved (if a woman is responsive in the first place). Women are only thought to be dysfunctional because of a few bogus orgasm claims.

The first misconception is that women have a sex drive. Women are told that they should be driven to want intercourse as much as a man is. This is incorrect. A woman does not have a sex drive. Women do not orgasm with a lover regardless of the stimulation a man provides. A couple needs to understand this. Telling a woman that she should naturally want sex, when she doesn’t, means that she can only conclude that she is abnormal or dysfunctional in some way. This causes embarrassment and silence.

The second misconception to overcome is that a man is not responsible for a partner’s orgasm. Men often want to provide a woman with sexual pleasure because they assume that if they could she would be more amenable to having sex. Unfortunately women are not aroused with a lover. The few women who are responsive only orgasm by masturbating alone. Orgasm is a personal pleasure that we create in our own minds. Orgasm occurs naturally for a responsive person in the correct circumstances.

Women can never be a penetrator so (regardless of orientation) they are much less proactive than men. Most women engage in sexual activity only as a response to a man’s initiative. Women generally dislike genital display and manipulation. Women are essentially on the defensive. They only need to allow a man’s instinctive desire to explore their bodies. Some women are motivated to offer proactive pleasuring because they enjoy pleasing a lover. A woman may stimulate a man’s penis manually or orally, not because it is arousing for her, but because men admire sexually adventurous women.

A woman needs to put conscious effort into sexual activity of any kind (even when she is alone). She has two options with a lover. She can either engage proactively on providing her lover with sexual pleasure. Or she can give him permission to explore her body and allow him to try to provide her with some sensual and possibly erotic sensations that she might enjoy. If she does this, she should assist by giving him some encouraging erotic feedback.

To us men, sex is sex. We want it, let’s do it, we’re done. For many women it isn’t always that simple. You need to be in tune with her emotionally if you want to make her more receptive sexually. (Stephan Labossiere 2012)