Sex in the therapeutic relationship


Nothing feels quite as fantastic as being enthused and passionate about a topic, hoping that others will engage and be just as interested, and finding that the desired response from the audience turns out to be exactly that!

My interest in “Sex in the Therapeutic Relationship” has its roots in my dissertation.  In the end, however, I felt that my research created more questions than it answered. The avenues that I could branch down seemed to multiply, each a book on its own.  For example I would be interested in following up with a study on men in a long term relationship; or gay couples; or different socio-ecomonic classes; or drawing a comparison of different cultures’ attitudes to sex to name but a few.

I began to ponder all my training, recognising how comprehensive it was when covering LGBT sexuality and the traumas of sexual abuse and how all these complexities could impact a client and the issues they might bring. However, while personal values and attitudes to sex were touched on in these contexts, it felt as if the surface was barely scratched.

It was with this in mind that I wrote the advertisement for a workshop entitled “Sex on The Therapy Couch: Working with Sex in The Therapeutic Relationship.”  I was hoping my write-up would attract at least some interest. To my delight, when the night of the workshop arrived there was a record attendance for the organisation that invited me to present. A positive start, but could I do justice to the attendees time and money? I had furiously researched my topic but in no way do I consider myself any expert in it.  Instead I take the view that “the therapist’s value is not in ‘the fund of information, rather as a source of attuned curiosity.” (Anne Power, 2013, Therapy Today). The satisfying outcome is that I learned as much from my audience as I hope they may have gained from me! The contributions from the floor were brave, honest, insightful, challenging, heart-warming, informative, raw and without fail, all added such immense value to the topic and the evening. Such was everyone’s engagement that I came nowhere near to covering what I had intended, and realised the topic could fill a day or even a weekend. It goes without saying, but I will voice it anyway, that I left immensely more enriched than when I started the evening. And yet again, I am left with additional questions to those I started with… How fantastic is that?!

As a resource for those who attended, as well as those who did not, I have included an audio recording of the workshop as well as the PowerPoint presentation.  The audio is divided up into 7 chapters for ease of listening and you can follow along with the slides in either minimized or full-screen mode as you listen. Please note that although the audience participation was very active and insightful, all comments from participants of a personal nature have been edited out.  This was done out of respect for the confidentiality of the process as these disclosures were very much a part of the trust that was set up within the group and are therefore not for wider distribution. However, although I am not publishing them here, I want to affirm the tremendous value of each comment, both to the workshop as well as to myself as a researcher.  The ideas and insights that everyone shared will continue to inform, challenge and stimulate my curiosity about and understanding of this critically important subject.  Thank you all for making it an experience I will never forget!

Sex on the Therapy Couch: Working with Sex in the Therapeutic Relationship
Note: Click the “view fullscreen” icon in the bottom right corner for a full view of the slides.