Talking about Sex in Couples’ Counseling

Posted by Michael Dale Kimmel in Columns 12 Sep 2014
photo courtesy of nymag.com

photo courtesy of nymag.com

Below is a link to a great article on how some psychotherapists are talking about sex with their clients in couples’ counseling. It cites one of my favorite psychotherapists – Esther Perel (whose book you can find on the bookstore page of this website).

Recently, the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium in Washington, D.C., the largest gathering of therapists in North America, offered nine workshops dealing with sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity. Five years ago, there were only two.

In traditional couples therapy, which is about 50 years old, sex has often been shoved to the sideline. Practitioners are trained to work on underlying relationship issues, like blame or communication, many discussing sex only if the couple wants to talk about it.

But in the last decade, as coupledom itself has been legally redefined, a chorus of new voices in couples therapy has emerged, emphasizing the importance of good sex in relationships and sometimes suggesting the radical idea that couples fix the sex before tackling other issues.

One of the therapists leading the way is Esther Perel, who believes that mystery and distance could benefit long-term monogamy.

Ms. Perel, based in Manhattan, is writing a book tentatively called “Affairs: Cheating in the Age of Transparency.” She suggests that exclusively using trauma-based language (in couples’ counseling) when talking about affairs is limiting.

“An affair is an act of betrayal and also an experience of expansion and growth,” Ms. Perel said in an interview. “It is a relational trauma, but it isn’t a crime. The family can often come out of it stronger and more resilient, and often an affair will draw the couple out of a place of deadness.”

Check it out and let me know what you think:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/05/fashion/first-comes-sex-talk-with-these-renegades-of-couples-therapy.html?ref=fashion