Sexological bodywork is one modality of several that are focussed on supporting the health and wellbeing of individuals and couples within the specific realm of sexuality, arousal, pleasure and intimacy. The field is becoming more widely accepted and understood thanks to the pioneering hard work of many practitioners, advocates and teachers, as well as forward thinking and sex-positive shows like ‘Sex, Love and Goop‘ which recently aired on Netflix. There are now several hundred qualified practitioners around the world, whom you can find through the directories of their respective membership bodies: The Association of Somatic and Integrative Sexologists (ASIS) and the Association of Certified Sexological Bodyworkers (ACSB).
Sexological bodywork is quite distinct from sex therapy and surrogacy because the intention is to help you learn about your sexuality, rather than on achieving psychotherapeutic goals. It’s the difference between education and therapy. Of course, sexological bodywork can support healing around sexual concerns, and many of my clients find that this approach helps them move more quickly through that process. However, it is not a substitute for therapy. For some people, it complements their work with a therapist.
Sex therapy, whether it includes working with a surrogate or not, gives attention to the past in order to help you heal from it. Sexological bodywork brings attention to your current sexual situation so that you can build the skills to meet your goals. It’s similar to coaching, because the focus is on getting you from where you are to where you want to be, rather than unpacking how you got here.
Sex therapy is pretty much like other kinds of work with a therapist, but the focus is on whatever concerns or questions you have about sexuality. Sex therapists are more trained to work with these issues than most other therapists, but the nature of the experience is similar – you talk with your therapist to work through whatever comes up. The therapist might suggest things to try at home and talk about next time, but experiential learning does not take place during the sessions.
Sex surrogacy takes a slightly different approach. A certified surrogate works with a therapist to help clients build their awareness of and skills with physical and emotional intimacy. The surrogate and the therapist develop a plan and series of practices to support the psychotherapeutic goals that will best serve the client. The purpose of sex surrogacy is therapeutic, although of course, learning is a big part of that.