Reasons to go to sex therapy part 3: Specific Suggestions

Sex therapy is a specialized form of talk therapy where the emphasis is on sexual expression.  We've introduced the PLISSIT Model is previous entries, and have discussed P: Permission, and LI: Limited Information as two reasons people go to sex therapy. Now we're at SS: Specific Suggestions. Where the first two issues are about "Sometimes you don't know what you don't know", Specific Suggestions is about- okay, how can I use this information and try something with it.

Take masturbation, for instance. Someone might come to sex therapy because of difficulty reaching orgasm or reaching orgasm too quickly.  The first step is to know that this is super common, and orgasms don't just happen perfectly (Permission) and that there's something called a sexual response cycle that your body is working through to get you from rest to orgasm, and these are the physiological and psychological/emotional/hormonal steps involved in that sexual response cycle (Limited Information). At this point, a Specific Suggestion might be to practice something called edging. Edging is experimenting with stimulating yourself through masturbation to establish where your arousal threshold is and where your orgasmic threshold is. Then it's about practicing to get right up to that point without going over the threshold to learn to be more in your body. Then, take a break. Go below the arousal threshold so maybe you aren't so physically aroused for a while. Then edge some more. This can have the psychological effect of helping you get used to the idea that arousal comes and goes, so to speak. Lose an erection? They aren't permanent! But look at how you learned to arouse yourself so it comes back! Not lubricating? How can exploring your vulva to find what kinds of stimulation you enjoy most help you have a sexual outlet on your own as well as a way to help your partner learn what feels good for you.

Specific suggestions aren't exactly "advice". Let's use the word "interventions" as maybe something more accurate. Advice sometimes has the word "should" attached, or a kind of If/Then statement attached, which in our work are something we'd consider cognitive distortions. So It's not a- IF you edge for 20 minutes, THEN you will have perfect sex. But interventions such as this plus debriefing about your experience in therapy can help move you towards having a more fulfilling sex life that doesn't stress you out.



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