Sexological Bodywork is a form of somatic sex therapy. It is a professional, structured way to solve sexual problems and explore new erotic experiences. It’s based on techniques that develop awareness of your body. It can be done online, and I also provide sessions in London.
So what is this versatile approach to embodiment and sex?
Sexological Bodywork is a way of learning about your body
You can learn a lot of theory from reading books. You can address a lot of issues with talking therapies. But when issues involve the body, reading and talking aren’t enough. You can’t learn to ride a bike or play the piano without trying to ride or play. If you’d like to connect to your body, teach your body something new, or unlearn something it experienced in the past, the easiest path is to engage your body in the new experiences you want. New experiences, particularly pleasurable ones, create change at a fundamental neurological level.
Sexological Bodyworkers don’t try to “fix” people. We offer a neutral space, free from expectations and judgement, to practice new tools, techniques and ways of being. And, in that space, we coach, teach and support people to learn about their bodies.
We can help you explore anatomy, desires, fantasies and fears. As practitioners, we train to accept diversity of background, gender, anatomy, sexual preferences and relationship preferences.
You can learn about your body through coaching, education and embodied experiencing
Sexological Bodywork is partly coaching. Clients reflect on their own sexuality, experiences and relationships to discover more about themselves. The work also involves sharing knowledge related to sexuality, such as anatomy, function of the nervous system, forms of arousal, sex drive and types of orgasm.
Unlike other sex therapies, Sexological Bodywork allows people to design new experiences involving their bodies, sensations and sexuality. Clients choose the experiences they want and will help them learn most. Experiences can range from simply noticing their body or a short touch, through to full body or genital massage. These can be practices the client takes home to practice or that they experience in a session.
Having said that, sessions can be entirely non-touch or with only a small amount of touch. There are a lot of possibilities and you can read more about touch and non-touch in my article “Is Bodywork right for you?“
Safety and trust are the foundations of Sexological Bodywork
For some clients, especially those who have suffered sexual trauma, starting work with a sexologist, especially a man, can be daunting. And working somatically, with the prospect of starting to feel sensations in their body, can be deeply scary.
As a Sexological Bodyworker, my role is to establish a high degree of safety and to continually build trust. We can start with simple exercises that bring you into the present moment, noticing the room and how you know it’s safe. We can do exercises that give you control of your environment – such as choosing how far away I am from you and noticing the effect of that. We can do simple, short activities where you gently move and search for ways in which you can enjoy your body.
Whatever the activity, we carefully define it first. We check it is something you really want to do. We do it exactly as we defined it. And you can always choose to stop. That structure give you control and safety. And its constant repetition builds trust – as we always do what we say we’re going to do, and nothing else.
Knowing what you like and don’t like is a fundamental skill
You are always at choice over what we do in Sexological Bodywork sessions. However, some clients find it hard to know what they would like. Particularly if they have a history of looking after others or if there is emotional abuse or gaslighting in their history, it can be hard for them to know what they want.
I help clients to connect to their body and intuition so they can discover what they genuinely want and like. Without that ability, we can’t create good boundaries and agreements or move on to more advanced activities.
Often early sessions are about this ability to notice what you want. And that isn’t just about what you’d like physically or sexually. This ability to know what you want affects your entire life. I often suggest my clients start by writing an “I Want” list, which is something you can easily do for yourself outside of a session.
Client choice and boundaries are an essential part of the work
Clients are always completely at choice in the experiences they have in Sexological Bodywork sessions. They can choose experiences based on breathwork, nervous system regulation, movement, sound, touch, embodied consent, orgasmic yoga coaching, masturbation coaching, and erotic bodywork. And whatever the experience, clients can stop it whenever they like.
At its core, Sexological Bodywork has a trauma-informed, consent-based structure that aims to always keep clients safe, and always at choice. As practitioners, we have clear boundaries and ethics. And this structure and ethics ensures the experiences our clients have are ones they really want and are highly beneficial.
In addition, boundaries, knowing your limits and expressing them is a core part of what I offer in sessions. I use The Wheel of Consent by Dr. Betty Martin. Through some very simple exercises we can explore how to know what you want and don’t want, how to communicate that and how to enjoy it when you do get what you want.
What Sexological Bodywork is not
Sexological Bodywork is a professional, educational form of somatic sex therapy. It is not entertainment, a massage with a “happy ending” or a form of neo-Tantra.
The main differences with most erotic massage or neo-Tantra is that Sexological Bodywork sessions have clearly defined boundaries and structures. Sessions are client-centred, client-led and based on embodied consent. There is always a clear educational agreement for sessions. Practitioners remain clothed and any erotic touch is one-way from the practitioner to the client.
Sexological Bodywork can be combined with other approaches, for example I integrate Clean Language and exploration of metaphors and, for clients with a spiritual interest, I bring in ideas from classical Tantra to allow the exploration of energy and embodied spiritual experiences. However, the core structure and principles of a Sexological Bodywork session stay intact.
Sexological Bodywork can address a variety of difficulties around sex and intimacy
There are many reasons people ask for Sexological Bodywork. Here are a few:
- Lack of sex drive
- Genital numbness or pain, including pain during sex and vaginismus
- Lack of pleasure
- Inability to orgasm
- Concerns about body image
- Anxiety or trauma around intimacy
- You’d like to rediscover your body
- You’re stuck in a pattern that isn’t helpful for you
- An interest in enhancing your sex life
- Learning to give and receive sensuality, touch and pleasure
- Self-acceptance of your own body, gender and preferences
- Overcoming emotional or sexual trauma
Overcoming sexual or emotional trauma often needs work with the body
Almost all of my clients have a history of psychotherapy, which has often been helpful in integrating traumatic events in their lives. And yet, they still have triggers, anxieties, poor relationships or unsatisfying sex lives.
Sexological Bodyworkers can help resolve the physical and sexual aspects of trauma. We can hold a deeply accepting and empowering space. And we are trauma-informed, so we understand the body can hold trapped memories and emotions. We can help you understand and alter your nervous system responses. We know how to design simple activities to gently and safely re-integrate lost or trapped aspects of yourself.
As Sexological Bodyworkers, we are used to working with the difficult emotions that come up around sex, and particularly where someone has a history of emotional or sexual trauma. Shame and guilt are common, but so are anger and grief. We can use our body-based approach to help clients be with the emotions, learn from them and integrate the messages they bring.
Many of my clients have spent their lives looking after others at the expense of themselves, or intimidated or abused by others. Our sessions are the first time they’ve felt truly accepted or able to express what they really want. Even just that loving space to explore through talking can be transformational. And then the possibilities of having loving touch that is exactly what they asked for and stops exactly when they want it to is, for some, what creates breakthroughs after years of being stuck.
Sexological Bodywork has a fascinating history
In the 1980s the gay community was facing the dreadful impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Dr Joseph Kramer and his Body Electric School developed new methods of having fulfilling, safe sex lives. He expanded the knowledge of what was possible with intimacy, pleasure, and the body. Later he worked with Annie Sprinkle, a leading figure in women’s sexual liberation, to expand Sexological Bodywork to include women and then all genders and sexualities. What they developed is also widely used in Taoist and Tantric Erotic Massages.
Modern Sexological Bodywork has expanded on that work, to include fundamentals of anatomy, the nervous system and to incorporate trauma-awareness and techniques for working with consent and boundaries, including Betty Martin’s Wheel of Consent.
Practitioners belong to a professional body with a code of ethics
The field of sexual empowerment has many questionable practices and practitioners. People can find it difficult to find someone safe and reputable to help them. Sexological Bodywork has set out to be a reputable profession, with trustworthy practitioners.
To qualify as a Sexological Bodyworker, you complete over 330 hours of training over seven months. You have supervision from experienced practitioners. You complete 25 real client sessions. The leaders in the field assess your skills. Sexological Bodywork has a professional body: the Association of Certified Sexological Bodyworkers. There is a code of ethics that we all work to, which establishes clear boundaries with our clients. And there is a grievance procedure, so clients are supported if a practitioner does not act professionally.
Sexological Bodywork is unashamedly positive about diversity and sexuality. As a practitioner, I’m proud to belong to a professional field that is dedicated to improving the lives and happiness of so many people.
Sexological Bodywork Sessions in London
I provide sexological bodywork sessions in London for women who want to reconnect to their body and sexuality, particularly after difficult relationships or sexual or emotional trauma. You are completely in control of sessions and they go at your pace – nothing will happen if you don’t want it to. I’ve worked with people where even talking about their body was a huge act of courage. I’ve helped rekindle relationships. And I’ve helped people explore their full potential in eroticism and pleasure. I’d love to have a friendly chat to discover what’s possible for you.