Trina Dolenz

Trina Dolenz

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The top 5 reasons people come to Sex Therapy

One in four of us are dissatisfied by our sex lives. Yet there’s still a big stigma about going to Sex Therapy. Many people find the idea of speaking to a complete stranger about sex to be embarrassing. Some think that they should be able to sort out any problems they’re having by themselves.
But Sex Therapy actually has a very high satisfaction rate. People are often surprised by how effective it is. If you think you might benefit from Sex Therapy, why not come in for an initial consultation? Your counselor will talk you through what it involves and how it can help. Here are some of the most common reasons that people come in for.

"I’ve gone off it"

This is by far the most common issue that people attend Sex Therapy to address. When we ‘go off’ sex with someone we enjoyed it with in the past, it can be mystifying, confusing and very unsettling.
Discovering when things changed is often the first stage of recovery. Then we can start to uncover why. Many life events can impact our sexual lives and responses - moving in together, losing a job, having a baby, grieving – the list is long.
A sex therapist can help you work together to find out what will help you in approaching issues, taking time to understand what is happening for you. You will create a way forward that feels comfortable or maybe even exciting. This process may take a while but it’s important to stick with it - nurturing a long term fulfilling sexual relationship is something that happens over time.

"I can’t come"

Both individuals and couples, men and women, may experience this. It may be that you have never experienced an orgasm - or that you can’t any more.
Sex doesn’t have to end with climax, but if you do want this to happen, anxiety about getting it ‘right’, feeling angry or upset or not being sure any more about what works sexually for you can all contribute towards difficulty.
A sex therapist can help you to discover or rediscover what works for you through designing a series of tasks to do at home and helping you to talk openly with your partner - to communicate what works and what doesn’t.

Painful sex

It may be that, for a woman, intercourse simply hurts. In some cases, this can make it very difficult or even impossible to have penetrative sex.
Having the chance to just talk about the issue may in itself bring some relief. Your sex therapist will help you to explore your reactions to sex and get a more thorough understanding of your sense of pleasure and pain. They may also talk to you about opportunities for medical checks to rule out any physical cause.

"I can’t get (or keep) it up"

This is a very common problem for men – and something that most will experience at some point during their lives. An inability to get or maintain an erection can result from illness, surgery or trauma - or it may have been something you’ve always had problems with. Often just the anxiety of ‘will it work this time’ can make things worse.
Sex Therapy can be very helpful in revealing the best approach to address this problem. This can happen in combination with prescribed medication, or it may be that that the process of talking things through is enough to help things begin to change.

"I come too soon"

Once in a while, this may not be a big problem, but if it continues regularly it can make it difficult to maintain a satisfying sex life.
Coming too soon is something that lots of people worry about and can sometimes be caused by feeling anxious or not feeling fully focused on what's going on. The good news is that Sex Therapy can really help by taking you through a series of tasks and exercises that help you take back control and last longer.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Communication Tips

One of the most common objectives couples share when they come to me for counseling is to improve their communication.
When communication breaks down it can feel frustrating and painful. I have noticed at these times it’s mostly the 'feeling heard' part of communication that is going wrong. Over time this can become really destructive to your relationship, so here's my top three communication tips that you can try for yourselves at home.

1. Use ‘I feel…’ statements

I feel sad/ angry/ happy/ lonely/ upset…when you…what can we do about it?
Using ‘I feel’ statements, rather than ‘you…’ is taking ownership of your feelings rather than attacking, criticizing or blaming your partner.
For example: ‘I feel lonely when you come home and go straight on your computer.’
Rather than: ‘You never spend any time with me, all you do is sit there and stare at your stupid computer!’ 
A statement that starts with ‘I feel’ is easier for your partner to hear as they are not immediately on the defence. If they are able to remain open to what you are expressing, you can then follow this up with a request that would address this for you such as:
‘When you get home, could we spend a bit of time together before you go on your computer so we can catch up and tell each other about our day?’

2. Take turns

Sometimes in my sessions, I interrupt arguing clients by getting up from my seat, picking up the tissue box, and putting it into one person’s hands.
I recognize that without context this sounds like totally bizarre behavior. It would certainly work to confuse and disrupt a fight if you didn’t know what had been previously agreed about this moment.
Some couples can quickly get caught up in escalating conflict. If I have noticed this, I would draw attention to it and ask the couple for their ideas, or permission to help stop and refocus the discussion.
One rule we sometimes set up is that whoever is holding the tissue box gets to speak and the other listens without interrupting them. This helps to calm the conversation down and keeps them from talking all over each other.
At home you could try the same thing. You could use any agreed object like a bunch of keys, an ornament, a pillow - use your imagination.
When you are holding the object it’s your turn to speak and when you have finished, you pass the object back to your partner who then takes their turn. This helps to create a safe space for you to speak and listen to each other.
young couple hugging at psychologist office

3. Make time to talk and listen

If you have problems talking to your partner about certain subject matters without the conversation becoming heated, upsetting, or emotionally charged, here is an exercise you can try to provide some structure to your discussion. The focus of this exercise is for you to feel heard and connected and to find a solution together.
You can incorporate tips 1 and 2 above here, where you use ‘I feel’ statements and having an object that you hold to indicate it is your turn to speak.
Person A: Speak for 1 minute (use ‘I feel…’ statements)
Try to maintain eye contact or even hold hands if that feels comfortable enough. It will help you remain connected and in touch with each other.
Person B: ‘I heard you say…’
Person B then reflects back exactly what they heard Person A say. This is not an opportunity to reply or respond yet. The objective here is for person A to know that they have been heard.
Person B: ‘What was the most important thing that you want me to hear?’
Person B then gives person A the chance to clarify their thoughts and feelings, which in turn gives person B a chance to really understand what person A is trying to communicate.
Person B: ‘Why?’
By asking why, Person B demonstrates respect and the desire to understand what person A is saying without judging, reacting, defending or blaming. Person A then feels heard, understood, cared for and connected to person B.
Person B: What can we do about it?’
It's now problem-solving time. By asking what can we do, Person B is being collaborative and shows person A ‘we are in this together.’ Person A feels connected to person B and not so alone with their feelings. Each of you can now take turns to make suggestions about how to negotiate the issue together.
After this you can swap over and then Person B speaks with person A going through the reflection and questions in the same way.
Put a limit on the problem solving time, if you don't come up with a solution within ten minutes, leave it and take some time to think about it separately. Agree a time where you can revisit the issue, perhaps the next day. Then go and do something fun together.

Change comes with time

As you learn to change your communication patterns over time this will start to become more natural and normal to the way you interact. In turn this will reduce the misunderstandings and offences between you as you work towards a stronger, healthier relationship.