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How to talk to your therapist about surrogate partner therapy

Are you interested in working with a surrogate partner but aren’t sure how to bring it up with your therapist? You’re not alone in feeling uncertain as to how to broach these topics — talking about sexual challenges can feel really vulnerable! Here’s a guide to discussing surrogate partner therapy with your therapist.

1. Build a trusting relationship with your therapist

The first and most important step is to establish a supportive relationship with your therapist, which usually takes time. Some therapists have concerns or confusions about surrogate partner therapy, and some have never heard of it at all. If a new client comes into their very first session asking the therapist to collaborate on this unfamiliar sexual healing modality, it may raise their suspicions: is this safe for the client, is it legal, am I allowed to collaborate on a case like this given the licensing board’s regulations? Take the time to get to know your therapist and allow them to get to know you. It may feel vulnerable, but share your sexual challenges, concerns, and history with them; they’ll definitely need to be able to talk about these topics with you once we begin surrogate partner therapy.

2. Tell your therapist you’re interested in surrogate partner therapy

Once you feel comfortable with your therapist and the two of you have discussed your sexual concerns, the next step is to tell them you’re looking into surrogate partner therapy. Ask your therapist if they’re familiar with surrogate partner therapy and what their opinion about it is. If they’re familiar with it, tell them why you think it would be a good fit for you and ask if they agree. If they’re not, they’ll probably want to do some research. It may take several sessions to discuss this topic, and that’s okay – surrogate partner therapy is a big commitment, so it’s good to take your time making a decision.

3. Be prepared to explain why surrogate partner therapy is right for you

There are a lot of sexual healing modalities out there, and most of them don’t require the involvement of a therapist. Your therapist will likely want to know why this particular modality is the one you’re seeking. Have you considered other modalities? What is it about surrogate partner therapy that draws you to it? Remember that surrogate partner therapy is a big commitment for your therapist as well, so take the time to hear their concerns.

4. Connect your therapist with the surrogate partner you want to work with

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to reach out to the surrogate partner you’d like to work with. After they’ve connected with you, they’ll want to have a one-on-one conversation with your therapist before the three of you formally start working together. Once your therapist is on board for collaborating on surrogate parnter therapy, send an email introducing your therapist and your surrogate partner so they can schedule a conversation.

5. Be patient

Surrogate partner therapy moves at a slow, intentional pace to allow our bodies to integrate what we learn. And just like the work itself, getting surrogate partner therapy started can be slow-moving as well. Ensuring the client, therapist, and surrogate partner are all on the same page usually takes several months, so bring patience to this process.

“Types” of orgasm are BS – there are actually infinite ways to come

I’ve seen a lot of posts and articles lately about the different “types” of orgasms. These posts usually feature some sort of bullet list that includes clitoral, G-spot, “blended” or “combination” orgasms, and sometimes “coregasms” (orgasms that occur from sit-ups and other exercises that engage the core). I’m glad sex educators are talking about the fact that orgasms don’t have to come from only one specific body part, but why do we continue to try to squeeze sexual anatomy into binaries and categories?

The thing about orgasms is: they can come from anywhere on our body (or not even using the body!). We usually think about orgasms as being centered around the genitals, but that’s a pretty limited understanding. “All the science shows that orgasm is a brain-mediated event. We may know it being triggered by our genitals but it doesn’t mean it can’t be facilitated by anything else,” Dr. Mitch Tepper explains in this incredible video about orgasms after spinal cord injury. “With the right intention and the right attention, literally anything can become orgasmic.”

I have known folks who reached orgasm from all sorts of different touch: one person could come from nipple stimulation alone, another from having his thumbs sucked on, and someone I dated even told me she had once orgasmed from deep-throating a dildo (J E A L O U S).

If you’re used to orgasming from touching one specific place on your body (e.g., your clitoris or penis), it could be fun to experiment with expanding your orgasmic zone. For years, my solosex pratice focused on one part of my clitoris (the left vestibular bulb, to be specific). As I explored partnered sex in my late teens and early 20s, I discovered that adding vaginal penetration into the mix (aka “a blended orgasm”) deepened the sensation, and eventually that anal stimulation could lead to my most intense and satisfying orgasms. When I started training as a surrogate partner, I realized I could expand the orgasmic areas of my body potentially infinitely. These days when I masturbate, my orgasm usually comes from a combination of vulva, vaginal, anal, and sometimes armpit stimulation, along with a whole lot of body movement.

Here are some solosex ideas to try out if you’re seeking to expand your center of orgasm:

  • Follow your typical masturbation routine. As you get turned on, start exploring areas surrounding your typical center of orgasm. If you usually focus on the glans of your clitoris, try touching further down your vulva, along the crura and bulbs of the clitoris, and/or the entry to your vaginal canal. If you usually use up-and-down motions on your penis, try extending your strokes to include your testicles, perineum, and/or inner thighs.
  • Spend a masturbation session exploring an erogenous zone other than your genitals, like your ears, neck, nipples, anus, or toes. It’s unlikely that you’ll orgasm the first time you try this, so instead of focusing on climaxing, shift your focus to expanding your pleasure. You can also pair this touch with genital touch, which will start to build neural connections between your old erotic habits and your new erotic explorations.
  • Experiment with movement: rock your hips back and forth, shake or wiggle your legs, send ripples of breath down your torso.

Don’t expect to have an orgasm the first time you try a new masturbation technique; it usually takes a lot of time and practice to build the neural pathways that lead to a deeper orgasm. Note how your body feels different as you try on new routines, and give yourself credit for small changes. Most importantly, have fun with it! Follow what feels good.

P.S. Strong rec to watch the entire “Sexuality after SCI” video series from Mount Sinai Hospital, whether you have a disability or not — this series was truly life-changing (and sex life-changing) for me!

Six-minute self touch for staying grounded in intense times

It’s been a violent and disregulating few weeks (//few centuries) in our country. With headline after headline of police brutality and mass shootings, I often forget to pause and check in with my body. Self-touch helps me to re-ground, re-center, and re-engage from a more resourced place. Here’s a six-minute guided self touch exercise you can do any time of day to find some spaciousness and calm.

BBC covers surrogate partner therapy (and almost gets it right)

The BBC did a segment on surrogate partner therapy yesterday! I’m so stoked to see mainstream media covering our work in a positive light. And (of course) I had a few critiques:

  1. The reporter did a great job using the correct terminology – “surrogate partner” – but then the shortened version that went on the air said “sex surrogate” multiple times. UGH. How many times do we have to defend our right to choose the name of our own profession?
  2. I got angry when the surrogate partner they interviewed said that our work is not sex work. We ned to stop throwing less privileged sex workers under the bus in order to legitimize our own profession. Just because we have to get certified to do our job doesn’t mean we’re not sex workers! We can hold our own comparative privilege and safety without shaming other types of sex work.

You can read the transcript of the BBC’s segment on surrogate partner therapy here: https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-56737828

Self Care for Crisis

We often think of self care as “healthy” activities like yoga or cooking a meal. But self care, especially in times of crisis, can take many forms.

Self care for crisis can include:

  • Numbing
  • Processing
  • Releasing
  • Soothing
  • Wallowing

Numbing

We’re often quick to judge numbing activities. But when we’re experiencing overwhelming feelings, it’s important to take breaks. Numbing gives our bodies space to calm down.

Some examples: binge-watching TV, watching porn, eating junk food, zoning out

Releasing

When a feeling has us so triggered that we feel completely consumed by it, we need to let it out. What’s important when releasing is that we do it safely enough that we don’t harm ourselves or others.

Some examples: crying, punching a pillow, throwing things, screaming, going on a run//cardio

Processing

These are activities we may think of as more clasically healthy — ones that help us move the feelings through and integrate them. They’re important, but no more so than other types of self care.

Some examples: journaling, creating art, talking with a friend, therapy, going on a walk

Soothing

These are activities that calm our nervous system and make it a little easier to be in our body. They may share some overlap with numbing — but instead of pausing the feelings, they help us hold them.

Some examples: listening to music, cooking, taking a bath or shower, gardening, napping

Wallowing

Although wallowing may sound judgmental, it’s really just about being in the feelings. What’s important is knowing when to stop — to give yourself a break by trying on one of the other forms of self care.

Some examples: looking at photos of someone you’ve lost, feeling self pity, diving into upsetting memories

((Any or all of these examples might not work for you, or they might fit into different categories for you than they do for me))

What ways are you already taking care of yourself that you haven’t given yourself credit for?