SEX AND SEXUAL PROBLEMS: TOUCH-SENSITIVE AREAS OF THE BODY

Sensate focus exercises can help to relax you and, because they take the focus away from genital contact, they help you to explore other touch-sensitive areas of the body. These are techniques developed by sex therapy pioneers Masters and Johnson, and they are used widely in sex therapy to make people more comfortable with their own body and their partner’s body and to increase sexual understanding and enjoyment. They are loosely based on the ‘Hey, did I tell you I did a massage course a few years ago and I’m told I have great hands?’ line. In effect, it’s a ‘back to basics’ approach to sexual interaction. The venue is flexible, but it needs to be a place with a relaxed ambience and no risk of intrusion. The ground rules are simple to begin with.

1. For the purpose of the exercise, genitals and breasts are off-limits.

2. There is no intercourse.

3. There is no rush.

4. You need to give your partner feedback on what feels good and what you don’t like.

The idea is to lie together with as few clothes as you feel comfortable in (in some cases that might be fully clothed), and take turns with your partner touching … slowly … each body part starting with the top of the head, the back of the neck, the back, buttocks, and so on down to the toes. Then turn over and begin on the front of the body. By varying the type of touch … softly or more firmly … with your fingers, faster or slower movements, using your open hand or your tongue, and telling each other what feels best, before too long you discover that not only are you more relaxed but you are tuning in to each other’s responses. Some people who try these exercises say that even after making love for years it is the first time they have really talked about what they are doing. Not in a threatening or critical sense, but in a really honest and constructive way. Any sexual relationship can be improved with these exercises but if there is a particular sexual problem, they are best done with the guidance of a qualified therapist who can advise on each phase of progress.

*128/17/9*

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