Thursday, March 17, 2011

Couples using Sensate Focus too help with sexual problems in their marriage

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Masters and Johnson introduced Sensate focus or sensate focusing as a set of specific sexual exercises for couples aimed at increasing personal and interpersonal awareness of them and their partners needs. Each person is encouraged to focus on their own sexual awareness and sensation, rather than viewing getting to the orgasm as the sole goal, thus taking the pressure off of each individual in the sexual setting.

A sex counselor, sex therapist or sex coach will usually guide the timing and technique of the sensate focus helping the couple with the step by step process, then checking in from time to time for comments and experiences.

In the first stage, Maters and Johnson recommends wearing no clothe as long as no touching of the breast and genital or reaching orgasm is taken into play (and this is fine for many couples but in my version as a sex counselor and working with couples who have not touched each other affectionately in years, I recommend them to start first with clothe on and to simply hold hands again, kiss affectionately, rub each other’s back, and hug a few times in a day for a week to get used to the intimate affection again. Once they have done this then they can start with the first phase of the Sensate Focus.) In this first step or second step for some touch each other’s bodies but no genitals including breasts. The couples are encouraged to enjoy and become increasingly aware of the texture and qualities of their partner's skin and their own reaction to how it may feel.  Intercourse is not allowed at this point along with any focus on genitals. This stage of the exercise is really about the person doing the touching realizing what they may be feeling and it is not about pleasing their partner but more about just discovery.

The second stage or third depending on the first option is to increase the touching options, while still gathering information about each other’s bodies, no intercourse and touching of the genitals at this time. This is the stage where the couple uses the technique of placing their hand over their partner's hand in order to show what they find pleasurable in terms of pressure, length of time and motion. The goal in this stage is to still learn about each other’s bodies and also to lean about your on body. As a sex counselor I also recommend that each partner use masturbation if necessary before hand to figure out what they like so that they are able to show their partner, this is a big part of the learning process as well and that knows your own pleasure points and what stimulates you. For a woman who has never had an orgasm, learning to masturbate before hand by herself and bringing herself to orgasm will then give her the information about her own body to teach her partner about what she likes.

The next stage is a gradual process of genital stimulation and if the couple wants to try new experiences such as oral sex, lubrication and play around the perineum and anus area this is a good time to do that. Orgasm is never the focus in this process or any of the above exercises. Sensate Focus is also used as a tool for male and female sexual anxiety and male erectile dysfunction, performance anxiety in men, the obsession to focus on the penis can result in forms of erectile dysfunction, rapid ejaculation and anxiety. The job as a sex counselor is to encourage the man to forget about his penis, and forget about his partner's genitals, and instead concentrate on the sensual possibilities available and the experience itself without the feel of his own genitals and his partner's skin, hair, mouth, body, etc.

Contact with the penis is 'forbidden' and the only sexual contact that is 'allowed' is sessions of interaction with the partner during which only the non-penis aspects of sex are explored: Touching, talking, and kissing hugging, and so on. This includes not only touch but taste, sound and hearing, as partners are encouraged to talk to each other, to express how they feel and to encourage each other. (This is if the man has erectile dysfunction or performance anxiety) The focus is to have an appreciation of a whole new set of sensual possibilities, leading to a reduced focus on the penis and its tendency to be the male's main concern. Men often report an improvement in their sex life generally with less anxiety. As the man reports increasing awareness and attention paid to this holistic approach, the problem usually will go away with the male sexual dysfunction.

This works well for women too, not having to please their partner as the focus but to just have the focus on the moment instead of intercourse. Many women that are pre-orgasmic or have had very few orgasms with their husband during love making will be able to show their husband tools of foreplay thus allowing her mind and body to get into the mood.

The final stage is to work towards intercourse when both partners are ready and for each couple this may take a varied amount of time. In fact there are really no time limit associates or presented with these techniques, as that would place pressure on the aspect of the Sensate Focus which is counterproductive to the whole process. Some couples maneuver through this in three weeks where others it may take three months, the goal is to have a better sex life as a result of this exercise and that lasts a life time, so always keep that in mind.

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