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Healing Sexual Trauma through Sensate Focus

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One of the most difficult things for me to deal with as a therapist is the aftermath of sexual trauma. And I know that the trouble I have with this is only a tiny fraction of the difficulty my client has as he or she faces his/her past. I share with you a correspondence I’ve had with a 36-year-old man from Boston named Trent.

Dr. Dick,
When I was 10 years my parish priest molested me. It went on for over a year. Mostly, I’ve been able to put this behind me. I’ve been married over a year to this really great gal. She’s been very understanding and supportive, and we love each other very much. A couple of weeks ago when we were having sex, my wife started to massage my bottom. This was the first time someone touched me there since I was 10. At first it felt good, but then I remembered how I felt when I was a kid and freaked out. I started to cry. My poor wife was devastated at the thought of triggering this painful memory. I told her it wasn’t her fault, but we haven’t had sex since. I’m worried, but I don’t know what to do.

Working through a sexual trauma, like the one Trent experienced as a kid, is difficult. But it is essential for regaining a healthy sense of the sexual self. I told Trent—and this applies to any anyone else who has had regrettable early sexual experiences in their past—that I strongly suggested that he and his wife engage a sex-positive therapist to help them get back on track.

Many people have dealt with some kind of sexually related trauma in their lives.  However, some trauma is more severe than others. Emotional scar tissue and painful memories may linger, but you can learn to insulate yourself from the disruptive effects of the past in the present. Thanks to the indomitable human spirit, most of us live through our difficulties and go on to develop healthy, integrated sex lives.

Sensate focus is a process that helps individuals move through painful sexual memories and heal the rift between the affected parts of the body and the pleasure they can produce. I thought this technique would be of particular value for Trent because of something he’d said: “At first it felt good, but then I remembered how I felt when I was a kid and freaked out.” This tells me that he was able to enjoy the sensations before the association with the molestation kicked in and ruined everything. Sensate focus offers a way to short-circuit this disruptive connection and rewire it for pleasure instead of pain.

What follows are structured therapeutic touching exercises for couples. They are not a prelude to sex. You need to be clear on that. Your genitals will be involved. There will be pleasure and arousal, for sure. But the object of this process is to desensitize the trigger (in Trent’s case, his butt), then re-sensitize it for pleasure. These exercises take about an hour one day a week over the course of a month. If you embark on this course, make sure that you dedicate that kind of time commitment. Please, don’t short-change yourselves; this is an investment in your sexual health and wellbeing.

You and your partner will take turns being the one touched and the one doing the touching. Both of you will have 30 minutes to touch and 30 minutes to be touched: 15 minutes lying on your front; 15 minutes on your back.

Week 1—Breaking the Ice
Structured touching will be unfamiliar to you at first. I want you to use this first session to connect with each other in a sensual and playful way. I want each of you to explore every inch of your partner’s body from head to toe, first the back of the body then the front. This first week, however, avoid one another’s genitals.

This isn’t massage, where touch is directed toward pleasuring your partner. Sensate focus exercises are about gleaning information. Focus on how it feels to touch different parts of your partner’s body in a non-seductive way. Be aware of the different textures contours and temperatures. Use different pressures—heavy and light; different strokes—long and short. Use fingertips, palms, the back of your hands and forearms.

When you’ve finished the first 30 minutes, swap places. This will work best if the one being touched relinquishes control as much as possible. Keep verbal communication at a minimum. Once the hour is over, thank one another for the experience and get on with the rest of your day. Don’t try to process things right then and there, just sit with the sensations. Or better still; write your feelings in a journal that you might want to share later.

Week 2—Making Things More Interesting
Building on what you learned in the first week; this time, kick it up a notch by expanding the structured touching to include anal and genital areas. These are sexually charged zones, but the touch must remain non-seductive. Begin the exercise with some full-body touching before moving on to the new areas. Again, the emphasis is on obtaining information and awareness of physical sensations.

This is where things got a bit challenging for Trent. When his wife touched his butt, I told him I wanted him to want stay in the moment and focus on who was touching him and why. Trent’s wife was not touching him in a sexual manner; she was gathering information.

Staying in the present helps take the edge off. If anxiety builds, deep breathing can help you to relax. Your partner will probably be very nervous too, so breathing together can be helpful.

A guided touch technique can also be useful. Place one of your hands on top of your partner’s and guide it over your trigger area. Try using more or less pressure as you see fit. Remember your trigger spot is just like every other part of your body. Even though an early trauma has sensitized this area to be off bounds, sensate focus exercises will re-sensitize and reintegrate it with the rest of your body. You’ll have to trust me on this.

Week 3—Mutual Touching
This week, we move on to mutual touching. However, it must remain structured and non-seductive, both in the giving and receiving. Mutual touch will provide a more natural form of physical interaction than the previous weeks. You’ll also be shifting attention from how it feels to touch to being aware of how your partner is receiving your touch. Keep verbal communication to a minimum. Let your body tell your partner how you are enjoying the touch. If you must talk, assign a number code to the touch you are receiving: 5 being, ho-hum, 1 being Yowsa!

Remember, no matter how sexually aroused you become, this is not a prelude to sex. If you need to release your sexual tension, feel free to masturbate afterward. No partnered sex during the exercises. Okay?

Week 4—Bringin’ It Home
This last week of exercises continues the mutual touching, with a focus on overcoming any final reservations you have about your trigger zone and the pleasure you derive from it. More of your partner’s touch should focus on that area. For Trent, I advised that his wife include a nice lotion or personal lube for this investigation. (Touching with a wet hand is different from touching with a dry hand.) While concentrating on his butt with one hand, I suggested she fondle his genitals with the other. By playing with the energy around Trent’s sphincter, his wife was able to redirect it and help him reconnect his ass to the rest of his body.

Try receiving your wire’s touch in different positions. Being proactive will facilitate the healing. While she is touching your trigger area, move your butt toward her to meet the caress. You’ll immediately see how being in control will help you move beyond any remaining anxiety. You are not just being passive recipient anymore; you are actively involved with inviting the pleasure. If there are still reservations, take it slow until they too, melt away.

Once he’d freed up his ass for pleasure, I told Trent be sure to incorporate butt play into his future lovemaking repertoire, but I also reminded him to take as much time as he needed to resolve the issue. There is no quick fix. I assured him, though, with diligence and care, sensate focus would remove the fear and shame of the molestation, and replace it with a sense of wholeness, joy and pleasure.

Good luck

Seattle Erotic Art Festival, 2011

Big news, sex fans!

The ninth annual Seattle Erotic Art Festival, to be held May 20-22, 2011 at Fremont Studios is now now accepting art submissions.  (Click on the banner below for further information.)

  • The Call for Visual Art is open January 1-31, 2011. The Festival sells more art than any other erotic art festival, has low submission fees, and competitive commission rates. Artists may submit up to five works of erotic art of any medium. Sculptors, multimedia artists and painters are particularly encouraged to apply. The 2011 jury consists of art historian Gene Burt; artist and collector Steve Jensen; sex-positive activist and deputy director of Gay City, Peter Jabin; and the last jurors are in the process of being confirmed.
  • The Call for Short Film/Video is open January 1 – February 28, 2011. No other major erotic art festival has a film component, and this year film will be a main attraction, presented at Fremont Studios in a modern 50-seat movie theater. Filmmakers are encouraged to submit up to three works, each up to 30 minutes in length. The Erotic Short Film Exhibition is curated by Three Dollar Bill Cinema (producer of the Seattle Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and the Seattle Transgender Film Festival). The jury will consist of a Three Dollar Bill Cinema review panel and the Seattle Erotic Art Festival Director.
  • The Call for Installation Art is open January 1 – February 15, 2011. Installation art is extremely popular at the Festival, and artists enjoy significant notoriety as a result of media and audience reviews. Additionally, the Festival is continuing to offer its grant for interactive visual artists; selected artists will be granted up to $750 to create works of art that feature a participatory element and encourage the audience to become part of the art. Installations are selected by a Festival Curatorial Team. There is no fee for installation submissions.
  • The Call for Literary Art is open January 1 – February 15, 2011. This is the third year of the Literary Art Exhibition, featuring work from poets, playwrights and authors from across the country. Selected works are exhibited through live readings and on the printed page. Artists may submit 5 pieces. The jury consists of Lydia Swartz, who generates one of the most extensive spoken word calendars for the Seattle area; Dobbie Reese Norris, who is the originator and host of and contributor to one of the longest running reading series in Seattle: Third Tuesdays Poets and Writers; Eileen Fix, a Tacoma Distinguished Writers selection and founder of the Little Red Studio Poetry Posse; and Victor David Sandiego, prize-winning poet and former editor of the Washington Poets Association.

DON’T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY TO JOIN ARTISTS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD FOR THIS WORLD CLASS EVENT!

Livin’ It Up, Oh Yeah!

Hey sex fans,

We begin our 4th year of product reviews this first week of 2011. Its astonishing that what began as a lark back in May of 2007 is now full-blown effort that involves more than a dozen dedicated reviewers, my friends and colleagues of The Dr Dick Review Crew.

We begin the new year on a very positive note. Today, Jada tells you about her first LELO product.  This attractive vibe is part of their new Insignia line.

SORAYA —— $199.00
Jada
I must be among the last Review Crew members to hook up with a LELO product. I think we’ve reviewed nine or ten of their products so far, but I knew my turn would come soon enough.

As luck would have it, I am the first of the Dr Dick Review Crew to handle one of the new waterproof line of vibes from LELO called Insignia. As I read through some of the earlier LELO reviews written by my colleagues I notice one recurring regret; the vibes they were reviewing were not waterproof. Each reviewer painstakingly pointed out that the earlier incarnations of LELO products, while being remarkable in many ways, were hampered by a recharge port that made the unit difficult to thoroughly clean because it wasn’t submersible. Getting water, or worse lube, in the port rendered the expensive vibe inoperable.

To LELO’s great credit they’ve solved that problem with the Insignia line.

But let me start at the beginning. The SORAYA comes in the signature LELO packaging. It’s elegant and sophisticated, although I know some have problem with the excess. However, I don’t share those reservations. Everything from the glossy black outer carton to the matte black storage box is chic. The pink and golden dual action SORAYA is nestled in felt covered foam inlay. As far as I can tell the entire package is recyclable. But of course you wouldn’t want to toss the box, because it stores the SORAYA so perfectly.

If one were to judge the size of the SORAYA by the size of the box, which is over a foot long, one would have a very large vibe indeed. But looks are deceiving. The SORAYA itself is only about 8.5” from stem to stern. The insertable girth is pretty modest too, just over one inch at its widest. The clitoral stimulator stem is about 2.5” long.

While I guess I’d categorize the SORAYA as a rabbit vibe; in terms of design, it is miles above its unattractive cousins. Again, elegant and chic are the words that most readily pop to mind.

The SORAYA is remarkably light weight. Here another instance where looks are deceiving. I had convinced myself that the golden center of the vibe was metal, but it’s not. It is a metallic-coated ABS (plastic). And the velvety pink outer surface is 100% high-grade silicone.

The stylish hole in the base of the SORAYA is another very thoughtful design element. I can insert my forefinger in the hole and easily manipulate the three-button controller with my thumb. I’m going to guess that women were behind this design.
Full Review HERE

ENJOY!

Holiday Gift Giving Guide, WEEK 1

Hey sex fans,

It’s Product Review Friday again. And today we launch our 3rd annual Holiday Gift Giving Guide. Over the next five weeks we will feature a boatload of adult products for naughty boys and girls.

We have numerous manufacturers and retailers participating with us this year. So we will bring you an array of goodies from high-end pleasure objects to inexpensive novelty items. I can pretty much guarantee that this year’s guide will have something for everyone.

Let’s start off with two products from our friends at Good Vibrations.

Night of Romance Kit —— $18.00

Jada
My husband and I were babysitting our 5-year-old niece for a few days a couple weeks ago. She’s at that stage when mimicking adult behavior is so much fun. She loves dress up and playing house, but her favorite thing is having a tea party. She took great pains to put on an elaborate party for me when we stayed with her. Everything had to be just right and it was all in miniature; it was so cute. Her joy was truly contagious.

These few days with my niece rekindled in me a sense of playfulness that carried over to a weekend get away with my man. I decided to save the Night of Romance Kit that I received to review for this special weekend. It’s actually a miniature plastic handbag that contains a Vibrating Couples Ring, a 5oz container of Please Pleasure Cream and a 5oz container of Touch Me Massage Oil.
Full Review HERE!

Good Clean Love Lubricant —— $16.00

Christa
Ya know what I dig about Good Clean Love Lubricant? I absolutely get it that it’s organic; well it’s made of 95% organic ingredients anyway. Their corporate logo includes the words: “Chemistry without chemicals”. That rocks!

Good Clean Love Lubricant is a water-based lube, but it has a very natural feel to it. Other water-based lubes I’ve tried can be kinda runny, but not this one. That’s because it’s actually more of a gel than a liquid. If there’s one drawback to a water-based lube it’s that it can dry out with vigorous use. And when I’m pegging my little sub, butt-boy BF, Alex, things can get pretty vigorous, ok? Good Clean Love Lubricant has less of a problem with drying out, but if I find that it is getting a little tacky, I just add a wad of spit. Not very lady-like, you say? Fuck you! Alex totally gets off on spit. So I’m happy to oblige.
Full Review HERE!

Here’s a mighty big handful of pleasure from the good folks at Funwares.

Nexus Max 5 —— $69.95

Glenn & Hank
Glenn: “This here is the Nexus Max 5. The package says it’s a G-spot massager. But, if you ask me, it should also say it’s a P-spot massager.”
Hank: “Glenn thinks everything belongs in his ass.”
Glenn: “That’s not exactly true. But, for the most part, if a toy is designed for G-spot stimulation it’ll probably work wonders on your prostate too. That being said, I’ll admit that the Nexus Max 5 is not for beginners!”
Hank: “That’s an understatement. I couldn’t get the first knob on the insertable end past my rosebud.”
Glenn: “Yep, this is a professional grade insertable, that’s for sure. But for a talented power bottom like me, there’s nothing too it.”
Hank: “I love the shape of it. The Nexus Max 5 is made of medical grade silicone, which is one of the safest and most hygienic sex toy materials available. It’s completely smooth and when you lube it up, with a water-based lube, (and make sure you only use water-based lube) it’s slick and slippery and basically slides into Glenn’s ass like a hot knife through butter.”
Glenn: “The unique shape of the Nexus Max 5 makes it so easy to handle, even when lubed up. You, or your partner, can get a real good grip on the thing. And you can power-fuck your ass with it too, although most guys will probably just use it as a butt plug. Here’s the thing, if you can’t easily insert at least two or three fingers in your hole, this toy is not for you.”
Hank: “I swear my man has the most talented ass in town. It’s been known to swallow my entire fist, so the Nexus Max 5 is a cakewalk for him. It comes with a removable bullet vibe, which has 3 variable speeds of vibration. It runs on one of those little round watch batteries and it comes already loaded with a battery right out of the package.”
Full Review HERE!

Now we welcome a brand new manufacturer to our review family. Just about everyone’s favorite high-class video production house, Digital Playground is not making sex toys too. We have two to share with you today.

Riley’s Pleasure Ring w/ Silver Bullet —— $24.99

Ken & Denise
Ken: “Denise and I are huge fans of Digital Playground. In fact our all time favorite movie is Pirates.”
Denise: “So imagine our delight when we heard that Digital Playground is now producing a line of sex toys with the Pirates theme.”
Ken: “Think of it as an adult version of the movie themed toys kids get at a fast food outlet.”
Denise: “We scored the Riley’s Pleasure Ring w/ Silver Bullet for review. It’s named after the porn star, Riley Steele, who appears in Pirates 2.”
Ken: “You get this white stretchy cockring that is molded with skulls and a hook to keep with the pirate theme. It’s pretty funny, actually. Anyhow, there’s a barrel shaped thingy on the top of the ring, this is where the silver bullet attaches to the ring in a horizontal fashion.”
Denise: “It is pretty comical, but it works! The bullet has 3 speeds and two pulse settings for variety. It’s amazing what they’re able to do with bullet vibes these days. It used to be, and not so long ago, they were only one speed.”
Full Review HERE!

Jesse Jane’s Pirate Booty Stroker —— $24.99

Brad
Jesse Jane is my favorite porn star. I think I have at least a half dozen of her movies, including the two Pirates movies. So when I saw the Jesse Jane’s Pirate Booty Stroker at Dr Dick’s place, I asked if I could review it.

I want to start my review with how the stroker looks in its package. The clear molded plastic case features a totally hot pic of Ms Jane in her pirate costume. You can see the Jesse Jane’s Pirate Booty Stroker through the clear plastic and it looks like an ice sculpture. Very cool! I know ya can’t tell a book by its cover, but the presentation is totally hot, especially for a Jesse Jane fan, like me.

I opened the package and fished out the jelly-like stroker. It’s made of Cyberskin, which really soft, floppy and squishy. I have to say; upon closer inspection of the stroker outside the package, it is a little eerie. It’s like this see-through elf of a Jesse Jane. There’s also a sweet smell to it, almost like strawberry shortcake. I kid you not.

The thing about this stroker is that it has two small apertures at either end of Jesse’s tiny body — one where her asshole would be and the other at her mouth. Since you can see right through her body, you can also see the textured canal that is supposed to surround your dick when you fuck this thing. I mean that’s what a masturbator is all about, right?

Right off the bat I’m thinkin’ I’m never gonna get my 7.5” thick cock into the Jesse Jane’s Pirate Booty Stroker no matter how stretchy the Cyberskin is. But I proceeded anyhow. I got my favorite water-based lube; it’s the only kind of lube I’d ever use with Cyberskin. Funny, there’s nothing on the package that would warn a user about that. In fact the package has no information about the care and handling of this special material. And that’s way too bad, because if you use the wrong kind of lube with Cyberskin it will disintegrate. And if you don’t care for it after each and every use, you will destroy it.
Full Review HERE!

ENJOY

More of The Erotic Mind of M. Christian — Podcast #233 — 09/27/10

Hey sex fans,

My little gray cells are all aflutter, because the extremely talented author, editor and teacher, M. Christian is back with us for another edition of The Erotic Mind podcast series.

But wait, you didn’t miss Part 1 of our conversation that appeared here last week at this time, did you? Well don’t worry if ya did, because you can find it and all my podcasts in the Podcast Archive right here on my site. Look for the site’s search function in the header, type in Podcast #231 and Voilà! But don’t forget the #sign when you do your search.

M. Christian and I discuss:

  • Being a private person with a big reputation;
  • The pride he has in his work;
  • What sparks the erotic imagery in his work;
  • The role of imagination and the awareness of human behavior in his creations;
  • Writing for male and female audiences;
  • The plot arc — does it mirror the sexual response cycle;
  • Being compelled to write and being turned on to create;
  • Topics he gravitates toward and topics he avoids;
  • What he looks for in the erotica of others.

As a special treat, M. Christian will share another a delectable morsel of the fruit of his Erotic Mind. You do not want miss this, people!

For all things M. Christian, be sure to visit his site HERE! More fun can be had HERE and HERE!

(click on the thumbnails to get more information about these volumes)


BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Check out The Lick-A-Dee-Split Connection. That’s Dr Dick’s toll free podcast voicemail HOTLINE. Don’t worry people; no one will personally answer the phone. Your message goes directly to voicemail.

Got a question or a comment? Wanna rant or rave? Or maybe you’d just like to talk dirty for a minute or two. Why not get it off your chest! Give Dr Dick a call at (866) 422-5680.

DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

Look for my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll fine me in the podcast section, obviously, or just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

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