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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

Bye Bi Love

Name: Dan
Gender: Male
Age: 32
Location: Alberta
I am a bisexual that is happily married with children. My wife and I have a great sex life. Every few months I get an urge to have sex with other men. I have acted out on this several times and always practice safe sex. She has caught me surfing gay/bi porn a few times and I think she knows that I have bisexual thoughts. She is interested in anal play with me and has used a dildo on me a few times. Should I come clean with her and risk divorce, which I don’t want, or continue on the way I am going?

I am of the mind that being on the up and up with one’s primary partner is a real good thing, regardless the issue. Practicing a deception, like you’re doing Dan, will take a toll on the quality of life you share. It sounds to me like you’re trying to have your cake and eat it too, or to make a pun…your Kate and Eddie too. Can’t rightly say I think too highly of this.

Most of the bisexual men I know wouldn’t approve of your arrangement either. Because most of the bisexual men I know are not living dual lives. Most are “out of the closet” bisexuals. They’re happier and healthier then their closeted counterparts. They also are less likely to seek anonymous connections with other partners just to relieve their horniness, as you apparently do. In fact when a good friend of mine, a bisexual himself, read your message he was totally put off. He said you’re the kind of bisexual that gives bisexuals a bad name. OUCH!

I may not go that far, but skulking around looking for cock, like you do, while keeping the little woman at home in the dark is a huge problem for me. This sort of behavior also militates against you forming any deeper connection with a guy than a quick furtive tryst might allow. How can years of this sort of thing be satisfying?

Also by siphoning off all your sexual energy like this you blunt the need to channel some of that energy into finding a creative solution to your sexual needs and desires with your wife. You say you have a good sex life together. She sounds pretty understanding and open minded. Most wives would freak for sure if they found their man chokin’ the chicken to gay porn. Are you sure she’d fall apart if she knew you are bi? I’ll bet not as much as she would freak if she comes to learn of your other life from someone other than you. Right? You’re skating on some mighty thin ice, my friend. Besides, most wives have this sixth sense when it comes to this kinda thing. She may already know more about you than you give her credit for. Maybe she’s just waiting to see how long it takes you to let her in on your little secret.

And about the anal sex thing. I suggest you incorporate more of that into your love making with your wife? Hell, get her a nice strap as a gift for being so understanding. You can find a nice selection HERE! I’d also suggest that you introduce your wife to your interest to “bi” porn. Check out some of the Recommended Titles HERE! Who knows where this could lead? It could open a whole new world to you both. It’s not inconceivable that one day you could find yourselves in a three way or some group play. Stranger things have happened don’t cha know.

So Dan, why not give the old honest, straightforward approach a try for a change. Jettison the duplicity. It’s only gonna wind up biting you in the ass one fine day…and not in a good way.

Good luck

Mood Music

Hey sex fans!

We’re back with another edition of Product Review Friday. And today we have two toys to tell you about.

Here’s the husband and wife team, Dr Dick Review Crew member, Jack & Karen. Each has their own toy.

Our first product comes from our favorite retailer — Adult Sex Toys .com.

Mood Passionate —— $44.99

Karen
I’m here today with a vibe from that industry colossus, Doc Johnson.  It’s called Mood Passionate. I think it’s one of a line of vibes, called Mood, that they must have produced at some point, but I couldn’t find them on their website now. I don’t know what any of this means, but I thought I’d throw it out there anyhow.

I must say that I was pretty impressed with Mood Passionate. It has a load of very nice features, some of which you can only find in high-end vibes. And it retails for less than $50. That’s a lot of value!

The Mood Passionate is a stylized rabbit-type vibe that boasts a dual action vibration system. There’s one bullet in the shaft and one in the clit-stimulating finger. It also has 10 vibration functions. Just between you and me, I think 10 functions is overkill, but that’s just me.

I was also impressed with the strength of the vibrations and pulsations, especially since the vibe runs on just two AAA-batteries (not included in the package). However, I found that I needed to replace the batteries more frequently than I would if the Mood Passionate ran on bigger sized batteries. So there’s the trade-off.

The best thing about this vibe is that it’s waterproof. I mean really waterproof, not that ridiculous splash-proof baloney some toys crow about. The box claims the Mood Passionate, at least the business end of the thing, is made of food-grade silicone. However, I detected a slight odor when first opening the package. So that tells me that either the other materials used in the manufacture of the Mood Passionate are putting off the smell, or maybe this isn’t 100% silicone after all. All of us members of the Dr Dick Review Crew have become leery of many of the claims made by industry insiders.  I mean, how do we know for sure?
Full Review HERE!

Our second product comes to us directly from the manufacturer, Xmybox.
This is the second product we’ve reviewed for them.

Cherry On Top – Drop —— $29.95

Jack
What we have here is the Cherry On Top – Drop, one of three such toys.  It’s a cockring of sorts. I say that because it encircles your cock and balls, like a cockring ought to. But, because it’s made of this super elastic jelly material, it’s too stretchy to provide any of the constriction a guy expects from a regular cockring.

There is a nubbed barrel-like structure on either end of the ring into which we are supposed to load the cute green and pink bullet vibes. But first we’re supposed to load the bullets with three tiny watch batteries. Here in lies the rub. Despite the fact that the promotional materials on the company’s website say the six batteries (three per bullet) are included in the package. And indeed there are six little indentations in the plastic packaging. My toy arrived with only two of the six batteries.  The other four indentations were empty.

No I would have thought that maybe the other batteries got lost, or there was a glitch in the package assembly.  But get this, the package itself says that the batteries are NOT included.

So, which is it, Xmybox?

Full Review HERE!

ENJOY!

Super-Size Me

Hey sex fans!

It’s Product Review Friday again and I have a unique presentation for you today. Many months ago our friends at sex toy.com sent me a penis enlargement kit called Andro Penis and asked me to review it. This would certainly be a daunting task because it would take at several months of devoted use to effectively test this product. I would also have to find a willing Dr Dick Review Crew member to join me in this effort.

I put out an SOS message to all the men on the Review Crew asking for volunteers. I explained the extraordinary commitment this review would take. And asked if there might be at least one Review Crew member stalwart enough to subject himself and his cock to at least sixteen weeks of traction in the Andro Penis. You see, this instrument is placed over the penis and worn for four or nine hours a day for four to six months.

Not surprisingly, I got only one positive reply from my inquiry. Dr Dick Review Crew member, Carlos, said he’d be up to the task; all in the name of science and possibly a bigger dick.

Andro Penis —— $203.06

Dr Dick & Carlos
Dr Dick: “Before Carlos and I begin our discussion, I want to direct your attention to three postings I’ve made concerning penis enlargement. Historical Views On Cock Size, First Penis Enlargement Methods and Devices and Pumps and Pumps Effects On Penis Size.  These three articles will hopefully put today’s discussion in context.”
Carlos: “Yeah, Dr Dick asked me to read through all these columns before I accepted his invitation to join him in reviewing the Andro Penis. I think I should also mention that every since I was a teenager I’ve been embarrassed about the size of my cock. People tell me that I have nothing to be ashamed about, that my cock is average sized, but that never seemed to make my desire for a bigger penis go away.”
Dr Dick: “Yes, I’m afraid it’s precisely men like Carlos, here, that often fall prey to the unscrupulous people who market dubious enlargement devices, pills and creams.”
Carlos: “Yep, that would be me. I’ve been gullible enough to plunk down hard-earned money on a half-dozen enlargement schemes. All have been a disappointment. I guess that’s why I volunteered for this project. I knew it wouldn’t cost me any money, and there was the chance that the Andro Penis, what with all the medical jargon on their site, might actually work.”
Dr Dick: “Indeed, the Andro Penis website is loaded with scientific studies touting its efficacy. There’s even a page on their site filled with doctors and their endorsements of the product. Yet, upon closer inspection, the physician statements are mostly generic. Each speaks of tissue expansion by way of stretching, or in this case, traction.”
Carlos: “I already know about this because I’ve been stretching my earlobes for a couple of years.”
Dr Dick: “That’s right! People have been stretching body parts as a means of adornment for just about as long as we’ve had body parts to stretch.”
Carlos: “The Andro Penis is a medical looking apparatus that uses traction to stretch your penis. Ya have to wear on your dick for hours on end, every day, for up to six months. I promised Dr Dick that I would be able to handle this kind of commitment and that I was motivated to give this a try. The enlargement kit comes in a handsome case, which contains the stretching device, loads of extra parts, an instructional DVD, and booklet with written instructions in 27 languages. The booklet also helps you track your progress.”
Dr Dick: “Once I was confident Carlos understood the commitment I turned over the kit and sent him on his way. I told him that I wanted to hear from him at least once a month for an update.”
Carlos: “Ok, so you should know that the Andro Penis is pretty simple to attach to your cock. There’s a ring that fits down around the base of your cock with two metal rods attached to it on either side. These two metal rods attach to another part where your dick-head fits into this kind of noose. And then you just tighten it till there’s the desired tension. I know it sounds super uncomfortable, but it wasn’t that bad. At least it wasn’t at first. And then every seven days you attach these little extenders to the end of each of the metal rods. This is what causes your dick to stretch. The longer you wear the thing and the more extenders you use is supposed to determine how big your unit will get. The kit recommended that I wear the device for nine hours a day. That’s a lot! You can take breaks, if you need to, but the whole idea is to keep up the traction for a total of six months.”
Dr Dick: “That’s precisely the thing I wanted Carlos to report to me about. Would he be able to sustain that kind of commitment and endure that kind of discomfort just to grow his dick bigger?”
Carlos: “Actually, it wasn’t all that uncomfortable to start with, but it does feel really weird. Like any novelty, I was gung ho for the first few weeks. I mostly wore the Andro Penis in the evening and at night. I couldn’t wear it during the day at work, that’s for certain. It creates this very unsightly bulge in your pants. So I was sure I would never go out of the house with it on. Of course, just wearing it in the evening didn’t allow for the proper amount of wearing time. I had to start wearing it while I slept. My wife didn’t like this at all!”
Dr Dick: “I was pretty certain that finding the required number of hours a day, every day, would be a super challenge. And as Carlos suggests, the Andro Penis will no doubt get in the way of a relationship.”

Carlos: “True! And then there’s the issue of taking a piss. You have to free your cock from the contraption every time you need to pee. And don’t even think about gettin a boner with this thing in place. By the second month I was dreading my daily dick straightjacket. I began to resent having to abuse my cock like this. I cursed myself for not loving the beautiful cock God gave me. To be honest, there was a slight noticeable increase in length, but not in girth. But not so much that made wearing the Andro Penis worth it.”
Dr Dick: “That’s pretty much what I thought would happen. When Carlos reported in at the beginning of the third month I could tell he was over it. I asked him if he wanted to continue the experiment.”
Carlos: “I told him NO! I felt like I was letting Dr Dick down. I made a promise to wear the Andro Penis for four months, but I could barely get past two months. Every day I would find a new excuse to either not wear the thing or wear it for a shorter period than I was supposed to. I suppose if you’re serious about enlarging your cock, more serious than I was at the beginning, and you have the stamina for this kind of regiment; then you might dig the Andro Penis. Like I said, I started out with the best of intentions, but I soon developed an intense animosity toward the device. It was a lot more invasive than I ever thought it would be. It was like carrying around a ball and chain.”
Full Review HERE!

ENJOY!

A Particular Sexual Predilection

No podcast today, but there is this…

Name: Adam
Gender:
Age: 34
Location: UK
I have been attracted to male children for years. Having been arrested for viewing child porn I realize that I need to pursue a celibate lifestyle. I realize that celibacy is a demanding lifestyle. What advice would you offer me?

You present a particularly touchy issue for our culture, Adam. But before I respond, I’d like to help you with some of your vocabulary. You say you need to pursue a celibate lifestyle. I think you mean to say you need to pursue a sexually abstinent lifestyle. The two concepts — celibacy and sexual abstinence — mean different things. Unfortunately, way too many people use these terms interchangeably, which is not a good thing. It only serves to muddy the waters further.

Celibacy has a very specific meaning. Let me whip out my trusty, handy dandy Funk & Wagnalls dictionary. Celibacy: the state of being unmarried. Some people infer, especially those of a strict religious bent, that celibacy also connotes sexual abstinence. Ya see, religious people are of the mind that there is no legitimate sexual expression outside the confines of heterosexual marriage. Legitimate or not, unmarried people have always been and will always be sexual, so making that unfortunate connection between celibacy and abstinence ill advised and erroneous.

The only thing we ought to be able to say for sure when someone identifies himself/herself as celibate is that he/she is not married. To assume a celibate person, even one who has taken a vow of celibacy, is sexually abstinent is quite a dangerous stretch indeed. Need I point out the very unfortunate sex abuse scandals that continue to plague the Roman Catholic Church?

In the same way, if someone identifies him/herself as sexually abstinent, the only thing we ought to be able to say for sure is that he/she is not engaging in any type of sexual expression. It would be false to assume that a sexually abstinent person is not married, because there are a lot of married people who are indeed sexually abstinent.

In your case, Adam, I believe you are telling me that you are both unmarried (celibate), and because of your particular sexual predilection — young boys — you must also be sexually abstinent. If I’ve got this right…and it is very important that I not misinterpret your words…then I think there are options you may not have considered.

I firmly believe that we learn our sexuality. All we eroticize, in your case boys, is learned behavior. You once learned to eroticize boys; you can now learn to eroticize a more appropriate group of people. This isn’t a particularly easy thing to accomplish, but it’s not impossible either.

Anytime any one of us discovers that the object of our desires is someone inappropriate, we need to adjust our eroticism immediately. This is the better part of being a sexually responsible person. Pedophilia is just one such inappropriate eroticism. A father for his daughter, a mother for her son, a boss for a subordinate, a man for his neighbor’s wife, a teacher for her student, a counselor for his/her client, a congressman for his page…are you getting the picture? I hope so. And the list goes on and on.

I believe learning to readjust one’s eroticism to a more appropriate outlet is a much better option than trying to live a sexually abstinent lifestyle. The reason I believe this is that having a more appropriate outlet will at least give you an outlet for your pent up sexuality. If you have no outlet, or limit yourself to masturbation, you will only intensify your longings and further fixate on the inappropriate object of your current desires.

Like anyone trying to wean him/herself off a bad habit, the task ahead of you Adam, will be challenging. It will also be enriching and life-affirming. I hasten to add that you ought not try to do this on your own. Work with a sex-positive therapist on this.

You’re a relatively young man with many years ahead of you. These years can be filled with happy, healthy and appropriate sexual expression. I encourage you to make it happen.

Good luck

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