Hello everyone, and welcome back once again to the Therapy Spot! This week, I spoke with YY Wei, LCSW, founder and director of The Relationship Center of Colorado. For over 10 years, YY has provided relationship and sex therapy to individuals and couples of all gender identities and sexual orientations, as well as different cultural and racial backgrounds, and relationship styles. YY also offers Marathon Individual & Couples Counseling and Couples Retreat for busy professionals, high end clients, and out of state or country clients. She strives to create a safe, inclusive place where clients can reconnect with themselves, as well as their family members and partners.
On this podcast, we’ll discuss what clients can expect from sex therapy. YY will also share her tips for connecting, both with yourself and your partner, as well as the benefits of conflict in a relationship. If you’re curious about sex and sexuality in your relationship, this podcast is for you. Listen in!
What to Expect From Sex Therapy
Before we go any further, let’s address something I’m sure many of you are curious about. What can clients expect from sex therapy? In many ways, it’s similar to traditional individual or couples therapy.
- First things first: the clothes stay on!
- Sex therapy, like all kinds of therapy, takes place with a trained professional. In this case, your therapist’s specific training will have helped them to discover and diminish their own internal biases. The training also helps them to define sex and sexuality.
- You and your partner will have the opportunity to ask questions about the therapist. This will help you feel more comfortable, and make sure your therapist is a good “fit.”
- Part of sex therapy involves a sexual history assessment. You’ll answer questions about your sexual awakening and identity, as well as messages you received about your sexual “roles” growing up.
- YY uses a combination of joint and individual sessions when she begins working with a couple. Both partners attend the first session, and then each partner has a one-on-one session. After that, YY synthesizes all the information from the first 3 sessions to come up with a game plan.
Many couples don’t enter therapy until they’re already in a place of ongoing conflict. Let’s explore why, according to YY, this can actually be a good thing!
Conflict and Sex Therapy
Whether it’s large or small, a conflict points to something that you care about. “You can look at [conflict] as an obstacle, or as an opportunity. I say, if you’re fighting about something, that’s because it’s important to you. This is an opportunity to look deeper. What’s the message here? What is the meaning behind it?”
Say, for instance, Partner A wants Partner B to take out the trash every night. Partner B says, “Why would I take out the trash when it isn’t full? That’s wasteful!” Partner A, reacting to this, thinks, “Am I somehow less important than an extra garbage bag??”
Taking the opportunity to look deeper, Partner B might acknowledge that money was tight when he was young. He may even have been scolded for “wasteful” behavior. By exploring what’s behind the conflict, you can know yourself better within the relationship. From there, both partners can find a way to move forwards, with a better understanding of themselves and each other.
Better relating with your partner on the outside begins with better relating with yourself on the inside. When we operate from a place of Self and Self Compassion, we have more love, more connection, and more intimacy to give. Let your conflicts be an opportunity for better relating — not an obstacle!
Notice the Little Things
YY has three big pieces of advice for couples having trouble connecting sexually.
- Expand your definition of sex. In a romantic relationship, sex is so much more than directly sexual acts. It can be running your fingers through your partner’s hair, or telling them “You smell so good today!” One of the couples I worked with even concluded that, for them, foreplay was unloading the dishwasher. Notice what small things bring you to that place, mentally and physically.
- Connect with yourself using all of your senses. On your own, notice what you enjoy smelling, tasting, and touching. Notice the positive — “The smell of pine is so relaxing” — as well as the negative — “I hate the sound of corduroy pants!” Pay attention to your entire Self. As YY says, “Connecting with yourself is a place that you go, not a thing that you do.”
- Don’t fight change. In long term relationships, it’s natural for our sexual connection to ebb and flow. Changes to our careers, our family structures, our own health as we age, and so much more can have an effect on our sexual relationship. What worked in the beginning won’t work forever, and that’s okay! Get curious, together, and explore.
Every couple is different, but by doing individual work within the relationship, you can keep your connection strong.
More Connection, Better Relationships
YY, thank you again for joining me on the Therapy Spot this week. You said at one point that “I wouldn’t be who I am without the relationships I’ve developed.” We can hear that passion and enthusiasm in every word!
Thank you also to all of my listeners for tuning in. I hope you can feel peaceful, be at ease, and have fun exploring your sensuality and sexuality.