We know from our experience here at Davenport Counselling, that sex is often the last thing someone wants to talk about, especially with a stranger. The fear of being judged, seen as strange or weird or dare I say it inexperienced or a virgin, is often enough to keep us locked in an unhappy situation. We have years of experience and understand just how difficult this can be. We offer a relaxed, professional, non judgmental approach.
We offer counselling services to people irrespective of gender or sexuality, and are committed to offering a space for people whose sexuality/gender may have experienced prejudice and judgment from society as a whole. This means that as well as being LGBTQIA+ affirmative (or GSM (gender and sexual minorities) or alternative you prefer), we are also affirming and welcoming towards people whose sexuality and sexual preferences/practices may be misunderstood by others. We welcome people from the BDSM/kink community, and those whose relationships may not be based on gender or sexual binaries or traditional formats, such as M/s, D/s, bisexuals, pansexuals, genderqueer, polyamorous, swingers, to name a few. We are sex and sex worker positive and are committed to a non shaming approach to working with sex and relationships (or not working with sex at all if you identify as asexual).
At Davenport Counselling we also work with sex addiction, including porn and the physical activities.
By far the most common thing that people who come for sex therapy say is that they ‘just want to be normal’. There is an idea that everybody else is having ‘normal and great sex’ and there is something very wrong with us if we are not. People often feel terribly upset and ashamed if they think they do not fit into ‘normal’.
The truth is that there is no ‘normal’ way to have sex. The only thing that does seem to be normal is to worry about sex. A very recent study found that 35% of men and 54% of women said that they had problems with sex.
Even over the last few decades the idea of ‘normal’ has changed. Certainly the idea of what is normal is different in different countries and even between different groups in the same country. Imagine the kind of sex life a 21 year old heterosexual woman might be having compared to a 40 year old gay man or a married couple in their seventies. As the author Gayle Rubin says, “whatever you enjoy sexually, somebody somewhere will think is disgusting, and whatever completely turns you off, somebody somewhere will find it the most exciting thing imaginable”. Perhaps we should allow ourselves to have exactly the kind of sex that we want, so long as everybody involved is a consenting adult and enjoying and what they are doing.
Sexual and relationship therapy can be helpful for an individual or couple who feel their difficulties are affecting their quality of life. It can be a big step to decide to embark on therapy, here is an idea of what to expect if you do.
Your Counsellor will sit with you and help you to talk and think about what is going on.
The sessions usually last for an hour. You might see your Counsellor every week, but with Sexual and Relationship therapy appointments can be less often than that (e.g. every two or three weeks) to give you time to try out any exercises. The first session is sometimes a bit longer so that the Counsellor can take an assessment.
The Assessment Session
The Counsellor will want to find out about you and what you are going through. In the first session they will ask you to explain why you have come to therapy, and talk about the problem you are having.
If it is a sexual problem, they are likely to ask about any medical problems you have had or any medication you take. If it is a relationship problem they will probably want to know about the relationships you have had in your life, how they started and ended. If you go to therapy with a partner then the therapist will probably ask you both to describe your relationship and any difficulties you are having.
You should use the assessment session to find out anything you want to know.
The end of the assessment session is a good time to think about whether you and this Counsellor are likely to work well together. It is up to you to choose but it is worth remembering that it sometimes takes a session or two to ‘get comfortable’ with your Counsellor.
After the Assessment
The main point of Sexual and Relationship Therapy is to give you a safe space and regular time to talk about what is going on in your life.
The focus is generally on sexual or relationship issues, but these may be linked with what is going on in the rest of your life; stress, problems at work, financial, family or physical difficulties. It is fine to talk about these issues too.
The main thing to expect is to be talking about what is going on in your life. Counsellors are usually skilled at helping you to do this, so do not be worried about not having anything to say. Some people find it useful to keep a journal or notes between therapy sessions to remind them what they want to talk about.
What Won’t Happen
If you go to a Sexual and Relationship Therapist then you will not be expected to have any kind of medical examination or to take your clothes off.
If you decide, with the Counsellor, that there is anything physical that needs checking out then they can refer you back to your GP, or another specialist doctor, who can do that.
You do not have to answer any questions you feel uncomfortable with or do any exercises that you do not want to. Sometimes it takes a few sessions to feel comfortable talking with your Counsellor, so it may be that you do not say everything straight away.
Your Counsellor may suggest things that have worked for other people, or things they believe you might find helpful but mostly they are there to listen to you and help you find your own way.
You will get the most out of therapy if you are ready to talk about things like your views on sex, how you feel about your problem, and how you communicate with you partner, if you have one.