Transitioning your gender can be an overwhelming, confusing, and anxiety-provoking process. Intense self-reflection, experimenting with names, identities, and different ways of presenting is often a daunting task in a world that doesn't always validate or support our various, intersecting identities.
You wonder: Will I ever feel good about myself? What if I never feel legitimate?
You feel like you haven't quite convinced yourself it's okay to just exist as who you are.
A familiar narrative of transgender/gender non-conforming (TGNC) experience is that transition equals suffering and anxiety.
Is it possible that transition could feel more like a process of curiosity, discovery, and empowerment? That is the question I am obsessed with.
I want to make transition easier by addressing common sources of anxiety throughout transition, asking good questions to help my clients uncover more about their identities, assess their readiness to come out and/or medically transition, and develop coping skills that work at each phase of transition.
SEX THERAPY AND SEX & RELATIONSHIP COACHING ARE SIMILAR IN A LOT OF WAYS. SO, LET'S START THERE.
- Both sex therapists and sex & relationship coaches ideally have extensive training in sexual health, dysfunction, anatomy, the science of sex and arousal, relationship dynamics, and gender and sexual diversity. *See Note
- Both sex therapy and sex & relationship coaching address a lot of similar concerns related to sex, sexuality, gender, and relationships that include (but are certainly not limited to:
- Lower sexual desire or unequal interest in sex between partners
- Sexual arousal issues
- Performance concerns
- Concern over sexual inhibitions
- Inability or difficulty with orgasm
- Sexual pain disorders
- Sexual concerns related to trauma
- Unpacking sexual concerns related to the effect of shame on gender identity and/or sexual orientation
- Relational and sexual challenges for monogamous, polyamorous and/or kink-identified partners
- Difficulty communicating about sexual matters in both monogamous and polyamorous relationships
- Individuals or partners who want to add some “spark” to their sex life
There is no one "type" of person who goes to sex therapy or sex & relationship coaching and there are many more reasons to see a sex therapist than those listed above.
Sex therapy is a specialty in the field of psychotherapy that focuses on addressing specific sexual concerns.
Over and over in my practice, my clients have sat in front of me with tears in their eyes voicing “I feel broken” because:
- others have taken away their sexual power through abuse
- they are experiencing sexual shame related to gender or sexual identity
- they have physical problems that have become so intertwined with emotions that they feel inseparable and insurmountable to the client
- they've never experienced an orgasm and that fact really bothers them
- stuck in a rut with romantic and sexual satisfaction and exploration and want to explore how to take their romantic and sexual life to the next level
- facing relational and sexual challenges in both monogamous and polyamorous and/or kink relationships
- figuring out how to navigate differences in libido between partners
- want to uplevel their communication with partners
I want to help people find pleasure, joy, and confidence in their sexuality and relationships no matter what barriers they face. I do this by providing therapy and coaching grounded in feminist ideals and collaboration, a focus on strengths, trauma-informed care, and science-backed interventions that focus on the interactions of our thoughts, emotions, and actions. While providing a space for you to feel safe and seen right where you are, I also have a bias to action that I believe produces change in people's lives.
There is no one "type" of person who goes to sex therapy and there are many reasons to see a sex therapist.
+ What is the difference between therapy and coaching?
Therapy and coaching are similar in a lot of ways. Both sex therapists and sex & relationship coaches ideally have extensive training in sexual health, dysfunction, anatomy, the science of sex and arousal, relationship dynamics, and gender and sexual diversity.
Both sex therapy and sex & relationship coaching address a lot of similar concerns related to sex, sexuality, gender, and relationships.
Therapists are mandated to have at least a Master's degree and sometimes a doctorate in psychology and have supervised work for several years before they are licensed. Sex Therapists have extra clinical training in treating sexuality-related concerns. Many coaches also have extensive training and knowledge around these things, but the training and supervision is not mandated.
Therapy can often go a bit deeper into mental health issues and therapists are trained to deal with mental health crises and trauma. Coaching is usually aimed at discovering what is holding you back currently and how to help you reach your goals, though therapy can accomplish this goal as well.
Coaching can be done remotely and across state lines, while therapy can only be done with people who reside in the state the clinician is licensed in, in most cases.
Insurance will cover therapy, while coaching is only out of pocket.
If you have questions about whether therapy or coaching is right for you, contact me here.
+ WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SEX THERAPIST AND A REGULAR THERAPIST?
Sex Therapists are a subset of a “regular” or generalist therapists. Most sex therapists are also licensed therapists who are also trained to see a variety of other concerns. Knowledge of and experience working with sexual concerns differentiates a sex therapist from other mental health professionals.
+ WHAT HAPPENS IN SEX THERAPY?
Sex therapy begins with a thorough assessment of your concerns. The therapist will ask questions about your personal, physical, and sexual history in order to gain a better understanding of your experience. From there, the therapist and client can begin to explore the heart of the matter. The therapist may suggest specific exercises or “experiments” to do at home to facilitate talk-therapy in session. Sex therapy does not involve any sexual relationship or touching between the therapist and client.
+ DO I NEED TO BE IN A RELATIONSHIP TO BE IN SEX THERAPY?
No. Participating in sex therapy does not require being in a relationship. It only requires a willingness to be open and honest with yourself and your therapist. This is your personal choice to make, but it may be helpful for you to come with your partner, or partners, if they are willing. Sexuality concerns are often very relational in nature. You and your partner(s) can use this safe space to learn, support one another, and develop a deeper understanding of each other as sexual beings.
+ WHAT IS SEXUAL HEALTH?
Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease or dysfunction. Sexual health requires a positive, open, and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as having pleasurable, consensual, and safe sexual experiences. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected, and fulfilled.
+ MY PROBLEM IS PHYSICAL. HOW CAN SEX THERAPY OR SEX & RELATIONSHIP COACHING HELP ME?
Although sexual pain and dysfunction are often highly physical in nature, there is almost always an emotional component involved as well. Our society stigmatizes sex and sexuality and there are often negative messages about our bodies and sex that may get internalized as shame. This can create a lot of complexity around resolving sexual concerns. A sex therapist can help you unpack these internalized messages you have received and develop a healthier relationship with your body, your sexuality, and your partner(s). However, sex therapy is not a replacement for seeing your doctor and/or physical therapist and seeking medical advice. Your sex therapist will likely ask you to attend to any medical components to your sexual concern concurrently with therapy.
+ I’M TRANS*/GENDERQUEER. HOW CAN SEX THERAPY OR SEX & RELATIONSHIP COACHING HELP ME?
Many Trans* and/or Genderqueer individuals experience, or have experienced, a lack of connection to their bodies. This lack of connection can create difficulties in partnered and solo sex. A sex therapist can help you explore ways to affirm your identity while still creating room for sexual intimacy and connection.
The influence of heteronormativity related to sexuality (the idea that only cisgender, straight, penis-in-vagina sex is “normal” and acceptable) is very real and can sometimes cause individuals who identify outside of this narrow box to feel shame. A sex therapist can also help you unpack these societal messages that have been internalized and move towards creating a sexual life that feels authentic.
+ I’VE EXPERIENCED SEXUAL TRAUMA. HOW CAN SEX THERAPY OR SEX & RELATIONSHIP COACHING HELP ME?
Experiencing sexual trauma is, unfortunately, a very common occurrence for many individuals. These traumatic experiences can leave people with traumatic reminders and triggers related to sex that might get in the way of being able to fully experience pleasure. A sex therapist can help you unpack these triggers and reminders and develop healthy boundaries and coping skills to allow you to fully experience pleasure and connection to both your body and your partner(s).
+ WHAT ARE YOUR CREDENTIALS AND SPECIALTIES?
I have a Master's degree in Counseling and am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and Certified Sex Therapist (CST) in the state of IL. I focused my work in graduate school and beyond on the LGBTQ population, trauma, and identity. I also have a Certificate of Sexual Health with Concentrations in Sex Therapy and Education from the University of Michigan. My experience has included an internship working with Iraqi refugee survivors of torture and extensive work with the LGBTQ population in a private practice setting. I also have extensive experience working with kink and poly identities and am sex worker positive.
+ WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING WITH YOU?
My approach is relational, emotion-focused, strength-based, and trauma-focused. My work is also strongly influenced by Brene Brown’s Shame Resiliency Theory, shedding light on the way shame, vulnerability, and authenticity interact in people’s lives. My clinical style is warm and collaborative, helping clients locate and build upon the strengths and supports they already have in their lives in order to create meaningful change, while challenging behaviors and thoughts that are no longer working.
+ WHAT ARE YOUR SEXUAL VALUES?
I value openness, consent, authenticity, and communication. I believe that everyone has their own “yum/yuck” lists and, as long as things are safe, sane, and consensual, you should never “yuck someone else’s yum.”
+ ARE YOU COMFORTABLE TALKING ABOUT KINKY SEX?
+ ARE YOU COMFORTABLE TALKING ABOUT POLYAMORY?
+ ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WORKING WITH THE LGBTQ POPULATION?
+ DO YOU THINK MONOGAMOUS, HETEROSEXUAL, GENITALLY-ORIENTED SEX IS ULTIMATELY BETTER THAN OTHER CONSENSUAL ARRANGEMENTS?