I returned from another week of sex education. I took courses titled the Exceptional Sex Therapist (3 days); Resolving Trauma Through Somatic Experiencing, and Sexuality & Culture. Surprisingly, my favorite course was Introduction to Tantra. Before this course I thought Tanta was having sex for 24 hours at a time, which seemed kind of like a waste of time, honestly. I learned, instead, that tantra is a way of experiencing the eroticism in everyday life, sometimes without any specifically sexual encounters. Tantra is welcoming inter-connection while maintaining a primary connection with oneself. Eroticism bigger than sex—sensory and intellectual pleasure of many types and more of an attitude than particular events. Since March 17th, I keep going back to the 8 Principles of Tantra so I will briefly describe them here.
Everything is an Experiment: Beginners mind, openness to experience, observation, willingness to gather data
As Within, so Without: what happens in the world affects our individual experience; we need to prioritize and reset our bodies; we can offer our balance to the world
Tapas and Spanda: in a concrete visual form, these are the eyes in the yin and yang that reflect the healthy healthy “masculine” energy within “feminine” energy and the healthy “feminine” energy within “masculine” energy. The tapas is about patient, non-attached willpower and the spanda is about a sense of wonderment, thrill, and joy.
Inner Marriage: the healthy interconnection of dual, or contrasting energies within oneself. A well-integrated person is able to be consistently present in the world.
Multiple Realms of Consciousness: everyday waking consciousness, mythical consciousness (symbols, projections), magical consciousness (big energy, transformation), and integral consciousness (all levels of consciousness simultaneous)
Ascending and Descending Currents: chakras
Transformational Healing Power of Pleasure: this may be my favorite principle–that pleasure can heal! As a trauma therapist and human being, I know that people can get stuck in trauma, vigilance, and guardedness. True pleasure is the opposite! True pleasure can restore our bodies and clear our minds. While sometimes pleasure can invite trauma processing (for example, someone can remember a painful event while laying on the beach) it also provides a welcome, stabilizing context for healing. It’s important to differentiate impulse and addictions from pleasure.
Love: love, like pleasure, heals. It also connects people and connects humans to their surroundings.
I took a recent training with Yudit Maros called “Brief, Solution-Oriented Trauma Resolution.” This training specifically focused on troubling sensations in the body that may periodically resurface after the trauma. The BSOTR protocol helps a client attend to and correct the aftershock disturbances in the nervous system and one’s negative self-identity. Here are the most basic steps:
First, the therapist helps the client identify and practice a resource state called grounding. I can guide you through a visualization exercise that depersonalizes the pain and provides more comforting imagery, which tends to regulate the nervous system. We identify and develop comfortable imagery that helps you reset. Then, I ask you to scan your life history for anything that feels pleasurable and safe. We detail key components of the experience and you practice re-experiencing the positive experience and people. Later, we scan your life history again for an unpleasant or traumatic experience. I interview about what you would have preferred to experience. Then, I facilitate your current, grounded self attending to and taking care of your younger, distressed self through a series of self-care invitations, visualizations, and self-dialogue. When it appears that you have been a loving guide to your younger self and you have nothing left unattended about the chosen difficult experience, I invite you back to the here and now of the therapy room.
If you are interested in experiencing this BSOTR process or have any questions, please let me know.
If you’re feeling distant from a partner or loved one and want to reconnect–you may need to:
look at your partner with beginner’s mind
do the scary work of emotional vulnerability
36 Questions is structure that can help you with these common sense, yet often elusive practices. These questions were developed and tested by psychologists. The results? A pair of strangers fell in love.
I purchased a subscription to SexSmartFilms.com, a collection of hundreds of educational and therapeutic videos for common sex therapy concerns. I look forward to providing customized video recommendations to clients. Without a subscription, each video can be viewed one time for about $1.00.
Do you want to capture an aging or dying loved one’s legacy? The art of interviewing can seem intimidating. Fortunately, the Legacy Project offers questions you may ask in order to deepen your connection and understanding. Many of my favorite questions are in the “Identity” and “Life Lessons and Legacies” sections.
At a time when people are gaining awareness about the dynamics & negative effects of sexual abuse AND deconstructing puritanical sexual beliefs & misinformation, Doug Braun-Harvey offers us six principles of sexual health. These principles are important guideposts in a frequently neglected and obscured corner of mental health treatment–as well as human lifespan development more generally.
pleasure: healthy sexuality leads to joy and/or empowerment (rather than detachment, and/or shame)
consent: participants should be in full, active agreement to the particular sexual acts, time, place, people, etc.
non-exploitation: secrecy and betrayal prevent partners from engaging in a psychologically-safe intimacy
protection: healthy partners collaborate in preventing transmission of STI’s and unwanted pregnancies
honesty: healthy partners voice their desires, limits, and ambivalence
shared values: connections are built on common meanings
If you would like to examine how your life interfaces with these principles, please contact me. BTW, imagine how much psychological pain would be eliminated and how much pleasure would increase if adolescent sexual education raised conscientiousness about these intra-personal and interpersonal factors.
I enjoyed a presentation by Dr. David Willey and Dr. Amalia Bullard regarding medical and psychosocial treatments for addiction. Dr. Willey provided great information about medications that may aid in relapse prevention. For example, antagonist medication can help reduce cravings and change the brain-body’s response when substances are consumed. Dr. Bullard reanimated the importance of Motivational Interviewing.