Published in Blog by Bridget Wilkins on May 31st 2023
Bridget Wilkins, Joint Head of Psychosexual Training at Tavistock Relationships, the charity helping couples and individuals to have better relationships, examines sex and sensuality in 2023, and explains why more people than ever need safe spaces to bring their minds and bodies back together.
As sex therapists, we are noticing a significant tension: between an explosion of sexual questions and identities; and the simultaneous demise of ordinary touch and intimacy that marks our post-pandemic world.
For psychosexual therapists, this tension often manifests itself in the conflict between our clients’ sexual desires and their sexual anxieties, between body and mind. A discord that leaves our clients feeling stuck and unfulfilled.
Lockdown cautions linger around touching and connecting – even inside our own relationships. Yet touch is essential to our sense of wellbeing.
Lockdown cautions linger around touching and connecting – even inside our own relationships. Yet touch is essential to our sense of wellbeing. A single hug can remind us about the joy of bringing bodies together – filling us with ‘feel good’ chemicals such as oxytocin and serotonin.
While psychosexual therapists will regularly talk with clients about sex, thereby reducing shame and helping to address sexual dysfunctions, it is often the innate human need for touch that forms the core of our work.
Touch is intrinsically emotional. There is no mind/body split. We feel things, we are touched by the actions of others. Anxiety, trauma and excitement are all physiological sensations.
In psychosexual therapy we try to attend to both mind and body.
In psychosexual therapy we try to attend to both mind and body. Tavistock Relationships alumnus, Dr Susan Pacey, described this work as “giving adult partners a second ‘go’ at a developmental process”* – a new chance to experience safe, emotional touch where it has faltered in babyhood or beyond.
Tavistock Relationships has been running training courses in Psychosexual Therapy for over 25 years, but the work seems more urgent now, and clients need safe spaces to bring their minds and bodies back together.
Our next psychosexual free online open evening, where you can speak to course trainers, is on 15 June, 7pm-8pm. Book your place.
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*Pacey, S. L. (2018) ‘An Investigation into Psychodynamic Couple Psychotherapists’ Theories of Sensate Focus in Clinical Practice’, PhD. thesis, Tavistock Relationships and University of East London.