11 - Sex Therapy & Education: why are all the therapists 'affirming'?
Therapist Timothy Courtois pursued graduate education to deepen his knowledge of the role sexuality and intimacy play in our lives. He quickly came to feel that this program was using some of the same tactics of moralizing and indoctrination that he’d left behind after leaving a controlling religious community. We discuss the program's mixed-up understanding of sexuality, consent, and power dynamics in relationships. We set the stage for future conversations about a richer psychological and embodied view of sexuality.
Prior to joining the program, Tim was working for a religious organization and it became apparent that there were going to be conflicts.
Tim shares a little bit about his experience with the program and the materials in it.
The program had a strong focus on BDSM porn and trans issues.
Tim, as a therapist, wanted to be better equipped to handle new sexual issues but didn’t feel like watching porn and other materials in the program accurately helped him in this area.
In the program, it was clear that it was “morally wrong” to make moral judgments about others. Tim found that troubling.
It was clear that if you had any adverse responses or sensitivity to the materials being shown, those feelings needed to be “drowned out.” Tim wasn’t a fan of this method. There was so much room for exploration of one's own emotions that was ignored.
When we try to buck our norms and be submissive with our behaviors, it can disconnect us from our instinct.
The footage Tim saw was quite disturbing. He explains what he watched in the program.
What is the pain that clients are bringing to us?
It was a room of therapists watching these videos and they felt like they couldn’t speak up.
In a lot of ways, Tim saw this “cult-following” to be much worse than the Christian organization he left.
Did the program have an overview of intimacy and relationships?
Let’s talk about morality and pedophilia within the program.
There were some heavy contradictions in the program that Tim disagreed with.
Virtual sex should not be considered “real sex.” It’s completely different from the real thing.
How do you educate children about sex in a healthy way?
You’re either going to be waterboarded with information or it’s suppressed. There doesn’t seem to be a happy middle.
A lot of parents are concerned about their child’s sexual health, especially when they want to transition.
What is the internet doing to our perceptions of sex, love, and intimacy?
In the program, porn was a huge no because porn has a religious, moral, and political agenda.
Tim shares a common story that many couples face when one of the partners has a porn addiction. What is your moral obligation as a therapist?
We have to be able to point to something that goes beyond what the research paper says.
What does a healthy, well-balanced, sex life looks like?
This podcast is partially sponsored by ReIME, Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics: