What Is Your Sexual History?
One of the most useful techniques I picked up when training in Sex Therapy a few years back is the Sexual History therapeutic technique. You might think that a Sexual History session involves sitting and chatting about your sexual past. While some of that is true, this technique, created by psychologist and sex therapist Suzzane Iasenza, is primarily a method used to connect the dots from your present sexual acts/behaviors/wants to the time where it all began for you.
Some couples come into session thinking that what they do in their sexual lives somehow come from thin air. When I ask, “Why do you think you like that?” I might get a response along the lines of, “I don’t know. It feels good.” In the best of cases I might hear, “I watched porn and liked this or that.” The tricky part comes when I further ask, “And why do you think it feels good?”
No sexual act/behavior/want comes from thin air. Sure, culture and religion play a big role in all of our narratives about sexuality or the sexual act. Yet, when we really dig, or when sex has become “problematic,” that is when we must look a little further.
In my practice, couples often deem sex as “problematic” when sex has stopped or reduced. For individuals, sex often becomes “problematic” when it is shameful or seemingly unacceptable.
A Sexual History used as a therapeutic technique allows us to connect any sexual act to where it all began. Sometimes it traces back to innocent explorations of visuals, sounds, or smells introduced by a neighbor or cousin. Other times, it traces back to more painful memories.
I encourage all couples and individuals to request a Sexual History with a clinician trained in Sex Therapy. For couples, this can lead to creating a closer and powerful alliance between the two. For individuals, this too can be a healing and empowering process of self knowledge.