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A Somatica sex and relationship coach offers a unique approach to working with clients on intimacy and sexuality. While Somatica has aspects of talk-coaching and experiential-coaching, the foundation of the approach is completely different.
The Somatica Method was created as a way to fill a gap in the experiential learning realm. In order for clients to learn how to have emotional and erotic intimacy, we felt they needed to have authentic experiences of two-way intimacy—what we call a Relationship Lab. As a Somatica Coach, you will practice authentic relating with your client to help them learn, grow, and transform in their sexual lives and relationships.
A Somatica Sex and Relationship Coach Builds A Relationship Lab
As their coach, you will not act as a distant helper to your clients – but instead as a partner who engages in emotional and erotic intimacy, seeing what it feels like to be intimate with this person. By engaging in physical and emotional intimacy, you can evaluate the client’s sexual and relational strengths, as well as their challenges. Once you understand what they need to learn, you then teach them the tools they need to have in order to attain more emotionally connected and sensually satisfying lives.
Somatica offers both individuals and couples real-time, experiential practices with emotional and erotic connection so that clients can experience embodied learning. Embodied learning is different than purely cognitive learning. When a person has an actual experience of vulnerability, arousal, or passion, they are much more likely to be able to translate this into their day-to-day lives. They are then able to change habits more easily than if they have solely thought, read, or talked about it.
Experience is How Change Happens
If we look at it from a brain plasticity perspective and how people learn, creating new multi-dimensional experiences that involve thoughts, emotion, and the senses is much more effective and efficient. It helps your clients create new neural pathways and is, therefore, a powerful way to change behaviors and old habits. The boundaries of Somatica are clothes-on, with no kissing on the mouth. Touch is acceptable in both directions, but no touch should ever move toward orgasm.
Beware of One-Size-Fits-All Approaches
Finally, while some forms of erotic teaching try to help students learn completely different approaches and languages around eroticism (sometimes insinuating that these are superior forms of erotic expression), Somatica instead helps draw out each person’s unique erotic imagination and desires, helping them integrate them out in the world. Somatica does not offer a one-size-fits-all solution to people’s sexuality, but rather helps to expand what’s on the menu until the client discovers what turns them on the most. We believe that a person’s main erotic desires do not change. This means trying to eradicate, ignore, or change them is a great disservice to the person. Approaches that do this often instill both shame and the feeling that something is wrong with these desires. Instead, in Somatica, we support individuals to explore and embrace their unique erotic makeup, learning how to communicate it to a partner.
WHAT IS A SEX COACH?
A sex coach is a trained professional who helps people with sexual, intimacy and relationship issues. Sex coaches address problems such as sexless marriage, low libido, and sexual dysfunction, but also guide their clients to fully grasp their sexual potential through education, training and communication.
Why Work with a Sex Coach?
Society tells us that we are supposed to naturally know how to have sex. The desire to have sex is natural, but the skills to be a great lover or to engage fully in sex aren’t. The truth is that people need to learn how to have great sex. Social animals (including humans) learn skills through modeling and explicit instruction.
Since sex is something that is shamed in our culture, talking about it or giving explicit instruction still remains rare. People have very few good ways to learn how to have satisfying sex. A few will be lucky enough to have a partner that can teach them.
Unfortunately, most people don’t give good feedback, so many people end up not knowing what makes for great sex. This is where working with a good sex coach can be very helpful. Sex is learnable and teachable. The best way to learn about it is to get feedback from an experienced, non-judgmental and cheer-leading person.
For most people, hiring a sex coach will be one of the few ways they can get real-time and accurate instruction on how to be a better and more receptive lover. It’s most helpful if they also understand both the physiology and psychology of sex.
What Kinds of Sex Coaching are There?
Whether you’re interested in sex coaching, intimacy coaching, relationship coaching, or as a profession, it is important to know the field.
Many different kinds of practices fall under the umbrella of sex and relationship coaching. Depending on your personality, your interests and your boundaries, you may be drawn to a particular approach. Here’s an in-depth description of the sub-categories of sex and relationship coaching so you can decide what suits you best.
The Three Main Types of Sex Coaching: Talk, Experiential & Hands-On
During talk coaching sessions, a sex coach asks you about your challenges and goals. They then give you suggestions for improvement, as well as book and video recommendations.
The other type of coaching is experiential sex coaching. In this method, your coach will teach you how to be a better lover through talking, experiential, and sometimes, hands-on touch practices. Experiential practices might include breathwork, how to emit and share sexual energy, and how to verbally seduce a partner.
A sub-category of experiential sex coaching is hands-on sex coaching. Some experiential coaches may use hands-on methods, while others do not. Hands-on touch practices may include teaching the types of touch that are most arousing for the skin, by touching your clients arm and having them touch yours.
What is it Like to Work with a Talk-Based Sex Coach?
Similar to life coaching, in talk-based sex coaching the client comes to the practitioner with a problem. The coach then helps them figure out what steps they can take to solve their problem. The coach may ask the client to fill out an intake form. They then meet in-person, over the phone, or via video chat for an initial session. During this time, the client and coach work together to define the problem.
The coach develops a coaching plan with steps to address the issue. At each subsequent meeting, the client talks with their sex coach about which parts of the plan they’ve accomplished, or where they feel stuck. The coach helps them keep their commitment to continuing the plan.
Talk sex coaching can cover many topics – including dating, sexual identity, sexual abuse, sex addiction, sex and aging, open relationships, communication skills, gender identity, sex in long-term relationships, and sexual dysfunction.
Talk coaches will sometimes offer homework to do outside of the session with partners or potential partners. For example, a talk sex coach may encourage a client who is interested in dating to talk to five people they are interested in. They may offer suggestions to couples such as watching a video and practicing the kinds of sensual touch they see in it.
Sometimes sex coaches help clients accept themselves or help them speak to family, friends, or loved ones about who they truly are. Talk coaches do not typically have physical contact beyond hugs or handshakes. A coach may offer emotional support by placing a hand on their client’s back or arm when needed, but this is usually the extent of touch in a talk coaching session.
A Talk-Based Coach Will Help You:
Identify your sex coaching goals
Talk through potential approaches
Create a coaching plan
Offer you emotional support, suggestions, and homework
Help keep you motivated around your goals
What is it Like to Work With an Experiential Sex Coach?
Experiential sex coaching is where the coach takes a more interactive approach. They are guiding their client through exercises to help them feel more comfortable with their body, their sexuality, and intimacy. It begins the same way as talk-based coaching – the coach gets a good idea of the client’s goals and includes talking about their issues and strategies for improvement.
At the same time, experiential sex coaches point out that just talking is often not enough to learn new skills around sex and intimacy. In the same way that one can’t learn piano, dance, or baseball from a book. Experiential coaches teach their clients better emotional and sexual intimacy skills through practice. This may be completely verbal and not include touch, but can include things like sharing feelings or sharing sexual energy.
An Experiential Sex Coach Will Help You:
Identify your sexual goals
Talk through potential approaches and resolve your challenges
Create a coaching plan with practical steps for implementation
Sex coaches offer you emotional support and suggestions
Give you new tools and skills to expand on your current skill set
Provide opportunities for hands-on practice of new techniques and offer real-time feedback
Sex coaches help keep you motivated around your goals
What is it Like to Work With a Hands-On Sex Coach?
Hands-on sex coaches may bring in some physical touch to help their clients learn how to be a more sensual or physically attuned lover. For example, they may teach better practices by touching and being touched by their clients. They would then give them guidance and feedback about how to touch and connect in a more sexy and sensual way.
In addition to all of the other tools that an experiential sex coach offers, hands-on sex coaches also:
Provide opportunities for hands-on practice of new techniques and offer real-time feedback
What is the Difference Between a Sex Coach and a Sex Therapist?
To be a sex therapist, one needs to have a degree in psychotherapy, theology, social work, or medicine. Each of these foundational trainings will include only a small amount of training around sexuality. A sex therapist may augment this training with additional sexuality training.
Sex therapy can often be a longer process where you dive into the childhood underpinnings of your emotional challenges around sex. It is often particularly helpful to those who have unresolved trauma or higher levels of dysfunction. Like sex coaches, a sex therapist may give their client homework and ask them to report on it in the next session.
Benefits of Seeing a Sex Coach
There are a lot of benefits of seeing a sex coach. Here are a few:
Becoming more embodied and aware of your desires and feelings
Increasing your skills around how to give and receive pleasure
Overcoming various sexual dysfunctions – everything from erectile dysfunction (ED) to low desire
Understanding, listening to, and expressing boundaries
Learning tools around seduction that incorporate up-to-date consent practices
Dating skills such as flirting and recognizing when to make the first move
What is the Best Approach for Me When Working with a Sex Coach?
When trying to choose a sex coach that is right for you, remember that deciding which of these approaches feels right for you is a very personal decision. Perhaps, in reading these different descriptions, one of them seems like it is the most helpful, comfortable, or in alignment with your personality.
It is important to make this decision with more than just your brain. Imagine talking with your coach, then doing some homework. Now imagine giving and receiving sensual touch with your coach. Which of these makes you feel most inspired?
Some people consider themselves to have an open relationship if they are allowed to flirt and make out with other people. But the meaning of an open relationship can be quite different for those who include full sexual experiences outside of the relationship. In either case, a couple may engage in these experiences together as a team, or choose to have experiences with others separately. An open relationship is what any couple makes of it.
There is a belief – rooted in our culturally wide-spread fairy tale thinking about relationships – that couples only engage in an open relationship if there is something inherently wrong or missing in their primary liaison. This is false. Instead, many people open up their relationship to enhance an already wonderful connection. They may enjoy going on sexual adventures together or get turned on by the idea of their partner with someone else.
Open Relationship Rules
Since open relationships are not exactly a mainstream concept, many wonder about open relationship rules. While monogamy can also be challenging to define – especially in the age of technology – many people take the rules of monogamy for granted, never even discussing them with a partner. People in open relationships, on the other hand, are required to set the ground rules for their engagement up front.
Open relationship rules can vary from couple to couple. Every couple needs to take the time to sit down and negotiate what is comfortable for them. Some varieties of these different relationship forms have even taken on their own succinct names. Such as Dan Savage’s coining of the term “monogamish” – describing a couple who is mostly monogamous, while still allowing for extra-marital sex every once in a while.
People have many categories of open relationship rules. We can think of this as the who, what, where, when, why, and how of open relationship rules. Each of these categories has an extensive number of options, but here are a few examples:
Who: Each person in the relationship needs to talk about who they want to have sex with – and their partner needs to see if they’re comfortable with that. Some examples might be: having sex only with other people who are also in open relationships; only having sex with men; only having sex with women; only having sex with someone in the same age range as a partner; only with people you pay; only with strangers (or anonymous); only with friends; only with one person many times; only with many people one time.
What: Some couples have concise rules about what kind of erotic interaction or level of intimacy is allowed with people outside of the partnership. For example, some couples have a rule that their partner can date other people, but are not ok to have intercourse with. For other couples, anything goes. Some people only want their partner to play with others above the belt, while others might be ok with everything but kissing.
Where: Location and distance can matter. Certain couples define where it is – or is not – ok to have sex with a third party. One partner might decide they aren’t into sharing their bedroom, so the home is off-limits. Some couples are only ok with someone local, or they might follow what is colloquially known as the “500-mile rule” (when you only have sex with people who are at least 500 miles or more from home, while traveling or on a business trip). This can be particularly helpful for those whose love language is touch. Living far apart and trying to stay monogamous can cause one or both people in the relationship to feel sex or touch-deprived.
When: It’s also common to ask your partner to be sensitive about when and how often they have sex with others. For example, hooking up with a playmate once a week could be ok – others give their partner free reign on frequency as long as they are informed first (or immediately after).
Why: Some couples have open relationship rules around their reasons for having sex with others. They would prefer their partner only has sex with a third party for the sake of enhancing their mutual connection. Or they might be ok with their partner engaging in BDSM if they themselves aren’t into kink but want the partner to have the experience. Others yet are ok with random hookups but want to confine romantic interactions to their primary relationship.
How: How much a couple communicates about their external sexual adventures can be up for negotiation as well. For example, some prefer a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (also known as DADT) approach. In a two-way Don’t Ask Don’t Tell scenario, neither partner has to tell the other the details or even that the outside sex is happening. It’s also possible to have one-way DADT ground rule where one person wants to know, but the other person doesn’t. Another rule variety defines if there should be an asking for permission before every engagement – and then a detailed re-telling afterward. And then are those couples who just want some general idea of what is happening and don’t care about the details.
Do Open Relationships Work?
Sex coaches often hear the question: Do open relationships work? The answer is never simple, and a trained sex coach will not simply answer yes or no. Instead, they should engage you to think more critically about what you meant and why you asked the question in the first place.
Since our society thinks of monogamy as the normal and right way to be in a relationship, open relationships and open marriages get scrutinized in a completely different way than monogamy. Any time two people in an open relationship break up, people blame it on the open relationship. They never consider that the open part of the relationship might have been great – and the couple may have had huge issues around child rearing or money.
With monogamy, it is exactly the opposite. Lots of people want to have sex outside of the relationship but are terrified to ask for an open relationship out of fear they will be judged or abandoned by their partner. And so while the institution of monogamy ruins many relationships, no one ever says “We broke up because we were monogamous and it just wasn’t working.” At best, they might admit to “We just wanted different things.”
So, the question “do open relationships work?” is actually a loaded question. It assumes monogamous relationships work, and open relationships are more likely to fail. However, if you look at the statistics on monogamy, marriages end in 51% of the time – and that is considering people are willing to actually get married. Unmarried partners are even more likely to break up, and many people simply stay together even though they are miserable. Since most relationships are still monogamous, it is safe to assume that monogamy “works” way less than 50% of the time.
So – what does it mean for a relationship to work? If we look at the fairy tale social script, a relationship must include only two people. They must be romantically and passionately in love with each other. They must stay together, only desiring each other, until the day death parts them. And yet – if this is the very definition of a successful relationship, then pretty much every relationship is failing.
So maybe instead of asking Do open relationships work?, we should create a more realistic definition of the prosperous relationship. It could be defined as two or more people, honestly communicating about their needs, feelings and boundaries. They stay together for as long as they feel like the relationship supports them in who they are, and enhances their lives in some way. With this more grounded relationship definition, many more people might actually get to enjoy the feeling of success.
Can a Sex Coach Help with an Open Relationship?
A sex coach can help you have an honest, open conversation about your relationship choices – no matter whether you want to have a monogamous relationship or engage in some variety of an open relationship (which might include polyamory, swinging, or being monogamish).