Sensate Focused Sex Therapy is an established approach which assists a couple to repair their ability to connect in regards to physical intimacy. While there are many ways in which physical intimacy can become disrupted, being willing to work through a therapeutic process can produce a new way to have safe sexual interactions.
Often, Sensate Focused Sex Therapy can not only repair relational injuries, but also provide the couple with an increase of sexual satisfaction that is greater than what they have ever experienced in their relationship.
The way that Sensate Focused Sex Therapy works is that it begins with non-sexaul touch, coupled with communication about their experiences. I believe that this method provides a framework for a couple to explore the way they give and receive non-sexaul touch. As the couple processes their experience through structured questions, they create a new way of exploring what they like, what they dont like, and what they would like to have happen. This pattern of communication and discussion is carried throughout the intervention process as it progresses from non-sexual touch to sexual touch. This allows the couple to move from an unspoken expectation of having to guess at what their partner wants, to knowing exactly what their partner enjoys, finds threatening, or otherwise would like to explore sexually.
Typically, when a couple goes through Sensate Focused Sex Therapy, they have to confront some aspect of their relationship which has been threatened, or where there has been a breach of trust. While Sensate Focused Sex Therapy interventions do not directly address these aspects, a qualified relational therapist can help couples know how to identify, process, and resolve these aspects when they arise.
Once a couple can repair relational injuries in regards to physical intimacy, it is then up to them to redefine how they make sense of intimacy within their relationship. All too often, this is constrained by previous experiences, family of origin influences, and limiting beliefs which have not been explored within the relationship. Once a couple can discuss how they would like to redefine the intimacy aspects of their relationship, then they have the ability to increase the likelihood of both partners needs being met within the relationship.
Anthony T. Alonzo, DMFT, LMFT, CFLE