Working With Undisclosed Sex Pain: Vivian’s StoryJan 14, 2018
In my last post, I told you about one of my experiences working with sex pain and desire discrepancy in therapy. Today’s story from the therapy room comes from Vivian, who lives and practices in Sydney, Australia. Vivian recently took my 16-week online course “Assessing and Treating Sex Issues in Psychotherapy.” Vivian writes:
I would describe my skill level with sex issues before I took your class as intermediate. I was comfortable asking about sex issues and I could help couples use those discussions to support more intimacy and healing of wounds. And I still got so much out of your course!
Since taking your course, I use your script to open the topic of sex with every new client, both couples and individuals. What an easy way to introduce this topic right in the first session! In the majority of cases, clients tell me there is something about sex they want to discuss, and then I use your brief assessment tool as a non-threatening, normalizing way to delve into the issues. This usually opens up a conversation between us, which in itself is diagnostic in that I get a good sense of their comfort with the topic and their interactional patterns.
It’s been surprising to me to see how often sex pain is an issue, and has so often never been revealed let alone discussed. For example, a young woman I saw last week said that pain happens “sometimes” during penetration and that she’d never told her partner. After unpacking this a bit, I was able to give them some psychoeducation, make a recommendation about how to proceed, and ask them to stop any activities that resulted in pain until it could be resolved; I was able to let them know that continuing to have painful sex can cause other problems both physically and emotionally.
With the same couple, I used several other tools and techniques I learned in your course and was able to help her be able to tell him that there were things she’d like him to do which she hadn’t been able to say. Although those were difficult conversations, and they both had to stretch to have them, I had the tools, knowledge, and the confidence to help them get there.
I am still exploring the wealth of information included in your course, and reveling in all the resources too. Thank you so much!