The more you practice as a sex coach, the more you’ll realize that each of your clients has their own, distinct sex language—the words they use to talk about sex, sexuality, and their body. A person’s sex language is determined by countless factors, including their education, personal experience, culture, and comfort level when talking about sex.
With every client taking a unique approach in how they talk to you about sex, is there a particular way of speaking that sex coaches should encourage?
The short answer: it depends.
In general, it’s most important to meet your clients where they are at and to learn to be comfortable using whatever language they use.
Remember: as a sex coach, your top priority is your client’s best interest. Keeping this in mind will help you to determine when it’s appropriate to correct your client’s language and when it’s better not to comment.
In the interest of having a clear, focused sex coaching session, it’s important to understand what your clients mean when they choose certain terms. It’s also important to recognize how your client’s sex language affects their growth during sessions.
For example, your client might be opening up about a traumatic experience for the first time. She’s describing what happened and uses the word “pussy” rather than “vagina” or “vulva.”
Rather than assume you should correct her, ask yourself what’s in her best interest. Is a correction at this time conducive to her growth? Knowing your client, would this correction help her in the moment, or might it lead her to feel self-conscious and shut down? Taking the time to focus on language usage here—rather than on the content of what your client is saying—ultimately does more harm than good, in this case.
In other cases, you’ll have to discern when a client’s discomfort around sexual terminology is a detriment to their progress.
Imagine you’re working with a client who is only comfortable referring to his penis as his “member,” or even with a nickname such as “Little Harry” or “Mr. Wonderful.”
In a scenario like this, it’s imperative to be mindful of your reactions. Unless you have a lighthearted, joking dynamic, assume your client is being sincere with you. Laughing, expressing shock, or other jarring reactions might come naturally, but as a professional, it’s important that you act appropriately and respectfully toward your client.
With this in mind, however, consider how this language affects your client’s well-being. When a person only feels comfortable using euphemistic language, it can make it more difficult to communicate to partners (or even to themselves) what they actually want from a sexual experience.
In this case, correcting your client’s language may be quite helpful. Your clients might also appreciate you correcting them when they’re using a term improperly (like using “vagina” when they meant to say “vulva”), as this can help them talk about sex more accurately.
On the other end of this spectrum, you may find yourself with a client whose sex language comes off as vulgar or has a reductive effect. This may be less of an issue with the actual words and more of an issue with how your client is using those words. Pay attention to moments when a client’s language seems to detach them from the experience they’re describing. Certain language may make it easier for your client to feel less empathy for others—including themselves.
For example, a client who only refers to intercourse as “pounding” or “banging” a person might have an impersonal relationship with sex. While this isn’t an objectively bad thing on its own, it’s something that, as a sex coach, is worth paying attention to. It isn’t in your client’s best interest to dehumanize anyone involved in a sexual encounter, so this might be a critical time to suggest alternative terms.
Whether or not you’ll correct a client’s terminology is something you’ll need to determine on a case-by-case basis. However, keep your timing in mind. In general, it’s good to avoid interrupting a client for the sake of correcting a word they used. As always, listen actively and keep track of information during your session, so you can comment at an appropriate time.
As a sex coach, it’ll benefit you to open yourself up to the various sex languages your clients will bring to you. Maintain a good base knowledge of anatomical terms, but also familiarize yourself with different slang and colloquialisms your client may use.
If certain language makes you uncomfortable during sessions, take time on your own to investigate why. Being able to work with different kinds of terminology—even what you wouldn’t prefer to use yourself—allows you to interact with your clients in a calm, nonreactive way that invites them to be open and vulnerable with you.
Continue the Conversation
What are your best practices when it comes to correcting a client’s terminology? Do you do this pretty often, or hardly ever at all? Do you have any tips we didn’t mention in this essay? Tell us all about it in Sex Matters! It’s our public Facebook group and a fantastic place to discuss sexuality among peers who are as enthusiastic about it as you are. We can’t wait to see you there!