How do we, as sex coaches, empower our clients to achieve their sexual ideals when the results-focused goal (often modeled after impossible, porn-influenced outcomes/achievements) is antithetical to comprehensive sex coaching? We do so by shifting their results-oriented achievement goal from porn-influenced orgasm to pleasure.
When Clients Have an “Impossible” Goal
In sex coaching, many clients come to us wanting to achieve impossible goals: ”I want complete control over the way my body looks and responds during sex *at*all*times*!”
Is that possible? The answer, of course, is no, but we can guide them to understand that what they really yearn for is (probably) happiness, fulfillment, intimacy, and/or confidence.
I came to sex coaching from a prior career as a life coach and fitness instructor. As a life coach, the first thing I learned was never to lead my client with my own agenda. The idea behind coaching in general is [or should be] client-focused goals; they decide what they want and ultimately how they will achieve it.
My job is to hold space and listen without judgment, ask questions with curiosity rather than with the intent of leading, provide accountability, and recognize that everyone is whole and capable. As a sex coach, my job also includes educating, giving permission, validating, and providing further resources.
In my sex coaching practice, I help my clients learn that great sex is about pleasure, not the orgasms and sexual conquests they see in media. So how do I modify their goals into what I think their objective *should* be, in this case, pleasure? Isn’t that “leading” my client, rather than letting them decide what they want? This conundrum has been an itch in my brain for as long as I’ve wanted to be a sex coach, but I think I’ve finally discovered the answer.
Where Unrealistic Expectations About Sex Come From
It’s human nature to want sex (we also acknowledge the validity of asexuality). Sex is one of our basic drives. Unfortunately, as much as we want it, often the only way we learn about sex is through speculation and hearsay. There is so little comprehensive sex education at home and/or in schools, that we have to do our best to learn the “ins and outs” of sex (pun intended) by turning to mainstream media and our friends who have learned about sex through older kids. It’s the blind leading the blind.
If mainstream media, specifically pornography, is how most people learn about sex, no wonder our culture is rife with impossible achievements. If NASA astronauts spent their whole lives trying to get into space and then realized that “hyperdrive” only happens in the movies, they might be disappointed, too!
Luckily, just as astronauts don’t need to attend Starfleet Acadamy to achieve their goal of going to space, but can learn and train here on earth, we have sex coaches to help educate our clients to understand the truth of biology, physiology, and of course, sexology.
Getting in Touch with Feelings is the First Step in Goal-Shifting
Without getting into the cultural anthropological theories about why we as humans yearn for sex, let’s consider why most people are dissatisfied with it.
When a client comes to us and expresses their shame and disappointment in their weak erection or lack of orgasm during/through intercourse, our job as sex coaches is to first uncover the emotions that result from their experience. If identifying their emotion is difficult, asking them to connect with their body and describe the physical sensations they experience while discussing it or thinking about it might help. Often, they can associate the sensation with an analogy and then an emotion.
Honoring whatever they experience and allowing our client to feel seen can make all the difference in their lives.
What Do They Really Want to Feel?
The next step is empowering them to decide how they want to feel in the future; not how they want to look, or act, or respond, but how they want to feel. This brings the client back into their body. It allows them to embrace sensations and focus on pleasure, both physically and emotionally. We haven’t led them to any of our own objectives yet…
You’ll notice I’m not asking too much about the client’s past. What separates sex coaching from sex therapy is focusing on the future through the creation of goals. By keeping the focus here in the present and future rather than the past, a sex coaching client might say, “I am unhappy with this aspect of my life and I want it to look like this.” Therapy, on the other hand, can sound like “What happened in my past to make me who I am today?”
Now that the client has a clear idea of how they want to *feel* before, during, and after sex, using curiosity (without leading), I ask them to tell me what they really want out of their sexual experiences. What words correlate to the feelings? It’s usually words like happy, fulfilled, peaceful, energized, or connected. At this point, I don’t think it’s wrong to bring up the P-word… pleasure.
Pleasure is a Catch-All Term for What We Really Want from Sex
Acknowledge that pleasure is a wonderful umbrella term to describe the words they are using. This allows us to dive deeper into how pleasure is what we can all achieve through our sexual experiences, solo or partnered, regardless (and in spite of) any other “goal” our culture has programmed us to want to achieve.
Focusing on pleasure rather than holding their belly in while naked will allow them to feel happy.
Focusing on pleasure rather than not ejaculating “too soon” can help them feel more connected.
Focusing on pleasure rather than staying hard or naturally lubricated (please use lube) will allow them to feel more fulfilled.
And although we might have had to educate our clients on the power of pleasure, we don’t need to hold it as our own agenda. Your client will tell you if they aren’t seeking pleasure.
Fear & Doubt Can Get in the Way of a Pleasure Goal
If their fear and doubt seem too big, the client might not be ready to embrace the pleasure principle. They may have never viewed themselves as worthy of their own pleasure and the concept might not land.
Just as a personal trainer needs to slowly push their client to get past the “I can’t do this” attitude by adding small amounts of weight to the bar with each set or workout, a sex coach can empower their client to realize how important pleasure is by probing deeper into what they are truly seeking. Validate them each step of the way and allow them to discover their own path.
Support Your Client in Discovering Their Own Path
Sex coaching isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. Our clients will present with such a variety of issues, it might seem daunting to dive in while not knowing which way the session could go. A novice coach might think they know exactly how to fix the issue their client comes in with immediately and head straight to the answer. While that’s probably what the client would really like them to do, the crux of coaching is allowing the client to discover their own path.
Our guidance is in education and accountability. If we simply provide a quick and “easy” solution, we are, in fact, following our own agenda: we are leading that client. Lasting results come from self-discovery and reflection by our clients. We can guide and educate, but we must not purely direct. Our sex coaching clients will discover that their own sex life is far better than any porn flick they’ve ever experienced when they make pleasure their goal!
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