Becoming a sex coach was a long, arduous journey for me. It took me about ten years to become a certified sex coach. It was a unique journey. At one point, I was embarrassed to claim my profession, sex coach. The words mean a lot.
The silver lining in this long journey is that I have had ample time to reflect on how some of the principles of sex coaching apply to my own life, to the lives of my clients, and to how we all relate to each other and the world. Moreover, presently, I cannot think of any other professional I would rather be than sex coach.
During my long journey, I also realized that I have a lot to learn and that being a sex-positive, diversity-positive sex coach is a commitment to being a life-long learner. If I live a thousand years, I will still not have the time nor intelligence to know all I need to know about sexuality and diversity. The art of sex coaching is a chance to see ourselves and others as evolving mysteries, neverending stories, ever-learning human systems.
The following five beliefs I hold help me to be a student of the world and of each client I meet, which I hope makes me a better professional sex coach:
1. I lean on MEBES.
As a sex coach and researcher, I have found that looking at the world through the lens of MEBES©—Mind, Emotions, Body, Energy, and Spirit—is extremely humanizing:
- What a person thinks or thinks he, she, or they knows, self-talk, information, past held beliefs, current belief systems that may impede satisfying sex…
- What a person feels, emotional baggage and jubilant moments, stuck feelings…
- What a person does, how he, she, or they feel about their physical self, body language, signs of affection, sexual performance, and techniques…
- What makes a person feel alive, chi or the universal life force energy that runs through every living thing, energetics/flow…
- A person’s essence, spiritual belief system, inner self… (Britton, 2005, pp. 85-87)
When I gently look at myself and others, not only clients, but all others, through the lens of MEBES© , I feel exquisitely human and have more space for forgiveness. Additionally, I give others back their humanity while respecting the importance of individual story.
2. Because of my exposure to systems thinking, such as MEBES© , I see people as human systems instead of as individuals.
Author Poulson-Bryant (2005) wrote the following about being an American Black Male and a sexual being:
I don’t want to be the stereotype. I don’t want to be Mister Myth, because if I am, then I’m just a dick; the big dick in the locker room… I think of black-man dick and I think that once upon a time we were hung from trees for being, well, hung. The sexual beast, the loin-engorged predator, the big-dicked destroyer… And I don’t want anything to do with that ugly American history, the stereotypes that have been created to control me… (p. 18)
While they are important words that I call myself, I am more than Black and male. I’m kinda a complex dude. I am Sex Coach/Sadist, certified sexologist, and an edge-playing, 24/7 living, leather-wearing BDSM practitioner. I’m on the other side of 50. I am cisgendered, monogamous, heterosexual, a lover, a vegetarian, a father, an introvert. All these labels are important to me in some way, yet I know all of who I am is built on the foundation of being human. I am a system of many things. MEBES is a type of systems thinking.
Linda Booth Sweeny and Dennis Meadows (1995) defined systems thinking as “a broad term used to represent… methods and tools that focus on systems—rather than parts—as the context for defining and solving complex problems, and for fostering more effective learning and design. At best, the practice of systems thinking helps us… to think in a less fragmented, more integrated way” (p. 1). I am Mind, Emotions, Body, Energy, and Spirit, and as each part of me independently evolves, its evolution affects the other parts of me, and then my whole being evolves. My labels evolve. My behaviors evolve.
3. I place myself and others in the context of larger systems, an Erotic Life Mythology.
While I am a human system of Mind, Emotions, Body, Energy, and Spirit, I am also a system placed in overarching systems, such as the surrounding Natural Environment, the Cultures to which I belong and from which I learn, the state of the Erotic/Life Energy that surrounds me, my Personal Experiences with others, and my Physical Form, which places me in specific locations and time. These items are constantly in dialog with mind, emotions, body, energy, and spirit:
- the surrounding natural world,
- the cultures to which I belong and from which I learn,
- the state of the Erotic energies that surround me,
- the personal experiences I have with others,
- the physical form I have that places me in specific locations and tethers me to an era.
How these powerful systemic forces intersect, interact, and affect my individual diversity is awe inspiring. I call these forces an Erotic Life Mythology. My notion of Erotic Life Mythology is similar to the systems thinking concept of personal mythology. Mythologists David Feinstein and Stanley Krippner (2006) wrote that a personal mythology is “a constellation of beliefs, feelings, images, and rules—operating largely outside of conscious awareness—that interprets sensations, constructs new explanations, and directs behavior” (p. 5). Our Erotic Life Mythology affects behavior and alters the state of our Minds, Emotions, Bodies, Energies, and Spirits; our inner workings; our individual, diverse souls.
4. I am led by my soul as a sex coach and human being.
Alan Sieler (2003), the ontological coach, wrote:
An ontological interpretation of soul is that it is at the intersection of the three domains of language, emotions and body… Our soul can be thought of as the intersection of the three domains in a sphere, and that our existence is the interlocking of three spheres, continually moving and changing… This is the core of our existence, defining who we are, what is deeply meaningful, and what is and is not possible for us. (p. 10)
In Sieler’s interpretation of the human soul, the soul is a system of intersecting dimensions affecting each other. I share Sieler’s perspective that the human soul is made up of intersecting parts. However, Dr. Patti’s MEBES© Wheel is the image I use to represent the human soul.
My soul holds the secrets to my success and my healing. Moreover, it is not just an assessment tool for helping clients. It is responsibility, a window into clients’ individual souls.
5. I express my soul through story.
I express my soul in stories, stories constructed by my Mind, Emotions, Body, Energy, and Spirit, stories affected by my Erotic Life Mythologies. Narrative coach David Drake (2018) wrote:
The capacity and need to tell stories—and to understand and be understood by others… —is part of our evolutionary and cultural heritage. …our stories are central to how we identify ourselves and connect with others… Stories bring together our internal, experiential, and subjective mind with our external, observable, and objective world in an ever-changing kaleidoscopic fashion. (p. 36)
I listen to others’ stories because they give me more access to who they are than any single identity can.
My mother was born a sharecropper in NC. She lived in an area folk called Colored Town on a street named Black’s Road. When I was a child, I never knew where my grandparents lived was a statement about race in America. On the other hand, my grandparents’ and parents’ experiences with race affected me as a sexual being. Living in the segregated South hardened my mother: my mom, before I became a teenager, told me to never bring a White woman home. I wasn’t sure what she meant, but I never forgot what she said, and I felt something. Her words became unconscious cultural learning: loving and fucking are social statements.
If I were your client, you might have to give me permission to date someone who didn’t identify as Black, not because I do not find women of other races and ethnicities attractive, but because my mind holds the belief that because of the appearance of my body, I cannot just love anyone… I am making a social statement in my relationships. There are times when I feel more African American than human.
Other times, I think about my aging body, the death of my parents, and various past experiences; and the temporal nature of living looms behind everything I do. I want to simplify life and just simply love whom I love with the precious moments I have left. I just want to be human. This internal struggle behind the meaning of my body affects my emotions, my spirit, and my energy. If I were your client, would you see this hiding behind my Blackness and maleness?
Still, other times, I am Sadist, and all I want is a masochist to… pamper.
I like words. The title “sex coach” is fun to me. The title “clinical sexologist” sounds rather… clinical. The title sex educator feels familiar, the easiest to explain, comfortable, and perhaps, slightly worn. When I introduce myself as a Sex Coach, a 30-minute conversation follows my pronouncement. The conversation usually has an embedded joke about me coaching people while they have sex. When I introduce myself as a sex educator or a clinical sexologist, an interesting conversation follows also, but it is different. I am asked for some quick advice on how to…, what should I do if…, and do I have a right to be mad if… These conversations focused on my profession remind me how deeply our identifications affect others.
These identifications are a part of our stories, our souls, but they are only parts of us. Our Minds, Emotions, Bodies, Energies, and Spirits are vast, unknowable systems, filled with mysteries. The journey to becoming a sex coach has given me the opportunity to see every other human soul (MEBES) as a vast mystery, a gift that changed how I see the world.
Becker, E. (1971). Birth and death meaning. New York, NY: The Free Press.
Booth Sweeny, L., & Meadows, D. (1995). The systems thinking playbook. Linda Sweeny Booth. Publisher info?
Britton, P. (2005). The art of sex coaching: Expanding your practice. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
Drake, B. D. (2018). Narrative coaching: The definitive guide to bringing new stories to life (2nd ed.). Petaluma, CA: CNC.
Feinstein, D., & Krippner, S. (2006). The mythic path. Santa Rosa, CA: Elite Books.
Poulson-Bryant, S. (2005). Hung: A meditation on the measure of Black men in America. New York, NY: Penguin.
Sieler, A. (2003). Coaching to the human soul: Ontological coaching and deep change (Vol. I). Blackburn, Victoria, Australia: Newfield Australia.