When I was going through the program at SCU, I remember feeling nerve-wracked about the idea of working with couples as a practicing sex coach. After watching case studies and reading about the causes and possible resolutions for various issues—I thought that couples clients seemed to be complex and overwhelming. After all, you are working with three entities—both individuals and their relationship. 

However, since earning my certification and working with couples, they have become some of my favorite clients! It is so rewarding to watch the transformation of a couple right before your eyes. I’ve seen couples go from hardly being able to talk about sex without getting bright red in the face, to telling each other directly what they desire in the bedroom in just a few sessions. Needless to say, it’s not as scary as I once imagined it to be—it’s actually quite fulfilling as a practitioner.

Based on my experience and training as a Certified Sex Coach™, the following are a few tips and strategies that I’ve found to be helpful when navigating the couples client landscape. 

Maintaining Positive Feedback

No matter what concern your couples client brings to the sex coaching session, they are most likely also carrying shame around that concern. 

We are all inundated with fairytale-esque fantasies that over-romanticize long-term relationships, which has created a complex of perfectionism in many of us. 

We think that if our relationship (and especially our sexual relationship) isn’t perfect and mind-blowing and just like the movies—something is fundamentally wrong with us.

As sex coaches, we know sexual relationships are as nuanced and complex as human beings are. We also know that with guidance and the willingness to do the work, sexual concerns can be resolved. With this in mind, practitioners need to maintain a hopeful and positive perspective (or a glass-half-full approach) throughout our whole journey with couples clients. But what exactly does this look like?

You can provide positive feedback in many different ways. One way I love to do this is by including a “celebrations” or “wins” section at the very top of every session summary I give to my clients. 

In this section, I include little things I picked up on in the session—for example, “I noticed how even through a difficult conversation, you both remained physically close on the couch touching hands. This is a great way to subtly convey your commitment to each other.”

In this section, you can also include bigger things, like their progress with assignments. The important piece is making sure that your clients truly feel that you are rooting for them, that you believe in them, and that you are on their team!

Facilitating Constructive Conversations

It doesn’t matter what concern is being discussed, the way a couple discusses their sexual relationship matters. Basic sexual communication skills are a piece of thread that runs through every concern brought to you as a sex coach. 

Facilitating constructive conversations with couples clients is one of the most important parts of our job. Couples that come to us will often be stuck in a rut, running in circles when they try to discuss their concern, or even at a point where they are silent on the issue at home.

Just being there as an unbiased third party who is working in the best interest of the relationship can create a positive space that fosters constructive conversation, but there are other, more active ways to support communication in sessions, as well. 

  1. Asking the right questions—when you ask thought-provoking questions that make your clients think differently than they have previously, you can often break their previous communication cycle. For example, if they are in a blame cycle, ask them questions that make them think about self-responsibility.
  2. Be curious—practice infusing curiosity into your sessions by framing your questions as open-ended rather than closed. A closed question has a yes or no answer and doesn’t allow the conversation to flow as naturally. Open-ended questions allow for more constructive conversation between couples because they allow them to discover solutions.
  3. Communication exercises—having your clients practice communicating with your guidance can be a game-changer for their progress. These exercises can be especially helpful for couples who tend to ignore their concerns because they gently force them to practice opening up with each other. One exercise I like to do with couples who have a mixed libido relationship is to ask each partner to take on the role of the other and describe how the other feels as if it were them. This particular exercise can help with empathy and understanding.

You can learn more about coaching strategies, communication, and asking the right questions in this book, “Co-Active Coaching: The Proven Framework for Transformative Conversations at Work and in Life.”

Assignments with an Intimacy-Focus

As sex coaches, we love assigning “homework” for our clients to do between sessions. This is where the real work is done, and where they can put their new knowledge and skills to practice in their everyday lives. Assignments vary significantly and are dependent on so many factors, but for couples, I like to make sure I’m assigning things that promote intimacy and connection throughout their entire journey. 

Whether these assignments are complex or simple, the goal is to have the couple maintain a level of intimacy while they go through the work with me as their guide. Some examples are date nights, a simple bedtime ritual, cuddling instead of sex, coming up with playlists for each other, or even just cooking dinner together once a week. 

I usually spend time throughout the intake process finding out what each partner’s “intimacy language” is, or what elements are necessary for them to feel a deep connection with each other. What I discover informs the homework I assign for them later on in the process. 

In this article, you can read more in-depth examples of the intimacy-promoting assignments that sex coaches use!

The Reward of Sex Coaching Couples

Coaching couples is a rich and complex task, but one that comes with high rewards. With the right training and expertise, we can offer transformative and life-changing opportunities for couples struggling in their sex lives. And we can witness it first hand in sessions. 

Since graduating from the program at SCU, I’ve completely shifted my mindset on coaching couples from viewing it as an overwhelming task to one of the greatest gifts of my career.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Curious about training to become a Certified Sex Coach™? We invite you to join our Sex Coaching in Action webinar to meet the Sex Coach U team and participate in a live Q&A.