Talking about sex in therapy…?

Skywatcher

MyPTSD Pro
I get the “erotically charged” comment. Even working on csa and rape can cause it. I researched this extensively because I found it so disgusting and shameful and read that it’s a normal body reaction.

I occasionally bring up sex with my T. She uses professional terminology and it creates a medical feeling to our discussion. She also once told me a story about when she was in her masters program; the professor (who was a nun) made them write out their entire sexual history. Then they were required to discuss this with the class. She was horrified and very angry about this requirement. I could see her vulnerability and uncomfortable feelings when relaying this memory. Of course, my mind was more fixated on wondering what made it uncomfortable for her. Was it because she had only been with her husband or at that time was still a virgin (pre-marriage)? Was it because she had some sort of hippie free love kind of past? Did she have a deep privacy about her covenant marriage that she feels should only be shared between herself and her husband? I still don’t know. All I truly know is that she knows how uncomfortable it feels to discuss your sexlife with another person. Fear of judgement. Shame.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
Maybe you could bring it up and say how you experienced her interventions before and it's making you wary of bringing it up again?
I don’t know…it was a few years ago, so I think it would look like I’d been hanging on to these comments that didn’t land too well for all that time!

It’s also more that I don’t really know what to say…what I want/need to say or talk about…it just feels like something about it is important so far?!

And I’d like things to be different now. About my avoidance of sex. I’d like not to be avoidant. And not to feel stressed about it And the getting erotically charged thing when I’m triggered…I’d like that to stop. But I don’t know that any of those things feel possible. Sigh…
 

grit

Not Active
And she also said that I should probably talk to my partner about sex (in terms of frequency/my anxiety around it/wanting to have sex but feeling afraid etc). And I said, 'Well, I'm talking to you about it?' And she said that was fine, I could talk to her about it to explore how I'm feeling...but that only talking to my partner about it was going to change anything. Something like that anyway. So, it didn't really feel...useful.
This sounds to me a great growth moment for you but your therapist, it sounds sex is a sensitive issue. Do they have supervision?


It seems you are not struggling with physical sex but emotions and history around it ...that is what trauma therapy is for.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
I found it so disgusting and shameful and read that it’s a normal body reaction.

Yeah, I’ve read that it’s quite a normal reaction. And my T has normalised it and reassured me too. But, even though I can get that on an intellectual level, it still feels disgusting and I still feel mortified by it and ashamed of it/myself.

Of course, my mind was more fixated on wondering what made it uncomfortable for her.

I’d have gone into curiosity overdrive about my T’s response/experiences too!

your therapist, it sounds sex is a sensitive issue. Do they have supervision?

Yes, she mentioned having a supervisor once.

I think it may be more as @Movingforward10 said…that she was trying to go at my snails pace and didn’t want to push making trauma-related connections. At the time, I used to dissociate at the drop of a hat in sessions! So, I think perhaps she was just being ultra careful and not leading me to go deep.

Or perhaps I’m just making excuses for her not being very effective in this area!
 
Not every therapist can be effective in every area for us and if we can determine what their strengths and weaknesses are, therapy works much better.

My first trauma therapist literally saved my life, but she was hopeless about sex. I think things would have gone better for me if I had just done the opposite of everything we worked on in that department. Luckily my current therapist is a winner with that and has helped me immeasurably.
 

Friday

Moderator
It’s also more that I don’t really know what to say…what I want/need to say or talk about…it just feels like something about it is important so far?!
All of this below seems perfect.
And I’d like things to be different now. About my avoidance of sex. I’d like not to be avoidant. And not to feel stressed about it And the getting erotically charged thing when I’m triggered…I’d like that to stop.
I suppose when I've brought sex up in the past with her, I've brought it up as a sort of standalone here and now challenge. In that, I don't bring it up in the context of any historical/trauma stuff. I don't join any dots.
I'm not really having a distressing time with sex anymore...as I've just become completely avoidant of sex!
IE some version of…

I’d really like to start working on how my sex-trauma from my past is impacting my sex life in my present. Because when I’ve brought it up over the past several years? It’s been stand alone challenges, rather than triggers, stressors, symptoms, and connecting the dots, between past & present like we do for my other traumas. I need to start making changes, and doing the work for things to be different; because for several years sex has been incrediably distressing, but now? I’ve just become completely avoidant of sex. I understand, in theory, that sexual trauma is just like any other trauma and gets worked on the same way… but I don’t know where to start, how to talk about it, or what to do with it. I really need you to take rather lead here, and walk me through this.

Everything you’ve already said in bits and pieces, edited into a “Lets do this.” summary.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
I had to leave this thread for a bit and now I'm peaking back in.

Thanks @Friday – I might have to read that out to her! I guess if can outline something like this as clearly and directly as you have, her response will probably let me know whether this is an area where we can do effective work together or not.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
I appreciate this whole conversation. I am increasingly aware of how much I have made sex a taboo topic in therapy. In the beginning before I had boundaries I would talk about it like a teenager talking to her friend. I’m afraid that part of me talked about it so easily almost as a power move or to shock. I don’t think that was my intention but since I struggle so much now to talk about it that’s my best interpretation.

As I developed my boundaries and recovered myself I slowly began to let all that sex talk go. I thought I was becoming more grown up and refined.

Then I became terrified that if I brought up sex it meant I was trying to groom her or that I was trying to excite her. I wonder if that’s because of the “erotic charge” thing and projecting that onto her?

So now I’m in a new place with T. I am on the other side of accepting that my csa was horrible and disgusting and affected me deeply. I’m at the very beginning of potentially dating someone. I’m scared of physical intimacy let alone sexual intimacy.

I feel like a girl again who has never kissed someone. Even though I have three kids I feel extremely naive and scared of sex. I don’t even know how to imagine it because I’ve never been physically or sexually intimate with a healthy-ish person only with people who push themselves on me.

I hope I can talk to my T about sex again but it feels like I created a huge wall around it. I think if I can talk to her about it it might help me relax. She told me that she never felt I was trying to groom her. Ugh. I feel so worked up from writing this so that’s probably exposure and probably good.

I should mention that I have had ET with my therapist and I have talked about it now and then but mostly not. I think the ET developed because I had abuse fantasies and as I worked hard to replace them I stuck her in the role of fantasy partner as a placeholder. Since she couldn’t be abusive to me she couldn’t do abusive things in the fantasies. Currently it’s very difficult to think about her or anyone. I’m in a weird kind of limbo place. I think that’s good that my mind-body is letting go of her, and hopefully my mind will figure out a new safe way to help me with my needs.
 

hithere

MyPTSD Pro
Talking about sex with my therapist has helped me so much. He helped mr understand so much and gave me a lot of sexual power that i dont think i ever had. This alleviated alot of anxiety and depression in my life because I was able to make changes and have control of my own body. Talking about my sexual relationship has been so helpful. I'm heterosexual and have opposite sex therapist. I have not had any sexual transference which has helped. But I've had sexual dreams about the therapist. Those were enlightening dreams that also helped me.
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
Since for me all this started with CSA we talk about it a lot. One of the first books I read, trauma and recovery By Judith Herman, explains the transference and sexual feelings towards the therapist. I’m shocked at the idea of not talking about sex with the therapist. I guess I assume everyone knows this and does this. Maybe I look for sameness in everyone’s posts or maybe I’m that self centred. IDK.

It took a couple years if real struggle to get to the really intimate details and she waited on me. She is a specialist in CSA and she knew what was going on and what was coming. I got it all out and it’s fairly natural and comfortable now. But even this year and I’m about five years in, I told her some stuff I never did before. It gets much easier, but I had to go over it again and again. I would approach it and then back away. This is what therapy is about for me.
 
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