Couples Counselling and Sex Therapy

Darwin, Northern Territory based Relationship Counsellor and Sex Therapist    

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Male Sexuality

Posted on 22 October, 2017 at 21:05 Comments comments (0)

Traditionally male sexuality has been wrapped up neatly into two boxes. Heterosexually orientated or homosexually orientated. Generally, society has not afforded acceptance of fluidity as it has for woman. Infact, bi sexual encounters for woman is often encouraged. So why doesn't this apply for men?

Recently I have been aware of an increasing amount of men who wish to explore same sex interactions. Fear of judgement and loss of relationships make them go into a secret world of their own and seek these experiences. Often the secret world becomes discovered and relationships are lost regardless. Some develop mental and behavioural difficulties such as depression and compulsive porn use.

There are two boxes that are not often discussed or explored, bi sexual men and men who have sex with men, but who dont identify as gay or homosexual (MSM). It can be confronting for a man to question his sexuality, to question whether his orientation has changed due to his increasing  homo-erotic fantasy. Men find themselves with internal conflict around thoughts like:

 " If I want my girlfriend to wear a strap on does that make me gay?" or wanting to experience physical intimacy with a man I believe every person is different.

We are a product of our values, core beliefs and experiences so the answer is not going to be the same for eveyone.

There are men who experienced child abuse at the hands of men or had experimental sexual encounters with another boy as a child and struggle as an adult with fantasies about men. They desparately don't want there to be a link between these early experiences and their curreent sexuality. Researchers have not been able to find a definitve link.

I feel that when working with these clients it is important to have a clear understanding of their sexuality and how they see themselves as a sexual beings. To ask questions like:

"What turns me on?"

"How do I feel about those things?"

"What do I like about how I express myself sexually?'

" Is there room in my loving relationship for my sexual self?"

It appears the largest hurdle is for those men who are curious or questioning to accpet this about themselves before worrying about what the rest of the planet thinks.

I would be interested to hear about readers experiences and challenges.

How are our young children learning about sex?

Posted on 18 May, 2017 at 8:55 Comments comments (0)


I had the opportunity to learn more about how our youngsters are learning about sex these days. Unfortunately it appears to be from pornography. Ordinarily I would agree and have a little giggle, I mean who didn't grow up sneaking a peak at Play Boy. This is different. This is dangerous and leading to extremely dysfunctional young sexual relationships and expectations.Here are some statistics from the presentation.

- 30% of all internet traffic is porn related

- It is everywhere, advertising, TV and magazines. It is mainstream.

- 90%of boys and 60% of girls have viewed porn

- The mean age for boys is 12 years old. 10 % view it daily and 63% weekly.

- 88% of scenes involve aggression.

- 94% of the targets of aggression were female.

- 95% of the aggression was met with acted facial expressions of neutral or positive nature

In a time when we are fighting for gender equality and against domestic violence, the porn industry teaches our young that woman are not people during sex. They are there to be hurt and abused for their gratification. Incidental. Doesn't matter who they are.

What can we do about this? According to Maree Crabbe who produced the presentation:

1.Limit young people’s exposure and access to pornography

2.Equip and encourage young people to critique what they see.

3.Help young people develop skills required to resist pornography’s influence

4.Inspire young people that relationships and sex can be better than what they see in porn

It's All About Language

Posted on 2 December, 2016 at 1:00 Comments comments (0)

Recently I became acutely aware of the unintentional damage a male partner was placing on his female counterpart. He was expressing his admiration for his partner’s body, her skin, her eyes and hair. How he wanted always wanted to touch her. He began to get louder shifting in his seat and his frustration began to show. “Anyone can go to a massage parlour and get a hand job for some relief, but why should I have to when I have this beautiful woman at home! I don’t even want to masturbate, why should I have to?” By this stage she had sunk back into her chair making herself as small as possible and very silent.

The words we use are an expression of our thoughts, beliefs and values. The phrase “I didn’t mean it like that” has been used many times to try to rectify an unintended insult or misperception. However when a relationship is infected with distrust and negative sentiment towards one another, words can be received through that negative lens.

In the world of Sex Therapy, sexual desire is a very fragile aspect of our selves that needs nurturing and love to maintain its ebb and flow. There are things that can be said that cuts to the source of sexual desire and severs it. A man can be sensitive to a woman’s insecurities and compliment her body in an attempt to boost her self-confidence, however if that negative lens is in play it can come across as “you are only interested in my body!”

This is not intended to “man bash”. Women get it wrong too. However, woman may be more sensitive to language used because of engrained societal expectations, values, cultural beliefs and lived experience around sexuality. In western society the issue of objectification of woman has been discussed in depth and whether we like it or not it is in the back of our minds.

What I am trying to relay here is that if your relationship is waning in the sexual department, ask yourself if you are up to date and in tune with your partners inner world. It takes frequent open communication to keep connection so that when things are said in error or misperceived, the relationship recovers quicker.

My advice is to refrain from referring to sex as “it”. I need “it”, I want “it”, I have to have “it”, she won’t give “it” to me. This intimates “it”, is a ‘thing’.

This ‘thing’ that needs to be provided.

A service.

A product.

Objectification.

“It” almost makes a person feel as if their body is the product that needs to provide that service. If a woman constantly refers to her partner and sex as “get it up”, “give it to me, I am ready to go”, “ I want it” this may put unnecessary pressure and focus on performance and a disconnect with the partner as a whole person. Our partners are not there to perform or provide “it” to satisfy our needs. They are there because we connect with them on many levels and want them in our lives.


 

FIFO workers urged to get help with mental health, relationship pressures

Posted on 28 November, 2016 at 6:35 Comments comments (0)

FIFO workers urged to get help with mental health, relationship pressures

105.7 ABC Darwin By Adam Steer and Jacqueline Breen

Posted Fri at 3:31pm

 

Long work hours in a harsh, remote climate are pushing people and relationships to breaking point, according to a Darwin-based couples counsellor and sex therapist.

 

While fly-in fly-out workers on projects around the country face similar pressures, Nina Booysen said she believed the problem was particularly bad in the Top End, where large numbers of men work on contract.

 

"FIFO workers, Inpex project workers and high levels of Defence [employment]," she said.

 

"More and more men are exposed to difficult conditions over long periods of time."

 

Unions raised concerns about the mental health of FIFO workers on Darwin's Inpex Ichthys gas project last year, saying that seven employees had taken their lives over three years.

 

Ms Booysen said the strain on individuals spilled over to affect couples and families and that the problem was still going widely unacknowledged.

 

"Everybody just has this ongoing attitude of, 'just push through, just push through, this is not forever'.

"But by the time you push through, there's so much damage done you can't come back to it."

 

Emotional strain and unhappy sex lives

 

Ms Booysen said couples were coming to see her struggling with emotional issues around anger, resentment and aggression.

 

"The men kind of tend to think, 'well I'm earning the money, we're paying the bills, I'm working my butt off, leave me alone'," she said.

 

"Then the partners tend to say, 'I get that it's hard work, but...'."

She said these pressures were affecting intimacy within relationships.

 

"They seem to have disconnected sexually and there's a massive drop in male sexual desire [for their partners] here in the Northern Territory.

"A lot of the workers are engaging with sex workers and excessive pornography ... because it doesn't have an emotional connection, it's just easier to get that relief or to engage in that.

 

"Then over time they actually lose the ability to engage with their partner."

 

Help available but often unsuitable

 

Despite more mainstream coverage of the health and mental health issues affecting FIFO workers, Ms Booysen said many people failed to recognise that something within them had changed.

 

"The biggest step as far as being resilient and being able to cope with mental health issues is to acknowledge that it's going on," she said.

 

"Have some self-awareness and acknowledge that something is different."

And she said many who admitted they could use some help were hesitant to take advantage of support that was being made available by more employers.

 

"They don't want internal staff, they don't trust confidentiality," she said.

 

"They always think, first thing, 'I'm going to lose my job'.

 

"We need to look at the barriers that [prevent] people to actually interact with these services."

 


You Wish Mate!

Posted on 14 November, 2016 at 6:20 Comments comments (0)

You Wish Mate!

As a woman I have heard this sentiment repeated throughout my lifetime and as well as from my own thought processes. Working with men who suffer from low self-confidence, performance anxiety and in some cases anger towards woman, it is clear to me the effect woman can have on men. Why do girls think that boys are built to withstand rejection? What is it about gender stereotyping that leads us to believe that we can put a man down for trying to approach us? It’s called the mating dance ladies. How about we appreciate the advances of a man for what it is, a compliment. This person is risking an often cutting rejection to gain our attention. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that sometimes the approach and timing may be wrong. Sometimes the approach is so wrong its offensive and even assault. Those guys…. well, ….. let them have it. What I am suggesting is that we could do better in our response to the genuine suitor that you may not be ‘into. A gentle ‘let down’ beats a rough degrading retort any day. Just because they might be male and we appear to hold the cards, doesn’t mean we need to damage a person for playing natures game by societies rules.

It won’t last forever ladies. One day you might just find yourself on the invisible side of the dating game. Enjoy the compliments, perhaps an “I am flattered, but am not interested “ will do.

 

Get out of Darwin Jackass mules!

Posted on 2 November, 2016 at 22:35 Comments comments (0)

JACKASS! Darwin, Northern Territory was lucky enough to have the degenerates from Jackass visit recently. Thank goodness it was a one off show day and they have left town. The noun for jackass is "stupid person". I couldn't agree more. During the show these mules encouraged two young girls up onto stage and eventually, with the crowd chanting and phones drawn to take opportunistic shots, they bayed for these girls to flash the crowd! I believe one of the girls obliged. Had I been in the crowd I would have walked up on that stage and encouraged those girls away. They did not know this was why they were going up there. With a pack of wolves demanding they degrade themselves it would have been an intimidating experience masked by smiles to help themselves cope.

How dare these idiots!

If they think defecating on stage is entertainment, then their self respect is right there amongst the muck on the floor. If you want to take yourself down, that's fine but don't bring others into your disgusting world. What they did in the show is sexual harassment and borders on sexual assault! Be ashamed you morons

Don't Loose Hope! - vulvodynia and vestibulodynia

Posted on 29 October, 2016 at 8:40 Comments comments (0)

Reading stories and listening to clients who suffer from pelvic pain of vulvodynia is always heart wrenching. Most seem to have the same experiences of not being believed, by their partners and even their doctors! Most have been sent off for testing for STI’s. While it is best to eliminate this option most woman are very in touch with their bodies and were left untreated and humiliated.

Women have spoken about their sense of hopelessness and shame. Their fierce frustration when not believed. How the burning and stinging cut like a knife, to be told “if you not in the mood, you just had to say so”. Their self-esteem was now linked to being defective and sexual failures made them feel less of a woman. “Who could love me like this?” said a client once, “I know he will leave”. Her pain was far more than physical. Another young client, desperate to make her husband happy, suffered endometriosis, vestibulitis, as well as vaginismus. She had never known what pleasurable sex was. She was re traumatised each time she endured the extreme pain to try and keep her marriage alive.

Research into this area has been lacking. Now, finally it is getting some traction as brave woman have stepped forward from the shadows. There have been many different approaches ranging from dry needling and pelvic physiotherapy, antidepressants to lidocaine creams. Finding the right amount and combination of interventions is like trying to solve a rubrics cube.

The causes of Vulodynia are varied but what it comes down to is the tissues neurology sending messages of pain to the brain instead of the normal sensation of touch. Symptoms usually include pain in the form of burning or stinging sensations. Sometimes the symptoms come and go. In some cases they are permanent and can force woman to sit on doughnut cushions if they sit for long periods. The pain has been likened to shingles. This doesn’t have to be visual as many women present with normal swabs and no signs of inflammation or redness. As with shingles the blisters can heal, the skin may look normal but still be very sensitive and painful.

Research findings have found success in a combination of treatments:

• Surgery to remove the affected tissue.

• Tricyclic antidepressants such as nortriptyline, even effexor

• Anti convuslants such as Gabapentin and Pregablin

• Acupuncture

• Lidocaine based creams

• Relaxation and psychological therapies

• Physiotherapy

• Low-oxalate diet

• Botox

The key point is that there is hope! For all the woman, and there are many, who suffer from these terrible afflictions, find a GP in the know and a sex therapist/experienced psychologist to support you psychologically. For the love of life!

 

To the 20 somethin's out there

Posted on 29 June, 2015 at 8:20 Comments comments (0)

I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of young people seeking assistance from a relationship and sex therapist such as myself. This is definitely something I have encouraged, always touting that people should not leave their issues until they are terminal before seeking help. This is the “good and the bad” of what 20 something’s are experiencing as part of relationships today.

 

1. Access to information – the age of instant connection, gratification and knowledge has created a boom of thoughts, emotions and questions. While “God”ogle seems to have all the answers at the click of a button, these can tend to confuse and overwhelm that most find themselves progressing up a level on candy crush instead.

We are learning to divert our emotional wants and needs to the safe place of daily task ticking and quick interactions. Slowing down and taking the time to communicate openly and without judgement has become a lost skill, not just to the young. However, young people are being encouraged to talk and be open about what afflicts them through campaigns about depression and anxiety, school education programmes to reach out. They are not being encouraged to hide dysfunction but to seek help. I hope this trend continues.

 

2. A shift in the gender dynamics of sex and relationships – I can clearly remember giggling at, but misunderstanding jokes being told by male teenage friends about how to make a woman have an orgasm which would end with the proclamation of “who cares”. I thought, “oh well if they don’t care I guess shouldn’t either.” Perhaps I should thank them because I do care and so do many more people these days including men. In general people do tend to care about their partners satisfaction. Youngsters are slowly dropping the gender walls and moving to emotional and physical equality within relationships. Sexist jokes are no longer tolerated and expectations of men being emotionless machines is dissipating too

 

3. Unrealistic expectations - That’s it really. For people in their early 20’s I have found their expectations of self and of others overwhelmingly high, so high not even Hollywood could match what is in their heads. It took our brains around 12 months to teach our legs to walk, and even then we still had bumps on our heads. Sexual maturity, functioning and enjoyment does not come after the first sexual partner. Allow yourself to be in training for your entire twenties. Take the good with the bad and know it will get better as you learn to relax and enjoy the moment rather than trying to fulfil an unrealistic goal of a 1000 shades of rainbows. If I have any advice it’s to masturbate. Do it with your daily Berrocca. Teach your body to respond to touch or different pressure and texture. Take your time and enjoy the different reactions throughout your body, your heart rate, your stomach, your toes your breathing. Take it all in and give yourself permission to enjoy this inbuilt pleasure response.

So to all the 20 something’s out there, I applaud your tenacity and willingness to grow and improve. However give yourself some space to fail, to be rejected, to cum to early and to freak out a little. Each of these awkward and sometimes emotionally painful experiences trains your brain and body to do it differently and therefore better next time.

 



Infidelity

Posted on 26 June, 2015 at 8:15 Comments comments (0)

nfidelity, unfaithful, words which most monogomous couples live in fear of. Educate yourself on this concept by watching renowned researcher and therapist Esther Perel give her TED talk.


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http://www.ted.com/talks/esther_perel_rethinking_infidelity_a_talk_for_anyone_who_has_ever_loved


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