Sex and Intimacy
Sex in Relationships
Differences between individual’s sexual desires often become a gridlocked conflict issue for couples. It is not uncommon for couples to present for counselling due to issues experienced with the frequency or quality of their sexual relationship. If left unmanaged or unaddressed, the conflict can grow to resentment, cause self-esteem issues, anxiety, and may eventually lead to emotional disconnection between the couple. The Couples Clinic can support individuals and couples to improve their sexual relationship, but more importantly, a couple’s ability to communicate about their sexual relationship without difficulties arising or causing conflict.
One of the strongest predictors that a relationship will succeed is the fondness and admiration couples have for each other. It is also part of our DNA to connect and affiliate with others. A large part of connecting and creating ‘closeness’ is intimacy. Many people associate the word intimacy with sex. While sex can be part of intimacy, it is only one part. Therapists at The Couples Clinic help couples to build intimacy and find a strong sense of fondness and admiration for each other.
Reconnecting after Birth
Giving birth to a child is an amazingly special experience. It brings couples closer together in many ways. However, given the birthing process itself, the new responsibilities of having a child, and the reduction in sleep, it is all too common for couples to lose sight of intimacy and physical connection. There are effective strategies for couples to ensure they remain connected post-birth. The process is best started before the arrival of your child, however beneficial at any stage post-baby. It is never too late to reconnect.
Sexual Health & Dysfunction
Sexual health issues or sexual dysfunction can impact upon relationships, reduce confidence, create anxiety, and lead to depression if unmanaged. The Couples Clinic supports many clients who have underlying sexual health concerns. There are many interventions which have been shown to be effective in the treatment of the following issues:
Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Erectile Dysfunction, sometimes referred to as impotence, is more common than people assume. It can be a symptom of other health issues, such as hypertension, diabetes, and stress. As such, it is important for anyone experiencing ED to speak with their GP to have a full checkup to determine the presence of any underlying physical health implication. ED is often characterised by difficulties gaining or sustaining an erection suitable for sexual intercourse. While many of the treatments include medications, injection therapy, or even surgery, counselling can play a part throughout the treatment cycle. Psychologists can assist to manage anxiety associated with PE, build relationship connection through treatment, help modify lifestyle factors which perpetuate ED, and determine whether ED is the result of any psychological issue, including decreased arousal or trauma impacts.
Premature Ejaculation (PE)
While PE is often confused with erectile dysfunction, they are very different conditions and treated in different ways. Unlike erectile dysfunction, people with PE have no problems achieving an erection and the erection is maintained until ejaculation. Men with PE will experience ejaculation before they want to, either before sexual intercourse begins or very soon after. This leads to feelings of distress and a sense of low control. PE can lead to performance anxiety, self-criticism, and intimacy issues between partners. Treatment for PE is mostly non-invasive. It can include medications, however some of the most successful treatments are learned in counselling. They include behaviour modification techniques which condition the individual to have more control and experience less anxiety associated with PE.
Pornography is very common. It has increased significantly over the past few years. This has occurred due to a variety of factors. Pornography is now extremely accessible. It is at our fingertips and in our pockets all the time – the mobile phone. Using a phone to access pornography is one of the most common ways people look at pornography discreetly. Pornography is used by people for many reasons. It may be due to disconnection within their relationship or to (unhealthily) alleviate stress. Some research has shown that pornography can help intimacy if the couple is transparent about use and use it appropriately. When pornography is used and gratification is a result, the pleasure centre of the brain is activated and we begin to seek this out more frequently. As such, addiction can occur. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Motivational Interviewing have been found to be effective in the treatment of pornography addiction.