Exploring Sex and Pleasure in a Narrative Group Therapy Context by Cyndi Darnell

As a relative newcomer to the field of Narrative Therapy I found myself immersed in both theory and practice of Narrative concepts through 2015 as I studied for the Master of Narrative Therapy and Community Work.

This video presentation outlines the process and experiences that were co created in Melbourne in 2015 as myself and a group of individuals met weekly for 15 weeks to apply the principles of group Narrative therapy within a sex and pleasure context.

While groups have been run using narrative principles before, none had been offered around the themes of sex, intimacy and pleasure as distinct from sexuality and identity. 

In my work as a sex and relationship therapist I couldn’t help but notice this glaring omission in the theory  and practice of Narrative therapy so with the encouragement of the team at the Dulwich Centre I spent the year developing ways to apply narrative principles to discussions around, sex, pleasure and intimacy. This information forms the content of this video and also my major assignment for this degree. I look forward to your feedback.

Important Note: This video contains language and concepts that may offend. Please view at your own discretion.


I am a sex and relationship therapist based in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to running my private practice I also offer training and support to therapists and health professionals wishing to become more comfortable discussing sex, pleasure , intimacy and erotic connection to their work with clients in clinical settings.

I also present workshops to the general public on sex and pleasure and in 2015 released my online video education series for adults The Atlas Of Erotic Anatomy & Arousal.

If you would like to find out about how I can assist you in developing your work around any of these topics, you can find me at www.cyndidarnell.com

Published March 11, 2016

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Trevor MPJ Landers

    Hi Cyndi
    This presentation stands out as a sentinel in a barren, and often featureless desert. I am a sex-positive Master’s student, and it is great to see someone has developed a lingua franca for use in discussions of sex and sexuality. Too often there is a diffidence, and even a squeamishness about discussing sexual needs and desires, which I confess I do not fully understand. I see clients for whom pleasure, or rather sexual anhedonia is a real issue—it is generally a symptom of a larger problem, or the unrealistic expectations some men and women have about sexual prowess. Thanks for a vindicating and illuminating paper.

    1. Cyndi Darnell

      Thank you for your kind words. I agree there is a squeamishness around discussing sex. For many of us it’s much easier to ‘close our eyes and do it” than it is to tolerate the discomfort of talking about it. Seeing and being seen exploring the erotic is a difficult thing for many of us to do. Most of us have no role models for this in our communities. Many people in this realm are pioneers in their communities doing so. Sadly still for many the risks are also great too. Nevertheless, we persist. And yes the absence of pleasure is part of a much larger structure, particularly for those born with vulvas or assigned female at birth. The systems that stop us talking about sex are insidious and intentional – and often maintained and supported by other vulva owners as a way of preserving status within the patriarchy. There is a lot to unpack in pursuing pleasure. Onward!

  2. Jennifer Swan

    Hi Cyndi,

    I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your talk! I didn’t get to hear it during the Masters, but it was good that I got a chance to see it now. I thought it was beautiful and important work and you did it so beautifully. I have been so grateful that you are speaking about sex and relationships with such complexity as it has voiced what is made so difficult to speak out-loud. Your use of the Tree of Life practice let me notice how this could be used in so many ways. Thankyou for you bravery because it opens up so much more space for us all. I really appreciate all of your posts on Facebook…I love them all, hope all is well in your part of the world, Jen xx

    1. Cyndi Darnell

      Thanks Jenn, Such lovely words of praise and encouragement. I am glad you feel inspired to open up and create more within this field. I am well, thank you for asking. I hope you are too . xx

  3. corrie

    Thank you for sharing, i have learnt a lot about my own values around my sexuality

    1. Cyndi Darnell

      Oh, Thank you corrie. It’s great to hear that this presentation was helpful in you learning more about yourself.

  4. Marta Rivera

    Hi Cyndi,
    Thank you for sharing your work. I liked so much how you adapt the tree of life to sexuality. Me gustó mucho!

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