How do we discuss sex issues in therapy with a narrative and post-structuralist, postcolonial approach? This paper discusses the ethics and practices of narrative approaches to talking about sex in therapy. It discusses ways to reduce the influence of shame and embarrassment, promote local knowledge and skills, and to minimise the impact of the gender and sexuality of the therapist.
The following interview focuses on work with survivors of sexual trauma. The reason we approached Elsa and Esben Esther on this topic is that they are trying to bring together knowledge and experience from the sexology field and the realm of queer experience to their work with people who have been subjected to sexual trauma and abuse. The form of therapy that Elsa and Esben Esther engage in is informed more by sex-therapy models than by narrative practices; however, the perspectives they offer on this topic seem very relevant to the readership of this journal and we are pleased to include this interview here.
Humans have the capacity to respond to sexual stimuli across the lifespan. Sexual responses are modified through interactive processes and manifest through sexual turn-on patterns.
In this paper, the authors review the history of understanding sexual turn-on patterns in the professional literature. They discuss their preferred understandings of how these patterns arise and their preferred sex-positive ways to help people with them. This includes a discussion on using the understanding of learning languages to explain how sexual turn-on patterns are learnt.
Like language, sexual feelings develop in many directions, depending on circumstances: as we happen to learn a language, so too we happen to ‘learn’ sexual turn-on patterns. As we cannot unlearn a language, we cannot unlearn a turn-on pattern. However, we can learn new languages. We can also new ways of being turned-on.
In this paper, I argue that the capacity to talk about sex and sexuality is vital to effective narrative practice, though these issues are little discussed among narrative practitioners. Building our skills in enabling such conversations can better equip us to move in the direction of reducing violence, discrimination and coercion; creating safety and improving wellbeing. I argue that being capable of conversations about sexual practices is critical to important goals, such as ending sexual violence and eliminating discrimination against queer people. The capacity to speak about sexuality is also important in supporting people who wish to move beyond traumatic or joyless experiences related to sex and into living thriving and pleasurable lives. This paper invites readers to reflect on their own confidence and ability in enabling conversations about sex and sexuality. Finally, it provides concrete suggestions for people who would like to increase their capacity for relaxed conversations about sex and sexuality.
A reflection on Mary heath’s paper ‘enabling conversations about sex and sexuality by Barbara Baumgartner.
This article uses stories about everyday life to explore ideas about sex, gender and sexuality. It questions the dominant idea that there are only two sexes and two genders, and that sex should always be congruent with gender, drawing on queer theory – and intersex and transgendered people’s life stories. It also examines the challenges bisexuality and queer theory present to dominant ideas about sexuality, proposing that there are more than two sexualities, and that sexuality can change depending on time, circumstances, and other factors. The author suggests that people who believe that their own sex and gender are uncontroversial have much to learn from paying thorough attention to the richness of human diversity rather than accepting the dominant two-sex, two-gender story. She suggests that refusing to accept the limitations of the accepted accounts of sex, gender and sexuality opens the way to exciting conversations on these subjects. These conversations, and the social change which they are making possible, have much to offer to people who fit within the dominant models of sex, gender and sexuality as well as those whose lives are currently erased and denigrated by them.