NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Changing Your Sex Script - Part 4: Enhancing Sexual Motivation With Psychological Stimulation

My focus has been on exploring how to change your sex script, and I'm continuing with that topic in this article by discussing how to enhance sexual motivation with psychological stimulation (see my articles:  Changing Your Sex Script: Sexual Arousal - Part 1Part 2 and Part 3: Enhancing Sexual Motivation).

Enhancing Sexual Motivation With Psychological Stimulation

Enhancing Psychological Stimulation to Develop Sexual Motivation
According to Ian Kerner, Ph.D., LMFT, who wrote So Tell Me About the Last Time You Had Sextoo many couples only rely on physical sexual stimulation and they don't include psychological stimulation in their repertoire.  

Since the brain is often thought of as the biggest sex organ, it makes sense to incorporate psychological stimulation when you're trying to enhance sexual motivation.  

According to Dr. Kerner, there are two different types of psychological stimulation: 
  • Side-By-Side Psychological Stimulation
  • Face-to-Face Psychological Stimulation
     Side-By-Side Psychological Stimulation:
Let's start by describing side-by-side psychological stimulation, which involves using something that's created by someone else.  It can include, among other things, watching a sexy movie or porn together, reading erotica out loud to each other or listening to an erotic podcast together.  

     Face-to-Face Psychological Stimulation:
Face-to-face psychological stimulation involves the couple turning towards each other.  An example of this would be for a couple to share their sexual fantasies with one another (see my articles: Are You Too Ashamed to Share Your Sexual Fantasies With Your Spouse? and Exploring Sexual Fantasies With Your Partner Without Guilt of Shame).

Before moving on, it's important to say that talking about a sexual fantasy is very different from actually acting upon it.  While the couple might want to act out the fantasy, for many couples just talking about it can be enough of a turn-on to stimulate sexual arousal.

A Fictional Scenario: Ann and Ted
In my last article, we looked at a fictional vignette about a couple called Ann and Ted, who began couples therapy because their sex life had dwindled down to almost nothing.

Their couples therapist talked to them about the "willingness window," a concept that is explained in my prior article as well as in Dr. Kerner's book.  

As part of their homework assignment to try the "willingness window," they agreed to designate two times during the week for least 30 minutes where they leave time for sexual arousal. 

Their couples therapist suggested that one time should involve physical/sensual arousal and the other time should focus on psychological arousal (either face-to-face or side-by-side).  She emphasized that if either of them didn't feel like having sex, there should be no pressure from the other.  Then, she asked them to discuss their experiences at their next couples therapy session.

When Ann and Ted returned for their next couples therapy session, they were eager to talk about their experiences.  Ann started by saying neither of them had ever discussed sexual fantasies (face-to-face psychological stimulation) with each other, so at first they both felt shy.  

But, according to Ann, after a few awkward attempts, Ted began by saying, rather hesitantly, that he had always secretly fantasied about them having a threesome with another woman.  Ann said he was quick to say that he didn't expect or even want them to actually have a real threesome--it was just a thought that turned him on.

Ann said she had never thought about this before, and she was surprised that it was a real turn-on for her too.  Their therapist pointed out that a sex survey revealed that fantasies about  threesomes was the most common sexual fantasy reported anonymously in sex research (see my article: The 7 Core Sexual Fantasies).

Then, Ted told their couples therapist that when Ann shared her secret sexual fantasy of having Ted watch as another man had sex with her, Ted was immediately turned on.  However, both of them were quick to say, once again, they weren't interested in actually doing this.  Talking about the fantasy was enough for both of them.  This was another example of face-to-face psychological fantasy.

They also talked about watching porn together, which they had never done before.  Ann found a website for ethical porn that was made by women and where there was no underage sex and no one was coerced into having sex--it was all among consenting adults.

Ann found a film where the woman was dominant, which she had never considered before.  Also, as opposed to regular porn, there was a slow build up of sexual arousal, which turned her on.  

She said, afterwards, they locked their bedroom door (in order to ensure that their children wouldn't walk in on them, which had been an inhibitor for Ann in the past) and they had the kind of passionate sex they used to have before they had kids.  Then, they fell asleep cuddling in each other's arms.

In addition, they used their second willingness window for sensuous massage, which is an example of physical stimulation.  Ann bought her favorite scented almond oil, she lit candles and incense, and Ted gave her a slow, sensuous massage.  As they had agreed, he wasn't expecting sex, but they were both so turned on that they surprised themselves by having another night of passionate sex.

In their subsequent couples therapy sessions, Ann and Ted discussed other possible sources of physical and psychological stimulation.  They were both eager and ready to expand their repertoire as part of enhancing their sexual motivation.

Many couples get stuck in the same old sex script, so it's important to look at your usual sex script, which is a description of your sexual encounters with your partner from beginning to end.

Many couples never talk about their sex life with each other because they feel ashamed and they might not know how to talk about it.  

An experienced couples therapist can help couples to talk about their sexual experiences, including whether they respond spontaneously or more responsively, what their turn-ons and turn-offs are, including sexual fantasies, and how to enhance their sexual motivation.

As part of their homework between couples therapy sessions, a couples therapist might assign the couple to choose two times during the week when they are willing to use physical as well as psychological stimulation to enhance their sexual arousal and motivation.

As couples become more comfortable with these activities, they can be more creative in terms of how they engage in sexual stimulation and, over time, they can improve and expand their sex script.

Getting Help in Therapy
It's not unusual for couples to develop sexual problems, especially in long term relationships.  Stress, anxiety, shame and guilt can all contribute to sexual inhibitions.

Rather than struggling on your own, you can seek help from an experienced psychotherapist, who can help you to improve your sex life one step at a time.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.