NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Thursday, July 27, 2023

Are You Able to Express Your Vulnerable Feelings to Your Partner?

Being able to talk about your vulnerable feelings to a loved one is an essential part of being in a healthy relationship (see my article: Improve Communication in Your Relationship By Eliminating the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse).

Communication Problems in a Relationship

People, who struggle to communicate with their partner, often seek help in individual or couples therapy, but many more people never seek help because they're overwhelmed by shame. This often leads to anxiety and depression as well as a series of unhappy relationships.

How Does Trauma Affect a Person's Ability to Talk About Their Feelings?
An inability to communicate feelings is often linked to unresolved early trauma.

Children learn to identify and express their feelings when their parents name, frame and help the children to contain these feelings.

If you've ever watched a child having a tantrum in public, you probably observed their loving caregiver try to help them to calm down by making eye contact with a loving glaze, speaking softly and telling them that they understand the child is upset, identifying the feelings, framing it and comforting the child with a hug.

By identifying and framing the experience for the child, the caregiver helps the child to understand what they're feeling.  In effect, the caregiver becomes an emotional container for the child's emotions until the child gets older and they internalize the ability to do it on their own.

At first glance, this might not seem particularly important, but that loving caregiver is helping the child to understand what's happening to them emotionally and helping the child to manage their emotions (see my article: Developing Skills to Manage Your Emotions).

Contrast that with a caretaker who is outwardly angry and scolds the child by saying, "Stop being a baby!" or "Boys don't cry" or some other derogatory remark.

The disapproving caretaker isn't helping the child to identify, frame and contain their feelings. Instead they're communicating to the child that the child's feelings are wrong or bad, which is a form of emotional abuse. This creates guilt and shame (see my article: What is the Difference Between Guilt and Shame?).

So, what does a child do when faced with this situation over and over again?  To deal with this overwhelming experience, they suppress (or numb) their feelings to appease their caregiver at a great emotional cost to themselves.

Emotional numbing is often a survival strategy for young children who must choose between experiencing and expressing their feelings versus being overwhelmed by an angry caregiver.  

When children numb their feelings, they're trying to keep their caregiver from becoming even more angry or frustrated so, in that sense, it helps the child to survive in an unhealthy environment by keeping the caregiver from being even more emotionally abusive. 

If children experience ongoing disapproval of their feelings, this leads to developmental trauma (see my article: Overcoming Developmental Trauma: Developing the Capacity to Put Words to Feelings).

Developmental trauma doesn't just go away when a child becomes an adult. It becomes a way of life and it interferes with the individual's personal well-being as well as their relationships (see my article: How Trauma Affects Intimate Relationships).

So, what started as a childhood survival strategy to avoid further emotional pain is no longer a viable strategy in adulthood.  It creates confusion and doubt for the individual and for their loved ones.

Suppressed feelings can also cause health problems because the feelings don't go away just because the person isn't in touch with them. 

Due to the mind-body connection, suppressed feelings can create ever increasing stress and tension which can lead to headaches, backaches, autoimmune problems and other stress-related medical problems (see my article: Suppressed Emotions Can Lead to Medical and Psychological Problems).

How Can Experiential Therapy Help an Adult Who Doesn't Know How to Talk About Their Feelings?
Experiential therapy includes the following types of mind-body oriented therapy:
  • Other Mind-Body Oriented Therapies
An Experiential Therapist helps clients to develop a felt sense of their feelings in their body to overcome emotional numbing and begin to identify their feelings (see my article: Why Experiential Therapy is More Effective Than Regular Talk Therapy to Overcome Trauma).

Instead of relying on their intellectual insight to identify feelings, these clients learn to tap into their feelings in their body (see my article: How to Manage Your Emotions Without Suppressing Them).

This is usually a gradual process because it can take a while for clients to trust the therapist enough overcome their fear, shame and guilt (see my article: Mind-Body Oriented Therapy Offers a Window Into the Unconscious Mind).

These adults, who were ridiculed for their feelings as children, also have to learn to overcome the negative feedback they received as a child that their feelings were a burden to others, including their parents or primary caregivers.

Along the way, the Experiential Therapist also helps the client to work through unresolved trauma related to childhood experiences.

Becoming More Emotionally Available to Your Partner

When the client overcomes emotional numbing, they're able to experience a wide array of feelings, including joy and pleasure and they usually become more emotionally available to their loved ones.

Getting Help in Experiential Therapy
Emotional numbing robs you of joy and pleasure.  

Emotional numbing is also an obstacle to knowing yourself and being intimately known by your loved ones.

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help in Experiential Therapy so you can live a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples (see my article: What is a Trauma Therapist?).

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.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

How is Sensate Focus Used in Sex Therapy?

Before I discuss how Sensate Focus is used in sex therapy, I want to define what sex therapy is because there are many misconceptions about sex therapy in the general public and even with among psychotherapists who don't practice sex therapy.

What is Sex Therapy?
Sex therapy is a specific type of psychotherapy for individuals and couples to address sexual problems (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?).

Sensate Focus is a Component of Sex Therapy

There is no physical touch, physical exam, sex or nudity during sex therapy sessions.  Everyone in the room remains fully clothed just like they would in any other type of talk therapy session (see my article: What Are Common Misconceptions About Sex Therapy?

Sex therapy addresses physical, emotional and psychological factors that might be getting in the way of sexual fulfillment.

As a sex therapist, I help clients with a variety of sexual problems, including:
As well as other sex-related issues (see my article: What Kinds of Problems Are Addressed in Sex Therapy?).

A sex therapist might refer a client to various other health care practitioners to either rule out or overcome related medical or physical issues that could be part of the problem.  

For instance, if a man is experiencing erectile problems, a sex therapist often refers the client to a medical doctor who specializes in erectile problems to determine if the problem is medical.  Once a medical problem has been ruled out or addressed, a sex therapist can help the client with the emotional or psychological issues involved.

Another example of a possible referral is if a woman is experiencing pain during intercourse. A sex therapist often refers the client to a gynecologist who specializes in painful sex problems to either rule out or address the problem. Subsequently, a sex therapist can also refer the client to a physical therapist who is a pelvic floor specialist while the sex therapist simultaneously helps the client with the emotional or psychological issues involved.

What is Sensate Focus?
Sensate Focus is one component of sex therapy among many.

Sensate Focus is a behavioral technique that was originally developed by Masters and Johnson. 

Sensate Focus is a Component of Sex Therapy

Sensate Focus involves a series of behavioral exercises that a couple does together to help them to enhance their emotional and sexual connection.

The behavioral exercises are done as part of sex therapy homework in the privacy of their home.  They are not done in front of the sex therapist.

When I work with couples who want to improve their emotional and sexual connection, I provide them with psychoeducation about Sensate Focus and how it can be helpful.  Then, I tailor the homework to the needs of the particular clients. 

For instance, if they are in a long term relationship where there has been either infrequent or no sex for a while and they are apprehensive about Sensate Focus, I collaborate with the clients to see where they each feel relatively comfortable to begin.  

I stress to couples that Sensate Focus is a behavioral mindfulness technique and, as such, it's a non-demand exercise. 

The non-demand aspect of Sensate Focus means there is no expectation of sexual arousal, sexual desire and no expectation of sex. 

In fact, the exercise won't go beyond what has been agreed upon in advance by each member of the couple.

Sensate Focus is a Component of Sex Therapy

For example, with couples who haven't touched each other in a while, I might ask them to start by setting aside two times between weekly sex therapy sessions where they each take turns touching the other partner's hands for 2-5 minutes without any talking (this is to avoid the possibility of criticism which could make one or both people want to stop).  

During initial Sensate Focus exercises, I usually recommend that the couple is fully clothed when they do their homework assignment and that they do the exercise with lights on. There is no music or anything else that would indicate the expectation of sex.

By starting at a point where both people feel comfortable, Sensate Focus helps to remove stressful aspects of sexual and emotional connection that the couple might be struggling with. In fact, most people find Sensate Focus relaxing.

Sensate Focus is a Component of Sex Therapy

If one of the partners is uncomfortable with how the other partner is touching them, they can show them by lifting the partner's hand and demonstrating how they would like to be touched.

When the couple returns to their next sex therapy session, assuming they did the exercise, they each talk about their individual experience with the exercise.  

If they didn't do the exercise, I facilitate a discussion as to what got in the way of doing it.  Beyond giving reasons that they were busy or tired, this helps the couple to explore and understand unconscious issues involved with why they might have avoided doing the Sensate Focus exercise and how they can overcome these issues.

Overcoming obstacles to Sensate Focus also reinforces the idea that there is mutual responsibility for sexual and emotional connection

In other words, it's not the job of any particular person to be "in charge" of the exercises, so I usually recommend that each individual take turns reminding the other partner about the exercise and initiating.  

So, if Person A is the reminder and initiator on Day 1, Person B is the reminder and initiator on Day 2.

From there, I continue to collaborate with the couple on how to proceed to the next step in Sensate Focus. 

Based on the clients' mutual agreement, Sensate Focus progresses to include different types of touch as the exercises progress.  Once again, the exercises are highly individualized for the particular couple.

What is the Foundation of Sensate Focus?
There are several elements that serve as the foundation of Sensate Focus, including:
  • Providing sexual information and education to both partners about sexual function and activities
  • Establishing mutual responsibility between partners for addressing sexual communication, sexual needs and concerns of each partner
  • Helping couples to communicate effectively about sex without guilt or shame
  • Being willing to change sexual attitudes that are getting in the way of sexual fulfillment
  • Overcoming sexual performance anxiety, including guilt and shame
  • Overcoming issues related to sexual roles in the relationship
  • Giving behavioral homework assignments for couples to improve their sexual and emotional relationship
When is Sensate Focus Used?
Sensate Focus is used for a variety of sex-related problems, including but not limited to:
  • Sexual Arousal Problems
  • Sexual Desire Problems
  • Erectile Problems, including premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, erectile unpredictability
  • Painful Sex
  • Sexual Anxiety
  • Other Sex-Related Problems

Sensate Focus is a well-researched, effective component of sex therapy.

Sensate Focus helps to enhance emotional and sexual intimacy with behavioral exercises for couples to do privately as part of their homework.

Sensate Focus is beneficial for couples of any age, race, gender or sexual orientation, including heterosexual couples or LGBTQ+ couples.

Getting Help in Sex Therapy
Sex therapy is a form of talk therapy for individual adults and couples.

If you're struggling with sexual issues, you could benefit from working with a skilled sex therapist.

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help from a sex therapist so you can lead a more fulfilling sex life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I am a sex-positive therapist who works 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.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Balancing Emotional Security and Eroticism in Long Term Relationships

Sexlessness is common in many long term relationships according to relationship experts Stephen A. Mitchell, who wrote Can Love Last? and Esther Perel, who wrote Mating in Captivity (see my article: The Paradox of Love and Sexual Desire).

Security vs Eroticism in Long Term Relationships

Dr. Mitchell indicates that the need for absolute emotional safety often deadens eroticism in long term relationships (see my article: Overcoming Sexual Boredom in Long Term Relationships).

Many people unconsciously create such emotionally secure relationships that the comfort and safety come at the expense of the couple's sex life (see my article: The Erotic Equation: Attraction + Obstacles Equals Sexual Excitement).

The unintended consequences are that they create a dull and lifeless sex life because their partner becomes more like a parent or sibling, which makes sex unappealing to say the least.

Balancing Emotional Security and Eroticism in Long Term Relationships
One of the scenarios in Dr. Mitchell's book, Can Love Last?, illustrates how someone in a long term relationship can unconsciously create a dull sex life.

Susan needed and expected her husband to dote on her. But she also complained in her therapy sessions that all of her husband's doting, which she insisted upon, was anti-erotic.  At the same time, she carried on a passionate sexual affair with a younger man whom she described as sexually exciting.

Susan was unaware that she was unconsciously creating an anti-erotic environment at home with her husband due to her need for his doting care and she was relegating her erotic needs to the man with whom she was having a secret affair.

As she became aware in therapy of how she was orchestrating the dullness in her marriage and the sexual excitement in her affair, she also became aware of how sexually guarded she was with her husband and how free she felt in her affair.  

Once she realized how she had been unknowingly creating these situations with the two men in her life, she talked to her husband about making changes in their sex life.  

This allowed her to be more sexually adventurous with her husband when they went away for a weekend.  Instead of relegating her erotic feelings to her affair, she allowed herself to be more erotically authentic in her marriage (see my article: What is Your Erotic Blueprint?).

How Sex Therapy Helps Couples to Rekindle Their Sex Life
Sex therapy can help low-sex or no-sex couples to see how they might have unconsciously created erotic dullness in their relationship in order to feel their relationship is predictable and safe (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?).

Security vs Eroticism in Long Term Relationships

People in long term relationships often want to feel their partner is completely knowable and predictable.  However, in reality, there are always parts of yourself and your partner that are yet to be discovered.

When couples strive to create an atmosphere of absolute predictability and permanence in their relationship, they can unknowingly create the unintended deadness in their sex life.  

Sex therapy helps couples to recognize the unconscious dynamic they have created so they are freer to explore their sexuality and create a more erotic dynamic.  

This doesn't mean they no longer experience emotional security in their relationship. Instead, it means they learn to balance the need for security with a fulfilling sex life (see my article: To Rekindle Passion Fire Needs Air).

Getting Help in Sex Therapy
Sex therapy is a form of talk therapy.

There is no physical exam, nudity or sex during sex therapy sessions (see my article: What Are Common Misconceptions About Sex Therapy?).

People come to sex therapy for a variety of reasons (see my article: What Are Common Issues in Sex Therapy?).

Whether you're single or in any type of relationship, if you want a more fulfilling sex life, seek help from a skilled sex therapist.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I am a sex-positive therapist who works 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.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Developing Insight in Therapy Isn't Enough to Make Lasting Change

There's a common misconception that if you develop insight in therapy, the insight alone will bring about lasting change.  But this isn't true (see my article: A Common Myth About Therapy: Therapy is All Talk and No Action).

Insight Isn't Enough to Make Lasting Change

Insight alone doesn't bring about change. Insight can help you to understand the problem, which is a good first step.  But you need a lot more than insight, especially when you want to make a major change.

Mind-Body Oriented Psychotherapy Combined With Action on Your Part Can Bring About Lasting Change
As I've written in a prior article, mind-body oriented therapy is also known as Experiential Therapy.

Experiential therapy, including EMDRAEDP,  Somatic Experiencing and Parts Work, provides a window into the unconscious mind (see my article: Experiential Therapy and the Mind-Body Connection: The Body Offers a Window Into the Unconscious Mind).

Experiential Therapy can facilitate change on an emotional level rather than just on an intellectual level.  This means an emotional shift, which can be transformational when it is combined with taking action.

The emotional shift can be in how you feel about yourself, your problems and the necessary steps needed to make lasting change (see my article: Experiential Therapy is More Effective Than Talk Therapy).

Are You Willing to Do the Work in Therapy to Make Lasting Change?
Over the years I've received many calls from people who have been in therapy with other therapists for years but who haven't changed. 

Often they'll say that they gained a lot of insight into their problems and their therapist was nice, but their problems remained the same.

In most cases these clients talked about their problems and the therapist helped them to make the connection between their personal history and their current problems. For most of these clients this was a good start, but that's where it ended.

Insight Isn't Enough to Make Lasting Change

How Contemporary Psychotherapy Has Changed
For the most part, contemporary psychotherapy no longer involves clients free associating to a neutral therapist who barely says a word the whole time. 

Contemporary psychotherapy is much more interactive these days with an active therapist and an active client.

Clients who want to make lasting change need to be willing to do the work. Beyond developing insight, this means taking steps--no matter how small--to make changes.  

I think many people don't realize that working on making changes in is a major commitment  in time and effort in weekly therapy.  

Unfortunately, there are some people who believe that the therapist is the one who does something to bring about the change they want.  But that's not how therapy works. 

In collaboration with your therapist, you have to be willing to make a plan so you can take steps to make changes (see my article: Making Changes Requires Taking Action).

Are You Feeling Stuck in Your Therapy?
If you're currently in therapy and you're feeling stuck, as a start, talk to your therapist so you can both assess how and why you're stuck (see my articles: How to Talk to Your Therapist When Something is Bothering You About Your Therapy and Overcoming Obstacles to Making Changes).

Sometimes there's a part of you that wants to change and another part that doesn't. This isn't unusual. Ambivalence is common for clients in therapy (see my article: Overcoming Your Fear of Change).

An effective way of working with these different aspects within you is to work with a therapist who does Parts Work Therapy, which is also referred to as Ego States Therapy or Internal Family Systems (see my article: How Parts Work Therapy Helps to Empower You).

Aside from talking to your current therapist, take time to assess your own willingness to take action.  If you're not ready to take any steps, you might not be ready to make changes at this point in your life.

If you continue to feel stuck after you have talked to your therapist and you have done your own personal assessment of your willingness to take steps to change, you can consult with another therapist who works in a different way to understand how another type of therapy might help you. 

Sometimes an adjunct therapy, like adjunctive EMDR therapy, can help to enhance the work in your current therapy (see my article: What is Adjunctive EMDR Therapy?).

When you attend an adjunct therapy, you remain with your current therapist and also work with an adjunctive therapist. 

Assuming your current therapist is willing, you provide consent to both therapists to share information about your therapy so they can collaborate on the work.

Being proactive in your own change process can be an empowering experience.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex 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 or email me.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

How Women Who Have Lost Sexual Desire Can Get It Back

There is no such thing as "normal" when it comes to sexual desire. Each person is different.

How Women Who Have Lost Sexual Desire Can Get It Back

What Are Some of the Reasons Why Women Lose Their Sexual Desire?
For women a decrease or loss of sexual desire can occur for many reasons. 

Here are just a few of the many reasons why women can experience a loss of sexual desire:
Tips For Getting Back Sexual Desire That Might Be Helpful
Although every woman is different and there is no one-size-fits-all answer for getting back your libido, consider the following tips which might be helpful for you:
  • Start by Visiting Your Medical Doctor: Don't make assumptions about why you're experiencing a loss of sexual desire. Before you do anything else, visit your doctor to rule out any medical problems.  Once medical problems have been ruled out, you can consider other options listed below.
  • If There Was a Time When You Used to Enjoy Sex, Think About What Changed Since That Time: If there was a time when you enjoyed sex more, think about what you used to enjoy. Make a list of these experiences. Then, consider how changes in your life might have had a negative impact on your libido. Next, think about what you can do to address these issues and write them down. This list could include:
    • The birth of a child 
    • Elder care responsibilities
    • A death in the family
    • A major disappointment at home or work
    • A downturn in your finances
    • A relationship betrayal
    • Sleep problems
    • Other losses or changes in your life (see the list at the beginning of this article).
  • Reduce Your Stress: Stress can be a major factor in decreasing your libido. Think about how stress might be affecting you and consider healthy ways to reduce, including:
    • A doctor-approved exercise regime
    • Yoga 
Reduce Your Stress
    • Other stress reducing methods that are right for you
  • Assess Your Sexual Turn-ons and Turn-offs: Sex therapist Dr. Jack Morin created two surveys in his book, The Erotic Mind: The Sexual Excitement Survey and the Sexual Inhibition Survey that help you to assess your sexual turn-ons and turn-offs.  Start by assessing the factors that dampen your libido and then consider the factors that get you sexually turned on. See my articles: 
  • Consider How You Get Yourself in the Mood For Sex: Most women experience responsive desire as opposed to simultaneous sexual desire, especially if they're in a long term relationship (this is also true for many men in long term relationships). For people in a long term relationship, it takes more effort to get sexually turned on compared to when the relationship was new.  If you're expecting to automatically get turned on when you begin having sex with a long term partner, chances are you'll be disappointed. Instead of just looking at how your partner tries to get you turned on, consider how you get yourself in the mood for sex. What part of yourself do you bring to the sexual encounter? Do you take time to relax and get into an erotic frame of mind beforehand or do you approach sex as if it's a chore? In her TED Talk, sex and relationship therapist Ester Perel, Ph.D. suggests you consider "I get myself turned on when _____________" and "I get myself turned off when ________________."  You can fill in the blanks for yourself.
  • Consider Whether You're Unhappy With Sex in Your Relationship: If you have a sexual partner, think about whether you're not feeling sexually fulfilled during sex.  Sexual desire doesn't occur in a vacuum.  Even if you're able to get yourself in the mood for sex, no one gets turned on by unsatisfying sex. If you're having unsatisfying sex, the problem might not be with your libido, especially if you're turned on during solo sex/masturbation. It's a relationship and sexual problem between you and your partner, and you and your partner need to talk. See my articles: 

Talk to Your Partner
    • Think About Whether You're Bored and in a Sexual Rut: Whether you're single or in a relationship, if you're bored and in a sexual rut, you could benefit from changing things up.  See my articles: 
    • Get Help in Sex Therapy: If your doctor has ruled out any medical problems and you're unable to get back your libido, consider seeing a sex therapist.  Sex therapy is a form of talk therapy for individuals and couples. People who attend sex therapy go for a variety of reasons. There is no physical exam, nudity or sex during sex therapy.  A skilled sex therapist can help you to revive your sex life so you can have fulfilling sex again on your own and/or with a partner.  See my articles:

    About Me
    I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

    I am a sex positive therapist who works 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 or email me.

    Sunday, July 2, 2023

    What is Eroticism?

    The topic of this article is eroticism, which most people reduce to mean only sex, but eroticism is much more than sex. So, let's start by defining eroticism and then explore how eroticism develops.

    What is Eroticism?
    The word erotic comes from the Greek word, Eros, the Greek god of erotic love and desire.  

    Understanding Eroticism

    In her 1978 essay, "Uses of the Erotic," the poet, writer and Black lesbian feminist Audre Lorde defined the erotic as a source of knowledge, power and transformation.  She also defined it as a vital life force and a source of deep satisfaction, fulfillment and joy.

    Similarly, according to relationship and sex therapist, Dr. Esther Perel, who wrote the book, Mating in Captivity, eroticism is the capacity to maintain aliveness, vitality, curiosity, spontaneity and life energy. 

    Dr. Perel describes the difference between animals and humans having sex: When humans have sex, they are capable of eroticism. But when animals have sex, they are following their instinctual urge to procreate.  They don't have the capacity to be erotic.

    How to Develop the Capacity For Eroticism
    According to Dr. Perel, eroticism is pleasure for its own sake which you can develop through your creative imagination. 

    Understanding Eroticism

    Using your imagination and creative capacity, you have the ability to anticipate and imagine yourself in an erotic act where you can have multiple orgasms alone or with others.  Unlike animals, you can imagine the act without ever enacting it.

    Dr. Perel grew up in a Belgium community of Holocaust survivors, which included her parents who survived the camps. She talks about there being two groups in that community, "those who didn't die" and "those who came back to life."

    The people who didn't die, according to Dr. Perel, were those who couldn't experience pleasure because they couldn't trust. Due to their trauma, they were vigilant, anxious, and insecure.  This made it impossible for them to be imaginative and playful, which are necessary ingredients for eroticism.

    The people who came back to life understood that eroticism was the cure for feeling dead inside.  Even though they experienced trauma, they understood that eroticism was the key to feeling alive with vitality, joy and playfulness.

    When Do You Turn Yourself Off Erotically?
    Dr. Perel distinguishes the questions "when do you turn yourself off?" from the usual question that most people ask themselves or their partner, which is "what turns me off?" or referring to "things you do to turn me off" (referring to a partner).

    This is an important distinction.  Instead of looking outside yourself, she says you need look inside yourself to understand your part in whether or not you feel erotic.

        Erotic Turn-Offs
    • Feeling dead inside
    • Having a negative body image
    • Not taking time for yourself
    • Feeling a lack of confidence
    • Feeling you don't have the right to want, take or receive pleasure
        Erotic Turn-Ons:
    • Feeling alive, vibrant, imaginative, creative, playful
    • Accepting your body
    • Taking time for yourself
    • Feeling confident 
    • Feeling entitled to want, take and receive pleasure
    Eroticism Isn't About Sexual Performance
    People often think in terms of performative sex when they think of eroticism, but performative sex is the opposite of eroticism (see my article: What is Performative Sex?).

    If you want a vibrant erotic life, instead of focusing on performance, focus on aliveness, curiosity, mystery, transcendence and especially on developing your imagination so you can be more erotically creative.  

    Understanding Eroticism

    According to Dr. Perel, eroticism is not something you do.  It's a place where you go inside yourself either alone or with a partner.

    When you want to develop your erotic capacity, you allow your imagination to soar, which  includes allowing yourself to have erotic fantasies whether you have any intention of enacting  them or not (see my article:  The 7 Core Sexual Fantasies).

    Understanding Eroticism

    My Other Articles About Eroticism
    Also see my prior articles about eroticism:

    Getting Help in Sex Therapy
    If you're struggling erotically as an individual or as someone who is in a relationship, you're not alone.  This is a common problem people talk about in sex therapy.

    Sex therapy is a form of talk therapy (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?).

    There is no nudity, exams or sex during a sex therapy session (see my article: What Are Common Misconceptions About Sex Therapy?).

    Individuals and couples seek help in sex therapy for many different reasons (see my article: What Are Common Issues Discussed in Sex Therapy?).

    A skilled sex therapist can help you to connect to your erotic self so that you can feel alive, vibrant, imaginative and creative.

    Rather than struggling on your own, seek help in sex therapy so you can feel alive erotically.

    About Me
    I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

    I am a sex positive therapist who works 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 or email me.