Focusing and sexuality - my story
Focusing summons working through the body: it invites radical acceptance, a brave invitation for going in-depth, and yet, as with any emotional therapy, focusers rarely feel comfortable delving into issues related to sexuality, sensing and sharing the felt sense in the pelvic and genital regions and to bring forth feelings related to sexual matters.
So, when I decided to title my work as ‘Focusing and Sexuality’, I found myself wondering how that might work.
I became acquainted with the Focusing world at age 37 after years of sexual inquiry. I started with my own body as a young woman in my twenties and after settling into a long-term relationship and had children, I became a sex and relationships writer for several on and offline magazines. For more than 10 years I have interviewed experts, read articles, surveys and books, and discussed, as a journalist, issues related to physical, marital, and emotional sexual functioning.
In doing so, and of course, through my own process, I learned how sexuality is one of the key topics of inner exploration.
Throughout my training in Focusing, I was looking for materials related to the crossing between Focusing and sexuality. I guessed that since Focusing is connected to the therapeutic world, sex therapists must have made a connection to this wonderful tool — but I found nothing. I later spoke with some of the senior Focusing teachers in the world and found that there are tantra teachers who connected Focusing and tantric awareness processes but never took topics from the world of sexual therapy such as premature ejaculation, sexual identity, lack of passion, and more - into Focusing process.
Could it be that Focusing, which existed for over 60 years and had been integrated with almost all fields of therapy, had not yet reached sexuality?
At first, it seemed absurd, yet as I researched and further deepened my inquiry I realized that I was alone on this path: no one before had connected between Focusing practice and sexual therapy.
There is a saying that it is not us who have an idea, but it is the idea that has us. 'Focusing and Sexuality' took me on a journey in which I am still immersed to this day and I would not have been able to do so without the close support of colleagues and research partners, supportive teachers, supervisors, and guidance by the best therapists and focusers in Israel.
The investigation led me first and foremost to the understanding that I needed to study my own sexuality: my relationship, desires, pain, traumas, and pleasure. Explore deep into the past, fantasies, relationships, and the parts of the shadows I didn't want to see.
I learned more about sexual trauma, family constellation, and couples therapy. I participated in tantric and shamanic sexuality workshops, conferences, and lectures by the best teachers in the world.
Next, I invited friends to experience Focusing on that topic; gradually, my mind and body learned to hold the complexity associated with working on sexual issues.
The connection, so I learned, between Focusing and sexual therapy is complex and invites a conscious awareness to divergent fields. But, The deeper I went, I I learned more about :
• The presence of embarrassment and sexual tension in the Focusing clinic
• Working with radical acceptance around embarrassing topics
• The forces that are active in the sexual field
• How to expand my presence even further.
Along the way, I accompanied thousands of men and women and learned to better identify what I need - as a facilitator - when the situation touches on complex issues for me and where my boundaries lie.
The unusual thing in working with sexuality, as testified by other therapists and workshop facilitators in the field, is the level of intimacy encapsulated in the therapeutic space.
When exposure is present, authenticity and dedication are required from the facilitator as well.
Working with sexuality has taught me how much flexibility, honesty, and humanity alongside professionalism and clear-headedness are essential. On the one hand, for the client to move into the emotional space with a sense of security, the facilitator must be authentic and human. Yet sexual therapy is a space that seeks professionalism, secure holding, and tight boundaries.
In my opinion, the request from a sexual therapist is twofold: "be personal, sensitive, and present"; and at the same time, "be strong, knowledgeable, containing and sensitive - so that I can let go."
The request I usually hear, even if it is not always verbally expressed is: Allow me to let go, without feeling exposed, to be brave enough to challenge my boundaries but do not make me feel vulnerable. Help me deepen into myself but do not leave your vulnerability and humanity behind.
In this space, it is easy to find facilitators losing their way and clients who have been injured.
Both sides expect the process to be perfect, but the sexual field is not a stable ground, especially not for injured people. And most of us were hurt.
Since 2009 I have been discovering the correct path: one that will create a safely held space, and still allow for flexibility and dynamic movement.
The process of working with sexuality exposes all the unconscious parts that believed that hiding behind the embarrassment would provide them with an eternal hiding place.
Once we open the curtain, we will encounter painful, frightened, threatened, and injured parts, and we must know how to work with them as facilitators and be prepared to meet them - as facilitators.
My invitation to focusers is to remember that sexuality is a gateway: A portal that leads to emotional depth that seeks support, and movement that seeks change