Becoming a Psychosexual & Relationship Therapist
Why become a Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist? This is a question I have been asked many times and in order to answer this, I first need to take you back in time.
Many moons ago, I embarked on a journey to become a qualified, individual therapist. I researched until my head ached and my mind was full of terminology that I simply did not understand. In the end, I went with my gut and chose a Humanistic Integrative course because it ‘felt’ right to me. It started out as me just dipping my toes into the world of counselling and psychotherapy: three years later and not a hint of me regretting my choice, I qualified.
Humanistic Integrative counselling appealed to me because it was grounded in connecting with the person (my client), sat across from me in the room. It taught me a wide range of approaches and that meant that I could adapt the way I worked, depending on the person I was working with. In addition, the approach played to my personal belief that one size does not fit all in therapy. On the final day of the course, I recall the tutor asking each of us if we had any idea which area we would like to specialise in. At that juncture, 13 years ago, I already knew that psychosexual, relationship and couples work was where my passion lay.
I spent the next eight years consolidating my experience as an individual therapist and building my private practice. In 2015, I realised that the timing was right for me to push ahead and work towards qualifying as a Psychosexual and Relationship therapist. It was then that I discovered the London Diploma in Psychosexual and Relationship Therapy (LDPRT).
In early 2016, a group of us came together to embark on the LDPRT. Right from the word go, I loved the learning and the work. I found it dynamic, fast paced at times, challenging, directive, and so incredibly interesting. Just like the initial counselling course that I chose all those years ago, the LDPRT brought a range of approaches and tools to the table, thereby fitting with my personal approach and ethos as a therapist. The course brought my passion to the fore and I knew I was in the right place.
Since qualifying, I continue to be fascinated by and feel passionate about the work and also by people’s reactions to it. In social situations, if my work comes up in a conversation, the most common responses include:
“Wow, I could not do what you do – talking to people about sex and their relationship”
“So you touch people and examine them then?”
There are just so many misconceptions about what we, as Psychosexual and Relationship therapists, do. Education is such a key part to this, because people need to better understand how we work and how we can support.
Any therapy is challenging for the person who seeks it. Psychosexual and Relationship Therapy (PST) – and within that I include couples work - is particularly tough because in order for it to be successful and effective, the client needs to bare their soul and share their innermost and private sexual experiences and/ or the innermost workings of their relationship. Many who seek out this therapeutic approach, come to the first session nervous, anxious, sometimes feeling shame and with a sense of embarrassment and awkwardness. If it is couples work, there can be many other emotions that are brought to the therapy, along with a whole dynamic and history that exists between the two people in the couple. People just do not know what to expect from the sessions and they feel very vulnerable and unsafe, particularly to begin with. Think about it, when was the last time you shared personal details about your sex life, sexual experiences or your relationship, with anyone, let alone a complete stranger?
Whilst there are sensitivities with any presenting issue in therapy, as a Psychosexual and Relationship therapist, I am acutely aware of the added sensitivities surrounding the issues people bring to me. It is critical that I approach our discussions in a gentle, open, down to earth manner, without minimising the issue(s), however at the same time, putting the client at ease so that they feel able to speak freely with me in our sessions. If I get that right, it enables our relationship to deepen and grow then the work can really begin.
So why choose to become a therapist who works with PST? This is an area of therapy that has always really interested me. I have always felt that this work would be where I could make a real difference. Furthermore, I use my intuition with many things in life and it has always been present in the therapy room. It forms part of my therapeutic toolkit, alongside all of the approaches I was taught. The choices in my training over the years, have initially been as a result of research, however the final decision has been based around what my gut says to me. All those years ago, my gut told me that my future specialism would be in the world of psychosexual, relationship and couples work and this is absolutely the right area for me to now be working in. The work is incredibly powerful, effective and can have such a profoundly positive impact on somebody’s life.