According to renowned sex therapist Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity, a man’s sexuality informs everything he does—how he approaches his work and recreation, how he meets or avoids challenges, how he relates to others, and how he feels about himself. But many times, raising the topic of sexuality causes men to get uncomfortable or defensive.
In the following video clip with Networker Editor Rich Simon, Perel explains how you can interweave questions and observations about sexuality throughout a session to expand your male client’s understanding of its significance in all aspects of his life.
Esther Perel, MA, LMFT, is the author of the international bestseller Mating in Captivity, and a consultant on the Showtime series The Affair. Her most recent book is The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity. Her TED Talks have garnered more than 20 million views.
Talking about sex with your male clients doesn't have to be a difficult experience, Perel contends. “If I’m talking about identity and gender, I will talk about sexuality," she says. "If I’m talking about relationships, I will talk about sexuality. I have a sense of what sexuality can mean and where it can fit in the various aspects of a person’s life, and then I make the link.”
In her Networker article, Perel writes that too much of us grow up in "sexual silence." Often, she explains, we grow up to associate pleasure with guilt and shame. "As a therapist," she says, "I provide a language and even a kind of aesthetic tone to counter the sense of degradation that’s often part of people’s experience of sex."
As Perel writes in her recent article, "The lives of women will not change until the lives of men come along.” Here's what she says therapists can contribute to the current conversation about our gender politics and the meaning of masculinity today.
You might also enjoy our other articles on couples therapy, from Michele Weiner-Davis, Susan Johnson, and more in our magazine issue, "Speaking of Sex: Why Is It Still So Difficult?"