We are so excited to see that you are interested in coaching and personal growth! If you are interested in sex and relationship coaching as a profession or already are a sex and relationship coach, it is important to know the field. Many kinds of practices fall under the umbrella of sex and relationship coaching. Depending on your personality, your interests, and your boundaries, you may be drawn to a particular approach. In this article, we offer an in-depth description of all of the subcategories of sex and relationship coaching so that you can decide what suits you best.

There are two main categories of coaching — talk coaching and experiential coaching. During “talk coaching” sessions, a client will discuss their issues, while the coach gives support and suggestions for change. For sessions during which a coach physically interacts with their client in some way, we use the term “experiential coaching.”

Talk Coaching

Similar to life coaching and business coaching, talk coaching in the realm of sex and relationships is where the client comes to the practitioner with a problem and the coach helps them figure out what steps they can take to solve their problem. The coach may ask the client to fill out an intake form or they will meet in-person, over the phone, or on Skype for an initial session. During this time, they will work together to define the problem and the coach will develop a coaching plan with steps to address the issue. At each subsequent meeting, they talk about which parts of the plan the client has accomplished and where they may be feeling stuck. The coach then helps the client keep their commitment to continue the plan.

Talk coaching can cover many topics including dating, sexual identity, sexual abuse, sex addiction, sex and aging, open relationships, communication skills, gender identity, sex in long-term relationships, and sexual dysfunction. Talk coaches will sometimes offer experiential practices in the form of homework to do outside of the session with partners (or potential partners). For example, a talk coach may encourage a client who is interested in dating to talk to 5 people to whom they feel attracted. They may offer suggestions to couples such as watching a video and then practicing the kinds of sensual touch they see in it. Some of these issues are more about the coach helping the client accept themselves. Other clients may need help speaking to family, friends, or loved ones about who they truly are. In terms of boundaries, talk coaches do not typically have physical contact beyond hugs or handshakes. A coach may offer emotional support by placing a hand on their client’s back or arm when needed, but this is typically the furthest extent to which physical contact is given within a talk coaching session.

Experiential Coaching

Experiential coaching (in the realm of sex and relationships) is active, and sometimes interactive process, whereby the coach guides their client through exercises to help them feel more comfortable with their body, their sexuality, and intimacy. It is often focused on helping clients feel more embodied and mindful in their day-to-day interactions. Examples of experiential coaching include sacred sexuality, Tantra, and Sexological Bodywork. A tantra coach might teach a client who is disconnected from their sexuality particular Tantric breathing practices. These practices are meant to help the client connect with their primal energy, bringing together the sexual and the sacred. A Sexological Bodyworker may invite their client to masturbate in front of them, and then coach them on ways to expand their masturbation practice to have more erotic self-awareness and deeper fulfillment.

Sex and relationship coaches may fall into one of these two categories or may practice a combination of the two. In both of these approaches, the coach maintains a supportive, loving, yet personally distant approach. They may share some of their own personal experiences as a way to normalize a client’s feelings or needs, but they generally do not connect relationally with their clients. In terms of boundaries, experiential work can include touching between the coach and the client. Sometimes there may be client nudity and less often, practitioner nudity as well.

How is Somatica Sex and Relationship Coaching Different?

While Somatica has aspects of talk coaching and experiential coaching, the foundation of the approach is completely different. Somatica was created as a way to fill a gap in the experiential learning realm. In order for clients to learn how to have emotional and erotic intimacy, we felt they needed to have authentic experiences of two-way intimacy—what we call a Relationship Lab. As a Somatica Coach, you will practice authentic relating with your client to help them learn, grow, and transform in their sexual lives and relationships.

As their coach, you would not act as a distant helper, but instead as a partner who engages in emotional and erotic intimacy, seeing what it feels like to be intimate with this person. By engaging in physical and emotional intimacy, you, as their coach, evaluate the client’s sexual and relational strengths, as well as their challenges. Once you understand what they need to learn, you then teach them the tools they need to have in order to attain more emotionally connected and sensually satisfying lives.

Somatica offers both individuals and couples real-time, experiential practices with emotional and erotic connection so that clients can experience embodied learning. Embodied learning is different than purely cognitive learning. When a person has an actual experience of vulnerability, arousal, or passion, they are much more likely to be able to translate this into their day-to-day lives. They are then able to change habits more easily than if they have solely thought, read, or talked about it. If we look at it from a brain plasticity perspective and how people learn, creating new multi-dimensional experiences that involve thoughts, emotion, and the senses is much more effective and efficient. It helps your clients create new neural pathways and is, therefore, a powerful way to change behaviors and old habits. The boundaries of Somatica are clothes-on, with no kissing on the mouth. Touch is acceptable in both directions, but no touch should ever move toward orgasm.

Finally, while some forms of erotic teaching try to help students learn completely different approaches and languages around eroticism (sometimes insinuating that these are superior forms of erotic expression), Somatica instead helps draw out each person’s unique erotic imagination and desires, helping them integrate them out in the world. Somatica does not offer a one-size-fits-all solution to people’s sexuality, but rather helps to expand what’s on the menu until the client discovers what turns them on the most. We believe that a person’s main erotic desires do not change. This means trying to eradicate, ignore, or change them is a great disservice to the person. Approaches that do this often instill both shame and the feeling that something is wrong with these desires. Instead, in Somatica, we support individuals to explore and embrace their unique erotic makeup, learning how to communicate it to a partner.