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How to ask for what you want – both in bed and in life – is intensely difficult for many people.

In this real-life example of a Somatica Session, Sabrina works with sex coach Celeste Hirschman on the themes of self care, self love, and self worth. She wants to overcome her fears of displeasing her partner by asking for what she wants – before, during and after sex.


Building Self Worth

The goal of this therapy session is to empower the client to take control of their life, and teach them it’s ok to receive love and attention from others.

Embracing the principles of self worth and self love, Celeste starts by helping Sabrina explore her feelings of deserving. It’s the concept that she deserves love and care, and doesn’t need to work so hard for it. Sabrina admits she doesn’t feel worthy to ask for what she wants. She is used to taking what she can get from her relationships. 

To help build self worth, Celeste introduces the idea that having a real-time experience of asking for what she wants can help her get it. She encourages Sabrina to be specific and picky about her desires. On a deeper level, she can then go into an experience with the feeling that it is for her. Celeste assures that she wants to really do her best to meet Sabrina’s needs – and Sabrina practices accepting this sentiment.

They begin with breathwork to connect Sabrina to her heart, belly, and pussy. This is an effective tool to help someone identify what she really needs, in an embodied way. Sabrina asks for more closeness, and Celeste encourages her not to settle or “get by,” but to try to find and get what she really wants. As they deepen the connection, Sabrina gets specific about how she feels – for example about her hair being touched. Celeste encourages this specificity and thanks her for saying what she needs. 

How to Get What You Want – By Asking For It

Sabrina biggest worries are putting someone out, or making them do something they are uncomfortable doing. Celeste reassures her, and this allows Sabrina to feel safe to ask for more. Settling in and taking time between each ask gives her the bandwidth she needs to feel what she wants next.

Celeste reflects that Sabrina’s laid-back, receptive attitude is very sexy and inspiring. She identifies Sabrina’s self-possessed attitude, and helps her feels what it’s like to own herself. Asking for more closeness, Sabrina becomes very relaxed.

As the exercise continues, Sabrina is emboldened by her success. She asks her coach to push things forward. Celeste cheer leads Sabrina’s clarity and self-possession, and invites her to give feedback. 

Find Your Inner Cleopatra

At this point, Celeste guides Sabrina into finding her inner Cleopatra. Adopting a lounging position, they experiment with feeding Sabrina grapes and making her feel decadent and worthy.

However, when the word “deserving” is mentioned, Sabrina instinctually rejects it. She doesn’t feel herself to be deserving. Celeste points out how sexy she is when she takes the attitude of deserving, and Sabrina sees that it’s ok to relax into pleasure and ask for what she wants.

Find your inner cleopatra

Guiding her deeper into the exercise of self worth building, Celeste helps Sabrina identify what she wants before, during, and after sex. The goal is for her to not be content with the status quo, and  settle for less. By asking Sabrina to go to her oracles – her heart, belly, and pussy – they explore her needs after an erotic experience. In response, Sabrina brings up the courage to inquire if Celeste enjoyed herself – and wants to do it again.

Sensing that her client has managed to find a new confidence, Celeste invites Sabrina to let her inner Cleopatra self be the new normal. She points out that her queen-liness will invite all the things she wants in to her life.

Rewiring the Brain and Nervous System Through Experiences

In Somatica, we facilitate clients to have real-time encounters with pleasure and attachment. Through this process of experiencing something new and different, a person can rewire their brain and nervous system. It allows them to seek more joy and connection out in the world. Their body knows it’s possible, and longs to recreate the beauty of the experience. 

While it might seem tempting to brainstorm what your client should do out in the world, as a practitioner, it is important to start with the relationship between you and your client. Until they get a real sense of being deserving, it will be hard for them to shift patterns. They learn through real-time experiences of receiving and practicing with emotional and erotic intimacy.

Curious about learning more about the fascinating world of relationship coaching? Join us for our next Free Intro to Somatica. 

In the Somatica training, we teach you how to build a therapeutic relationship with a client that helps them transform in the realm of sex and intimacy. We call these “practice relationships” or “The Relationship Lab”. They are two-way, authentic relationships that offer freedom and safety to the client – so they can practice the tools to build healthy relationships.

Here is how:

1) Participate in Authentic Relating

Knowing how to build a therapeutic relationship with a client begins with being self aware of your own strengths and challenges. And you need to be willing to be honest with yourself and your client about them.

A practice relationship also requires authentic relating – a method where both practitioner and client share their feelings and vulnerabilities with one another. This is one of the biggest differences between most kinds of coaching (or therapy) and the Somatica Method – we don’t pretend to be unaffected erotically or emotionally by our clients. Experiences of arousal or emotional challenge aren’t simply processed by ourselves or with a supervisor. We share our feelings about and responses to our clients WITH our clients. Doing this mindfully and with the conscious intention of supporting our clients is of utmost importance. By providing real-life experiences with such challenges as differences in desire, triggering, conflict in relationships, we build trust and attachment.

Authentic relating also offers many opportunities to practice with the joyful and arousing parts of relationships. For example, you might practice giving each other appreciation, or learning each others Core Desires and Hottest Sexual Movies.

authentic relating

2) Offer Secure Attachment

In these therapeutic relationships with our clients, we are mindful in our constant intention to offer them an experience of secure attachment. We provide unconditional love and connection, respect, and honest, gentle communication as tools for this attachment. One of our favorite quotes is “There is no such thing as a perfect parent.”

We know we will not be perfect. But we commit to always be willing to repair, and to take responsibility for reaching out and inviting the possibility for repair. Creating a truly therapeutic relationship means we must be willing to take responsibility for the mistakes we make. And we must be honest about the triggered moments we experience in relationship to our client. This is the most anyone can hope for from an attachment figure.

Offering this attachment relationships is one part of why Somatica is so healing. Without even realizing fully why or how, people who experience this unconditional love and respect begin to feel better about themselves. By being treated respectfully and lovingly, people realize they deserve this kind of treatment. It allows them to build their own foundation or increase the strength of their foundation of self love.

secure attachment

3) Support the Client’s Autonomy & Individuation

Instead of having an agenda of saving or fixing, in a truly therapeutic relationship, we must always focus on helping our clients uncover their true will. People thrive on being supported in making decisions that are in alignment with who they are.  In so many instances in traditional coaching or therapy, clients report feeling like their helpers have an agenda for how they are supposed to behave. To support your client’s autonomy, you need to drop your agenda and see what they really want for themselves.

We always invite our clients to tell us if they feel pushed or overridden by us. Listening to those feelings and taking them seriously is paramount. And we also share our feelings in response. As their practice partner, we are eliciting and supporting their true will – while still being real about challenges and triggers that arise in us in response to them.

Frequently, our clients’ biggest “aha” moments often arrive when they have a new experience. Engaging in a practice relationship makes it possible for them to get fresh, more positive ways of approaching the pleasures and challenges of relationships. Building a therapeutic relationship and practicing authentic relating will revolutionize your practice.

Curious to learn more about The Somatica Method? Join us at our next free intro.

Have you ever wondered how to build emotional connection with someone in a social setting?  In this third real-life episode of the Somatica Sessions video series, coach Danielle Harel teaches her client Krister how to ask for consent, build interpersonal relationship skills, and attune himself in order to stage a successful seduction.



Attunement to Open Yourself Up

Krister wants to find his confidence and inspiration – what he calls the “activation energy” – so he can reach out for connection in social situations. When he thinks about initiating, he fears he is not interesting enough or that he’s bothering them. He gets in his head and is unsure of where he fits in. His current strategy is to stand nearby and wait for some kind of invitation or natural connection to happen.

Danielle presents in the idea of attunement as something that happens when your body and brain are integrated. She invites him to enter a social situation by running pleasure circuits inside himself. Taking him through a breathwork session, she helps him start to connect with himself and his own pleasure. This self-connection and self-enjoyment is the foundation to create a circuit of mutual attraction.

As Krister becomes more embodied and less distracted, he starts to inspire and pick up Danielle’s more subtle connection cues. She points out that each of them are inside of themselves and running a circuit of aliveness between them. From this place, Krister learns to communicate without popping out of his body and into his head. He does this is by staying in the moment and bringing curiosity without an agenda. 


Touch for Fostering Relaxation and Security

Krister mentions how relaxing it is for him when touch is in the mix. Touch gives him a sense of security in the connection and relaxes his whole nervous system. He and Danielle brainstorm how he can bring touch safely into a social environment. She teaches him how to escalate into touch by starting with the assumption of a yes – the assumption that he is wanted. 

As they talk, he is flowing his erotic energy towards her, and they are trying to figure out how Krister can foster an approach with that. He likes to dominate and play with edges because it fills him with excitement. Danielle points out that when he approaches someone, he will need to attune first in order to make sure the other person is actually a yes. Krister is learning to escalate with ongoing consent. He practices this by coming at her with his full desire, telling her what he wants to do to her, then pausing and making sure he reads her consent cues.

At the end of the cycle of erotic connection, Krister discovers how to keep building that emotional connection instead of breaking it. He also learns to listen to the voice of his desire as the guide where he wants to escalate next. They practice together, playing with verbal seduction and dominance as he takes Danielle to new heights of arousal. He also learns to trust his own and his partner’s “YES.” 

The Magic of Self Connection

In Somatica, we teach our students and clients how to follow their own desires, while staying attuned to the needs and responses of others. It can be challenging for anyone to come into a social situation and try to make connections – but someone’s got to make the first move.

At the Somatica Institute, we help you come into your body and foster pleasurable self-connection. The goal is to feel confident and be present – instead of being in your head, worrying and strategizing about what to do next. When you are embodied, you feel others more, and the likelihood of chemistry arising becomes much higher.


Intrigued by Somatica? Learn more about the Core Training or attend one of our free intros!

Have you ever experienced toxic shame and wondered how you can overcome it?

In this second episode of our Somatica Sessions video series, Danielle walks Dori through shame therapy and explains the psychological effects of shame.

Exploring The Roots of Shame

In her current relationship, Dori feels she is the “more needy” partner, which is not her usual experience of relationships. This causes her to feel a sense of shame for having needs at all. Danielle helps her explore the roots of this shame by taking her into an Inner Child Visualization. 

When Dori goes back into her inner child, she lands on a memory where she is left alone in her crib while her parents play with and dote over her brother. As a small child, Dori’s needs and feelings were ignored, which caused her to start to feel a sense of toxic shame. She disconnected from her needs in order to survive the feelings of hurt and rejection.


Celebrating Needs as Beautiful and Necessary

As Danielle brings Dori into this inner child space, she offers her loving attachment and a strong belief in the idea that Dori’s needs and feelings are very important. She helps Dori express her fears and sadness about not being able to have needs as a child, and helps her see that her needs are actually beautiful. Just because her parents did not meet her needs doesn’t mean she has to stop needing.

Once Dori begins to embrace her needs as beautiful, Danielle helps her separate this idea from the reality that those needs won’t all be able to be met in her relationship with her lover. A lot of the session is actually attachment work, as Danielle stays connected and celebratory about Dori’s needs, always embracing and never shaming Dori for having as many needs as she has.


Healing Shame by Staying Resilient to Unmet Needs

One key concept of the Somatica philosophy is that a person’s needs are beautiful – whether or not they get met. The truth of being human is that we all have many needs and that they won’t all get met – and they certainly won’t all get met by one person. When people realize they can celebrate their needs – instead of shaming them – they can advocate for themselves and still stay resilient when those needs are not met.  In other words, they can allow themselves to have needs – without feeling like unmet needs are proof that their partner does not love them.

Intrigued by Somatica? Learn more about the Core Training or attend one of our free intros!

What if you could learn how to create desire in others by simply fostering a deeper self connection? 

In this first episode of our brand new Somatica Sessions video series, Celeste guides her client Spiritchild on a journey of self connection. By finding a connection to his own erotic essence and bringing it to every interaction, Spiritichild realizes he can increase his joy, creativity, spirituality and aliveness in the world.

Discovery of the Core Problem

The episode begins with Celeste helping Spiritchild discover what blocks him from enjoying non-sexual intimacy with his partner. At first, she tests to see if his problem is centered around not feeling free to choose when he wants to do something. She comes to realize that Spiritchild disconnects from his own erotic energy and, when he does, he feels less involved and excited.

Additionally, he goes into a pleaser mode. He jumps out of the self connection state and assumes a care taking role. When he is in this pleasing role, he feels more like a provider and less like a mutually interested participant. Celeste is able to feel this, and guesses that Spiritchild’s partner has this same experience. She is likely feeling that he has left the connection and is just doing it for her. But he isn’t really there for himself.

The Path to Self Connection

Celeste gently guides Spiritchild into touching for his own pleasure. She encourages him to to see what a non-sexual interaction can do for him. Staying connected to his own erotic energy allows him to attune to himself – while at the same time attuning to his partner. Celeste can feel the difference, and makes him understand how much more connected she feels if he is also in it for himself.

When you flow your own erotic energy into yourself, you learn how to create desire with self connection. You realize you don’t need to be in a mutually desirous situation. But you are also available to move into a sexual connection if your partner responds with desire. There is never pressure to do so. By keeping your erotic energy consciously engaged, you can bring it into every moment of your life.

The Lessons Learned

Spritichild’s erotic energy is a huge part of what motivates him in his daily life. Through his Somatica work, he now realizes this intensity is about more than just his love relationships. It’s what makes him feel vital, musical, loving, and connected to spirit in every moment.

The lesson to take from Celeste’s work with Spiritchild is that people often compartmentalize sex. They believe the only time to connect with their erotic energy is when they have sex with a partner (or themselves).

With the Somatica Method, you learn to help people stop shaming their erotic energy – and instead embrace it as a natural part of who they are. You can teach them to bring this erotic self connection into their lives – and in turn bringing aliveness into their daily activities.

Intrigued by Somatica? Learn more about the Core Training or attend one of our free intros!

Learning how to do relationship repair well will improve your life more than just about any skill you will ever learn. Tension and conflict are normal parts of every relationship. Relationship repair, however, can be tricky.

If you think you can make sure problems never happen by preemptively solving them, you will be sorely disappointed. There will always be tension and challenges in every relationship, so don’t try to eradicate them. If you do, you will likely spend your time together walking on eggshells, criticizing each other, or feeling distant. Instead, try to become efficient and effective in the relationship repair process. It will allow you to spend more time in joy, pleasure, love, and connection – and less time in pain, trauma, and conflict.


What is Relationship Repair? 

Relationship repair is the process you go through with a partner when you have a challenge come up in your relationship.

If you address relationship conflict like most people do – by blaming, shaming, defending, explaining, apologizing, demanding forgiveness, or avoiding all conflict altogether – trust and intimacy in your relationships will likely erode over time.

Practicing relationship repair whenever you or your partner are upset can exponentially increase the likelihood of getting to a better place of understanding. It deepens trust and connection, and can also pave the way for mutual support.

The 10 Steps of Relationship Repair

  1. Know You Are in an Emotional Conversation

    Either of you can bring awareness to the fact that you have moved from a regular, positive, neutral, logistical or non-triggered conversation to a triggering or challenging conversation. You might say, “I’m starting to get activated” or “I’m feeling tension inside me from this conversation” or “I’m triggered”.

  2. Gauge Your Level of Activation or Triggering

    Each of you can name your number from 0-10. Zero is neutral and 10 is my head is about to explode/I’ve completely lost it (can be rage, desire to flee, dissociation). The idea is to try and avoid having conversations – and especially making any decisions – when you are in high activation. Anything beyond a 3 on either side, and it’s better to look for a way to come down and reconnect before you even try to start talking.

  3. Remember – You are a Good Person

    Once you’ve started the conversation, your partner might say things to you that make you feel like you’ve done something wrong. At this point, instead of defending or explaining, see if you can take a moment and remind yourself or your inner child (silently inside your head) that you are a good person and you are doing the best you can.

  4. Decide Who Will Go First

    It is almost impossible to get both people’s feelings or issues heard at the same time. Either of you can generously offer though to be the listener first. You can also preemptively decide to let the person with the highest trigger number go first. If over the course of your relationship, the same person always seems to be the listener first, it’s a good idea to let the other take a turn. In the least, try consciously acknowledging and making sure everyone is ok with whatever is happening around turn-taking.

  5. Share Vulnerably

    Sharing vulnerably means talking about your feelings and not about what happened or about the other person. If you are the person who is sharing first, try to speak neutrally – in a non-shaming, non-judgmental way. Explain what the other person is doing and tell them how it makes you feel. For example: “When you decline my invitations for sex, I feel rejected and start to shut down or give up.”

  6. Listen Empathetically

    Listening empathetically doesn’t just mean parroting back what the other person says. It means actually taking a moment and seeing if you can let yourself, as best you can, feel what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes. Do NOT say, “I feel exactly like that” or “Yeah, I feel that way too” because it is not true. Even if you harbor similar feelings, your life experiences (core wounds, triggers, survival strategies) are completely different. You will never feel exactly the same thing as someone else feels in the same situation.

    Once you get a handle on what you think they might be feeling, say it while staying connected to your empathy. For example: “Yikes, that sucks. I can imagine how rejected and shut down you must feel when I say no to you.” At that point, they may need to elaborate more about how they feel, and you want to just keep listening and empathizing with each new thing they say.

    Make sure to track if you are getting too triggered or overwhelmed in the process. If you do feel too triggered, you will need to alert your partner to the new number you are rising to.

    Listening emphatically is critical in repairing a relationship.

  7. Cop to It

    Once you’ve listened to your partner as best you can, it is time to cop to whatever particular way you behave may have contributed to their upset. You know you can be challenging sometimes. It is great to know the ways you are challenging and to be aware of how they affect your partner. Instead of defending or feeling guilty, you can instead acknowledge the impact.

    For example, you might say, “I know one thing that is hard about me in relationships is that I often feel like my freedom is being encroached upon so I might say ‘no’ even when I’m more of a maybe or just because you asked. Also, when I say ‘no’, I can be harsher than I want to be because I feel protective of my freedom.”

    Make sure that the cop is generic – this means that you are copping to something you know to be true about you in relationships in general. Copping is not an apology for a specific thing that you did. Copping to a particular way you behave that increases the likelihood that your partner will get upset can really help your partner feel like they are not crazy. Make sure you only cop to something if you authentically feel it is something you do regularly – in other words, it is one of your patterns.

  8. Reassure Your Partner

    Once you really understand the underlying issue, you can give reassurance to your partner. Do not reassure before you actually know what is upsetting them or you will likely miss the mark. A reassurance might be, “I know that I have a much lower sex drive than you and the discrepancy is really difficult. I also want you to know that I really do desire you. When I am in the mood, I love having sex with you.” Again though – only reassure if the reassurance is TRUE.

  9. Make Sure Both Partners Get a Turn

    If you have shared some challenging feelings with your partner, it is likely they have their own concerns come up in response. It is extremely important that both of you are able to share – and feel heard.

  10. Evaluate

    If at the end of this process, you are not feeling better or more connected, something may have been missed. Perhaps a feeling you weren’t able to voice, or a need for reassurance. This is the time to check in and see if you are both feeling heard, understood and reconnected. If not, you may have to go through the process again with whatever is still residual. This process is an ongoing exercise in relationship repair, and you might need to revisit the same topic multiple times.

The best way to fix a broken relationship, is to practice relationship repair frequently.

When emotions are high, it can be very difficult to switch into relationship repair mode, so be gentle on yourself and your partner. Instead of monitoring and correcting your partner around following the steps, see if you can do it well yourself.

The best way to make relationship repair part of your daily life, is to commit to practicing it as best you can – to share vulnerably, be honest about what is challenging about you in relationship, and treat others the way you want to be treated. You will feel better about yourself, and you will be the invitation for your partner to practice it well if they are able.

If you feel you need help learning and practicing the skills of relationship repair, find a coach near you via our directory. You can also get a tremendous amount of practice as well as learning how to help your clients with repair in our Somatica Core Training.

My client is nervous. He is looking down at his hands, unable to make eye contact or form sentences. I’ve just asked him to flirt with me.

I can feel his unease in my own chest and stomach, tightening and bracing. My fight – flight – freeze response is threatening to take me away while I’m working with my own emotional history and defenses. I continue to ground myself and track what he’s feeling and how my own system is responding to him. He’s here because he said he wanted to learn how to have more confidence on dates, how to be a better lover, and last longer in bed.

As a sex and intimacy coach, I get a lot of male clients coming to me with these same desires. They feel they’re not doing their job as “men” and their identity is threatened if they experience difficulty with flirtation, seduction, and fucking someone’s brains out. They seem to believe everyone else has these skills down. In truth some element of intimacy or performance is a struggle for most – maybe even all – men.

I feel for these guys. They haven’t been given the tools to connect emotionally. What’s been reinforced is often a pick-up culture. And this is all about how to distance yourself emotionally and get validated by sex, rather than enjoying the pleasure of exploring connection. This hurts us all in the long run.

Finding Connection with A New Client

We are half-way into our first intimacy coaching session, getting to know each other and learning how to connect. Once we have a better connection, we can further navigate his sexual blocks, triggers, and desires from a place of emotional intimacy. He practices with me just like he would with a partner.

The work in the Somatica Method is a two-way authentic relationship that is built within the container of sessions. Being authentic in session for me means tracking my own reactions to my clients – and letting them know how they are impacting me in a constructive way. This feedback is integral to their growth. Both of us are bringing ourselves into the room. In the spirit of transparency, I want to share this story about what it’s really like being an intimacy coach. (And if you’re curious how an intimacy coach is different from a sexological bodyworker or a relationship coach, you can read up on it all over on SexCoaching.com)

First Steps in Intimacy Coaching

He’s different now than when he first boomed into my office. He was acting larger than life then, projecting power. He was also quick-paced, demanding, challenging, and never wanting to actually take a breath or show any sign of being less than fully in charge. I felt my defenses wake up and wanting to teach him a lesson. My chest expanded, my breathing was heavier, my pulse quickened. I felt the need to respond in a way that would impress him.

After working together for a while however, his demeanor is completely changed. He is acknowledging his nervousness and is ready to take input and listen. He was unsure of himself at first. Once I started to lead us through exercises though, grounding us in the moment, humanizing each other, and asking to look into each other’s eyes without speaking, he remained present. It’s vulnerable and there are no words to fill the space with. We are just there together, feeling each other’s presence and taking each other in.

My Own Defenses Can Also Get in The Way

Through my work on myself, I’ve learned that we’re just individuals with our own emotional histories. We each have defensive mechanisms we’ve picked up to protect ourselves. We can have deeper intimacy when we learn to navigate our own, and how to keep connected with someone else through all of their intimate challenges as well.

I have identified my defensiveness around what I project are typical “alpha” guys. If I were to describe it comically, it would look like me smearing war paint on my face, giant walls erecting around any soft and vulnerable feelings. I’d come out shooting fireballs and screaming a battle cry to show them who the real alpha is. And that I’m not some little girl that will fall for their pick-up lines and power plays.

Now I know I have used this strategy before to overcome my fear of being overpowered. And not necessarily in my practice as an intimacy coach. It’s that need to prove I’m tougher and stronger than them – which actually drives a wedge between us and connection. I don’t want to be hurt again, and neither do they. We are both attempting to prove something and protect ourselves from the other, rather than see if there’s a connection worth pursuing between us.

Something very important to note here is that, when we try to connect, we pick up on our own as well as the other person’s feelings. We feel it resonate in our own nervous systems. My client’s own need to prove himself to me and the nervousness of rejection directly hit on my need to feel safe. I felt as if I was being taken on a sales pitch that I had to say ‘yes’ to rather than being able to check in with myself.

True Intimacy and Connection is Learned

He takes a deep breath and blows it out, finally meeting eyes again with me. I signal for us to take a couple more deep breaths down and hold our eye contact. I feel an unclenching in my chest and stomach. His eyes soften and his face warms into a smile.

“Ha, I don’t know what to say or do right now. This is different,” he says. He looks skeptical but his body language starts to soften.

“I know, I’m really enjoying seeing this side of you though. The no-bullshit side. You don’t have to do anything for me right now. In fact, I’m far more comfortable with you now than when you first walked in. I don’t feel as much that I have to be a certain way for you.”

I can feel the rest of my body start to unfurl and unclench. We take a couple more breaths, and I can feel the heat turn on in my system. His system responds to mine. My eyes sharpen and narrow. His gaze heats. His chest is expanding, and he’s slowly blowing labored breaths out of his mouth. With our eyes locked, I can feel my animal start to pace beneath my skin and course through my veins. I can feel he has one too. We’re facing each other, breathing heavily, soaking each other in and feeling the erotic charge build between us.

It’s so damn satisfying. I feel seen, respected, and like we could talk about just about anything in this moment, and he wouldn’t judge me. He feels the same, I sense.

Earning Your Own Pleasure

I hold out my hand. He looks at me hesitantly, then takes it in his. Electricity shoots up from my pelvic floor and we both look at each other as if we want to devour each other. “Now I want you to enjoy touching my arm in a way that feels good to you.”

His eyes narrow and there is a small drop in connection I can feel in my chest. It’s starting to tighten again. He frowns slightly, but starts to move his fingers along my forearm. He is looking down at first, but then glances into my eyes, searching for signs that I’m enjoying it. The connection starts to feel hollow and so does my chest as I start to feel the need to tell him he’s doing a good job.

“So I can tell you’re doing this for me.” I put my hand over his and gently smile.

“Yea…” He looks confused.

“I can tell you’re not enjoying it, and now you’re trying too hard. I want to ask, “Where did you go?” If you’re not enjoying it, I’m not enjoying it. Follow what feels good to you.”

Breakthroughs in Intimacy Coaching

We breathe together again to help ground him, and reassure him that his pleasure is just as important. The more I feel his pleasure, the more I’ll feel mine. It starts to heat up again, and his fingers begin to send warm tingling sensations through my skin upon contact. His first breakthrough – he stayed in connection with me and didn’t focus on performing.

This is the connection I was hoping we would find. Vulnerability. Getting down to the juice of the connection.

We all want to be seen, accepted, and to be able to explore connection. It’s beautiful, powerful, validating. So many of us are conditioned to shut it off for fear of rejection. When we can be fully present and stay connected to our own pleasure and our partner’s, our fears melt away and real intimacy and eroticism is possible.

AshleyAshley is a sex and intimacy coach in Los Angeles. She loves working with individuals and couples to develop self-worth, sexual confidence and explore new depths of vulnerable communication.

“Um, I have to tell you something. I’m in my 50s and somewhat … curvy. Are you sure you want to have me in your boudoir photography portfolio?”

When Rose spoke to me on the phone, she was definitely pushing herself out of her comfort zone. But then, she had been doing that for a while. She described herself as a professional and a mother of 3 grown kids who had been through a divorce a couple of years ago. She was on a journey to love and accept her body, and felt she was ready to reclaim her sexuality and power by saying YES to new and challenging experiences.

I reassured Rose, “Heck yeah! You’re exactly who I want in my portfolio”. She signed up for a shoot. But as the day of the shoot approached, anxieties and fears reared up in her head:

I don’t look good in pictures usually – what if this is more of the same?

Do I have to do something I’m not comfortable with?

OMG – I don’t have anything to wear!!!

Even with all of that, she showed up for her shoot, nervous and brave, with a suitcase full of beautiful outfits. We took it from there.


My Adventure with Somatica

I first encountered Somatica as a client in 2014, working on my own sex and relationship challenges. Working with Celeste (one of the Somatica Founders) for over a year helped me clarify my needs, desires, and boundaries. This ultimately helped me navigate both my unconventional marriage as well as my partner’s gender transition. So, when Celeste asked me if I’d be interested in taking the Somatica Core Training in 2017, it was a no-brainer.

As part of the program, I learned how so many women are traumatized by their experiences around their bodies and their relationship with society and men; how creating a supportive space and a container of trust is critical to healing; how being in your own body can be so empowering for both men and women.

As the program ended, I felt that coaching wasn’t quite the right thing for me, but everything I had learned supported another passion of mine: photography.

I realized that the principles of Somatica – embodiment, attunement, vulnerability, boundaries – are all key components of a great boudoir photo session. This made me think: What if a photo session could also be a time of celebration, empowerment, and healing for my clients?

After that, there was no looking back. I dove into intimate and boudoir photography, and a few months later, launched my business: Shadows and Curves.


The Experience of a Boudoir Photo Shoot

We started Rose’s session with a quick check-in where we both talked about what we were feeling and our intentions for the day. Together, we then went through her outfits, laying out what she would be wearing and where. We talked about the story she wanted to tell about herself and her life. This was when she really started to relax. “It felt like a true collaboration, and not like someone just telling me what to do,” she said.

Throughout the session, my assistant and I stayed attuned to her, nudging her to try new things. We also made sure though she was relaxed, taking breaks whenever necessary. In her own words, “It felt like a really fun afternoon with friends, not like a photo shoot.”

The experience of a session itself can be transformative enough, but the real magic happens when a client sees her photos for the first time. In Rose’s case, her first reaction was, “I can’t believe that’s me!”

There’s a reason a picture is more powerful than a thousand words. Words get caught in our head, but an image can bypass the stories we tell ourselves and can carry a message deep into our bodies.


The Power of Boudoir Photography + Somatica

The tools and techniques from my Somatica training help me create a fun and supportive space where my clients feel completely in their body and comfortable enough to express their true, gorgeous selves.

I see so many of the women in my life struggle with a lack of self-worth; women who are dedicated to being professionals, partners, mothers and often don’t make enough time to take care of themselves. I’m constantly amazed by how beautiful and powerful these women are, and saddened by the fact that they’re unable to see themselves that way.

As a male photographer, I bring a special perspective and responsibility to my clients. Instead of the objectification and degradation that women often have to endure from men in daily life, my clients choose to have the experience of a man who supports their healing, true will, and self-expression. I want them to feel as deeply seen as they want to be in the world.

With women in their 40s and 50s, it’s about feeling that despite all of society treating them like they should be invisible, they’re still beautiful, sexy, and desirable.

With new moms, it’s about celebrating the changes in their bodies, reconnecting with their partners, and taking time for themselves amidst all the social pressures of being a mother.

For my transgender and non-binary clients, it’s about really, truly seeing themselves in their authentic gender identity.

For couples, it’s about exploring and (re)discovering their connection, capturing moments of true, vulnerable intimacy.

That’s the power of boudoir photography, and that is why I am a photographer. I’m incredibly grateful to Somatica for helping me find this path and this career.


What’s Next?

I love working with Somatica practitioners and their clients to celebrate the end of their healing journeys.

I also plan to grow my boudoir photography portfolio quite a bit in the coming months to include more women, men, couples (straight and queer), non-binary and trans people, kink, erotica and more. I’ll be putting out regular model calls for those.

Please feel free to email me any time, or just subscribe to my VIP mailing list, where you’ll be the first to hear about updates, special offers, or model calls.



We are excited to announce that the Somatica Institute can now count itself among the elite group of BBS Approved CEU Providers.

bbs approved ceu provider

If you are a mental health professional in search of a CEU for MFT course, perhaps you’d like to add sex and intimacy tools to your practice.

For both couples work and individual work, having the skills to help people embrace their sexual desires can greatly enhance your ability to support your client’s life. We can provide you with the tools to assist your clients with deepening attachment, know what turns them on, ask for what they want, and assert their boundaries.

These training are also suitable for Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) looking for continuing education units.

CEU Approval

In order to get CEU approval, we went through an in-depth application process with the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS). As a result, we are now CAMFT CEU approved (this is approval through the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists). The Somatica Institute offers CAMFT CEUs for classes to help licensed practitioners work with clients around issues related to sexuality and relationships.

CEU Approval Guidelines

As a BBS approved CEU provider, the Somatica Institute and like organizations must follow particular professional guidelines. They include such requirements as providing a designated program administrator, and instructional methods that actively engage the learner. Thus, if you are looking for CEU for MFT classes, you can be assured our classes have been assessed, and follow these and all other guidelines.

How to Get Your Units

When you apply for a Somatica Training for Professional Development, make sure to let us know that you would like to receive LCSW, LPCC or LMFT continuing education units. We will track the hours you attend the course and you can get CEU credits for them. That’s all you need to do.

So, for a more holistic approach to supporting your clients in every area of their lives, check out our Core Coach Training on Sex & Relationships and join our merry group of certified coaches.

At their core, people have a profound desire to connect. So Valentine’s Day can feel a little played out. The pressure to please your partner, the expectation that everyone should have a partner, and the external societal pressure to conform to an idea of what the day should look like can really put a damper on it. Even for those of us who have dedicated our life’s work to sex, love, and romance year-round, it can sometimes feel like a burden. At the same time, Valentine’s Day can have a lot of power and excitement – and we want you to get the most out of it.

We wanted some fresh, practical and hot ideas so we asked other Somatica trained Sex Coaches, Sexperts, and Sex Educators what they do for V-day. It turns out they have very different answers – from awaiting the discount goodies on February 15th, to attending just the right sex party. Here are their unique Valentines Day ideas for folks who love or hate V-day – and everyone in between!

1. Just Another Day…To Attend a Kinky Genderplay Party

For many sex coaches, V-day is not so different from the rest of their passion-filled lives. We try and make sure to have impassioned connections and create unique special occasions whenever wcan. This sentiment was echoed by a good number of folks we spoke to, but any given day for a sex coach might look a little different than your average Joe or Jane. For instance Dori – who coaches in the Bay Area – offers a great example of a practical idea she knows she and her partner will love. And it can be encouraging for people to know that even sex coaches schedule date nights and sexual explorations.

Gender cosplay might not be your bag, but planning something you have done before and know you love is a great way to celebrate V-day.

2. If You Gotta Work, Spread the Love

Like Dori, a lot of sex coaches will be sharing their expertise with clients for V-Day. Sex coaching is one of the fastest growing fields, so taking time off might not be what you want to do when you love your work and have amazing opportunities for connection. Unless it randomly falls on a weekend, most people work on Valentine’s day. Spending a day at work and then needing to figure out a special night can feel less than ideal.n.

For example, don’t feel too bad for the multi-talented Xanet. Poor thing will be in Costa Rica this February: “I will be assisting my mentor at a Tropical Couples Valentine Week Tantra Workshop and doing private Somatica coaching sessions with them! Helping to Spread the Love!!”

3. Make a Plan with Friends

Bay Area-based Annie has a fun, sexy and unique valentines day idea: “I’m going to shake my booty to Rhye – one of my favorite sexy bands with a couple foxy lady friends in San Francisco! Come join us!”

A great way to spend Valentine’s Day is to plan ahead and do something you love with people you love – no matter if they are romantic partners. This can work for singles or couples who don’t want the pressure or expectations. It’s a failsafe plan that will make Annie feel grounded in who she is – and she will feel sexy, embodied, and fulfilled at the end of the day. We may join. 🙂

Your plan can be joyous and playful like Annie’s, or you can find your most angst-ridden friend or crew, find a dark corner and sing along to Morrissey or whatever maudlin music feeds your broody soul. Having a plan that reflects what you love and the friends you can be yourself with is a brilliant way to take the pressure off and make this day truly yours.

4. Know Your Needs

For some people, the best thing to do on Valentine’s Day is to know it’s just not for them.

“I set my expectations really low to avoid disappointment on an overrated romantic holiday”, shared Santa Cruz based coach, Megan. “Apparently I am triggered by romance… probably due to the high level of disappointment the whole fantasy inherently brings to my world.”

We really appreciated Megan’s honest answer and agree that it reflects the sentiments of much of the population. Instead of feeling shame about this day by bringing up negative emotions, she strategized ways to take care of herself, knowing that romance fantasies are not her thing. Many people – especially women – feel that romance is the only appropriate kind of love story to desire. From working with hundreds of couples and individuals, we know this is not the case.

If celebrating Valentine’s Day feels like it is about a kind of romance you can’t stomach, you can make it about something else. Or just shift your expectations and wait for a holiday that speaks to you. After all – there’s always International Fetish Day or National Underwear Day. Yay.

5. Make It a Day for Self-Love

What if you could really be your own Valentine? Susan, in Denver, has an amazing plan for spoiling herself that brings this unique Valentine’s Day idea list to a fitting end.

“Whether I have a lover or not, I do a thing I call Courting Your Inner Partner. I ask myself: “How would Susan love to experience this day?” Then I get down to the detail, with self-love notes and pre-cooking food- so ‘Susan’ doesn’t have to. It’s a total mind game, but it totally works and I always go home with myself!”

While this may seem a bit advanced, there are many ways to follow this example and give yourself what you need on Valentine’s Day.

Need more inspiration?

We are always happy to chat with you. And if you want to spend a day connecting with all sorts of lovely folks, check out our FREE intro to Somatica on March 9th in Berkeley + Oakland (or Portland, Seattle, LA, NYC, Charleston NC, Washington DC, Toronto, and British Columbia).