How to Teach Your Clients to Have a Consent Conversation

We teach budding sex and relationship coaches at the Somatica Institute to always help a client attune to their partners. The goal is to make sure everything that is happening is consensual, desired, and pleasurable. But how do you have that consent conversation – and is there just one type of consent?

What is Consent?

Consent is a very hot button issue in our culture. The concept of consent touches on our deepest need for safety, equality, and respect.

Ask any woman about the experience of strolling alone at night, or enduring a man’s unwelcome advances on a busy street. At best, she’ll recount tales of fear and vigilance; at worst, narratives of rape, harassment, and violation. Similarly, men who genuinely cherish and honor women often express trepidation in navigating the realms of dating, intimacy, and the pursuit of sex. They harbor anxieties about overstepping boundaries, inflicting harm, facing allegations of misconduct or rape, and as a result, being socially ostracized by their community or loved ones.

Consent and non-consent can also evoke arousal. We relish partners who seek explicit consent throughout sexual progression. Yet, we may also find arousal in explicit non-consent. The romantic notion of intuitive understanding sans words entices us. In long-term relationships, women may even invite or desire for their partners to push past their resistance. Jack Morin, author of “The Erotic Mind”, delves into the paradox of desiring open communication while still being aroused by contrary scenarios.

In the Somatica Training, we acknowledge the significance of a safe and respectful world while recognizing the diverse preferences in partner consent dynamics. If one finds arousal in non-consensual acts, we encourage exploring role-play with a willing partner, so we can safeguard the community and prevent harm and legal consequences. Rather than demanding overt consent at every step, we teach the art of consent conversations, where individuals discuss and attune to desired consent practices and nonverbal cues in their lives.

Read our article on sexual content, its rules, how to explore desires and boundaries, and how to ask for it.

Couple having a consent conversation with a sex coach

How to Embark on the Consent Conversation:

You can say, “Let’s talk about how you give or get consent with a partner.”

How to Shape the Consent Conversation:

Talk with your client about their feelings, history, and possible fears around consent, as well as what kind of consent they want with a partner.

Help them identify if they are more commonly the initiator of sex and sexual escalation, or the recipient, or both. If they are the initiator, help them practice talking with a date or partner about what kind of consent their partner wants. In case their partner wants them to initiate and escalate without asking, help them make an agreement that their partner will let them know if they are pushing a boundary. Or, if their partner wants overt consent, help them practice how to get consent in a sexy way.

When the client is normally the recipient of escalation, help them identify whether they want to be asked for verbal consent at each new escalation. They may want their partner to continue to escalate without asking (or some hybrid, like not asking at the kissing stage, but asking at the oral sex or intercourse stage). If they don’t want their partner to ask for overt consent, make sure they are empowered around their boundaries.

How to Evaluate Your Client:

You want to see if your client can clearly express how they want to get and give consent and that they feel empowered around communicating their boundaries, especially if they are interested in escalation without verbal consent.

In Case Your Client Has a Trauma History

Somatica is a trauma-informed coaching modality. We know that clients with trauma histories are prone to dissociation as a defense mechanism. It is important they identify if they are someone who freezes or dissociates during sexual escalation.

As their coach, you will need to help them communicate this to their partners, and to let their partners know how to deal with it. For example, if your client is prone to freezing, they might say, “I’d really like it if you’d ask before you initiate a new sexual experience every time we have sex. Please make sure I give you a verbal yes. Also, if my body seems really still or you feel like I’m checked out, I’d love for you to just check in with me”.

Or they might say, “I don’t want you to ask me for each new sexual escalation, but please pay attention and check in with me verbally if it seems like I’ve stopped moving, I’m breathing very shallowly, or if my eyes look spaced out. If I don’t respond verbally when you check in, please stop all sexual interaction with me until I can talk again.”

You can also help your client have these same conversations if they have specific triggers or flashbacks. Assist them in identifying what they need from their partners when they have an adverse reaction during foreplay so that they can communicate this to their partners.

The Debrief

Discuss with your client about how they will incorporate these practices of consent into their dating or relationship life. And what they’d like to communicate to dates and partners from now on.

Having these discussions is hugely important. If you’re a therapist, counselor or other mental or physical health professional who would like to learn how to teach consent conversations to your clients, consider taking the Somatica Core Training. We are an approved CE-granting school and can help you get this (and many other intimacy-related) skills added to your professional toolbox.

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