Many sex coaches or relationship coaches don’t have any formal training or certification. Often they have prepared themselves for their practice by attending some classes and have also learned by working in the field for a while and many of them are doing some wonderful work. If you are a coach who wants to help your clients experience transformation the most efficiently and effectively, you need a grounded methodology and systematic approach. There are so many different approaches that claim they have the path to sexual fulfillment and emotional growth, yet very few are based on a sociological and developmental understanding of how we are shaped and what makes us tick. Having a well-informed methodology and well-organized approach is essential to helping people transform their lives for the better.
What is a Grounded Methodology?
For a methodology to be systematic and effective, it should be informed by research and take a well-rounded perspective. There are four methodological approaches you need to be able to understand and apply to be the best sex and relationship coach you can be and Somatica’s method is grounded in these four approaches.
A Development Approach
First, you must understand how a person’s developmental history shapes their current belief systems and approaches to intimacy. While most psychologically-minded people already realize that we are shaped by our childhood and personal history (as well as our biology and chemistry), understanding the ways people are shaped and how their experiences and their protective responses to those experiences show up in their present day habits can be less obvious.
There are so many needs a child has and even the most wonderful parents cannot meet all of them. The experiences we missed out on in our childhood or the ways that we were treated teaches us about what we can expect from intimacy and connection in our adult relationships and sometimes these teachings are very inaccurate. For example, if a child had a parent who was depressed, alcohol-dependent or workaholic, the parent might not have been available when the child needed connection. An adult with this history is likely to assume no one will ever be able to be there for them, when the truth is that some people can be there for you. On the other hand, children with highly anxious parents who hovered over them all the time may believe, as adults, that they don’t have any right to their own space or boundaries. The incorrect beliefs that arise from missing out on care or autonomy affect people’s ability to fully engage in and enjoy all of the gifts of emotional and erotic intimacy.
Additionally, if you want to help people with their sex lives, it is extremely essential to understand how a person’s developmental history affects their sexual desires and attractions. As children, we soothe our unmet needs with healing fantasies and these fantasies are the foundations of our routes to arousal. Many coaches and therapists feel that just helping people communicate better will naturally help them fall into a positive sexual connection, however, if a couple is not able to share, gain acceptance and, hopefully, participate in what really turns them on, sex will generally become stale often stopping completely. You will have to help them with more than just good communication, you will need to help them gain awareness about their desires as well as teach them experientially (more on this soon!).
A Sociological Perspective
To be a great sex and relationships coach, you also need to know how socialization around gender, race, class and sexual identity play into people’s sexual and emotional lives. We are not born in a vacuum. In addition to the ways that our parents shape our sense of self, the world around us and the expectations of what it means to be a man, a woman, a successful person, etc. are shaped by our social environment. When people are identifying their needs, feelings and challenges, all of them are filtered through these social expectations.
For example, it is much less socially acceptable for a man to need more emotional support than a woman in a relationship, just as it is much more taboo for a woman to be more sexual or horny than her partner. Likewise, people who would rather have multiple partners, be alone or skip having children may experience a lot of judgment. All of these social pressures create shame and make it much more difficult for people to really know, accept and communicate what they want.
Messages about gender and other forms of socialization also color and shape what turns us on. Knowing, for example, that women’s shame about being sluts makes them want to be “taken” (so they don’t have to admit sexual desire), while men’s shame about their “excessive” desire makes them shut their sexuality down for fear of being “creepy” will make you a much better coach. Ideas of what is sexy are proliferated in the media, creating expectations about what counts as romance (flowers, eternity, soulmates) or passion (giving up everything for a partner; hurried intense, partially-clothed, simultaneous orgasm sex). As a coach working with clients, knowing how socialization affects people can really help you uncover shame, create realistic expectations, normalize the wide range of desires, and help people feel more free and self-accepting. You can also help partners understand and accept one another.
An Experiential Approach
In addition to what you can learn from academia, there is also so much to be learned from experiential teachings around sexual and emotional transformation. While we can talk to our clients until we are blue in the face about all the ways they have been shaped by their childhood and their community, at some point everyone needs to have real-time experiences of learning and practice shifting habits. While traditional couples therapy sometimes helps people communicate in real-time, sometimes people come in by themselves and need to practice emotional communication. This is why we engage in an authentic, two-way relationship with our clients, opening up with them and sharing our own feelings about them as well as really listening to how they feel about us.
As a coach who helps clients learn experientially how to have hot erotic exchanges, it is rare and essential to offer the combination of clear boundaries and practical teaching with tons of support and feedback, that your clients can take out into your regular dating or relationship lives. We have said it a million times, but it can never be said enough, when it comes to embodied experiences like sex, the only way to really coach effectively is through experiential practices. Teaching your client how to touch, look, talk and share erotic energy with you, as you help them every step of the way is extremely effective. We have found that combining experiential methodology with academically-grounded theory has been the most helpful to our clients.
Finally, to be the best possible coach, it is essential to have real-world, face-to-face experiences with clients and get feedback for you work. If you want training that will truly help you with your clients, the training must have a practical component, where you give and receive sessions, have supervised sessions, and get feedback and suggestions for improvement from your fellow students and teachers. Somatica combines a sociological and developmental perspective with an experiential approach and real world practice.
What is a Systematic Approach?
In addition to a grounded methodology, having a systematic approach to change can keep your work with your clients on course. Having a systematic approach means that you will be able to consistently lead your clients to where they want to go instead of shooting in the dark hoping that something will help. If you want to truly help your clients experience deep and lasting personal growth, it is extremely helpful to be able to offer them a clear roadmap that they can follow.
Somatica’s Systematic Approach
In Somatica, we have a 4-phase system we take people through to help them overcome challenges in their sex lives and relationships and have hotter, more emotionally connected lives. These phases are not always dealt with sequentially as different needs may be more pressing than others depending on the individual or the couple. Your clients may also need more help in some of these areas in less than others.
The phases are as follows:
Self-Transformation: This phase is self-oriented and includes self-acceptance, embodiment and personal empowerment. In the self-transformation phase, you help your clients get in touch with their emotional and embodied wisdom and it’s relationship to their intellectual wisdom. This helps them re-balance if they have skewed towards one or the other. You guide them to reconnect (or connect for the first time) with their body as a source of information and pleasure. You help them identify and shed light on places of shame and hurt that hold them back from fully expressing their feelings, needs and boundaries and to reclaim their right to an erotic life.
Emotional Relationship Transformation: This phase is relationship-oriented and can be done with a partner or with the coach as a practice partner (or both). In this phase you help your client identify about their interpersonal triggers and fears, as well as the intimacy-blocking protective habits they use when triggered. You support them in learning to accept and lovingly share their own needs, feelings, and boundaries with a partner. You also help learn how to hear, empathize with and accept their partner’s needs, feelings and boundaries. They learn how to vote for connection instead of protection in moments of relationship tension and to repair relationship hurts instead of imagining they or their partner will be able to do it perfectly every time.
Sexual Relationship Transformation: This phase is also relationship-oriented and can be done with a partner or with the coach as practice partner (or both). You help your clients understand and share their hottest sexual movies. You support couples in sharing their movie with their partner without judgment or obligation to provide everything their partner’s wants. Next, you see what parts of the movie are overlapping and thus more easy to incorporate and what parts of the movie will need to be negotiated then taught and learned. In this phase, we explore boundaries and generosity to see what’s possible and then we help each person teach the other what they need in an experiential way with lots patience, support and feedback.
You help people in the dating world see sex as one important aspect of decision-making about who will be a good partner. You also help them learn how to identify whether their movie is showing up in their dating experiences and how to teach it to partners if it is not.
Relationship Agreements and Sexual Choices: Our culture holds the very strong opinion that people should be in relationships and that those relationships must be monogamous. Some people try to succeed at this default and fail, experiencing tons of shame and frustration, while other people try to negotiate or live out different options. Because there is no societal roadmap about how to do this (though there have been some recent books and articles published on the topics of choosing the single life or non-monogamy, for example), there are few non-judgemental places people can go to explore their options. In addition to having very strong ideas about how relationships should be structured, our society also has very strong rules about who you should have sex with, how often, how many, and what kind of sex you should have.
As a coach, you can help your clients see the ways that all of their social conditioning around relationships can cause them to forgo the life they want when the truth is that different people need different things and there is no right one-size-fits-all solution to how to live a life. While that may seem obvious to some, unfortunately, it is not obvious to everyone. You can our clients as shame-free an environment as humanly possible so they can choose and create the relationship and erotic lives they want.
When people take the Somatica Training, they say things like:
“When a client walks through the door of my new practice, after listening to their story, I have a good idea of where to start, where I want to lead them and a full set of tools to help them get there. I can’t believe how much I’ve gotten out of this one training!”
“While I’ve had a healthy self-confidence around my practitioner skills in the work I’m established in, adding Somatica to the mix is giving me exponentially more to draw from, to establish even deeper trust with clients, to show up in service to them.”
If you really want to support your clients effectively, having a systematic template of change that is grounded in theory and experiential practices makes all the difference.
Want to learn more? Check out the Somatica Training.