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During my training, I will share key insights, fascinating readings and core findings in the field of sex coaching and sexuality with you. I'll always add suggestions for further reading for those who want to dig deeper.

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The Difference Between Sex Therapy and Sex Coaching

Some of the things I am always asked when colleagues and friends learn about my exciting new training to become a sex coach: What type of clients would you see once you are certified? What are their typical use cases? What's the difference between a sex coach and a sex therapist? So let's have a look at the difference first.

My personal view is very much aligned with my vision for my future practice. I want to empower, I want to enable, I want to help clients learn. As a sex coach, I want to help clients improve, identify goals and strategies to reach them. For me this means working with pathologically 'healthy' clients. I wouldn't be a fit for you, if you for example, experienced trauma or abuse and require therapy to analyse and work on your past experiences or to potentially support your healing journey with medication. In those cases please visit 116117 to find a suitable therapist near you. I am a fit for you if you want to find more enjoyment, freedom to explore or want to learn. I can guide you through blockages you experience and can help you find ways to remove them. I am not a medical professional nor am I a therapist, even though I hold a Bachelor of Psychology (graduation expected Dec21/Jan22). It's important you are aware of both the limitations and opportunities my background brings when choosing the expert to support your individual journey.

I have to admit, though, the lines may be blurry from time to time. Some cases are very clearly falling into the 'need for therapy' vs 'need for coaching' bucket, others are less straight forward. Feel free to approach me or your therapist of choice to discuss what type of support can help you best.

What happens in real life? Both streams of professionals refer-out to trusted colleagues. This means that if either a therapist, who for example may not be knowledgeable, comfortable or trained on aspects of human sexology, or a coach, who for example may see a need for classic therapy in their clients, will share their assessment with you as a client. They will be transparent about their limitations and in a best case scenario have a colleague of the appropriate discipline on hand that they can refer you to. Both coaches and therapists aim to help you in the best possible way. And sometimes that includes not starting a new client relationship, but rather introducing a more suitable professional.

What do KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders), those experts who spent decades in the field of sexology and sex coaching or therapy say about the difference between sex coaching and sex therapy? Let's start with Dr. Patty Britton, a pioneer in the field. I tried to capture her view on this question as found in her book 'The Art of Sex Coaching: Expanding your Practice (2005)'. She explains that sex COACHING (vs. THERAPY) is present centred and works towards the futures, figuring out 'how the client can make it work better tomorrow' while a sex therapist would 'start in the past to find out why a client has a sexual concern'. Patti further outlines, that the COACHING approach is 'client-centred' and 'dynamic', as in that the coach may 'make active suggestions, give advice or (...) accompany a client to a field trip. The COACHING perspective also fosters a 'non hierarchical' dynamic and is 'empowerment- focused'. Generally, Dr. Britton, makes it clear that COACHING is not 'pathologizing but healing' and she introduces the term 'personalised eduction' to describe its essence further, which typically includes sessions accompanies by home assignments.

Sandra Leiblum stresses that sex coaching is built upon the methodologies of effective sex thearpy with personal sex education at its core. Other professionals seem to agree: while therapy investigates a client's past to help them cope with the present, coaching is focused on building on the present and creating a strong future. A coach can help a client become aware of their motivations and hurdles and can guide them in making shifts in the way they approach their problems and their goals. Unlile a friend, coaches don't only come with opininons, but a process: Coaches identify where a client is standing on a map and asks, "where shall we go next?”.

By the way: certified professionals in the field are typically recognized by organizations such as AASECT or WASC. Feel free to explore those for further info. AASECT defines sex therapists as licensed mental health professionals, trained to assess, diagnose, and provide in-depth psychotherapy, specialized in treating clients with sexual issues and concerns.

The more I read about it, the more we practice coaching sessions in SCU, the more I get the impression that for clinically healthy clients, both are in essence two approaches or tools avaialble to chose from based on their preferred style of working. Think about how you approach problem solving in your professional life: Are you a solution focused go-getter eager to hit the ground running? Someone who is fast at assessing the status quo and any mayor hurdles? Are you eager to smartly implement learnings from past successes and failures (both your own and your peer's) to kick-off a well thought-through action plan? Maybe then coaching is your preferred tool. Maybe you have already experienced the support, the availability of well-working short cuts, the releiving effect of simply tackling hurdles together with a professional that make you consider this appraoch for your intimate life too. After all, why would an approach so increadibly wide spread and accepted as a means for improvement and success in the professional life don't follow equal patterns in other areas of life?

What do sex coaching and sex therapy have in common? Both are fully clothed, talk based practices that adhere to a strict no touching policy (although, there are some sex BODY coaches that incorporate body work - I don't).

For further reading/listening:

A brief 2 min excerpt from a Ted Talk and an interview on: Why everyone needs a coach by Bill Gates & Eric Schmidt.

A very inclusive summary with links to academic research findings and international studies capturing coaching statistics: The ROI of Coaching in 2021 by Luiza Zhou

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