It doesn't mean what you think it means!
So many of us grow up without positive experiences around physical or emotional closeness which means we don’t feel safe engaging in these things as adults. Unlike Sex therapists who approach sex and intimacy from a psychological perspective, Sex and intimacy coaches approach it from a practical perspective; one that helps you understand why you are the way you are, while the other shows you what to do with what you have.
Sex and intimacy coaches would therefore help you feel safe to experience increased comfort with your close connections and partners.
How? The coach builds competence in you by addressing barriers and intimacy issues such as attachment wounds, shallow embodiment, lack of presence, and diminished emotional awareness. Intimacy coaches also teach you to understand your body and what arouses you so you can move past any inhibitions or shame you may have about these desires.
What do these things mean?
Attachment wounds dictate how we form physical and emotional bonds and are molded in our early years by inconsistent, insensitive, or absent caregivers. Disembodiment is when we have trouble relaxing into intimacy because we are disconnected from our bodies, often because we think more than we feel.
Similarly, we tend to fixate on past experiences or live in the future. Intimacy coaching would help us focus on our present moments and therefore enjoy pleasure more. Lastly, emotional awareness is necessary for us to communicate and address our needs, which is arguably the most important tool to learn.
Luckily you wouldn’t have to do it all on your own and the coach would provide the non-judgmental, supportive, and consistent connection you need to make lasting changes. Remember that even though this level of self-work or ‘love-work’ may sound heavy or complicated, it is immensely rewarding!
Types of intimacy coaches
There are many types of sex coaches, differentiated by the methods, teaching tools and techniques they use to support their clients. You can either pick the type of coach that best fits you or get an assessment to find out which is most likely to help you achieve your goals.
The two main types we can focus on are talk-based sex coaches and hands-on body-workers.
- Talk-based sex coaching is verbal instruction and communication, enhanced through visual or written aids. Sex coaches will talk, listen, encourage, teach, motivate, collaborate, validate, and guide their clients to either solve a problem or reach a goal.
- Hands-on or experiential sex coaches may do everything a talk-based coach would do, but they also add a somatic (or body-based) element to their coaching. This coach might direct you to experiment with different kinds of self-touch or with sensing different textures, flavors, and sounds. Exercises may also include breath-work, body mapping, sensual massages, verbal seduction and role-playing, learning practical sexual skills, and learning about sexual energy through sexual practices like Tantra.
Hands-on coaches also assist persons with disabilities to have fuller sex lives. These interventions are often tailored to the person’s capabilities and can extend from helping them learn how to bypass their physical capacities for better sexual gratification to medically assisted sex between partners.
How do you know if you need a sex coach?
One would argue that sex coaching should be a necessary part of sexual education for everyone, especially at the beginning of our sex lives. Nobody is born with the skills and tools needed to navigate sexual and intimate relationships, yet we are left to learn through experiences or not at all.
In traditional African communities, sex coaching was a rite of passage considered necessary in preparing young men and women for happy unions. These systems have since collapsed as with many other valuable aspects of African culture.
Unfortunately, no modern systems have filled the gap in quite the same way- where the masses are the sexually prepared rule and not the poorly armed exception. While we can hope this gap will eventually be addressed in a meaningful way, we can make and encourage individual strides towards some level of competence.
Aside from improving your competence other signs that you may need a sex or intimacy coach include: you’re experiencing pain or physical difficulty when you try to have sex, you’re processing sexual trauma, you’re in a partnership with mismatched desires, you want to learn how to explore and communicate your desires, you’re exploring or sexual orientation and identity, you’re a current or former sex worker or dating someone who is, you want to overcome sexual shame and stigma and so on.
For purposes of safety and ethical practices find a coach that is licensed/certified by a recognized body. The World Association of Sex coaches has a global index of certified professionals and the could be a useful resource when beginning your search.
Ultimately seeking a sex coach or in more serious cases a sex therapist should be as natural as seeing a doctor for a cold. As long as you feel an aspect of your sexual and intimate life or relationship is lacking then you are a prime candidate for sex and intimacy interventions.
Would you get a sex coach to help you and your partner?