4.5.11

introducing "under the covers with niki"

Welcome to a new monthly feature on la chapstick fanatique called "Under the Covers with Niki." My friend, Niki, will be posting the first Wednesday of every month with answers to your sex questions. All questions will be kept confidential - I won't even see them.

Niki and I became friends our junior year of college where she studied Psychology with a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. After graduating she moved to Philly to attend Chestnut Hill College (which pretty much looks like Hogwarts) for a graduate degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Here is a picture with Niki on my wedding day (she is in the blue printed dress.)
So with further ado, meet Niki!

Hi! My name is Niki and I'm a sex therapist.

This is something that I rarely introduce myself as since I get bizarre looks and questions. Instead when people ask what I do, I reply, "I'm a marriage and family therapist." Which is also true. Only after a few minutes of casual talk, if I can feel out if you can handle this privileged information, I will drop the bomb and add - "I specialize in sex therapy."

After I share my "interests" with people it goes one of two ways: 1. They ignore what I said because they are too uncomfortable or 2. They think they have the opportunity for a free session and begin asking questions. Surprisingly, I don't mind the questions. In fact, I think they are the best part of the job! I like education people and creating a healthy and safe environment to talk about sex. Here are a few examples of questions I get when I first tell people that I'm a sex therapist:

Q: I'm sorry - what does it mean to be a "sex therapist?"
A: Well, it probably isn't what you think. I don't have sex with my clients. It is talk therapy with an individual or a couple. Typically they would come to session with a particular issue that they would like to discuss. It could be any sexual issue: sexual identity, orgasmic issues, painful sex, erection issues, infidelity . . . whatever! No topic is off limits. Same rules as traditional therapies: everything is confidential unless I learn that you are going to hurt yourself or someone else.

Q: Well, what if your problem is that you have too much sex?
Answer I think to myself before answering: Your problem is not that you are having too much sex; stop trying to impress the sex therapist, gross. You might think about sex a lot - but so does everyone else. But, of course, I always opt to answer professionally, saying something like:
A: Well too much sex is only a problem when one partner is uncomfortable with the amount of sex in the relationship or if it is happening outside of the relationship with reckless abandon. Singles can have too much sex if they are being unsafe about it - not using protection for STDs or birth control - and putting other's health at risk. Typically one's body does not let them have too much sex - you will, for a lack of a better word, "wear out" before you get to that point.

Q: Oh so that means you have really great sex. Do you tell your partner how to have sex?
Again, answer I think to myself before answering: Really? You just asked me, a stranger, about my sex life? And you think I am bossy in bed?! You wish. Yet again, I answer the question professionally by saying:
A: That is funny; a lot of people ask that. But the last thing I want to do is analyze my sexual relationships. Isn't the point of sex to have fun? What fun is it if I am telling the other person what to do and how to do it?

Of course, these questions could go on for days, but I think the best part of starting these conversations is dispelling some of the myths that people have not only about sex, but also about therapy - more specifically sex therapy. What questions do you have? Send your questions to me at underthecoverswithniki{at}gmail{dot}com. All questions will be treated with confidentiality and anonymity and you might just see the answer to your question next month!

12 comments:

  1. this is a great idea morgan (and niki)! it is so important to encourage healthy dialogues concerning sex, desire, relationships, commitment, and so forth. cannot wait to see more installments.

    http://dallianceswithsuitsandskirts.blogspot.com/

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  2. such a good idea! i can't wait to read about everyone's sex! WOO!

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  3. I have to respond to this, and I really hope you don't delete my comment because I'd love to hear any rebuttals or replies to it. I'm a big fan of open dialogue. :)

    "Your problem is not that you are having too much sex; stop trying to impress the sex therapist, gross."

    I can't read all therapist's minds, but I am disturbed that this would be the immediate and consistant first reaction by someone with that sort of training!!!!

    What about people who feel they have to have sex several times daily, and are having problems because of it? (Dryness, soreness, etc.) Is that not a valid concern?

    What about people who feel the need to have sex so often that they skip out on work, take long lunches that jepordize their employment, or any other such life-upsetting instance(s)? There is such a thing as sex addiction.

    Also, "Really? You just asked me, a stranger, about my sex life? And you think I am bossy in bed?! You wish." You aren't a stranger, you are a trusted therapist. How is it not natural to wonder if your doctor or therpist has similar issues to you and if you truly feel they can relate? If someone sees a Dr for depression, it's natural to wonder if they really know what it feels like. Is it weird or out of line to ask? Maybe. BUT- for a therapist to think something so negetive and, well, arrogant ("you wish"? come on...) makes me really hope this isn't how all therapists think. They're human, sure, but these are negetive attitudes and to broadcast them on the internet (let alone having them at all) probably isn't the best judgement call.

    I love your blog and I've never left anything less that a positive comment on anyone's blog before, but am really, really, disappointed in these replies she had.

    That being said, I do think this is a good idea you have. Still, after knowing what this therapist REALLY thinks about her patient's questions, I wouldn't feel she was being honest with anything she said. A patient should be someone you're helping, and not a joke or source of amusement.

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  4. BeadEclectic - Nope, I won't delete your comment. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I am don't really like to "censor" that unless it is vicious.

    I think what Niki was trying to say is these are questions she gets from strangers - not from her patients - once they learn what she does. For instance, if you had just met her, found out what she does, and then says, "so how is your sex life?" Maybe that wasn't clear.

    Correct me if I am wrong Niki...

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  5. It looks like these replies were more geared to strangers... so please disregard anything where I said they were directed at patients. Strangers are still entitled to the same kinds of questions, but this post makes a bit more sense now.

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  6. Lol- I just saw that. This post is asking for questions from strangers though, so I'll definitely stand by my initial feeling of not feeling comfortable asking anything in this kind of forum. :)

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  7. I completely understand your concern. I am really sorry if this came off as insensitive or disrespectful as I know sex is a difficult topic to talk about. But I will vouch for Niki saying she REALLY does care about what she does. She worked with students at our college who had experienced some sort of sexual violence, help spread sex education as a peer health educator, and has helped many people at a practice in Philly.

    As a person who has gone through therapy though (not sex therapy) I will say this - I would never ask my therapist about their personal life, let alone their sex life. I do ask a lot of "is that normal" questions but wouldn't ask intimate details about their life.

    I really hope you come to find that Niki is very knowledgeable on these topics and really just wants to help people. Thanks for being brave and writing what was on your mind!

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  8. Sex can definitely be a touchy subject (haha, no pun intended!) as can anything you really need help with can be. I sold sex toys for awhile, so I'm super open about that stuff. I know a lot of people are really sensitive though. I talked to so many women who were embarassed about their bodies, had never achieved orgasm because they were too afraid to be open with what they needed, didn't understand if pain they felt was normal, etc. I'm allllll about women enhancing their sex lives and being open about it!

    I don't ask my therapist those questions either, but I've always wanted to. I can't imagine I ever would. Still, I understand how some people might wonder, and be more apt to ask those questions in a non-professional setting.

    Great dialogue here... another reason to love your blog. :)

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  9. Thanks for the clarification Morgan! This post was written thinking about all of the times I have met people in a non-clinical setting who giggle about my profession and then ask me a handful of personal questions. With my background in psychology I have had enough training to know that people do not come up to a stranger, who has been introduced as a therapist, and share their deepest darkest secrets. Seeking therapy, and help in general, is a process in its own. Also it takes many individual therapy sessions for a person to reveal what is truly going on for them. I have great relationships with my clients and have a great amount of empathy and support—not judgment.

    When I wrote this post I was thinking of all the times that people ask me questions when I’m in a bar, dinner party, etc. when it is not the time or the place for a winded soapbox rant about my views of sexuality and the value of open discussion because that is even more off putting for the general public. I’m sorry if my initial reaction may seem tackles, but that is only because of my frustration with strangers treating my profession as a joke. Thanks for sharing your concerns and please don’t hesitate to ask any more questions. I can see how this post could be misinterpreted if you haven’t met me and don’t know how important sexuality is to me.

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  10. I understand how you'd be frustrated. These kinds of posts open up people and get them talking, which is good. :)

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  11. Yay Niki! My excitement for this being a regular installment almost rivals my excitement that being a sex therapist is working out so well for you!

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  12. I'm so excited for this!! Go Morgan, you rock! And Niki, get out there girl, I'm proud of you!
    I personally think it's pretty cool to get a look at the inner workings of a therapist's mind- we get too share in your thoughts and be educated at the same time! Excellent. :)
    Looking forward to more posts!

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