For something a little different today I’ve interviewed my friend, sex therapist Nina B.
What motivated you to study sex therapy?
I studied Psychology after high school but the generic scope of it. I have always had a high libido and enjoyed sex. When I had a talk radio show in the USA I wanted a Sex Therapist as a guest to be able to talk about the good the bad and the ‘bumping uglies’! He and I had a great professional relationship and I was envious about what he did. He encouraged me, to quote NIKE, “Just Do It”. With the support of my husband I enrolled at Sydney University Medical School and did my Masters. So now I get to talk about sex all day. It is a privilege to be able to sit with people who trust you to divulge their intimate lives. Then to be able to help them reach their goals is the greatest reward.
I can say I never have a boring day.
Can you explain what your job involves?
I am not a sex worker, nor am I a sexual surrogate, although I do believe both have roles to play. I am a mental health worker who focuses on relationships sexuality and sexual dysfunction. In today’s world of the “quick fix” there may be a pill for most things but when it comes to sex many people don’t want to take medication with strong side effects if they can ‘tweek’ their approach and treat the underlying issues. I spend time with clients to understand what has contributed to their make up as a sexual being. We then look at the presenting problem and the best approach to rectify or cope with issues. I prefer not to see clients for long periods of time. I hope to equip clients with the necessary tools so they can continue on their own.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
I love sex, sexuality and all healthy forms of its expression. I find the focus on sexuality to be so positive and life affirming that any assistance I can give couples and individuals is a reward. The answers to some issues really have nothing to do with sex and you counsel on areas such as self-esteem, anxiety and communication. When a client’s leave more self-aware and happy I couldn’t be happier.
What is the most frustrating aspect of your work?
The frustrating aspect of my work is public perception. In the USA most people have a therapist, it is very much accepted. Seeking assistance in ones most private life is also accepted. I have found Australia to be a little behind. While we like to pride ourselves as having a perceived open approach about sex, we still find seeking help through therapy a little taboo.
How do you approach kink in your practice?
If you aren’t hurting another, yourself or breaking the law, then enjoy. The only time I would help a client with their kink lifestyle is if it was causing them considerable distress.
What advice can you give for people wanting to speak to their partners about kink?
I feel that most people have a gut feel about whether or not to speak to their partners about their preferences. Usually one partner will work the topic casually into conversation to assess the reaction of their partner. The sad thing is that people might give an automatic negative response to anything they feel might be frowned upon, even if they do find kink arousing. So this could lead to the topic being squashed and both missing out. Every relationship is different. I would suggest getting to know your partner as much as you can. Know where they come from, what growing up was like for them. Ask if they have had fulfilling sexual relationships and what sex means for them. If you feel your relationship has a non judgemental flavour topped with trust, then ask for what you would like in the bedroom.
When should people consider seeking your help?
Most people wait until they are in crisis to seek help. It would be prudent to look at making tweeks as issues come up. Personal growth is pivotal to being able to have fulfilling relationships with others and so I would suggest people invest in themselves by learning and growing continuously instead of waiting for things to become terminal before looking for help. Mostly people want to know if they are “normal” in their sexual practices and that’s great as they really just need one session. For others it is the level of distress they are experiencing that is the catalyst for them to seek help.
Do you have any advice for people looking to find a sex therapist to work with?
Sex therapy in Australia is a growing profession. Therapists like Dr Rosie King and Betina Arndt have been around for many years, however people are now becoming more open to seeking help for their sexual issues than ever before. It is a bit like finding a hairdresser you really like. It may take talking to a few before you find the one who will work for you. Talking about your most intimate life can be difficult so you want to feel comfortable. Ask about the therapists approach and how much experience they have had with regards to your specific problem. Ensure that your therapist has qualifications in counselling or psychology with specific training in sex therapy.
You can find out more about Nina and her practice here.