Episode 43: CLINICAL SECRETS OF A TANTRIC SEX THERAPIST with Sally Valentine
CLINICAL SECRETS OF A TANTRIC SEX THERAPIST, Sally Valentine, PHD in Clinical Sexology, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, and Tantrika.
In this episode Sally shares the gems of wisdom, and key practices that she has learned from her years as a clinical sex therapist. Learn how to reconnect from those hard days. Deepen into compassion for the woundings we all carry into relationship. Discover the most common challenge in longterm relationships. Turn the power play into play.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome to “Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra” bringing you the soul of sex. I am your host Francesca Gentille and with me today is Sally Valentine. Sally is a intelligent bright bubbling brunette who I met through the American Association of Sex Educators Counselors and Therapists. She is a certified sex therapist who has a PHD in clinical sexology. She is a licensed clinical social worker, an advanced certified hypnotherapist and has a private practice in Bocca Ratton Florida.
And is also, among all these wonderful clinical and highly educational psychotherapeutic things, she is also a tantra educator, a tontrica.
And I wanted to have her here today with us to share some of the tips, the secrets, that she has learned as both a clinician and someone who is deeply spiritual in the tantric arts of how to deepen our relationships.
Sally Valentine: You asked about how tantra and tantric practices can help that kind of scenario. And so what I do first after getting from them an understanding as to what has been going on most recently and then really talking about what happened to them in their past, sot of, what successes they have had in the past, what challenges they have had in the past, and then teach them really to reconnect in the current day.
As women move in their life cycle and move into their 40’s and their 50’s and on up and their bodies are changing all the time. So a lot of women, particularly as they age, become much more sensitive about body issues and body image.
What changes from earlier on when you had more desire and now you have less desire. What happened? What’s changed? So investigating, really exploring, what has changed to make this the case.
And for the partner who has a higher sex drive and higher sex desire, is this something that you’ve always had?
Francesca Gentille: Welcome Sally.
Sally Valentine: Oh thank you. Thank you Francesca.
Francesca Gentille: Now Sally you must have seen a lot being both a therapist, hypnotherapist, and a tantra person around relationships, like what has them breakdown and what reconnects them?
And would you mind, maybe just giving us a little information about what you think are the most common breakdown in a relationship or disconnects? And then maybe move into how what you learned in your practice and what you practice in your practice that really helps couples reconnect.
Sally Valentine: Great. And that is a really great question.
First of what I really see is I see breakdowns around sexual wounding. I see when couples come together and they come into a relationship with a lot of high expectations and a lot of high energy around learning about each other. Then as time goes on in their relationship things occur and people get triggered. And they get triggered a lot around stuff that didn’t even happen from the most current relationship but that happened in past events.
Sometimes it is childhood events. Sometimes it is things that people said n their more recent past, comments, messages that they got when they were younger. That really comes to play in this present day relationship.
And so how this plays out in conflict with them and their partner is a lot of hurt feelings. People begin to withdraw and they begin to see parts of their relationship disintegrate.
And that is usually when they want to come into seek some therapy, or sex therapy, or an understanding of what is going on.
You asked about how tantra and tantric practices can help that kind of scenario. What I do first after getting an understanding as to what has been going on most recently and then really talking about what happened to them in their past, sort of, what successes they have had in the past, what challenges they have has in the past and then teach them to reconnect in the current day.
I mean, we do a lot of other work, past event work, but also work that they can do in the moment. Some of that is things about even being honest with themselves and expressing honesty with each other. What they like. What they don’t like. I offer some experiential type of work in my practice.
Like teaching them how to even make eye contact because when couples are feeling discouraged with each other a lot of times they are less likely to not want to look at each other, absolutely not want to make eye contact with each other.
So we sort of go back to some basics. Just connect. Look at me. See I am here. So that they get a feel that their partner is really with them and present with them. That is one of the things that is really important for couples to know; is I care about you. I really do want us to get better. I really want to see how we can do things different so that we really feel more connected with each other.
So that eye contact is really important and in tantra we talk about the eye gazing. To just look at each other and not a stare but just a soft gaze. Look into each others eyes and appreciate. A look of appreciation for this person sitting across from you.
That can go a long way. Actually, that can stop an argument and shift a conflict just by that sense that they are being seen and fell that they are being seen. They feel the connection.
Francesca Gentille: You know, I love that you repeated that several times, that being scene. That is such a core universal need, to be seen, to be heard, to matter, to be felt
This is really touching on some things for me. Where I see myself in this Sally, is that when I feel upset with my partner I will look away. Sometimes I will leave the room. I will, in a sense- they call it- shut down. And my partner might say, “You’re gone.” And if I am angry I might say, “I am not gone. I am right here.”
But what they are saying is that the, look me in the eyes, is gone. The tenderness of that feeling when we feel connected, you know, when there is someone in the house, whether it is your pet or your child or your beloved and you just feel connected with them even if they are in another part of the house. That some how that connection has been removed.
And I love how you mentioned that it really often times it is not from the present. Some times on a good day I can even tell that my response to something little is so much bigger than is warranted. You know, if my sweetheart said that they would be home by seven for dinner and then they show up by seven thirty. Maybe, the food is cold. Maybe, I want to say, “Honey, next time could you call me if you know you are going to be late.”
But instead, maybe, I am frowning. Maybe, I am rattling the pans around. Maybe, I say something kind of snotty like, “You know, you could have called.” or “I have other things to do besides wait on you.” You know, suddenly I am in, kind of, an attacking mode.
And it can just spiral from that. You know what I mean? Like it ends up not just being one little night where somebody is half an hour late but then now they are thinking that maybe they don’t even want to come home because I was so mad at them. You know, it started a negative cycle where now they are coming home later and now I am being more angry and now…
I think as a therapist- I am coach as well- we see this all the time. Negative cycling, negative patterns that people get into that they don’t know how to stop.
Sally Valentine: Absolutely! What you are actually referring to is what we call the 90/10 rule. Have you heard of that one?
Francesca Gentille: Oh please tell us!
Sally Valentine: In conflict in a relationship 90% of what is occurring isn’t really the most current thing. It is stuff from the past. And there is that 10% that is really the here and now. So when people are in conflict I help remind them about that 90/10 rule. How much is this really going on.
You where talking about, when you mentioned, how whatever happen your reaction was much greater than the actual event. Your reaction that was greater wasn’t about that event. It was something from before. It was that 90% from the past, from before, not what is going on right now.
And people really appreciate keeping that in mind and remembering that. It takes a little of the energy away from the current event if you are understanding that it’s not just about right now. And the awareness of that not being aware that this goes on.
Francesca Gentille: I love that. I encourage our individuals or couples that are listening to even put something on the refrigerator. I put a lot of things on the refrigerator that I want to remember. So now I want to put 90/10 on the refrigerator so that I can remember in the moment. It catches me. When I start to react I can realize that this is a bigger reaction than this circumstance calls for.
And I want to talk more about how do we catch those kinds of things and what are some new practices that we can put in. Some of those tantric practices that you have discovered as a clinician that you use in sessions that will help our listeners, whether individuals or couples, turn right instead of left, instead of going down that tunnel with no cheese where they are just going to end up with more and more fights they get to go down a road that really leads them into bliss and connection.
And Sally is going to tell us that after a word from our sponsors.
And I invite us to support our sponsors who we very carefully select to be the best products, best services, wonderful company, and who support this show so that it can keep coming to you.
We will be back in just a moment a moment.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to “Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra” bringing you the soul of sex. We are with Sally Valentine. of sex. We are with Sally Valentine, wonderful intelligent clinician, social worker, a certified sex therapist, who is about to tell us even more in depth about some of those secrets and tips that she has learned as a clinician.
We had talked about the sexual wounding from childhood and recent relationships and I want to bring up a few of those and also address them from you expertise, Sally.
I was thinking that one of them has to be the whole body image thing. Like, for example, my brothers used to call me chubby when I was, you know, 11, 12 and my partner could say the most minor thing and suddenly I am back to being this 12 year old who didn’t have her figure yet, who feels fat, and now I don’t want to have sex.
So what did my partner do? What do we do? Either what do I do or what do you recommend for the partner, to help when that person is so triggered with a body image issue. That would b e a good one, right? A body image issue.
Sally Valentine: Yeah. And that is not just about childhood messages like what you got and comments that people made in childhood. It goes on throughout the life cycle of both men and women, but I find it more prevalent in woman.
And times that this is effective, more up for people, more lit, are things like when a woman is pregnant and her body changes during pregnancy or after the baby and her body isn’t quite what it was prior to being pregnant and carrying the baby.
As women move in their life cycle and move into their 40’s, and their 50’s, and on up , and their bodies are changing all the time. So a lot of women, particularly as they age, become much more sensitive about body issues and body image.
And these kinds of comments that can be made they can be comments that trigger childhood… like what you were talking about with your brother calling you chubby and your not but inside that is a message that is continuing to play. So how do we address this when this is up?
First, again, a level of awareness is one of the first steps to healing some of these wounds from a past or even fears that come up around ageing, and around body image, and around, a lot of different changes. So one of the things to do past the awareness being able to talk about it, and being open about it, and knowing and providing a safe arena so that you can do that.
Francesca Gentille: How do we do that? I hear people, all the time, saying, “Oh I can’t tell him that.” Or “I can’t tell her that.” “I can’t tell him that he has bad breath.”
“I can’t tell her that I wish she didn’t cut her hair.” We don’t know how to tell each other in a way that would get us that loving response that we really want.
Sally Valentine: Yeah and I think that that is vey very challenging. I think that a lot of people do find that challenging.
And one way that you can help help is to be able to provide a nonjudgmental noncritical atmosphere between each other.
So again discussing and honoring and reminding each other that I honor you and I cherish you. So starting off with a comment of appreciation. “ I really appreciate you.” “I appreciate how you look at me.” “I appreciate that you notice me.” “I appreciate that you come home at night and you greet me with a smile. I really appreciate this.” “And there is something on my mind that I want to share with you and I am a little scared.”
So admitting some fear around even sharing something that is so sensitive to me and then being able to talk about what it is that is this sensitive area and a reminder to your partner that this is something that is sensitive and requesting to just hold that space for me so I can talk about this.
And hopefully your partner is one that will honor that level of sensitivity proving the safety. It is really hard to feel safe if you are getting criticism and a lot of judgment from your partner.
Francesca Gentille: That is so true. It is so true and that sense of making sure that we are giving appreciation.
Gary Chapman would say in love languages, filling the love bucket. You know, before we take things out by any kind of criticism making sure the bucket is full first.
And, you know, you reminded me that sometimes I would really like to say something and instead of saying a negative like, “That t-shirt looks so bad on you.”
Sally Valentine: So how can you say that?
Francesca Gentille: “It shows off that little pot belly that you are getting. I think you have had a few to many beers lately.” You know, instead of saying something like that say, “You know that one shirt? That maroon shirt with the turned down collar. When you wear that I just want to take it off you”
So if I point to what I did like…You know, “I love it when your hair is longer because I love to run my fingers through it and it feels so sensual.” Rather than saying, “You know that short hair looks so bad on you.” The point is to point at what we want rather then- if possible, I men, sometimes you can’t – to point at what we want verses complaining about what we don’t want. It has a tendency to be more effective
Sally Valentine: Absolutely!
Francesca Gentille: from my experience.
Sally Valentine: Absolutely! Oh Absolutely!
Francesca Gentille: And so providing the opportunity to have those kinds of conversations and the honesty. And this comes feeling…you know, we are talking around what I really see as intimacy and that connection with each other and that ability to be able to speak up for what is going on with us and our fears, in an atmosphere where you know you are going to be received in a loving nonjudgmental way.
Sally Valentine: You know, I think that is one of the reasons people go to wonderful clinicians like you Sally is that often times it’s very challenging, depending what needs to be talked about or how long we haven’t talked about it. There can be a charge an emotional backup so to speak.
And I think that is the perfect opportunity to use a clinician and have someone there who helps mediate and slow down the conversation and really support people to eye gaze and to listen and to use formats of communication that are more nurturing and that are more
nicer than the way that we might just off the cuff. If we are not thinking about it we have the tendency to tell someone.
Do you find that that is one of the reasons that people come to you is to get your support in this kind of situation?
Sally Valentine: Absolutely! And also to do a lot of exploring around those kinds of things. And the other kinds of techniques that I use and that are really really helpful for people are just the breathing and breathing together and that tantric breath, just to inhale deeply, just allow the air to flow into the body and the stomach to extend out. So we are doing some abdominal breaths and just feeling really connected to the breath and breathing together so that the couple are looking at each other. Like giving each other a soft gaze while breathing together.
And this helps provide an opportunity for both people to tune into each other. It really helps shift negativity. It can help shift some judgmental type of feeling that is around when couples are just able to engage with each other, tune in, and just breathe together, and just get into that same energetic cycle that occurs when your breathing together and your making that connection.
And they just soften. It makes that kind of conversation a lot more powerful for each person once they set that stage.
Francesca Gentille: I love that sense of just calming down, getting out of our heads, deepening our breath- I am going to take a nice deep breath right now.- just having that.
And I want to hear more of these tips and techniques and the things that you discovered are so successful in your practice that we can also practice at home, after a break and a word from our fabulous sponsors. And we will be back.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to “Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra” bringing you the soul of sex. We are speaking with Dr. Sally Valentine, PHD in clinical psychology, licensed clinical social worker, and an amazing tantrica in her own rights. And we are delving into her secrets and tips that she has really learned from her clinical practice.
One of them being around a very common challenge for a couple is when they have a difference in their sexuality, whether it is a stylistic difference or whether it is a difference in libido how often; style or how often.
And Sally how would you address that? What can you say to our listeners?
Sally Valentine: I can say that that is an extremely common situation where I get a lot of couples who come in and they say, you know, “My partner wants sex all the time. I just can not stand to do it any more than once a week and at that I feel like I am really generous.” Then, of course, the partner that feels like they are really wanting to have a lot more sex comes in extremely frustrated with the fact that their sex life isn’t what they were hoping for.
So, both of them are in huge high conflict. And it becomes a huge power struggle with each other.
So, what I try to do and what is really helpful to anyone listening is to turn the volume down on that power struggle.
And ways you can do that are things like, first, understanding- and again we have talked about this communication and being open and honest and aware of what it is for each person in the couple- is what it is that gets in the way of them being able to. For instance, if you don’t have a high sex drive what is going on with you? Is this something that always happened, you know, you have never really had a high sexual desire.
Or is it something more recent. And irf it is something more recent, what has changed? What changed from earlier on when you had more desire and now you have less desire? What happened? What’s changed? So investigating really exploring what has changed to make this the case?
And for the partner who has a higher sex drive and higher sex desire, is this something they’ve always had? Or the older they get- it doesn’t usually happen this way- but, you know, if there is any change in their level of desire.
And once you kind of explore if there is anything that has gotten in the way what might that be? Sometimes it is disease process. Sometimes it is the aging process. Sometimes it is medications. Sometimes it’s stuff that happens outside of the couplehood, children, work, a lot of high stress. So understanding and trying to identify what might be impeding the change and the sexual desire.
Francesca Gentille: Once we have explored that and have some understanding as to specific things that get in the way right now, then how do we pull in the one with less desire and provide an atmosphere or opportunities which might help them embrace more sex in the one who is feeling like they are totally not getting as much sex as they want. How do we help that person relax more into not feeling that they are being deprived because that is what happens when there is that sexual difference.
And so things like after just talking and some understanding where each person is coming from helps greatly in the power play is getting an understanding of. “Oh! Ok. I understand you. I hear that that makes sense that you are feeling so stressed with the kids but then what about me.”
Also, again, is getting each person in the couplehood to hear the other person because a lot of times there is a lot of invalidation that goes on on both parts because neither one is feeling they are getting what they want.
So it is staying present. It’s staying open. It is being generous with each other in terms of just not appreciating the types of messages but even just pictures.
So one of the things they can do is list the things that are pleasing to them. The one with the less desire, to have them really begin to explore what could be a possibility. What is it that would be pleasurable to them? And write that down. Make that list the pleasure things that might be pleasurable that may not include intercourse.
And even helping the couple understand and broaden their understanding of what sexuality is because sometimes it is just that penetration. Sometimes if the lens of what sexuality is broadens then the couple can have a whole lot more things to choose from then just this “wam bam thank you ma’am” kind of thing that sometimes people do.
So it is expanding what can be included in this pleasure that brings the couple more together. So listing that down, the one who is feeling that they are not getting the amount of sex that they are wanting or as often or even maybe the quality. Write down what it is for me that I really like. “I like when you touch my hair in this certain way.” You know, “If I had my rathers, I would like to have actual penetration this amount of times a week.”
So, have each of them explore and write down all the things that do bring them sexual pleasure and then have them talk about their list. And then choose from their list something that each is willing to be a part of.
And, again, I mention the generosity of spirit in a relationship In couplehood, being generous with each other because when you are open and generous with what you are willing to offer- and I think in healthy relationships there is give and take. There is an openness. There is an honoring of each other and each other’s styles, as you mentioned before, and desires, and appreciating each other.
Francesca Gentille: Sally I want to thank you so much for sharing this with us and really deepening us into that heart of a relationship where we are with each other instead of being in that fighting one another over wanting or not wanting. Really, as they say, rowing the boat together. Collaborating and envisioning together, how can we have it work for both of us and deepening- like you said- into that heart felt generosity.
And I wanted to thank you for being so generous with us today with your time.
And how would people find out about you, your classes, and I know you teach wonderful workshops, how can they contact you.
Sally Valentine: Yes. Well my website is valentinecounsel.com and I do have my list. I have an upcoming tantra workshop for couples, a sacred sexuality workshop for couples, in September, September 26th and 27th in Boca Raton Florida. And they can call me my telephone number is 561-391-3305 and that is in Boca Raton.
Francesca Gentille: Wonderful thank you so much Sally.
And I want to thank our listeners for listening to “Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra” bringing you the soul of sex.
For transcripts, to subscribe, to find out more about Sally, her website, everything, you can go to www.personallifemedia.com