Episode 15 - The Sacred Art of Sex Coaching with Dr. Patti Britton, nationally board certified Clinical Sexologist & Sex Coach.
The Sacred Art of Sex Coaching with Dr. Patti Britton, nationally board certified Clinical Sexologist & Sex Coach. Current President of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. Author of "The Art of Sex Coaching" and the co-author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Sensual Massage."
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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 I’m delighted to introduce Dr. Patti Britton. Patti is a nationally board certified clinical sexologist and sex coach. She’s the current president of ASEC, the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists. Patti has an LA based sex coaching practice with telephone coaching around the world and she’s an author of several books that we’re going to talk about a little bit more in just a bit.
Dr. Patti Britton: MEBES, actually, is a way of putting together what I see as the five elements that make sexuality cook, that makes sex work, that really informs and infuses who we are, individually, as sacred sexual beings and we’re all sacred sexual beings whether we know it or not. I see clients who come to see me, couples and individuals, who haven’t had sex for two and a half to three to four years, who have been married sometimes 15-20 years and they reach the point, one of them has reached the point of what I call ‘sexual starvation’.
This particular couple in one of our recent sessions was really about allowing him to say, believe it or not, given the dialogue that I facilitated together, “For the first time I feel heard and understood”. And she said “For the first time I feel like I’m hearing you” and so it’s not a blame game. I don’t allow my couples to slide into the blame, complain game because it doesn’t get them or us anywhere. We need to keep directing the focus to ‘What do you want?’
Francesca Gentille: Patti, welcome!
Dr. Patti Britton: Thank you so much.
Francesca Gentille: One of the reasons that I’ve invited you here today, Patti, aside from that your energy and your presence, for those who don’t know Patti, is, she radiates a sense of love, a sense of welcoming and a profound intelligence and just seeing this woman. If you see … if you go on her website, it’s not enough. She just has this spark of energy and you’re going to hear it. She has a model, a very holistic model of sexuality that I wanted her to bring to us because I think that it is going to be very important. Patti, could you just describe that model a little bit for us.
Dr. Patti Britton: Well, I write about the model extensively in my book “The art of sex coaching: extending your practice” which was published in 2005 and it is, in a funny way, just catching fire [laughs] around the world right now. I think it’s because sex coaching is a new model. It’s really a new paradigm shift. Looking at the role of therapy from a different perspective. I have many, many clients who come to me who, oddly enough, are in therapy or have been in therapy often for many years and often they are in therapy at the same time that they are seeking out my services.
I have to tell you Francesca, it’s always mind-blowing to me that they say, “Oh yeah, we’ve been in therapy and we’re working on our relationship issues or I’ve been in therapy for so many years but we don’t talk about S-E-X. And so, as I was developing what I do as a sex coach and really working on this new model of helping people with a variety of sexual concerns, I kind of took the trident through of good sex counseling and therapy as we know it and life coaching which is really the paradigm of helping people become empowered, have a vision, work in the now, work towards results for the life they want and I didn’t have a model to use, so I developed and designed my own. And I call it the MEBES model. Every time I do workshops or training on this, I always challenge my students and my audience – if you can come up with a better way of saying this, a great word, that’s a nice mnemonic, please let me know, but right now we’re stuck with MEBES.
Francesca Gentille: What is MEBES, what is that?
Dr. Patti Britton: I know, it’s like there is the word ‘mean’ which was a new word, which was about how the culture morphs into a new culture, and we take all the knowledge of the past and bring it forward and then it morphs into something new but MEBES is … MEBES actually is a way of putting together what I see as the five elements that make sexuality cook, that makes sex work, that really inform and infuse who we are, individually, as sacred sexual beings and we are all sacred sexual beings whether we know it or not.
M is for the mind or mental realm, E is for emotions or the feelings, B is for the body, body behaviors, our breathing, those type of things, what we do sexually but it’s also about our body image. E is for energy, whether it’s the energy that we have with our partner when we’re expressing our passion, or even the energy that we contain and move within our own bodies and our own selves. S is for spirit and I’ve to tell you that when I talk about the MEBES model with my clients, which I do in very indirect ways by eliciting what’s going on for them or not going on and then helping them anchor into where is there a blockage.
Is it in the mind, emotions, body, body image, energy or spirit realm and then we work together to create an action plan to unblock that part or the part that tend to be not in flow and it’s my belief and my experience, having done my work a long time, that when these five element or these five parts of our sexuality and our sexual essence are not open and clear and in alignment - sex is not optimal.
Francesca Gentille: Could you give me a picture, maybe describe, because we’re listening, so we need to hear the description words. What might optimal sex sound like because I’m not sure that some of us have ever had it, so could you give us a picture?
Dr. Patti Britton: Well, optimal sex would be the kind of sexual experience, alone or with a partner or partners, that makes one feel fulfilled, that gives one a sense of satisfaction, of wholeness, of fullness. Those are the kinds of experiences that would let you become the sexual person, who would never be talking to a person like me because of course the people who seek out the services of a sex coach or a sex counselor or even a, in many cases a tantric healer or educator are people who’re not feeling they’re complete, they’re not feeling that they’ve reached the ultimate capacity of their sexual expression and those are the states of being, sexually speaking, that I believe we all long to be in and don’t know how to attain.
Francesca Gentille: You know, I just want to celebrate this because I think there are a number of people who are suffering with sex that is sub-optimal that is just a little spurt into their life and they feel so hungry again or depleted or if that was all there is …
Dr. Patti Britton: That’s right.
Francesca Gentille: … and the people who’re listening to this show and the people that are coming to you are people who have recognized that longing and that there’s something more possible for them in their sex life.
Dr. Patti Britton: That’s right and a lot of times I counsel with my clients in terms of their hunger and as you probably know because you’re a consummate sex expert and sexologist as well, that one of the epidemics that we see in the field of human sexuality is this issue called the sexless relationship or sexless marriage as it was coined in 2002. When that term came out five years ago some of us were stunned that there was such a thing and it’s even defined as sexuality expression meaning sexual intercourse for most people less than ten times per year. I see clients who come to see me, couples and individuals who haven’t had sex in two and a half to three to four years, who’ve been married sometimes 15-20 years and they’ve reached the point, one of them has reached the point of what I call sexual starvation and that’s when they seek out my help.
Francesca Gentille: Yep, Patti this is so important and so achingly common and I want to talk much more about what, if any of our listeners are finding themselves in that place where they are in the no-sex marriage or the low-sex marriage, what are some steps they can do to shift that, after we come back from a break and a word from our sponsor.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to “Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra” – bringing you the soul of sex. Today we’re with Dr. Patti Britton who is the author of “The Art of Sex Coaching”, co-author of “The Idiot’s Guide to sexual massage” and also the author of “The adventures of Her in France” – an illustrated erotic novel and Patti and I were just talking about the sexless or low-sex marriage. Patti, what can someone do if they find that they’re in that situation?
Dr. Patti Britton: Well, it really depends on why they’re there. Like anything in any relationship there are many opportunities for having conflict or disappointment and I’ll never forget going into a workshop at one of the ASEC meetings where Dr. Barry McCarthy was speaking, who is one of the people that we attribute the term ‘sexless marriage’ to as a sex therapist and he said that for many women in these relationships the cause is profound disappointment in the relationship and the partner and so when we begin to really remove the obstacles whether they are in the mind, the body or spirit.
When we begin to look at what the causal factors may be, they can be a variety of things. For example, if we look at the ageing baby-boomers, many of whom, the first cohort, of which I’m a part are looking at the big 60 and 70 million people are about to also follow our lead and turn that corner. What’s going to happen to this generation of “Oh no, not me, I don’t want to be old, I’m going to kick and scream into ageing and I want to stay young”, is that they are going to have to confront ageing. They’re going to have to confront things like hormonal decline and output because that is the nature of the human body. Is to slow down, is to dry up [laughs] and is to become less juicy from a biological standpoint.
So there’s a lot of compelling need for women and men as they age, whatever their age is, because sometimes, as you know Francesca, biological age is not the issue, it’s really our sense of how old we are. I’ve met 27 year olds who are old men and 74 year olds who are very young vibrant women. So, it’s really a decline in the sex hormone output and that is often in the older couple. One of the reasons that they really need to learn, again going back to the M in my MEBES model, getting their mind in the right place, being open to things like supplementation, whether it’s taking an estrogen ring, for example, for the post-menopausal woman, which I know doesn’t sound very holistic but holism is really the embodiment and the embracing of both western and eastern medicines, of our whole self being treated, whether it’s our sense of our juiciness as an older woman and embracing and embodying the Goddess Self including adding estrogen and progesterone and testosterone into the mix, if we need that to fire up the engines. And having people learn that love changes over time.
I find, I’ve a young couple I’m working with right now. They’re extraordinarily young and they haven’t had sex in five years. They’ve been together seven. One of the issues that’s impeding them, frankly is the E part of the MEBES model. They’re always creating conflict and tension. They don’t know how to resolve anger, so they constantly drudge up the same story and the same dynamic and dialogue that puts them back in anger and anger, as you know, is a terrific emotion for distancing, for separation and if they could just have make-up sex, have a good fight and have make-up sex, that would get them back on the radar screen of having a sexual encounter but often what goes on for women, as I see it in my practice and I’ve been in the field a long time so I’ve worked with thousands of people, is that for many people, and I see it in woman but I have to tell you, compassionately speaking, I also see it in men, is the need for what I term, connectivity. And we talk about connection and it’s really a spiritual connection, it’s really an energetic connection, it’s really an emotional connection.
It’s a sense of being capable of being intimate, of feeling close and of letting ourselves be seen, and be understood by our partner. And this particular couple in one of our recent sessions was really about allowing him to say, believe it or not, given the dialogue that I facilitated together, “For the first time I feel heard and understood” and she said, “For the first time I feel like I’m hearing you”. So, something as simple as promoting a dialogue that is authentic and that goes to completion may be the anecdote for getting couples out of the rut in a no-sex marriage or relationship.
Francesca Gentille: So, what you started out by saying that one of the most common, for women, and probably for some men, is that profound disappointment, which is a lack of connectivity. So, when they’re thinking of their partner they’re feeling disconnected, unseen, unheard – that they don’t really matter. So, here are Bill and Sally and they are both feeling disconnected, unheard, that they are not seen and they don’t matter. What is maybe a simple exercise that they could do at home that would help support that sense of connection, being seen, being heard?
Dr. Patti Britton: Well, one of the things that I actually have this particular couple doing – they’re a wonderful role model for people listening to this show because they really are a universal couple in many ways and there are probably 15 different things that I could suggest. One of things that in tantra is a very common practice and I’m sure that you’ve covered it a million times on your show, is allowing people to connect through their eye gaze. It’s so simple to open your eyes and look left eye to left eye into your partner and not be sexual, just be together and take three minutes to do it.
It’s even hard for some people in the rushed pace of life today to do that for a full minute but I tell my clients to go home and just be and stop and be quiet and look at each other, facing each other, knees to knees, fully clothed, holding hands. That sometimes is the single most powerful breakthrough they can have. I also tell people to connect with their passion. I have people go home and do a home assignment of writing a passion statement of the day. “What made me feel passionate today? Where did I find my passion in my life?” And even if it’s cooking that makes her feel passionate or going through Quicken on his computer and balancing his checkbook makes him feel passionate. They have to find a passion within themselves and what makes them evoke and feel their passion.
Francesca Gentille: So, you’re recommending for each person to take that responsibility themselves?
Dr. Patti Britton: Absolutely. Beginning to be passionate with the partner begins with being able to touch the passion within yourself. Knowing where your passion comes from, knowing what turns you on as an alive being is what we bring back into the bedroom.
Francesca Gentille: You know Patti, I love that we’re talking about this accessing of passion and I want to go even deeper into the ways that, as individuals, we inflame that passion and the safe, kind of reliable ways that we bring it to one another after a brief break and word from our sponsor.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to “Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra” – bringing you the soul of sex. Today we’re with Dr. Patti Britton – nationally board certified clinical sexologist and sex coach and the author of “The Art of Sex Coaching” which she’s sharing some secrets with us about how to bring back the passion in our lives and in our sexual relationships. Can we have that one tip that was so tasty about bringing, connecting to our own passion. Are there a couple more that you could give our listening audience?
Dr. Patti Britton: Well, I think that, just to review quickly, this issue of conflict in a relationship and constant worry about money or conflict over how to raise the children or what plagues most of the couples that I see is, no time for sex. It becomes a lifestyle challenge rather than a sexual breakdown. That’s the word that I like to use - ‘breakdown’ but sometimes it’s really about one of them is just not as skilled a lover as the other partner needs and there’s never been the authenticity or the sense of safety to ask for what I want in that relationship when I’m one of the partners. And so creating a safe space is essential in the role of the therapist or the sex coach and that’s a lot of what I do, create a safe space in terms of their authentically sharing what it is they want and they need as an individual and of course what this is really about – this is the work of David Schnarch and Ruth Morehouse - is the need to differentiate oneself from the couple and of course we’re talking about couples.
Often we see people who are single who are serial monogamists, who go through the same act over and over and over with different people but they still suffer from the lack of being able to be differentiated and the idea of getting back to the essence of why are you together? I think that’s the greatest skill of a coach and the greatest gift we can give our clients is bringing them back to the essence of the soul of their connection, bringing them back to ‘Why are you together?’, ‘Why did you choose to be together?’, ‘What’s that spark of’, in my opinion, ‘the divine that brought you together in the first place?’
Did you come together in the first place to be each other’s teacher, to heal through this relationship – which I believe is why we all come together – to learn and to heal, to grow. What were those feelings? All the debris and the crust that builds up over the years for some people has to be chipped away at and removed but essentially we need to guide them back to the connection, the rationale, the spark, the spark or the magic that made that bond occur in the very first place – that’s where a lot of the work goes and then some of the work involves getting them to make lifestyle changes.
I’ll never forget I had a couple who were really really in love with each other and they had been together about 12 years and they hadn’t had sex in five years and it was each of their second marriage and what was so interesting is that they chose to let their environment and their circumstance override their longing to connect at a sexual level and they ended up putting a lock on the door, so the kids wouldn’t barge in at night, and moving their room down the hall, so their kids couldn’t hear them and finding ways of making nooky time like getting in the RV in the backyard and pretending they were going out on a trip and just making out for hours and hours and hours – which is of course what they did when they first met and finding that child and that playful self within. The thing about sexuality that is different from some practices in psycho-therapy where you are looking at family origin issues and how you feel about your mom because that’s three yada, yada, yada … From a sex coaching perspective we work very much in the present or the future and it’s very intense and directive.
What I find is that people need to re-connect with the playful aspects of sexuality. Sex is about play and I think if we can think about dolphins we can see that these are creatures who actually are sexual without procreation as are some species like the Bonobos and we are animals and we are like that and if we can connect with the child self in us, that playful free self we have more odds that we are going to go back into a sexful rather than a sexless relationship.
Francesca Gentille: So, if there’s this couple that’s feeling disconnected and maybe have some built-in resentment. It always looks like it’s the other person. She is the one that’s sabotaging our having a rich sex life or he’s the one that doesn’t really understand what I want and there’s this resentment that’s been built, what I’m hearing is that you invite the couple to focus on ‘What would you want?’ I mean you both want this delicious playful sex life and you start to both envision that together and from the future almost saying that that’s the priority – this delicious, playful sexuality that’s connective is a priority. Let’s start booking it in our overly busy schedules and making it that priority.
Dr. Patti Britton: Well, the very first session that I have with couples tell me what are your ideal, from the very first words that we speak to one another. So, in the process I move them towards claiming, if you will, stating their ideal for this relationship and so it’s not a blame game. I don’t allow my couples to slide into the blame, complain game because it doesn’t get them or us anywhere. We need to keep directing the focus to ‘What do you want?’ not ‘What do you not want?’
Francesca Gentille: And it sounds like just shifting into what they want starts to get some of that passion going, some of that excitement going.
Dr. Patti Britton: Absolutely, they get out of the morass of the difficulties, the challenges and the problems and they get by good facilitation and sex coaching to look at ‘What is it that we began with?’ and ‘Remember where we used to hang out and go look at the sunset at the beach’. I do live in southern California. [laughs] “And we used to spend hours just holding each other and remember we took that massage class.”
You know getting people to touch on their sensuality is another key. When you ask about, ‘How do we get this sexless or no- or low-sex couple back on track?’ We need to get them back to the Body and the Body is the sacred temple and when we get to acknowledge that our sexual energy is our life force energy, that it lives in a sacred place called the Body. People begin to take that in and regard it differently. Sometimes, what I do with my clients is make sure that they go to the gym or they get on a weight loss program because their sense of self is so impaired by that extra 50 pounds or that belly that’s hanging out when they’re making love that by taking action on the inner and the outer aspects of their life, things begin to change and improve.
Francesca Gentille: Now, for people who don’t live in southern California, they can call you. There’s also that book “The Art of Sex Coaching”. That’s not just for therapists, is it, or coaches? Anybody could read that and get some great suggestions for their relationship.
Dr. Patti Britton: Yes, they can. It was written deliberately for the training, in essence of psycho-therapists and life coaches who do not have the sexuality background to be able to handle over 46 sexual-clinical concerns that I write about in the book but I wrote it in a way that was accessible by anybody. Lots of my colleagues who are sex therapists and counselors recommend it to their clients to read, interestingly enough and I always send a client or two home with excerpts from the book that may help them with, for example, how to do their PC exercises or nine steps to female orgasm or early ejaculation in men, how to overcome that because it’s filled with rich stories of real people’s experiences.
In my practice I have over 40 people that are amalgamations of the various clients that I’ve served and I do work outside the box. I’m known not to be a linear person. I’m very intuitive, I’m very circular in my approach and I use anything that will get someone to heal and grow and become the best they can be sexually.
Francesca Gentille: Patti, I just love your intuitive, holistic approach and that you’ve given us some real gems. One is the normalizing, that of course there’s going to be challenges and disconnects in a relationship and this is an opportunity for people to really grow and evolve in life through relationships. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong or that they need to give up and that it’s possible to re-awaken passion internally and bring that to the relationship and then that sense of play and remembering and re-claiming the beginning of the relationship. Well, it’s just fun and delicious and I know there’s hundreds more delicious tips in your books and with you and what is your website, Patti? How can people find you?
Dr. Patti Britton: It’s yoursexcoach.com and anyone can access it. It has a place where you can send me a question. We have a bi-monthly newsletter and lots and lots and lots of pages of great information.
Francesca Gentille: So, thank you so much for joining us today
Dr. Patti Britton: Thank you. It’s my pleasure.
Francesca Gentille: This is “Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra” – bringing you the soul of sex and if you our listeners to us and would like to get more information about Patti, her bio, or transcripts from this show or information about everything to do with Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra, you can find us at www.personallifemedia.com. That’s www.personallifemedia.com.
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