We talk to an expert to learn more about how hypnotherapy can help us get our sex lives back on track
For those of us who enjoy sex as part of our romantic relationships, it can be an important way to nurture intimacy and experience pleasure. This doesn’t mean it always goes to plan though…
As much as we’d love to follow Hollywood’s example, where sex appears simple and always incredible, sometimes we hit a bump in the road. This could include difficulty reaching orgasm, being unable to get or maintain an erection, experiencing pain during sex or simply having a patch of low libido.
Some of these problems may be familiar to you, something you’ve had to navigate ever since you started having sex. For some, the problems are new, coming out of the woodwork for some unknown reason. When we have a sex-related issue, finding the cause is often the first step. While some have physical causes (always head to your GP to check) almost all sex-related issues have a psychological component.
The way we experience sex has a lot to do with how we think and feel, so when there’s a problem we often need a multi-pronged approach to tackle both the physical and the psychological. Sex therapy may be recommended as it can help you delve deeper to unpick where the issue may have stemmed from.
Another option people are turning to is hypnotherapy. Working with the subconscious and unconscious, hypnotherapy can help us change thought patterns that may otherwise be tough to break.
We spoke to hypnotherapist, psychotherapist and intimacy coach Holly Robinson to find out why hypnotherapy might just be the missing link in overcoming sex-related issues.
What is it about sex-related issues that make them treatable with hypnotherapy?
I work with lots of clients who come to me with sex blocks. The majority of sex blocks are in the mind (not all), it's about our thoughts rather than reality. Sex blocks can vary from lack of self-confidence, performance-based blocks (longevity), orgasm blocks plus much more. Most of these are due to negative thinking. When you are stuck in your primitive mind, you can generally only access three emotions, anxiety, depression and anger. Pleasure doesn't even get a look in!
So when working with sex issues, reducing anxiety and negative thinking is always a key factor. Hypnotherapy helps to re-train the brain and remove negative thoughts which are creating blocks. It might be that a client had one negative experience in sex, for example, they lost their erection, and this negative experience has gone on to create a negative schema in the mind that they keep going back to affecting their future reality. Hypnotherapy can help clients to create new schemas.
Hypnotherapy helps clients to see the positives and to reduce stress levels; they can start to move into a more present and conscious space in sex, connecting with their pleasure again.
I use hypnotherapy to work with clients to look back into where sex shame and blocks around sex may have first been created, these are often modelled in childhood. When a parent tells us touching intimate parts of our bodies is dirty or bad behaviour, we can create a damaging model from very early on that our bodies are shameful and that self-pleasure is something to avoid or hide.
A healthy relationship with self-pleasure is key for a healthy intimate relationship (you need a positive relationship with yourself before you can create a positive relationship with your partner). Understanding the routes of our sex shame can help us to break through false beliefs and create new empowering belief systems around sex and intimacy.
What are some examples of hypnotherapy techniques that are used when working with sex-related issues?
I work with clients using solution-focused hypnotherapy which helps train the positive parts of the brain. If you think of the brain as a field and there are two tracks (the positive and the negative) say every day you take the negative path, that path will be the path of least resistance, well-trodden and easy to walk. This is why when we are typically worst-case scenario thinkers it can be tricky to break!
Hypnotherapy supports clients to train their positive thinking, so they go into intimacy with a new positive mindset, and this changes everything. Reducing stress levels can also support clients to feel more confident communicating about sex within their relationship, and take needed actions to improve things.
I also use visualisation so clients can create space to visualise what their ideal intimacy even looks like, many people have no idea what they would even want, so creating space to know how the best looks to you is powerful. Once you know where you are heading it's a hell of a lot easier to get there! During hypnotherapy, our minds are more receptive, so this is a space to fill your brain with all the things you need to hear so you are bursting with self-confidence and self-esteem!
Hypnotherapy, much like meditation, supports clients to be in the present moment. This is absolutely key for clients who are struggling with orgasm blocks. Often the orgasm becomes a goal, somewhere to reach in the future. This type of future thinking can be much like anxiety. Rather than being in the moment you are rushing ahead, the pressure can then create a block. Learning to be in the moment of pleasure without any specific goals can have massive impacts on clients struggling to reach climax and has a huge impact on their overall enjoyment during sex and intimacy.
I also work with lots of clients experiencing vaginismus; relaxation is key to overcoming this condition. Vaginismus is tensing and tightening of the vulva which can result in sex becoming painful or completely impossible. I work with many clients who have been seeing their GP for years with little to no improvements and have been able to completely overcome this condition through intimacy-based therapy and hypnotherapy.
I also work with clients around porn addiction and sexual fantasies and desires.
Do you have any words of encouragement for those nervous about seeking help?
I understand reaching out about sex can feel really scary, sex in its nature is such a vulnerable area of work. Most clients come to me extremely nervous and unsure of what is and isn't ok to discuss.
After working with thousands of clients around sex in all sorts of different capacities I am able to quite quickly reassure anyone I am working with that I am a safe space and way past any judgment around sex.
To me talking about sex is no different than talking about the weather! I work with clients around sex all day and I have overcome all shame around this most powerful and beautiful aspect of our lives.
Sex shame holds back many people from seeking help. Most clients I work with struggle for years before feeling brave enough to reach out. For anyone who is facing sex blocks or just not enjoying intimacy with their partner, I would highly suggest seeking some support, it can be a difficult area of self-development to navigate alone, and there is so much out there that can completely transform your reality around sex.
You are never too old, and I have worked with many clients who had given up on sex completely and then found a completely new way of looking at intimacy in their lives.