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Desensitizing to Sexual Inhibitions

Updated: Mar 10, 2023

By: Glyndora Condon MS MFT LPC CTMH CCTP

Heal and Hope Counseling Services, LLC

Sometimes due to various reasons, one of the marital parties becomes inhibited of the sexuality and pleasure of the physical aspect of this marriage. It could be due to the damage of a previous adultery; new found religion which increased a sense of guilt or shame; the fear of pain due to menopausal, endometriosis, or other issue; Fear of the inability to achieve an erection or fear of premature ejaculation; prior conditioning from the parents that caused the client to be appalled at the notion of sex; prior sexual abuse during childhood, or a violent sexual experience which caused extreme fear (PTSD); a recent hysterectomy which is perceived as rendering the female as non-attractive or feminine; severe disfigurement which may also be perceived as something that is going to be rejected; the fear of rejection, or many other like issues. Sometimes, one’s mate is obsessed with sex and therefore has created a distaste for their mate as they pressure their mate, yet does not provide their mate their pleasure or love language which may not include physical touch. Whatever happened-now we have a person who almost gags at the very thought of sexual intimacy, or may experience physical pain, or who may feel shame when touched.

In some occasions, there are very real physical painful sensations which may be helped by a primary care physician or specialist in the medical field of man’s or woman’s issues. Surgery or medication may then be advised. In most occasions however, this is a psychological issue which therefore leads the couple to a Counselor who specializes in Marriage Therapy, Sex Therapy, Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Mindfulness, Future Pull, IFS, Psychotherapy, Sensory Motor Therapy, EDMR, Intimacy Therapy, and also it is helpful if the specialist is versed in spirituality since often; clients must process their guilt accordingly with their beliefs as to what Scripture teaches which is often contrary to their understanding.

Clients who come in and state that they do not want to be touched and are repelled by sexual contact, often have a most frustrated partner who is starving for acceptance and for their mate’s desire. Some of the partners are seeking sexual pleasure elsewhere. Some partners are lost in their work, children, or some hobby as they attempt to deal with their life partner’s lack of interest. Being disinterested and repelled by such a natural gift of pleasure is not normal. It effects the client and also their loved ones.

This article will address a few possible strategies to aid the client to be less inhibited. All clients are different however, and this may not be a cookie cutter fix-it for every situation. One normally must first work on their core foundational issues prior to actual sex therapy. One must know what boundaries are and then learn about how their brain filters the violations of the past which has led to faulty thinking currently. One must also learn appropriate communication skills so as to be able to speak of their issues and be able to listen to their partner’s as they find solutions.

Quickly as one browses the web, they can find a host of helpful articles and much research:

McCarthy BW.J Sex Marital Ther. 1999 Oct-Dec;25(4):297-303. doi: 10.1080/00926239908404007.PMID: 10546168

Schover LR, LoPiccolo J.J Sex Marital Ther. 1982;8(3):179-97. doi: 10.1080/00926238208405821.PMID: 7143457

Nutter DE, Condron MK.J Sex Marital Ther. 1983 Winter;9(4):276-82. doi: 10.1080/00926238308410914.PMID: 6663644

Ponticas Y.Psychiatr Med. 1992;10(2):273-81.PMID: 1615165 Review.

Simon JA.Postgrad Med. 2010 Nov;122(6):128-36. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2010.11.2230.PMID: 21084789 Review.

Morse WI.Can Fam Physician. 1985 Apr;31:781-6.PMID: 21274060 Free PMC article.

Andersen BL, Cyranowski JM.J Consult Clin Psychol. 1995 Dec;63(6):891-906. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.63.6.891.PMID: 8543712 Free PMC article. Review.

As one reads these or other articles then once learns that there are often many factors which often result in these issues: Overall health, hormonal balance, diet, history, and those already listed must all be considered as counselors work to locate the issues that are contributing to the disorder and relational crisis. It therefore is recommended for the client to have a full lab screen by their primary care physician to see if there is any medical contributor to the problem.

Following the medical screening, and then the foundational work; then it is often a good direction to find out what the client is comfortable with. The client is then educated as to self-responsibility, relational responsibility, and sexual problems. For example, conflicts could be stealing from the intimacy or desire for intimacy. By learning how to resolve conflicts therefore helps free the baggage and opens the heart.

Some common goals that we focus upon are to increase knowledge as to pleasure centers and how to increase one’s own pleasure; how also to increase intimacy as one better connects with their partner. This can be tricky since both may have completely different love languages and may come from very different backgrounds.

Client also are encouraged to learn how to speak about sex and how to actually show their partner what touches and what words are inspiring to them, thus growing pleasurable experiences. As each develop a better understanding of their own sexual styles, preferences, tastes, and then practices how soft or how firmly each touch is received, then one also develops a host of possible strategies that will be more apt to increase their mate’s desire and pleasure. Sometimes, we learn how to please one person in a previous relationship and then bring these behaviors and expectations into the next. However, those behaviors may not be effective, and may even be a complete turn off for the current mate.

Learning also that there are specific techniques to aid clients should they suffer painful intercourse or anxiety with performance. Each person has preconceptions, tolerances, and a history of experiences which may be contributing to their current issues; and partners are often not very helpful since they now feel rejected or at fault.

Being able to begin this healing and process without fear that one is going to have to disrobe, allow touch, or experience anything that their emotions and body is not ready for-will aid the client to build more trust and confidence. Learning how to be sexual and to speak sexually without risks as one engages in less risky techniques that are designed to build trust and to help the client(s) explore, often lowers the defenses and allows the client to desensitize to many issues that had rendered sexuality a taboo-for whatever the reason.

Are you ready to break out of this anxiety and shell? Then during the following weeks- we will be beginning this journey.


Heal and Hope Counseling Services, LLC

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