When travel and time restraints make in-person sessions impossible, then an intensive over a few days may be the answer. For many of my clients, a more relaxed and extended space allows other things to emerge and more time to process.
The intensity of these sessions enables us to connect more with ourselves, often passing through pain to feel pleasure. The process helps to discern the difference between healthy pain and pain that becomes suffering. Then the real lesson is in transferring that into a consciously chosen lifestyle rather than a single event.
Falling in love with ourselves is one of the hardest things to do. It is much easier to project it outwardly onto another person, and working through our genuine needs and learning healthy self-reliance can be one of the most valuable lessons from intensives.
As an example:
Lesley (a totally fictitious composite client!) seemed to have been left behind in life in terms of relationships. She didn’t like her body. She had also suffered abuse as a child from a close relative that left her afraid and uncomfortable in the company of men. It had got to the stage where she craved touch and intimacy, and it was beginning to affect her mental health.
After many online sessions, including Adult Sex Education, she felt more relaxed about her body. With the homework she had also begun to appreciate its capacity for pleasure and how beneficial this was to her state of mind. Our relationship was much more relaxed, and she felt safe. As she lived some distance, we agreed to meet for an intensive.
After talking about the goals for our time together, we did the boundaries and consent teaching and some simple giving and receiving touch exercises. It was important for me to know that she could also say No and felt quite able to tell me to stop. We used the traffic light system to keep us both safe:
Green meant go ahead
Amber meant stop and wait while I decide if it is green or red
Red meant stop everything that you’re doing!
At times she was triggered by the massage, and we stopped to process the emotions and get back into the present. Progress was slow to start with, but pleasure has its own healing power. The body recognises what it has come awake to and soon transforms old energies into vibrant life.
There was also a lot of laughter as we allowed the natural child in each of us out to play and let go of taking ourselves too seriously. Through our work together, Lesley visibly changed in appearance as she lightened up and gained in confidence. She was inhabiting the space that was hers as a woman turned on to life.
Whatever negative experiences we may have had, there is a remarkable ability within the body and soul to recover. We can’t ever become who we might have been without our past. But we can become stronger when we overcome the domination of our pasts by learning to be bigger than them.
The backdrop to all our lives is a sex-negative society that is averse to pleasure. The taboo of sex is slowly changing, but shame is still the controlling force in many homes as well as out on the streets. My own journey out of shame makes me personally committed to changing things in any way I can. My pleasure is in seeing people enjoy the innocence of their bodies and their sexuality free from ignorance, guilt and shame.
If you have an issue that you feel would benefit from sharing with me and possibly working on together, then contact me on 07933 709 169 now for a free introductory call.
“I’ve been working with Graham for just coming up on a year now. A process which could so easily have stalled after Covid’s rude interruption has been able to continue productively via Zoom as a result of the relaxed and trustful rapport we built up during our first few in-person sessions - which is quite something, when you consider that, in my first email, I told him very plainly that he would not be able to help me and that I was really just writing to vent! Turns out Graham likes a challenge
My issue is primary vaginismus. I came to Graham after three failed attempts, across several years, to get help following GP referrals. Hence the frustration and absence of hope. So, if you had told me a year ago that I would start this process, only to have it interrupted by a pandemic, I’d have called it a complete waste of time. I could never have envisaged myself being able to take the necessary practical steps on my own without that face-to-face encouragement and participation from a therapist, if it were suddenly taken away at an early stage.
I’d had years to try taking practical steps on my own, yet the vaginal dilators were still sitting unopened in the cupboard! But it turned out that the first time I ever tried using them was around the start of lockdown, back home and by myself.
While it’s true that I contacted Graham because something in me - despite that email - was ready for change, I firmly believe that my initial breakthrough was also a result of his relaxed manner and non-judgemental attitude, his compassionate listening and readiness to offer support. He also has some very interesting stories to tell about his own life, that add to the feeling that he is really there with you, in a very natural way.
Graham has been able to allay some of my deepest fears, however crazy they may have sounded, and deals patiently with those that stubbornly resurface. He will adapt to the way you want to work, be that in a loosely- or well-structured session. But he Will challenge you... Crucial for me is the effortless way he has of making me fall about laughing at myself! This process has become about more than the vaginismus for me; it’s about learning how to play again, as an adult, and Graham’s easy humour definitely facilitates that sometimes difficult process for me.
In a therapeutic relationship, as with any other, there will occasionally be miscommunications and misunderstandings, but Graham is open to and practises radical honesty and I have felt from early on that I could tell him anything. He does get a little frustrated when I let my homework slide, though!
Early on, Graham told me a true story, the punchline to which was: “I thought it was about life but it turned out to be about sex!” At the end of our first intensive weekend, as he drove me back to the airport, he asked me to take a few minutes to rewind and play back the weekend in order to help me process it. I think it’s a fitting summary of just how much working with Graham has changed my thinking in general that I found myself saying, even that early in the process: “I thought this was about sex, but it turns out to be about life!”