What is Somatic Sex Education?

River DroseraUncategorizedLeave a Comment

Hello, friends!

I figured it was time to share more with you about what I actually do in my work, since some people aren’t sure what it looks like!

Somatic Sex Education is a big part of how I serve my clients, and has supported so many of them through powerful transformations in their relationships to their bodies and to their pleasure. It’s a broad field and one that encompasses many different ways of working.

Sexological bodywork and Somatic Sex Education are very similar: they share origins and run parallel paths, but are slightly different. Sexological Bodywork was developed by Joseph Kramer as a way for erotic educators to assist people in developing a loving relationship with their erotic self. Learn more about the pioneering work of Joseph and the Sexological Bodywork trainings here.

The training for Somatic Sex Education in Canada and the training for Sexological Bodywork may originate from the same source and look similar, but they have different names and different approaches to the training process. However, the schools and associations that offer these trainings are connected, and once certified, practitioners are considered colleagues. From here on, I’ll be using “Somatic Sex Education” to refer to the work I do. 

[Image of a serene orange and cream colored fox, gazing into the distance in front of a brown background.]

Soma is the Greek root word and means “living body.” Thomas Hanna, who coined the term somatics in this context, described soma as “the body perceived from within.” 

Somatics is the study of and paying attention to one’s own internal physical experience. Movement, breathwork, and bodywork are just a few of the many ways to touch in with this. Even though Somatics is a coined term, the process of being aware of one’s own inner, sensory experience is timeless — and doesn’t belong to any one particular culture, institute, or person. However, if there are particular practices I use that have origins in a specific culture, I will do my best to acknowledge that. 

Somatic Sex Educators are unique in that we include sexuality to be a part of the whole internal human experience — because all too often, this facet is looked over or left out. Have you been to a yoga class or body awareness class where they ask you to pay attention to your entire body, except for your genitals? 

We can’t talk about our whole internal physical experience if we ignore our sexual expressions and sensations. So let me ask you: what would it be like if you paid attention to the erotic sensations in your body?

[Image of an orange and white fox, smelling a purple flower and looking peaceful. The background is lush green foliage, and there is a yellow daffodil in the foreground.]

Certified Somatic Sex Educators (CSSE) support individuals and groups in becoming more embodied and in finding their authentic erotic selves. This coaching can include consensual touch and massage, pelvic release work, scar tissue remediation, masturbation coaching, body-awareness, boundary-setting, and anatomy and physiology of your pleasure organs, all through a trauma-informed lens. 

My highest priority is creating a safe container in which I can assist my clients in exploring their personal desires, learning to ask for what they want, and reconnecting to their bodies’ sensations and pleasure.

A big part of this work is uncovering and releasing the acquired shame that so many of us carry due to inadequate sexual education, religious dogmas, and mixed cultural messages about sexuality. My role is to help my clients cultivate (and reframe as needed) their true erotic nature, by supporting them in their own articulation of their boundaries and desires.

[Image of an orange, black, and white butterfly perched on top of a yellow flower, in front of a yellow background of other flowers.]

Each session takes place in a welcoming, and non-judgemental environment, with clearly communicated intentions and firm boundaries. These are articulated in and modeled by the Association of Sexological Bodyworkers Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics. (You’re welcome to read through that, if you would like to learn more about the non-negotiables and ethical code each session is built upon.)

Somatic Sex Education and Coaching is not sexual surrogacy. The educator remains fully clothed during every session, and touch is entirely unilateral. Sessions are focused on the client’s personal growth, education, and development.

Every session is client-centered and client-led. This is an incredibly important part of my work — so stay tuned here to learn more about this approach in the near future. 

I am committed to, and striving to create, an anti-oppressive practice. One that recognizes that the marginalization of folx  

who are BIPOC, genderfluid, queer,  femme, and disabled can impact people’s relationship to their bodies and pleasure.  I aim to create a welcoming and safe environment for my clients, one in which they know I am committed to unlearning my own embodied whiteness. 

[Image of River, a white queer femme with red hair, wearing a white shirt and standing in front of water and trees.]

The people who come to me for Somatic Sex Education are queer folx and women. They often feel like they’re at a point where their traditional talk therapy isn’t quite working, and they know that there’s something more available to them. Or, it could be that their body keeps having trauma responses, and they’re uncertain about how to articulate and process them. Additionally, some folx just want to know more about their anatomy, and feel that their sex education growing up was wildly inadequate and/or full of shame.

Many of my clients fit one or several of the following:

–   They wish to explore their gender identities

–   The want to understand what pleasure means to them and what works for them, outside of the heteronormative structures and rules about sexuality

–   They wish to expand on what they already know about their erotic body and their pleasure

–   They want to undo, dismantle, and release any shame they carry about their sexuality

–   They feel they want to explore their boundaries and asking for what they want

–   They want to work with a queer practitioner who is striving toward  anti-oppression work, which is something they value in their own lives

–   They are seeking to work with a practitioner who won’t misgender them

If you’re curious about whether or not you’re ready to work with a Somatic Sex Educator, have a look at this checklist developed by the Somatic Sex Educators Association, which can help you decide. 

And, of course, I am always happy to answer any questions you have. You can book a complimentary 20-minute consult call with me right here — there’s absolutely no pressure to work together, and it’s a great way to find answers to anything you’re feeling confused, curious, or concerned about.

Thank you for being here!

With warmth,

River

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