This week's blog is guest co-written with Kala Plasterer. Kala will share a bit about herself below, but I’m delighted to bring in a mother, OT, and someone passionate about sex after baby to write about this topic. Kala and I have been working together for a while as she is a virtual assistant to The Institute. It was a no brainer to have her write about sex after baby!
When it comes to addressing sex and intimacy, the impact of breastfeeding and pelvic floor muscles (PFM) may not be the first thing that comes to your mind... but, they will hopefully be something you consider after reading this!
If you have a brain, you have a bias. Confronting our own biases is uncomfortable, but it is our ethical responsibility as occupational therapy professionals. Considering how paramount reconciling our biases are to enhancing the therapeutic relationship and treatment efficacy, and reducing patient harm and health disparities...
Welp, add it to the list of uncomfortable yet essential topics that were and are omitted from OT curriculum ! And it's a double whammy omission-effect when we combine this with sexuality.
We need to do the work to acknowledge our bias and make sure to include sexuality when doing so. This is exactly my motivation behind my favorite CEU offering, "Guided Self-Reflection of Sexuality Values, Beliefs, Attitudes, and Biases" (see below section for more info). We're all sexual beings with our own experiences and beliefs around...
It's no surprise that as sexual beings we all have our own sexual preferences. Our likes, wants, and needs are unique to each of us and shape our sexual and intimate experiences. But what about our dislikes? Or aversions to certain stimuli? What if the enjoyment and pleasure of sex can quickly turn to pain and kill the mood. For some of us, this might be when our partner lightly touches our skin or grasps too firmly. What is this experience like and how can OT play a role in this??? Many of the clients I have work have sensory preferences and high/low thresholds, and this can be even more so for people with autism or sensory regulation difficulties.
A great research article discussing sensory features and sexuality was recently shared with me by one of the authors, Anne Kirby, so naturally I was excited about it and wanted to share it here with you!
If you've been following along then you know this is the last post of my three part series: The Selfies, Sexplay and Sexual Communication.
This week we're talking about Sexual Communication. Whether it's with a casual partner, one with relationship potential, or long time partner helping our clients learn how to establish sexual communication in their relationship is an important part of addressing sexuality and intimacy.
If they are not already communicating about sex with their partner we may need to help them learn how to be the initiator, which can be uncomfortable for them.
Establishing sexual communication is the foundation of good sexual experiences and most people will find it refreshing to share their preferences and boundaries.
Tip #1 - Teach your client to discuss their boundaries/ limits:
While reasons for setting sexual limits widely vary, it is not uncommon for individuals to set...
As promised, I'm continuing my three part series of important topics to cover when addressing sexuality and intimacy, which brings us to Sexplay. As a part of Sexplay, I'm going to talk about dirty talk, pleasure, and sensate focus. All of these can be helpful for our clients (and let's be real - US!) to understand as potential activity demands. Below are some strategies and exercises you can share with your clients!
Communication is a key component during any sexual encounter and this can include using dirty talk to build arousal.
Tips to share with your client for creating their style of dirty talk:
When it comes to helping clients with sexuality and intimacy there are several topics I find important and helpful to address: the selfies, sexplay and sexual communication. Being able to acknowledge and validate their wants and needs to their partner can be uncomfortable for our clients, especially if it's a foreign practice.
I've developed some helpful handouts that I use in my practice and wanted to share the content of them here with you! This week I'll be sharing The Selfies, which are a great addition to your OT treatment session and can make for great discussions, worksheets or role play exercises.
The practice of communicating your personal desires, preferences, needs, boundaries, and rights to yourself and to partners. Taking responsibility for yourself as a sexual and intimate person by advocating for what you want and do not want through explicit communication.
How to practice...
It's been several years in the making so I'm so excited to share my very first peer-reviewed publication and the things I've learned!
(You can check out the full article here) Sexuality and Intimacy Rehabilitation for the Military Population: Case Series
With help from my colleagues, I sought out to find the effect of sexuality and intimacy interventions on injured service members.
Like many client populations, service members can struggle with sexuality and intimacy secondary to physical, emotional, and/or mental injury/illness. Trauma such as amputation, spinal cord injury, and PTSD (to name a few) can lead to trouble with self-esteem, genitourinary dysfunction, pain, loss of desire, testosterone deficiency, body image challenges, and more.
During the time that I completed this case series I was working at a Military Treatment Facility (MTF). This particular facility has an Occupational Therapy Sexuality and Intimacy (OTSI) program,...
We've all seen them. The sex scenes in movies that too often portray those initial moments afterwards to be euphoric and filled with mutual pleasure and happiness. But, we know that just isn't always reality! It can actually be an awkward or uncomfortable time for couples. Add pain, difficulty with communication, or a physical limitation to the mix and it can really become a difficult time to figure out what to say. I often get asked by client's, "how do I ask for what I want?" and "what if I want my partner to do something different?" or often what is more likely is that I'll find out that sex just ends "bad" with one or all partners frustrated or feeling like there's a lack of connection.
Early on in my clinical practice I developed what I like to call, The 3 A's.
These are the three things I, and we as OTs, can recommend as talking points for our clients after sex.
Accolades- Tell them what you...
The University of Pittsburgh COTAD (Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity) Chapter conducted a training on "Culturally Inclusive ADLs" that, with their permission, I had to pass along to my crew! Their personal mission is to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the Pittsburgh OT community and empower students to be more comprehensive and effective clinicians. How awesome is that!?
This was an illuminating training presented by COTAD and three speakers who discussed activity analysis related to their grooming, dressing, spiritual, and other meaningful occupations. While they provided insights into their own routines and rituals, all of the speakers centered the importance of asking culturally curious questions, for example "what products do you use?" or "can you walk me through your morning self-care routine?" Our clients all have routines and rituals, which can be culturally influenced or meaningful, but still are unique...