Psychosexual Therapy is a talking therapy that helps people whose sex life has taken a tumble (for any one of a thousand reasons) to reconnect with their partner and to work together towards regaining sexual fulfilment.
The CECC feels that this is such an important part of recovery for people after injury or surgery that we have recruited the support of two qualified therapists, both very experienced in helping people with spinal injury, including cauda equina syndrome, to reconnect with their partners, to become curious about the remaining possibilities (even when sensation or erection or orgasm are lost) and to set realistic goals for their sexual future.
For some people this is the first time since that anyone has spoken about the sexual impact of cauda equina syndrome – even the hospital staff often find this rather awkward – and many sufferers spend a long time thinking that they are the only ones or hoping that the problem will just get better by itself or feeling guilty about their partner missing out. Sometimes people tell us that they are afraid for the future of the relationship or that they are aware that they are pushing their partner away because it is all too sad, too hard. And all of this can be further complicated by bowel and bladder insecurity, pain, stress, restricted mobility and medication side effects. All of this is understood and appreciated by our therapists Michelle and Sue.
Sue Lennon and Michelle Donald met when studying to be psychosexual therapists nearly 14 years ago, both focussing on sexual rehabilitation from the start. They have worked together on numerous projects, speaking nationally and internationally at healthcare conferences whilst running independent psychosexual therapy practices. They have come together to provide our service and link up to make sure that clients are seen as swiftly as possible. They are keen to explain what happens when someone is referred.
First things first.
Sex therapy is highly confidential, and all the data security details will be shared with you in a Client Agreement before you start therapy. Once you have been referred, no information comes back to the charity except how many sessions you have had – and that is only so we can pay the bill! We are happy to fund 6 sessions.
NO ONE GETS NAKED! This is a talking therapy and is conducted using an online platform such as Zoom or Teams. Once you have completed and returned the Client Agreement a date will be agreed to ‘meet’ for an Initial Assessment. This is an opportunity for Sue or Michelle to understand your problem and how it is affecting you, but also for you to find out more about therapy and see how you feel. There is no obligation to either you or your therapist to proceed at this point. Maybe you decide that it’s not for you, not now, not ever – maybe they feel that you are not in the right room with the right expert at the right time. You can talk about it. Its ok.
After Initial Assessment, assuming that you want to explore further, then a second appointment will be agreed and this is for a more comprehensive History Take – when lots of questions will be asked of both partners about your injury, your sexual history, past sex life together and your goals for therapy. Its worth saying here that the goals ARE YOURS, not the therapists. If there is a discrepancy between both partners, then negotiation of a middle ground can take place.
After that, again assuming everyone is keen to go forward, you have 4 more sessions to move towards achieving your goals, with your therapist guiding you, suggesting homework for you to do together and you later providing feedback about how the ‘experiments’ turned out. Its very much about staying curious, collaborating, building connectedness and sometimes, getting creative! Its really
important that the timing is right at this point. These 4 sessions require a bit of momentum – it’s never as good if there are many weeks between appointments or if there is a big gap in the middle for a long holiday for instance, so try and be mindful of that from the start.
One last thing.
Michelle and Sue have helped lots of people find a better sexual future. No-one finds it easy in the beginning – and some people choose not to proceed or later discontinue for a number of reasons. Please can you remember to let us know if you have been referred, then later decide it’s not for you.