Last year Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix series ‘Sex Love & Goop’ raised the profile of somatic sex education as an alternative to talk-only coaching. We talk to Michael Dresser, one of the UK’s most unique gay sex and intimacy coaches.
Somatic sex education – what is that?
Somatic means your entire body–the physical body, but also the mind, and emotions. And of course all of these aspects are present when it comes to sex and intimacy. I provide an educationalspace forlearning abouttouch, pleasure and relating in a body-based way – either in your own body, or in a relational context with another body.
Why would someone want to work this way?
A lot of my clients come to me because they’ve gone as far as they can just talking about stuff, and they need to start feeling and experiencing it too. Sex and relating is a practical skill – you wouldn’t expect to learn to play a musical instrument without getting hands-on and practicing!
I work mostly with people who define as male –many come to me because they feel something is missing from theirexperience of sex and intimacy, or because they’ve got stuck in patterns they want to change.
A lot of my clientswant a space where they can figure out what they really like without feeling under pressure to perform a certain way. I’ve also worked with older guys keen to find ways to stay connected to their sexual self as they age. I’ve even had some clients who are questioning their sexual orientation and want a safe space to explore what it feels like to touch and be touched by another man.
So how do you keep things safe?
A common barrier to people improving their intimate or erotic experiencesis that a hookup – or even a relationship -doesn’t always feel like the safest place to try things out or make mistakes.
So in my sessions we create really clear agreements together about what will and won’t happen, we slow things right down, and we break each experience into small elements so it doesn’t get overwhelming.
The more choice you have the safer you feel, and the safer you feel the more likely you are to access pleasure.
Most people – and especially queer people – have spent a lot of their lives having to endure stuff they didn’t really want. Working with me starts to reverse that – everything we do is led by the client and their body. I don’t have a set agenda for any particular outcome. That approach, in itself, can be life-changing for many people – having real choice for the first time when it comes to touch and pleasure!
How do people know what they want – aren’t they coming to be guided by you? What does a typical session look like?
A big part of how I work is actually about helping empower people to start noticing for themselves what they want, and building skills to communicate that confidently, instead of just going along with what someone else says they should.
Most sessions involvepracticalwork to help clients discoverwhat feels good in their body, connect more deeply with their desires, and expand their concept of giving and receiving.
Sometimes that involves self-touch, sometimes it can includeme touching them or them touching me – although generally not both at the same time. Depending on what they want to learnthe touch could be fully clothed, completely naked or anywhere in between! And it could include genital touch or erotic touch, but it doesn’t always.
I often describe it as beinglike a laboratory where you can learn, experiment, and practice all this stuff body to body with another man, without shame or judgement. There’s not many places you can do that!
Why do you think working this wayis important?
Decent education about intimate relating is still pretty rare. The emphasis tends to be on functionality, and not on pleasure.
Added to that there are so few role models for queer people when it comes to intimate relating.And we often have very specific needs – especially around safety – which can get overlooked in mainstream approaches to sex and intimacy education.
I’ve seen people’s lives literally be transformed by this work. I mean, just imagine if you were able tochoose touch which feels like ‘wow’, rather than just put up with ‘meh’ all the time! Wouldn’t that be amazing?
Find out more about Michael’s work at www.mindfulgaysex.coach