Here is a short excerpt what happened in a first session with a female client aged 31 who had told me earlier that her sex life was stuck. Following an initial interview, I had asked Anne (not her real name) to rest on the couch and become aware of a spot in the middle of her belly.
Therapist (T): As you begin to feel the middle of the belly, what are your first impressions?
Client (C): It is soft and red.
T: Is it red all over or just in certain places?
C: In some areas it is red... yellow, like an orangey yellow.
T: I'd like you to tune into the orangey yellow colour. What does it feel like?
C: Warm and bright and fatty.
T: Now, sense the reddish area more. What does that feel like?
C: Warmer, but there is also more pressure and more pain.
T: Is it physical pain or emotional pain that you are feeling?
C: Both. It has some sort of emotion with it.
T: Gradually begin to feel the emotion a bit more. What is it about?
C: It is sadness. I don't know what of. Something wants to come out.
T: Just let it come. Let it move through.
C: I stopped it. The walls have come up.
Notice that Anne was encouraged to feel the colours, because it is the feeling that mattes not the visual material she experienced. This allowed Anne to get more in touch with the subjective sensations, and she was then able to feel pressure and pain. Continuing feeling these aspects also helped her to identify emotions. She also sensed other limiting factors, the wall.
Back to the session were Anne had just stopped herself from feeling the emotion.
T: Don't worry about the walls. Walls can make you feel strong too.
C: Yes, I had to survive.
T: What did you have to survive?
C: I had to survive against all the emotions.
T: Were these your emotions or somebody else's?
C: Everyone around, my family, my father especially.
T: The pain that you are feeling, is it yours or somebody else's pain?
C: It's mine.
T: At this point, Anne started to cry softly. After some time I asked her: What are you feeling now?
C: There is a tiny shaky feeling in my stomach and now I feel a movement, something flowing in my belly.
Notice again, that Anne was encouraged to feel. This time â€“ not colours, but the emotions which surfaced. During sessions, clients often come in contact with previous hurtful experiences related to emotionally charged events. Sometimes the emotional content is protected, usually, for good reasons. It is often easier not to feel emotions, such as sadness, anger, hatred, guilt, shame or fear, but this does not mean that these emotions will go away. Emotions which are not expressed are stored inside and, in terms of body sensations, the build up is often experienced as a heavy weight, a pressure or a dark space. When appropriate, clients are invited to express the emotional content as part of the therapy and very gently release what had been stored up for so long. Anne felt relief and some movements of energies following the safe letting go of emotions.
Looking at what has occurred so far in the session, you may ask, when and how are we going to find out what happened to Anne's sexual desire? Anne has identified and let go of some emotions but has not made a link between what she has experienced in the session and her main problem. Initially, that is not so important, because it is preferable to discover the limiting factors first. From an emotional level, Anne decided at some stage not to feel, and instead closed, withdrew or gave up. Somehow this closure has an effect on sexual energies including sexual desire. It is by continuing with the process of the sensing of the body areas and combining it with feeling that clients will discover when and how the closing happened and how this closing influenced their levels of sexual desires.
Subsequently in the session, Anne realised that she had to protect herself while growing up in an emotionally charged family environment. Her father had been quite abusive and part of her protection was to close so as not to feel hurt. Not only had she locked herself up emotionally, but also energetically. No feeling was allowed to enter and pass throught he wall. This is how she described it:
C: It is like a dead weight. The whole thing feels quite strong.
T: What is the purpose of the wall?
C: To close myself off and to protect myself.
T: Does the wall affect your sexuality?
C: Yes. It blocks, like building blocks stacked together. I don't want to be touched and I don't want to have sex.
It is important that Anne reached this juncture of realisation and saw what the source of her problem was. A wall or some other tight holding is not something that can be measured with an instrument. It is an intangible structure and yet it feels so real when it is discovered inside. Clients know that this 'unseen thing' has stopped them from being intimate with their partner or open with close friends. Intuitively, many clients are more aware of protective structures around the middle of the chest. But when similar structures are in place around the belly or pelvic area, clients are rarely aware of them. They only experience the effect of these structures, for instance, clients notice a decreased flow of energies, feeling tight or constantly tired and a lack of sexual desires or disinterest in sex. Whatever the limiting thing is and wherever it is in the body, once such a structure is identified, it can be worked on, which means that clients can learn to undo it. This is a main reason why clients benefit from seeing what factors contributed to their sexual problem, because this knowledge is then incorporated in the healing phase.
To recap, so far, Anne processed some emotions related to her low sexual desire and she identified an internal structure which blocked off her flow of sensations and energies. She also learned how to access the area which needed to be worked on. Continued awareness of the protected areas allows clients to work with the protective structure. Clients are encouraged to keep practicing at home, by becoming aware of the body area, feeling it and gradually letting go of the protection. The more clients practice the more they are able to re-connect with the feelings which are behind the barrier. Depending on the strength of the blockage and the configuration of accumulated emotions, a number of sessions are required, before clients become confident and learn to re-create the sensations and establish permanent links to their original feelings. Often, clients also discover a whole new spread of feelings, some sensual and sexy, some vulnerable and tender and others will be intense and strong.
No matter how stuck a client may feel with their sex life, I have found that somewhere inside there is some form of sensation or feeling, often deeply buried and protected. In this sense, sexual feelings and desires are never lost but can be reclaimed by incorporating techniques of body awareness and finding the source of problems.