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Sexual intercourse

The ultimate level in couple communication is sexual intercourse. When there is couple complaint of sexual dysfunction, the primary source of absolute communication is interfered with or even destroyed and most other sources or means of interpersonal communication rapidly tend to diminish in effectiveness.

Again, this loss of warmth and understanding is frequently due to fear and/or lack of comprehension on the part of either marital partner. The wife is afraid of embarrassing or angering her husband if she tries to discuss his sexually dysfunctional condition. The husband is concerned that his wife will dissolve in tears if he mentions her orgasmic inadequacy or asks for suggestions to improve his sexual approaches.

Usually the failure of communication in the bedroom extends rapidly to every other phase of the marriage. When there is no security or mutual representation in sexual exchange, there rarely is freedom of other forms of marital communication.

It should be made abundantly clear, in context, that Foundation philosophy does not reflect the concept that sexual functioning is the total of any marital relationship. It does contend, however, that very few marriages can exist as effective, complete, and ongoing entities without a comfortable component of sexual exchange. With detailed interchange of information, and with interpersonal rapport secured between marital partners, the dual-sex therapy team moves into direct treatment of the specific sexual inadequacy brought to its attention.

After roundtable discussion, the team anticipates that both partners in the distressed couple will have become reassured and relatively relaxed by the basic educational process and will have established a significant step toward effective communication. Treatment approaches to specific sexual dysfunctions will be discussed separately under appropriate headings in subsequent individual case.

Sexual Advice

From a professional point of view, formal training contributes little of positive value if a specific discipline is emphasized to a dominant degree in the treatment of sexual dysfunction. It is current foundation policy to pair representatives of the biological and behavioural disciplines into teams of cotherapists.

From a purely practical point of view, there is obvious advantage in having a qualified physician as a member of each team. This disciplinary inclusion avoids referring embarrassed or anxious couples to other sources for their vitally necessary physical examinations and laboratory (metabolic function) evaluations. The behavioural member provides invaluable clinical balance to each team with his or her particular contribution of psychosocial consciousness.

Many combinations of disciplines should and will be used experimentally as representative individuals are available, complying with the Foundation's basic concept of a member of each sex on each team.

The Foundation is constantly looking for professionals with the individual ability necessary to work comfortably and effectively with people in the vulnerable area of sexual dysfunction. There must be an established research interest; this requirement is peculiar to the Foundation's total research program but is unnecessary for purely clinical programs.

There also must be an expressed interest in and demonstrated ability to teach, for so much of the therapy is but a simple direct educational process. Not a negligible requirement is the willingness to make a commitment to a seven day week or its equivalent.

Most important, the individual must be able to work in continual cooperation with a member of the opposite sex in what might be termed a single standard professional environment. Team dominance by virtue of sex-linked or discipline-linked status by either cotherapist would tend to dilute their mutual effectiveness in this particular psychotherapeutic design.

Finally, individual members of any dual sex therapy team, if they are to concentrate professionally on the distress of the couples complaining of sexual inadequacy, must be fully cognizant and understanding of their own sexual responsivity and be able to place it in perspective. They must be secure in their knowledge of the nature of sexual functioning, in addition to being stable and confident in their own sexuality, so that they can in turn be objective and unprejudiced when dealing with the controversial subject of sex at the fragile level of its dysfunctional state.

Many men and women who are neither personally secure in nor confidently knowledgeable of sexual functioning attempt the authoritative role in counselling for sexual inadequacy. There is no place in professi6nal treatment of sexual dysfunction for the individual man or woman not culturally comfortable with the subject and personally confident and controlled in his or her own manner of sexual expression.

The possibility for disaster in a therapeutic program dealing with sexual dysfunction cannot be greater than when the therapist's sexual prejudices or lack of competence and objectivity in dealing with the physiology and psychology of sexual functioning become apparent to the individuals or couples depending upon therapeutic support.

If the therapist is in any way uncomfortable with the expression of his or her own sexual role, this discomfort or lack of confidence inevitably is projected to the patient, and the possibility of effective reversal of the couple's sexual dysfunction is markedly reduced or completely destroyed.

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