Beyond “Function” & “Dysfunction”—Innovative Approaches to Sexual Issues

Speaker: Marty Klein, Ph.D.

Workshop Description:

What do people say they want from sex? Some combination of pleasure and closeness. But that’s not what people typically focus on. Instead, men and women poison their erotic space with narratives of failure, existential issues, gender stereotypes, blaming, secrets, and shame of every possible kind.

The standard “dysfunctions” don’t begin to cover it. The standard request—for better “function”—is a plea to improve sexual experience without changing the self or the relationship. Too many therapists enthusiastically collude with such self-defeating requests. Clients don’t realize, and therapists sometimes forget, that “function” (erection, lubrication, orgasm) is simply a means to an end—more sexual satisfaction. Unfortunately, it’s rarely the best means to that end.

In this seminar, I’ll present a different way to conceptualize cases—leading to different strategies, and more importantly, to better outcomes. We’ll cover topics including:

  • Assessing and treating “function” & “dysfunction”—and why we must go further
  • Evaluating clients’ sexual ecology
  • Key features of a good intake
  • Why we shouldn’t ask clients what their problem is
  • Why we shouldn’t tell clients they’re “normal”
  • Sexual aspects of aging
  • Succeeding with clients who identify as religious
  • Enhancing desire & satisfaction in long-term couples
  • Defining & handling infidelity
  • Working with couples in conflict about pornography
  • Giving homework that’s much more useful than sensate focus
  • Sexual narratives: why they matter, how to assess them, and how to change them

All friction isn’t created equal; context, belief, and interpretation matter. This seminar will help you help individuals and couples identify what they really need to change—and to actually change it. After all, sex is more than just an activity—it’s an idea.

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