How long have you worked at Houston Relationship Therapy?
I’ve been at HRT for one year.
Describe what you do in a sentence.
This is such a tough question I work with both Christian and faith seeking clients to process what is past, find renewal and restoration in the present, and instill hope for the future.
What areas in relationship therapy/ sex therapy do you specialize in?
Right now, I work with a lot of premarital couples as they prepare for a healthy married life after the wedding day. I’ve also been in training for the last year to become a Certified Sex Therapist. My goal there is to bring the realm of sex therapy to the Christian community and promote conversations in places where the topic of sexual intimacy has historically been silent or negative.
What is the biggest misconception about your job?
No joke, I’ve had a couple people ask me if sex therapy involves me watching couples have sex, then giving them pointers and advice. What we do in session doesn’t involve client practicing their best positions or taking off any clothes. We do a lot of talking and I send the couples home with exercises to work on in the privacy of their own homes.
How did you end up specializing in couples/sex therapy?
When I was in grad school, I took a course in Human Sexuality with Dr. Douglas Rosenau, who is a pioneer in the field of Christian Sex Therapy. It was the first time I’d heard a Christian speak about sexuality in such an open, healthy way. That first class in grad school led me to eventually enrolling at the Institute for Sexual Wholeness in Atlanta. Many Christians have been raised in the church and heard messages that associate sex with guilt, shame, and fear. My heart is for my Christian clients to know freedom from that shame, and to learn to embrace their sexuality and really enjoy it.
What is one of the biggest challenges in your work?
Sometimes, clients just aren’t ready to change. I have such compassion for clients who feel stuck, because it can be terribly frustrating for them. Some clients think that coming to counseling should automatically make them better. And in some cases, it does. Talking out problems can be insightful and healing in and of itself. However, I tell my clients that what they get out of counseling will depend on what they put into it. Clients who see the most change are the ones who do their homework, take a risk and step out of their emotional comfort zone.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to a couple in a longterm monogamous relationship?
Schedule a weekly date. There are so many things pulling at your time, and very few of those obligations encourage you to spend time with your partner. Do whatever it takes to nurture your relationship and enjoy your time together. Weekly dates don’t have to be extravagant or expensive. Go on a walk, play a favorite game, or even get takeout and have a candlelit dinner at home after the kids go to bed.
Any helpful exercises, mantras or thoughts that anyone could use to improve their intimate
I’m going to take one from Nike here and say “Just Do It.” At the Institute, Doug Rosenau taught us that a sex life in motion stays in motion, and a sex life at rest stays at rest. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or even great, but it won’t get better until you try!
Have you noticed a shift in the perception of relationship counseling and sex therapy in the past few years and if so, why do you think that is? (For instance, have shows such as GIRLS, Masters of Sex, radio shows, and more progressive laws changed your work?)
Oh my goodness, yes. First, I believe much of the stigma of counseling has diminished. Shows like Good Will Hunting, Anger Management, and Dr. Drew let us in to the counseling session and made therapy more relatable. Specifically with sex therapy, I think there are a lot of factors at play, but sex is front and center in our culture today. We’re surrounded by sexual images on a daily basis through advertising, social media, and on tv and movies. In turn, I’m seeing more couples talk about sex, and valuing real intimacy; not what media tells them it should look like, but what works best for them as a couple.