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1. What is the number one concern clients seek counsel for? Has this changed in the last 5 years, or stayed the same?
To answer to this question properly, there must be a few considerations first. The first consideration is whether the therapy is for a couple or an individual. Couples tend to seek therapy for communication problems and sexual issues (I am a sex therapist). Individuals tend to seek therapy for help with life decisions and trouble with the opposite sex. The second consideration for answering this question is the gender of the person seeking therapy. Women tend to seek help with depression and anxiety, where as men tend to seek therapy for help with the opposite sex. No, this has not changed over the last 5 years.
2. When a person seems defined by their job and family obligations and has very little free time for themselves, in what way would you advise them to “get a life” of their own? How might they go about implementing your suggestions?
The suggestions about getting time for themselves is to first make sure the parental unit is working properly. If proper boundaries and time schedules are in place, then it is easier to manage time for self care. Secondly, if the couple’s relationship is low in stress, then there is less time needed for self care. Time then can be negotiated for each partner to have time to themselves. I do give suggestions on how to find people and friends for building a social support system. One way to do this is to join groups on programs like “meet-up.com” or hobby groups. Usually people have little trouble finding things to do if they have permission to take the time to do so.
3. Many thirty- and forty-somethings experience a type of “Now What?” phenomenon. They’ve gotten married, had children and are working a job in their chosen career. They’re in a kind of maintenance state and feel a little lost to themselves as they navigate through the daily grind. How would you advise these people to find happiness and fulfillment?
These people are in what is called a transitional state (better known as a mid-life crisis). This is the time that the endocrine system is changing the hormone production of estrogen and testosterone. Learning to enjoy these changes can relieve tension from the natural tendency to fight it, which frees up energy to find pleasure in it. It is also a time to re-evaluate what life has been and what it can be now (changes). With guidance through this phase, one can find happiness and fulfillment by avoiding the “crisis” part of the transition.
4. For couples who have encountered a simmer-down in the bedroom, how would you advise them to get reacquainted, without it seeming like hard work or an insurmountable task – both which can scare the couple back into their current hands-off state?
When couples come to me for sex therapy, they learn so much about their bodies, their minds and their partners that rejuvenation of their sex lives is automatic.
5. What are some tips you’d give couples to keep things fresh in the relationship, regardless of the length of time they’ve been together or the circumstances they’ve encountered.?
Each couple is very unique. However, I give my couples exercises to do that keep things fresh all the time if and when they choose to use them. There are no easy fixes to re-connecting. It does take time and effort. Having the “tools” in your possession that make it possible is the key.
6. In the midst of their crazy lives, what are some simple ways couples can show each other they care (aside from love notes and dirty text messages)?
To say “I care” can be as simple as a prolonged look in the eyes to something more elaborate like a vacation to the Bahamas. Creativity is the key here. And it always has to be with consideration of what the other partner likes and wants, not what you require. Too often partners go by the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. This does not work in relationships. It is more along the lines of “do unto your partner as they need you to do unto them”. This kind of care and attention brings intimacy.
7. How would you advise a client who was in a personal rut to once again begin to love and value themselves? How can they embark on the path of positivity?
To connect “a rut” and “love and value themselves” does not correlate. A rut is not caused by lack of loving or valuing oneself. Nor is a lack of loving yourself going to end up in a rut. Both of these topics need to be addressed differently in therapy. The path to positivity is primarily an issue of self esteem. The remedy is simple.
About Nanette Sebourn: NanetteSebourn.com
Nanette Sebourn has been involved in Psychological research, teaching Psychology and Gender, and counseling for over 26 years. She is a published author in female sexuality and created the Intimacy Enhancement Program based on her knowledge in the field and her experience with couples and individuals who are unable to revive thier relationship, attract a compatible mate or socialize. She has done extensive work with individuals recovering from divorce and its aftermath. Her background is in depth psychology and mythology and is trained in alcohol/drug dependence issues such as co-dependency and general family systems. She has worked with child abuse cases for the County of Riverside and First Five. She has been the keynote speaker on several occasions and gives free seminars whenever possible. Ms. Sebourn has lived in Temecula for 25 years and is community oriented.
Read more of our expert interviews:
Betty Dodson, Renowned Sexologist, Author, Feminist, Educator
Dean Osborne, Human Nature of Cheating
Dr. MP Wylie, Relationship Advisor