Listening to other people’s sexual problems for a living doesn’t faze Marion Goertz.
“People’s stories generally display such authenticity, integrity, strength and determination in the midst of sadness, longing and fear that I feel only respect and a commitment to help them move toward the goals that they set,” she says.
Goertz is a Toronto registered sex therapist and has helped individuals and couples overcome their sexual obstacles for more than 10 years.
Sex therapists can come from a variety of academic backgrounds, like mental health care, education and medicine. Once one has procured a Masters degree in a related field and completed an intensive sexual therapy course, they may become officially certified as a registered sex therapist and apply for membership with the accountability and professional development Board of Examiners in Sex Therapy and Counselling in Ontario (BESTCO).
As a sex therapist, the dysfunctions Goertz addresses include erectile issues, uncontrollable behaviours, pornography use, affairs and struggles with sexual identity.
“Sex is a primal form of communication and one of the most intimate activities that a couple can engage in,” she says. That’s why she believes if just one member of a relationship is at all concerned with sexual variables like technique, intensity, pain or frequency, it’s worth talking about.
But not everyone is so comfortable with sharing details about the most intimate of activities with a third party; a barrier Goertz admits is one of the more challenging parts of her job. “Sometimes one person is more ready for change than the other person is,” she says. “This usually has to do not so much with whether they are happy or not, but rather their form of coping with a difficult situation is to withdraw, stonewall (or) hope it will go away.”
That’s why Goertz says she is charged with establishing an environment of acceptance and support, so that couples feel comfortable enough to be candid about their intimacy.
“This is about being curious and not critical. It’s not about blame, but about understanding a couple’s cycle, which either opens them up for loving, engaging conversation or shuts them down and drives them to their separate sides of the bed … or rooms in the house.”
Perhaps that driving divisive force is derived from a lack of love within such relationships. For, good sex equals 95 per cent good relationship, says Goertz.
“Love is huge!” she exclaims. “When we feel safe and connected our minds and our bodies are more open to meaningful engagement.”
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