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I was recently asked if I have sex with my clients in my private practice as a clinical sexologist. There are many helping professionals who are trained and licensed to give hands-on help. I'm not one of them.

The film Sessions with John Hawkes and Helen Hunt is an excellent example of sex with clients I hope you look into more.

To find a sexological bodyworker, surrogate etc. you can go to these sites.
To find a Somatica Practitioner:
To get trained as a Somatica sex and relationship coach:
To find a Sexological Bodyworker:
To get trained as a Sexological Bodyworker:
For Surrogate Partner therapy:
Recently I was asked if I have sex with my clients.


My name is Lindsey Doe. I'm a doctor of human sexuality and a clinical sexologist. For work, I do a variety of things: speak at universities, research and write a lot, host Sexplanations here and on the podcast. And I work with people individually and as partners on their sex lives, which some call sex therapy.

In my private practice, a client makes an appointment, we meet for an hour each week to address what they have going on sexually, and then I send them on their way to be successful. Do I touch them or have sex with them? I don't have sex with my clients and the only time I touch them is to give them a high five, maybe a hug if I've known them for a while. I'm not trained or licensed to touch beyond that.

There are sexual health professionals who are, though. They touch, some even have sex with their clients. They might call themselves any number of titles. I'm gonna focus on these four: sex surrogate, sexual healer, sexological bodyworker, and somatica practitioner.

First, surrogates. Surrogates are substitutes. For example, a surrogate mother is someone who stands in as a uterus for someone else. Like if I was a surrogate mother, I would be inseminated or have an embryo put inside me, then go through pregnancy and childbirth to hand the baby off to the person I'm substituting for.

Sex surrogacy is being a substitute sex partner. They're stand-ins for actual sex partners so the client can practice and learn how to do things like flirt, caress, perform oral sex, and dance! They typically work as art of a team with a talk therapist like me so that everyone is troubleshooting the situation together. William Masters and Virginia Johnson, two sexologists from the late 1900s, really popularized collaboration with surrogates. They would hire sexually responsive women to help their patients struggling with sexual difficulties like anorgasmia. In talk therapy a woman might find out where her clit is and different ways to stroke it so she can become orgasmic, but a surrogate can actually point out where the clit is on her body and give real-time feedback on how she masturbates. Basically surrogates are really helpful at coaching people in ways I can't.

Another example is that  I might learn in session my client loses his erection just before penetration because he's afraid of rape accusations. The man and I can do lots of work verbally, but ultimately he'll have to do some reconditioning of his sexual response with someone who can hold safe space. If that's a partner, great, sometimes, though, there isn't a partner or the partner isn't able to also be a coach, and this is where a surrogate would come in.

Sexual healers are really similar to sex surrogates in that they are sex partners, but a slight difference is that they view sex as a healing practice in addition to an act of intimacy. The healer I met talked about a man with third degree burns all over his body; he struggled socially was wasn't able to find a sex partner, so the healer would go to his house and love him up. Whatever felt sensual for him and comfortable for the healer is what they spent their time doing. Sexual healing is incredibly beneficial for people with disabilities, illnesses, or personalities that inhibit sexual expression. It's also really good for survivors of sexual assault and those who have been hurt in any way. People in these situations may have maladaptive stress reactions, or body responses to past trauma, as if it's happening in the moment. Sexual healing uses physical touch to unwind and clear the psychological pattern. It restores people to a freer sexual state of mind.

Another type of sexual help profession is sexological bodyworker. The school I attended for my doctorate does a training every year for sexological bodyworkers. Hundreds of hours of breathing, sexual contact, independent study, classes, and homework to become aides for others' erotic development. I've heard wonderful things about the program and have colleagues who have gone on to be awesome bodyworkers because of it, like Dr. Danielle Harroll. When we were in school together Danielle was studying orgasm during childbirth, how to come while you're having painful contractions to both ease and progress labor. She's taught this to others during hands-on sessions, helped women find their G-spots, men to control ejaculation, and non-binary people expand their masturbation practices. She teaches all the things I can say but can't act out. That's sexological bodywork.

A variation of this is somatica. Danielle and her business partner Celeste created this form of experiential sex coaching to help reach a broader audience. Because the practitioner and client are wearing clothes, those who aren't ready to take their clothes off but still want to learn practical sex and relationship skills can still do so. Here's how it happens: Danielle is teaching someone about passion in a session, like I do, but after she describes grabbing or kissing a partner passionately, she can model this for them and/or encourage them to practice on her. It's a smart way to bring the best parts of talk therapy, surrogacy, bodywork, and healing together.

I don't have sex with my clients, but I'm incredibly grateful for professionals who do. Too often we expect people to know innately how to give and receive pleasure, and this is like expecting them to swim or even walk without guidance. While it may be possible to instruct someone with words alone, other times, most times, it's better to have someone take you by the hands and hold you steady while you learn, be it a partner or one of these pros. In the description I've put links to sites where you can find hands-on help if you need it and training if you're interested in becoming certified yourself. Stay curious.