SEXUAL HEALTH: sex therapy for wounded veterans

In an article by Joseph Jaafari posted online May 12, The Atlantic covered creative therapies that are teaching veterans with genital injuries alternative ways to be intimate. “While all Veterans Affairs hospitals offer Occupational Therapy, which includes sexual therapy, the VA Long Beach Healthcare System in southern California and Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, are unique in that they have introduced courses and counseling focused on this issue. The programs offer guidance as veterans recover from genital wounds, and are part of an increasing effort by the military to both address these injuries and protect soldiers from them in the future.”

The article focuses on the treatment of a former U.S. Marine Corps staff sergeant named Timothy Brown. “Post-recovery, Brown has taken a different approach to sex than he had before—shifting the emphasis from his personal satisfaction to insuring that his partner enjoys the experience. ‘I went from being self-centered to trying to encompass everything for the both of us,’ he says. ‘Simple things like feeling [his partner’s] body, feeling their muscles when you hit the right spot.’ While he developed this outlook on his own, he notes that the program enabled him to feel more secure in his sexual life.”

Army Spec. Chris Smith, a soldier from the 10th Mountain Division stationed at Fort Drum, sits in The Different Drummer Internet Cafe in Watertown, New York April 16, 2008. The Different Drummer is a place where soldiers both active and discharged can go for support, counciling or just to socialize. Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division are among those who've spent most time in Iraq and Afghanistan, making its base at Fort Drum a "canary in a coal mine" for a looming crisis of post-traumatic stress disorder.  Picture taken on April 16, 2008.     To match feature USA-MILITARY/ and USA-MILITARY/MARRIAGE         REUTERS/Mark Dye          (UNITED STATES) - RTR208HV

Army Spec. Chris Smith, a soldier from the 10th Mountain Division stationed at Fort Drum, sits in The Different Drummer Internet Cafe in Watertown, New York April 16, 2008. The Different Drummer is a place where soldiers both active and discharged can go for support, counseling or just to socialize. Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division are among those who’ve spent most time in Iraq and Afghanistan, making its base at Fort Drum a “canary in a coal mine” for a looming crisis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Picture taken on April 16, 2008. Photo by Mark Dye

The article notes that “Brown’s approach is exactly what occupational therapists at Walter Reed have tried to teach other injured soldiers. Within the hospital there is a sexual health and intimacy service that focuses on education and therapy. According to Brown, therapy sessions were de facto sex classes that included sex toys aimed at stimulating different parts of the body. Officials at Walter Reed wouldn’t comment on what products were used during the sessions. In addition to funding classes like this one, the Department of Defense spent more than $84 million on erectile dysfunction drugs in 2014.”

Check out the whole story online here and let me know what you think.

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DID YOU SEE: Wall Street Journal on why couples have sex

married sex cartoon

An article by Elizabeth Bernstein in the Wall Street Journal recently summarized findings from a couple of Canadian research studies about what constitutes satisfying sex for married couples.

For many years, scientists believed that humans had sex for a few simple reasons: to reproduce, experience physical pleasure or relieve sexual tension. Then a 2007 study from the University of Texas identified 237 expressed motives for sex. The reasons ranged from the mundane (stress reduction) to the spiritual (to get closer to God) and from the altruistic (to make the other person feel good) to the spiteful (to retaliate against a partner who cheated by cheating).

Now, two studies by University of Toronto researchers published this month in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, have divided the most common reasons why people have sex—and the ones most relevant to long-term relationships—into two broad categories of motivation: approach and avoidance. Approach motives pursue a positive outcome. (“I want to increase intimacy with my spouse” or “I want to feel closer to my partner.”) Avoidance motives aim to evade a negative outcome. (“I want to avoid conflict” or “I don’t want to feel guilty.”)

It’s a pretty interesting analysis (though focused exclusively on heterosexual married couples), with some testimonials about the value of sex therapy for couples wanting to deepen their physical intimacy.

How can you become more positively motivated when it comes to sex? If you’re feeling like you’d just rather go to sleep, try tuning into the emotional connection between you and your partner, says Julie Hanks, a clinical social worker in Salt Lake City. “Lead with what you want instead of what you don’t want to happen,” she says. 

About a year ago, Ms. Brinton decided she and her husband needed to work on their sex life. “I thought, ‘I want to enjoy sex. I want to feel connected to my husband. I want to reclaim my sexuality.’ ” So she started doing things to make herself feel sexy: She bought new lingerie and started reading erotic romance novels. Ms. Brinton also asked her husband to go to a sex therapist with her.

Her husband says he was thrilled. He figured there would be a lot of sex as homework. But, at least initially, their homework was to focus on real communication—not just small talk—about issues unrelated to sex. “I came to realize that you can’t have a great, intimate sex life until you have learned to connect outside of the bedroom,” says Mr. Brinton, who owns a custom-framing business. Eventually, their conversations led to talk of sex—and then more sex. Once “we knew how to talk about other things, we felt comfortable with the difficult questions about what the other person likes in bed,” says Mr. Brinton.

Check out the whole article here and let me know what you think.