Today we’re talking about Sensate Focus, one of my favorite goto things, and something I would often use in my therapy practice.
What is Sensate Focus and where did it come from?
It was developed by Masters and Johnson as a way to help couples learn more about themselves and each other and move towards a more intimate relationship.
The aim is to build trust and intimacy within your relationship, helping you both give and receive pleasure.
How long will Sensate Focus take?
It's not a race to an end, it’s a continuous reinforcement and it can help to overcome negative reactions to intimacy. You don’t want to rush through it, it can take months to get through the first two phases. Only move onto the different phases of Sensate Focus when you’re both ready.
Some ground rules to get started:
Choose a time and place that is acceptable for both of you.
Choose music, lighting, and aromas that are suitable.
Turn off your phone, tv, gadgets, and other distractions.
And lock the door.
There are three phases to Sensate Focus and one pre-phase.
Pre-phase: Non-genital sensate focus clothed (Start here if you have previous trauma, or are someone who doesn’t enjoy physical touch.)
Phase 1: Non-genital sensate focus unclothed (non sexual touching)
Phase 2: Genital sensate focus (sexual touching but no penetration)
Phase 3: Penetrative sensate focus (sexual touching with penetration)
Non-genital sensate focus
This phase focuses on touch, sensuality and mutual exploration free from any concern that it’s going to lead to sex. When in phase one, both partners know that sex and orgasm are off the table. Before the session starts you want to decide who is going to go first, and then you'll take turns. First, concentrate on touching the parts of the body that are normally visible. When you’re ready start to include the back, neck, and butt. Finally, bring in the chest, stomach, shoulders, thighs, but avoid breasts, top of legs and the groin area.
It's okay to stay in phase one for however long you and your partner decide you want to.
Genital sensate Focus
The main focus of this phase is to increase each person’s pleasure and awareness of each other's response from different types of stimulation. During this phase you might want to incorporate some lubricant or some bedroom accessories. Penetration is not permitted in this phase. If orgasam happens, it happens, but the point here is to focus on the pleasure, and how your partner responds to positive stimulation.
First, incorporate touching of the breasts and nipples. Next, include the area around the genitals. Then, introduce the touching of the genitals. After a while you may also want to incorporate some oral as well as kissing, licking, and sucking.
Penetrative Sensate Focus
You’ve spent the time on the nongenital and genital phases of sensate focus so that you can now begin to include the penetration with your finger, toys, and or the penis. You still want to incorporate and pay attention to the parts of the body that we explored in the previous phases. While orgasm and intercouse is permitted in this phase, it is still not the goal.
First, incorporate different forms of gentle penetration. Start with little thrusting, enjoy the sensation of containment, and feeling the fullness inside. Try first with one person on top, and then switch. Later you can incorporate more of the thrusting but with the person being penetrated in full control. The aim of this phase and sensate focus as a whole is to focus on the enjoyment of the touch and growing the intimacy between the two of you.
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