The Importance of Boundaries in Sexual Healing
Most people have never been taught how to have good sex. We were just magically meant to figure it out on our own. This in reality often leads people on one end of the spectrum to feel inadequate, dissatisfied and disconnected from their partner. On the other end, people can feel shame or even traumatized by experiences gone wrong. Others have had traumatic sexual experiences by being raped, for example, and need specialized support to move through this incredibly challenging experience. Hands on sexual healing can be a powerful tool to support people in overcoming their challenges in the bedroom and beyond. Creating healthy boundaries to support this edgy work is essential and so often unfortunately lacking leaving people with even more challenges than when they started.
Discussing sex and trauma with a coach or therapist can be very helpful but simply trying to talk about sexual challenges like premature ejaculation, for example, without any practical, hands on support, can only take you so far. As Krishna Das, a mantra meditation leader says, you can't think yourself out of a problem.
In my hands-on NeoTantra sessions I empower people using pleasure as the tool for transformation. We release stuck emotions including trauma, physical pain, increase pleasure, expand orgasm and overcome sexual challenges, to name a few. I focus on the system as a whole and we assess the mental, physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual blockages that are holding them back in life. This is a holistic approach to supporting people to more wholeness. Using the wisdom of the body gives you a hands-on experience to move through emotional, physical and sexual challenges.
This somatic approach to healing is really profound, and in my personal and professional experience, helps the student to overcome their challenges far more quickly than a regular talk-based approach. We embrace the wisdom of the body to support their process and the student gets a felt sense of how things shift into alignment. For example, for people with penises, learning ejaculation mastery helps them to last as long as they want with a lover without ejaculating. I teach tools during the session and give homework to practice so they can continue to expand their skills in between our sessions so they can ultimately build success on their own. This is very helpful for heterosexual couples, for example, who are frustrated because he's done, rolled over and gone to sleep while she is just getting warmed up. This helps people have a more rich and rewarding sex life fostering deeper intimacy and connection. I teach techniques that support people in having a more satisfying sexual connection where both people get their needs met.
While hands-on sexual healing is powerful, it also has the potential to do great harm. This exploration is like dancing on a knife edge, even for the provider, one misstep and it can go terribly wrong. It is deep shadow work and the person guiding the student needs to be really skilled and clear in themselves how to walk someone into and out of this experience in a safe and empowering way.
I believe solid boundaries are essential to supporting people through this very edgy practice. There are many ways to hold boundaries in a session. In the NeoTantra world there is no regulatory board governing the practice and I'm sad to say I regularly have students come to work with me who have had a negative, if not further traumatizing, experience at the hands of someone else. If you're looking for someone to work with I recommend doing your research to be sure you can find someone you can trust. I wrote a blog giving guidelines on how to find someone you can trust. It focuses on NeoTantra teachers but can really be applied to a range of different modalities.
This blog arose from an online discussion where I was asked to share the boundaries I use with my students. I was then asked to create this blog so the information can be easily shared. Below I reveal some of the boundaries I use to support my students in my private session. Feel free to pass it onto anyone you think will benefit. I am not saying this is the only way to have good boundaries but this is what works for me and feels most supportive for my students:
1. I do not date my students
This may seem obvious but to keep things professional it is important to be sure I'm not using the umbrella of sexual healing for my own sexual satisfaction or to manipulate people into having sex with me and crossing their boundaries. To really support people I need to be sure my own agenda is not running the show. I am available to offer a loving and supportive experience to facilitate our working together but I do not fall in love with them. I encourage my students to build community and connection at my group classes, retreats and workshops and to date each other instead.
People often share things with me they haven't ever told anyone else. Even therapist sometimes have a hard time talking about sex with their clients. I had the experience when processing some of my own trauma years ago and wanting to share some details about a sexual experience and the therapist told me it was inappropriate to share. I hold everything my students share with me in complete confidence and do not share it with anyone else unless I have their express permission to do so.
This applies when I am working with couples in individual sessions so that they feel the freedom to share with me in an unedited way without worrying that their partner will hear about what we discussed in the session. An example is a student sharing a fantasy with me. This might be the first time they have ever felt safe enough to voice their desires aloud. While acting out their fantasy may be beyond the scope of our session, having a safe space to share their fantasy with me in a welcoming environment often gives people more confidence to share it with their partner at a later time.
I regularly work in conjunction with therapists who refer their clients to me for hands-on sessions as I am able to work in ways that aren't possible for the therapist due to their license restrictions. Therapists can offer a hug or a box of tissues for example but can't touch beyond that. I love being part of my student's support team and only share what has happened in our session, even with their therapist, after receiving express permission to do so. Yes, confidentiality is that important and essential to building trust for our work together.
3. Clear Boundaries
At the beginning of each session, I ask the student about any boundaries they have especially about anywhere they are injured or don't want to be touched. I then share my own boundaries for the session: I don't offer any mouth to mouth kissing, intercourse or oral sex. I invite students into an experience of deeply receiving without the need to give anything back. This is a very edgy and also exceptionally potent place for people to allow themselves the gift of receiving so deeply. Even when you are with a lover and you are given the space to simply receive pleasure there is often the expectation that sooner or later it will be your turn to reciprocate. Giving people permission to just receive is a uniquely healing experience for many.
In my sessions I use one way directed touch where I am touching the student and they are invited to simply receive. If they need to touch me somewhere for comfort they can touch my knees but if I feel like they are giving back to me in any way I will gently redirect their hands. I also hold the time boundary for the session so they can move into a timeless space during our exploration but I am clear about the start and finish time. This helps us both to be clear when the session begins and ends and reminds them as well this is a professional context and not date.
4. Attitude of Service
I am there in honor of my student and to be of service to them. This isn't about getting my own needs met but to support them on their journey to wholeness. I get my needs met outside of the session in my own personal relationships. If my own sexual needs require attention I self pleasure before a session so that I do not bring that energy into the session.
This point is important as I have seen other providers who are using this very delicate experience of sexual healing to encourage students to have sex with them to get their own needs met. Transference is very real in any kind of healing work whether you are a doctor, coach or therapist. Transference means that the client's feelings are redirected to the person supporting them on their healing journey and often shows up as an erotic attraction for the provider giving them a guru-like status. This can lead to the student forgoing their own boundaries due to their attraction to the provider and the powerivers position of influence in their lives. There is a high potential for transference in the realm of hands on healing so it is even more important for the provider to have clear boundaries to help the student when transference occurs.
5. Create & Dissolve Energetic Container
I set up an energetic container to support our work together to ensure there is a safe space for the powerful emotional, physical and energetic exploration we will share. After a private session I dissolve the energetic framework by opening the windows and spraying rose water to clear out the space so it is ready for the next person. This can also be done with sage, incense, fire or even a bell. 6. Managing Transference
I discuss with students the difference between the energy of love and the emotion of love. I am available to explore in loving and intimate spaces with them but I am not available to fall in love with them. They reserve the emotion of love for their current or future partner. It is possible the students will fall in love with me but by my holding a strong container and talking with them about the difference between the energy of love vs emotion of love supports them in understanding the difference. As this is the first time for many people to explore in such an intimate way managing transference is exceptionally important.
I do a releasing ritual at the end of group rituals and private sessions with my students to energetically release their attachments. This discharges the weaving of our energies during our practice and allows students to come back into themselves and me to myself. This helps with transference and helps to separate out the energy vs the emotion of love. I also take a shower to literally wash their energy out of my system so I can come back to myself. 7. Managing My Own Attractions
If I ever find myself attracted to a student I call up another colleague right after the session and out myself so that I stay in integrity at all times. Secrets can be dangerous. I keep details of the student confidential but simply share my own experience so I can get the support I need to remain professional.
Even with clear boundaries it is possible to have some powerful exceptions. With some of my students there is a need for them to learn how to improve their touch skills. So many people want to be good lovers and to meet their partner's needs by just don't know how. I work with a couple who love each other deeply by the husband isn't able to touch his wife in a way that is pleasurable to her. After modeling touch his body in numerous couples sessions and inviting him to slow down we still weren't getting closer to his wife being touched in a way that felt pleasurable for her. In this case I allowed him to practice touching my body so he could build confidence to better give pleasure to his wife. I offered my face, hand, arm and foot for him to experiment on so he could practice the techniques. Turns out he did a great job and his wife was so grateful. We were able to overcome a speed bump that was standing in the way of their relationship and he built confidence and skills which turned him into a better lover.
Sometimes I include an energetically intimate sitting position called yab yum where our energy centers are all in alignment if it is in support of the student's learning and they are allowed to hold my energy centers as we build energy together. I teach this in my group classes though so don't often offer this in private sessions unless I already know the student can understand why it is being included. They learn to touch my back in an honoring way instead of energetically or physically grabbing me. These examples of more interactive touch sessions above are powerful exceptions. They only remain that if they are used mindfully and remain exceptions and don't become the rule.
I find the boundaries I outlined above kept keep both myself and the student clear that this is a professional relationship to facilitate the profound transformations possible in my private sessions. I hope this has helped to give you some ideas to support you in formulating your own boundaries as a provider when you offer sessions. There is no one right way to do this but I believe if we keep the wellbeing of our clients in mind we are much more likely to support them in the powerful healing they deeply desire.
As a Certified NeoTantra Educator and Conscious Relationship & Intimacy Coaching, I love helping providers to get clear on the best ways to share their gifts with the world and offer coaching and mentorship in person of via Skype. I work with individuals and couples of all sexual orientations and genders on their path to success both inside and outside the bedroom. I am passionate about people living empowered lives by getting out of their heads and into their bodies and using the power of pleasure to transform their life and world.
I offer a free and confidential 30 minute Getting Acquainted call which gives us the chance to talk about your needs and desires and how I can support you. Get in touch with me to learn more about my private sessions. I love helping people from all over the world work and I travel and teach internationally. I am based in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. Learn more at www.carolinecarrington.com
Caroline Carrington is a Certified NeoTantra Educator and Conscious Relationship & Intimacy Coach inspiring people to live empowered lives across the US and around the world. She expands people’s experience of pleasure, intimacy and connection through relationships, energy play and dynamic meditation. Caroline loves building bridges between communities in the realms of NeoTantra, BDSM, Polyamory, and Bhakti Yoga. Caroline welcomes people of all genders, races and relationship styles and is LGBTQ+ friendly. She is passionate about walking Tantra out of the bedroom and into the world and bringing the sacred back into sexuality. Caroline is available for private sessions, retreats, workshops, coaching, NeoTantra teacher training and personalized intensives. Learn more at www.JewelintheLotusCoaching.com