Sexual healing – which modality?

Here’s an email from my archives – about why people might choose a surrogate over other forms of help or touch.

Hi Betty,

I met you at the recent **** Conference. My name is J_ and I
Am a PhD Psychology Student at ****. Hope you are doing well.

I am writing to ask if you have any thoughts or ideas regarding my research. My research topic will be something like:

“Why do people seek to work with sexual surrogates instead of others who could provide similar services, whether those are talk (non-touch) sex therapists,  sacred intimates, sexological bodyworkers, tantrikas or other hands-on sex workers?”

. . .  I would appreciate any thoughts you might have  . . . .  I feel very strongly about the need for Sex Healing modalities that include touch and I also think it is  important to differentiate between the modalities.

Thank you,

Hi J_,

Yes, I remember you, and best wishes on your project.

I like reading research, but I’m not a researcher. Always been more of a clinician. My view is pretty much always the personal – I notice my own and my clients’ experiences, and extrapolate from there.

My guess, in general, is that we choose something within our comfort zone, but close enough to the edge that we think it could shake things up enough to help us. Not too edgy or we don’t even think of it, or we shy away. (oh, I could never do that, oh, that couldn’t possibly work). Then there are times when we are ready to try something more bold than we were a week before. Timing is part of the process.

Along those lines, I imagine that for many people, the certified surrogate feels safer – more predictable, less stigma – than sex workers, more within the comfort zone. Also probably cheaper in most cases.

Also – surrogacy is a form of therapy. You don’t choose surrogacy per se – you choose therapy and surrogacy is part of it. There are times when we all need help, sometimes serious help. Some times we need therapy, other times we need more of a coach and other times more of a playmate. Our needs vary at different times and different stages of our lives. So one reason you might choose therapy and surrogacy is because you know you want help.

Differing modalities – yes, important to distinguish between them – and good luck!

There’s an interesting phenomenon in this work. The point is less what activity we engage in and more the reason we do it, or the attitude we approach it with. Plus, some of those activities we don’t get to describe for legal reasons. So we all try to make up new words and phrases, and pick up ones we like, and what you call yourself is not necessarily an indication of what you do. For example, a sacred intimate could be anything from a massage, to coaching a couple through communication exercises, to strict tantra instruction with no sexual touch, to tantric style intercourse, to a long-term relationship with a lover who you are teaching about love. A sacred intimate may focus on skills, on spiritual or sexual practices, on pleasure, on therapeutic modalities. They (we) use whatever is in our toolkit.

Runner up to that is the word tantra or tantrika. Again, the range of what people do under this name is huge so unfortunately it doesn’t tell you much. And then there’s “sacred sexuality” . . . a lovely thought and deep experience for many, but hugely varied and so not very informative.

That’s one reason the Sexological Bodywork association is choosing a very strict definition for their work. Very smart, I think, so that 1) it’s legal and 2) it’s predictable. If you call a CSB you have some idea of what you’re getting.

Ironically, Cuddle Parties, though a non-sexual event, have turned out to be a very healing experience for many. I’ve come to believe that clarity on boundaries and comfort with bodies is the pre-requisite for sexual success. has loads of articles, including some on the physiological benefits of touch, as does

Hope that’s helpful.

The only other suggestion, if you have not already done so, is to “get on the table” yourself. I have found that what I learn about myself informs everything else I do or study.

Thanks for doing this work. I’m sure it will benefit the profession.

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