Mindful sex and relationships

This course is designed for sexual and relationship therapists and other related practitioners who want to know more about mindfulness and the ways in which it might be useful for their work. It is open to people working from all different modalities and encourages discussion of how mindfulness might work with a variety of existing approaches to SRT (e.g. CBT, physiological, humanistic, systemic, psychodynamic).

The day will start with basic mindfulness techniques and definitions for those who are unfamiliar with these ideas. We will consider mindfulness as both a way of understanding suffering and as a set of practices which people can employ. We will explore how mindfulness can be something we encourage our clients to do, something that we ourselves practice or bring into dialogue with our current approach, and a way of understanding the counselling relationship.

Following these introductions we will turn to sex therapy and consider how mindfulness would understand common sexual difficulties, and how mindfulness practices may be useful in the arena of sex and sexuality. Particularly we will explore the mindfulness ideas of craving and letting go in relation to sexual compulsions, and the mindful focus on being present for goal-oriented sex and sexual pain.

After this we will consider mindfulness in relationship therapy. We will explore how mindfulness teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chödrön and John Welwood understand relationship struggles, locating them in a grasping approach to others, to relationships, and to ourselves. We will think about how such understandings might be useful in relationship therapy, and explore some possibilities for mindfulness practice individually (e.g. Tonglen practice) and in relationships (e.g. Gregory Kramer’s Insight Dialogue).