I want to share my story–and how I came to do the work that I do–as the pioneer of Sex Coaching and award winning Sexuality Educator.
Let’s start from the beginning.
I was born outside of Manhattan and then moved to Vermont in the Burlington area. I have always thought of myself as half country girl, half city girl, and I feel very bi-coastal having lived on both coasts of the U.S. all of my life. I was a product of the post WWII Baby Boom, of 1950’s parenting, and I was a true child of the swinging 1960’s. I am the eldest of 5 girls, and our house was one of high testosterone, filled with high sexual energy, intensity and passion. You could say that sex runs in my DNA, because Xaviera Hollander (aka “The Happy Hooker”) is my first cousin once removed.
My own personal sexual evolution was inspired by being part of the Free Love Generation.
I have always been pro-sex, and as a child of the 1960’s I always felt empowered in expressing my sexuality. In the 1960’s, we chose to explore and experiment, and we did it with pride, with consciousness and with a positive flare.
I found my calling over 40 years ago.
I was travelling in India in the 1970’s, visiting Calcutta, and was shocked at the overpopulation and lack of regard for human life. Something snapped. It was then that this became my mission: to help people become empowered around their fertility and to have a choice.
When I returned to the States, I started working as an outreach worker for Planned Parenthood of Vermont, knocking on the doors of poor households that needed family planning information, offering them a way to have the power to control their sexual destiny by gaining power over their fertility. That started a lifelong passion for my career that has not ever stopped.
I have always been an advocate and an activist for rights, on the frontline for social change.
When I became an unwed, single mother (which was revolutionary itself, in the 1970’s) I was the first person to obtain a welfare grant to go to college and earn a Bachelor’s degree.
I have been very fortunate to have had an incredible career. From working at the grassroots level, and as a volunteer for many years, I quickly rose up through the career ladder. In fact, I have never applied for a job–I was always approached first!
My experience expands from working for the Vermont State federally funded WIC program—which was a nutrition and public health program to help pregnant and nursing mothers with their nutritional health status by delivering food to their home by dairy trucks—to becoming the state director of the entire program and winning an award for my leadership.
I worked my way up the organization from Planned Parenthood of Vermont (as outreach worker to fundraiser/trainer) to leadership positions at the National Office of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, ending up as Associate Director of Education for most of the 1980’s. I was the first person to lead a national HIV/AIDS teacher training initiative and wrote my first of five books about it. I have also served as the President of AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists), Deputy Director of SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States), and on the National Board and Advisory Council for Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance.
The academic side of sexology came later
I started my graduate education at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS) during my tenure at ETR Associates in Northern California. While earning my PhD, I was already a sexuality educator: I was writing, speaking, educating and training. I was working 55 hours a week, training people in sexuality education and HIV prevention all over the USA, including in Alaska.
I have always been academically oriented, and I always thought I would write my doctoral dissertation on the HIV/AIDS prevention programs that I created. Instead I wrote about the content and approach of female-made porn, watching 44 films in real time and coding them with my partner at the time, who was my co-researcher. I was carving out my niche as an academic, quickly realizing that earning a PhD will open doors for you that you never expected.
After I earned my PhD in 1993, I became a consultant and opened my own private practice, under the mentoring and friendship support of Betty Dodson.
Upon graduation from my PhD, I am eternally grateful to the American College of Sexologists, who awarded me the first credential of Certified Sexologist, which I still have today. I highly support this credentialing organization, and I currently serve on the Advisory Board.
I have never been called to be a therapist
I believe strongly that we can heal. I believe in the enhancement of a positive focus on life, and in thriving through one’s life journey. Many people come into the profession of sexology (and the healing arts in general) from a background of shame, trauma and suppression. This makes the personal become political for many, yet it troubles me how many people who haven’t done their own healing work still claim to offer healing for others. This is why I believe it is so important to focus on becoming whole first within ourselves, so we can become a role model and healthy container to meet the needs of our clients.
The beginning of Sex Coaching
After finishing my PhD, I was living in NYC and became heavily immersed in the emerging field of coaching. I knew I never wanted to be a sex therapist, and I knew there had to be another way of working with clients to support their healing, thriving and blossoming.
I trained with some of the original pioneers of coaching: Thomas Leonard, Julian Cohen and Cheryl Richardson. All of them informed how I work with clients today, and what I teach my students at Sex Coach University. I became the pioneer of sex coaching, and have led my own private practice for over 20 years.
I co-founded Sex Coach University in 2010, with my partner Dr Robert Dunlap. We were dedicated to teach students from my fresh perspectives, vast knowledge, and skills base, and to inspire them with learning my clinical and educational methods. I saw how many people were calling themselves sex coaches, with little to no academic training and with no enforcement of professional standards. To date through Sex Coach University, I have taught hundreds of students, in over 50 countries around the world.
In 2010, Dunlap and I also co-founded the World Association of Sex Coaches, because there was no credentialing body in sex coaching. It is a mission for me–I believe strongly in holding to the highest ethical and professional standards possible for the emerging profession of sex coaching.
Sexology has been my life’s work.
I have worked tirelessly for sex coaching– as a part of the broad field of sexology— to be respected as a profession in its own right.
I believe our sexuality is a most sacred aspect of self, and I believe that sexual pleasure is everyone’s birthright. When you are working with a client’s sexuality, you are working with the whole person. I passionately believe in sexuality education, and in sexual health, and in promoting what I call Sexual Self Realization. I want people to be free to choose their own sexual destiny.
I am deeply spiritual and I’ve worked with energies all of my life. I have always known that our spirituality is an essential part of our human experience and that Energy runs everything. This was what informed my creation of the MEBES model of working with clients: Mind, Emotions, Body, Energy and Spirit. I added spirit as I believe it is part of our sexual self— and it doesn’t matter how you view spirit. It is that essence of self and that knowing.
My vision for the future of sexology
I now see myself as an elder statesperson for the field of sexology. I envision training more aspiring sex coaches in the years to come and especially those who are longing to become sex coach trainers themselves. It is my dream that others may carry on my mission to bring about sexual healing for all—and that my protegees will replicate the systems, methods and approaches that I have initiated.
Life is short. I’m doing all I can in this lifespan. I am hopeful that through my speaking, books, media, live trainings–and especially through Sex Coach University and Sexology University–my message for positive, thriving, healthy sexuality will find its reach!
To learn more about my sex coach training programs, visit Sex Coach University, and my training program at Sexology University for clinicians who already possess the clinical skills but need the sexological content to treat their clients’ sexual issues. It’s a changing world today, with unlimited opportunities to serve people with sexual and relationship roadblocks, and we need you to help meet the rising need!
Visit the World Association of Sex Coaches here.