Welcome to my site about Surrogate Partner Therapy (henceforth termed SPT)!
If this is your first time learning about SPT, a hearty congratulations on checking out something new and different. My name is Roger, and you can learn more about me here.
SPT is a specialized form of therapy that is an adjunct to sex therapy. SPT offers individuals who are working through issues around relationship, intimacy, and sex, a trained, safe, and knowledgeable partner, so that they may grow and learn experientially. SPT, as practiced by me, and as taught by the International Professional Surrogates Association (IPSA), always requires the active involvement and supervision of a licensed therapist.
SPT is a codified system, based on the work of Masters and Johnson, that provides exercises and information in a specially constructed therapy container. The container is defined by a code of ethics, specific boundaries, good communication, and a three-way working relationship between client, therapist, and SPT practitioner.
Central to the SPT engagement is the three-way working relationship between the client, therapist, and surrogate partner. SPT is not SPT when there is no therapist involved in the process. These three individuals may come together in different ways, but, at the time that SPT starts, or is even just being discussed, all three individuals must be part of the team. The relationship often begins with a therapist and a client having a conversation about SPT. If SPT appears to be a good fit for the client, the therapist will seek a referral, or reach out to surrogates that she is aware of, or has already worked with. The next step in the engagement is for the three parties to meet, to further investigate the suitability of SPT, and the suitability of that particular surrogate. It is also possible for clients to contact surrogates directly, in which case the surrogate has a duty to inform the client that a therapist must be involved, and to not proceed until the client has a willing therapist, if she does not have one already.
The activities that the surrogate and client engage in include communication, information sharing, and exercises of various kinds. Sensate focus is an important type of touch exercise where one party is active (touching) and the other party is passive. Sensate focus emphasizes relaxation, breathing, present moment awareness, and focusing on one’s own pleasure, by both parties. Sensate focus is a key exercise in helping clients to unlearn performance and goal based habits and beliefs. Many intimacy and sexuality issues find their way back to performance anxiety, and, in all cases, reducing performance anxiety enhances the pleasure that one experiences during intimacy.
SPT has four distinct phases. All of the phases share common themes, however. Breathing, relaxation, and sharing of feelings are emphasized throughout. In all stages of SPT, it’s important for the surrogate to work with the client to understand her relative comfort or anxiety levels and to establish and respect clear boundaries. Pushing a client too far too quickly is counter productive, and in the end makes the process either break down or take longer. The ideal pace is one where exposure to new concepts or exercises are titrated, providing an experience of successive approximation towards the client’s ultimate goals.
Phase one involves communication, and platonic activities. In phase one, the surrogate partner will get background information from the client, establish good communications and boundaries, and introduce activities like objects sensate focus, sensate focus on hands, feet or face, sensate focus on clothed and platonic parts of the body, foot bath, etc.
The activities of phase two are still sensate focus exercises, with the addition of some activities that include nudity, body image exercises, and touch that is more sensual. Sensate focus exercises in phase two include non-sexual caress of nude front of the body and back of the body, for example. Phase two has some exercises that naturally await the client to get more comfortable with easier phase two exercises. For example, phase two potentially includes genital caress, sensual shower and a sexological (demo of genitals, identifying all of the parts, and information sharing), which are all considered to be at the edge of phase three.
Phase three introduces mutuality, the practice of giving and experiencing pleasure simultaneously, and expressly sexual activities. Phase three is not required for all clients, and when it is undertaken, it is always to obtain specific therapeutic outcomes. Clients often experience phase three as a leap from phase two. Gaining comfort with advanced phase two activities can help clients make the transition to phase three. Phase three also requires the surrogate partner and the client to have achieved excellent communication skills and a high level of trust.
Phase four is closure of the surrogate partner relationship. All relationships eventually end, and being adept in closure is an important part of being in relationship. During this phase, clients are encouraged to process feelings around the relationship ending and to relay anything that they wish to say. This is also a time to celebrate all that the client has learned and experienced, and to look forward to a future of fulfilling relationships.