Sex and Relationship Coaches; How Do Your Clients View their Sexual Selves?

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In an earlier blog I talked about how your clients get caught in a sexual rut because of  psychological inflexibility. I described the six core processes that contribute to psychologically inflexibility and getting stuck; (1) Lack of clarity of values (2) Dominance of outmoded scripts and learning (3) Cognitive fusion (4) Attachment to the conceptualized self (5) Experiential avoidance and (6) Inaction, impulsivity, and rigidity . The six processes work independently and combine synergistically when getting stuck sexually. I’ll go into these six processes in my next blog.

In this blog I want to talk a little bit about:

  • Attachment to the Conceptualized Self
  • Dominance of Outmoded Scripts and Learning
  • Cognitive Fusion

AC Coaching and ACT use the term the conceptualized self to refer to what most people think about when asked to describe themselves. For example, if you asked your clients to describe themselves, they’d probably say things like “I’m thirty-five years old,” “I’m of average height,” “I’m happily married,” “I’m an architect,” “I’m kind and I’m lovable.” These kinds of self-statements sum up who they are and how they feel they measure up compared to some societal standard (intelligence, income, body composition, and so on).

Clients also have a conceptualized self that relates to their sexuality. So, if you asked your clients to describe themselves as sexual people they might say things such as; “I really like sex”, “I’m pretty sexy,” “I’m good in bed”, “Men find me very desirable,” “I am not so sexy,” “I’m kind of inexperienced,” ” I have a very high/low sex drive” and so forth.

Some aspects of your clients’ conceptualized sexual selves are helpful, positive, rational, and support their efforts to meet their sexual needs and wants and behave in ways that are consistent with their sexual values. Other aspects are not so helpful. Instead of helping and supporting them, their sexual thoughts, feelings, personal scripts, and mental images create barriers that keep them from meeting their sexual needs and wants and behaving in ways that are congruent with their sexual and relationship values.

When this is the case, it is often because they’ve over-attached, or fused with unhelpful aspects of their conceptualized sexual self. AC Coaching calls this Cognitive Fusion. When clients fuse with any unhelpful aspect of their conceptualized selves, it takes on an added level of importance or concern that smothers the other aspects.

In an earlier blog I discussed personal scripts, the self talk (inner dialogue) that clients have related to aspects of their sex lives. Personal scripts and other learning related to clients’ conceptualized sexual self can become outmoded (aka outdated) when they no longer represent clients’ current sexual values and stand in the way of clients meeting their values-based sexual and relationship goals. 

In an earlier blog in I talked about how values originate and change over the course of clients’ sexual lives. When clients fuse with outmoded aspects of their conceptualized sexual self the fused parts dominate their sexual thinking (hence, the phrase, Dominance of Outmoded Scripts and Learning).

For example, let’s imagine that one of your clients was raised to be ” good boy” (as I was by my Italian-American mother).  His parents raised your client to defer to others and always seek to please people. Because of this your client grew up with a value system connected to strong beliefs that he shouldn’t upset people by being assertive or uncooperative. His first inclination was always to please others and be a good boy. Your client complied with this throughout his childhood and adolescence and grew up viewing himself as a good. He felt guilty whenever he caused others any displeasure or inconvenience or tried to assert himself. Being a “good boy” became a key part of his conceptualized self

It also became part of his conceptualized sexual self as he began dating, became sexually active, entered into relationships, and got married.

Because he was over-attached (or fused) to “being a good boy” it was hard for your client to assert his own sexual needs, wants, and desires whenever they came into conflict with his partner’s. Your client’s lack of psychological flexibility regarding this part of  his conceptualized sexual self caused him to get stuck for years in behavior patterns and relationships that were not congruent with his changing sexual values, goals, needs, and wants. Your client’s sexual mind was dominated with outmoded sexual scripts based on outdated learning.

Clients get fused with and stuck on many different aspects of their conceptualized self as it relates to their sexual identity (biological sex, gender identity, gender role, sexual orientation, sexual behavior) and their overall sexuality.

AC Coaching refers to the conceptualized self viewpoint as taking a self-as-content view because it assumes that the self is nothing more than a collection of thoughts. feelings etc.  When clients take this view it is easy for them to mistakenly believe that their thoughts about something are the same as directly experiencing it. In fact, clients’ thoughts about how something might play out (like starting a new relationship or asking for something sexual from a partner) are often quite different from how things actually turn out when experienced in real life.

The self-as-content view leads leads clients to believe that they can avoid the pain and suffering of taking action on their sexual needs and wants by figuring it all out in their minds without having to take action.  This keeps clients stuck as it keeps them from experiencing things that can be troubling or painful but growth-enhancing.

AC Coaching uses simple techniques from the Observing Self and Cognitive Defusion (more on these in future blogs) that help them step back and distance themselves mentally and physically from unhelpful attachments to their conceptualized sexual selves.

To learn more about how to help your clients get unstuck and have the sex lives they want and deserve…

My new training course, Acceptance and Commitment (AC ) Coaching: Sexual Relationship Coaching for Committed Couples has been approved for 10 CEU Coaching Credits by CCE, the nation’s premiere coach credentialing organization.

Find out more by getting a copy of my Free Training Session; This 30 minute training session         (a $79.00 value) introduces my Acceptance and Commitment (AC ) Coaching: Sexual Relationship Coaching for Committed Couples course and is yours free for the asking.

Click Here to Obtain Your Copy of Your Training Session

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