The concepts of sex surrogates and surrogate partner therapy were originally introduced by pioneering gynecologist Dr. William Masters and sexologist Virginia Johnson to help men overcome sexual dysfunction. Currently, sex surrogates work with both men and women. In surrogate partner therapy, the sex surrogate takes a client through a multi-step process, beginning with very basic tools of communication and touch.

Surrogate partner therapy can include mutual nudity and two-way touch, as well as manual, oral sex or sexual intercourse. While other forms of sexual help – like experiential sex coaching or therapy can be accessed directly – surrogate partner therapy can only be accessed through a recommendation and ongoing work with a licensed psychotherapist. The therapist, client, and surrogate are thought of as a three-person therapeutic team. The function of the sex surrogate is to engage with the client in exercises to help them become more comfortable and adept at sexual and emotional intimacy.

Who Should See a Sex Surrogate?

A sex surrogate or surrogate partner therapy is often recommended by a therapist to clients who have a very high level of sexual dysfunction or interpersonal inhibition. These clients need to practice with a partner in a more structured environment to help them overcome their sexual challenges. These challenges might include sexual dysfunctions such as erectile dysfunction, pain during penetration, early ejaculation, or inability to orgasm. Surrogate partner therapy can also help if you are highly anxious sexually, have disabilities that make it more challenging to have sex, or have little or no experience with sex.

What is Sexual Surrogate Therapy?

In the initial consultation, you and your surrogate will get to know one another, begin to build rapport and make sure that surrogate partner therapy is right for you. After that, a step-by-step process begins where you and the sex surrogate communicate through each progressive step of intimacy and touch. One main tool of surrogacy is sensate focus, initially developed by Masters and Johnson. Sensate focus is meant to enhance relaxation, lower anxiety, and help you stay in touch with your sensations and arousal. Sex surrogates also help you process emotions around issues with sex and intimacy.

As you move through the phases of the therapy, you may practice back-and-forth touch.  Your surrogate starts with the hands, then you might move to the face or other parts of the clothed body. In ongoing sessions, your sex surrogate will take time to educate you about sexual comfort, relaxation, touch, and best practices. You will slowly remove more clothing, learning to give and receive touch on all the different parts of your own and your surrogate’s body. Any oral sex or intercourse you have with your practitioner will be guided by safer sex practices.

How to Find a Sex Surrogate

If you have ever wondered “what is sexual surrogate therapy?” and feel you may be a good candidate for it, the first thing to do is to talk with your therapist. If you do not yet have a therapist, you can find out more by going directly to the International Professional Surrogates Association (IPSA).

Alternatives to Surrogate Partner Therapy

If you have a sexual issue that is not particularly severe and does not require surrogate partner therapy, you may want to look into other forms of sex coaching. In particular, experiential sex coaching offers many of the benefits of sex surrogacy, but with clothes on. You may also want to look into sexological bodywork or intimacy coaching.

With these alternative modalities to sex surrogate therapy, you can learn many of the tools and skills of sex and intimacy in a comfortable and safe container.

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Celeste Hirschman
Celeste Hirschman, MA is the Co-Creator of the Somatica® Method and Co-Founder of Somatica® Institute. She trains coaches in the Somatica® Method of Sex and Relationship Coaching. She has her own private practice in San Francisco, where she works with clients to have profoundly pleasurable and fulfilling lives. She has co-authored multiple academic articles published in peer-reviewed journals and is the co-author of two books, Cockfidence - The Definitive Guide to Being the Man You Want to Be and Driving Women Wild and Making Love Real - The Intelligent Couples Guide to Lasting Intimacy and Passion. Celeste has her MA in Human Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University (SFSU) and her BA in Women’s Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). Celeste has taken the Hakomi Pro-Skills Training as well as multiple other trainings on sexuality and relationships. Celeste also has a Certification in Sexological Bodywork from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS).