INTERVIEW WITH DR. PATTI BRITTON
I was fortunate to be able to interview Dr. Patti Britton, a nationally board-certified clinical sexologist/sex coach. She has had over 30 years of experience as a sexologist and is an international leader in sexual health. Besides innumerable prestigious memberships and titles, Dr. Patti is an author, public speaker, and trains others to become clinicians.
I understand that you’re not a fan of traditional therapy where you look backwards. Why is that?
Traditional therapy focuses on mental illness. I’m more interested in a sex positive approach, a person-centered approach which is the blend of the “what” of sexology” plus the “how” of personal coaching which is fast-paced, collaborative, and can be virtual. I can actually go with a client to a sex toy shop, if the client and I deem it beneficial.
To clarify, much of your work with a client is done on the phone?
Yes. The telephone is often comforting to a client. When there’s no visual, it allows you to go deeper. Many clients are locked into sexual shame and the phone is a more private way to explore it. Skype sessions with video are also popular today for my international clients.
Do you ever see clients in person?
I have a small live person practice with a few spaces a week to see people. I’m opening up a new office where I will also be training people to become sex coaches, so there will be more space and opportunity to see more clients.
So is it a talk-based approach? Does it ever go beyond talk? Does anybody ever get naked?
I will sometimes have a client do a “mirror” exercise, if I feel it’s warranted and the client is open to it. There is no touching involved between client and doctor.
I understand couples can come in for intensive therapy work. What is involved in that?
The clients will take the information they learned in a coaching session and do their homework at home. They will then come in and discuss what took place. The coaching focuses in on asking pivotal questions. You need to know a lot about sex. I’ve had thousands of clients. I’m very honed in on eroticism. During a coaching session I may ask them to “paint a movie” to describe what they did as a way of understanding their sexual experiences..
What would you say the biggest problem is for women?
Do you see this primarily in older women?
No, it can involve young women although it is more prevalent with the normal hormonal decline associated with aging.
Wow. That’s surprising. How young is the youngest woman you’ve ever treated and why would young people have this issue?
The youngest woman was 20 years old. She had cancer and had been given chemo and radiation. She had great difficulty dealing with the betrayal of her body. These treatments caused damage to her nerve sensations, and burning in the genital area. But problems in general in your twenties can be a very complex thing. It can be psycho-social, physical, neuro-chemical, emotional, relational. We refer to them as “blockages.” When it’s not a medical issue, anyone can get help from a sex coach to remove these blockages; but this problem of low desire can be so hard to fix. It can involve a negative body image, religion, cultural, fundamentalist values, trauma, history, abuse, self-worth and anger or a combination of many issues that stop a woman from feeling sexual desire alone or with a partner.
You were recently on a panel at a Catalystcon Conference, which is an organization that stands for positive sexual health. The subject of the panel was erotic art. Can you talk about the panel and the art?
It was a panel of two, Dr. Robert Dunlap and myself. Robert is a well-renowned documentary filmmaker in addition to being my personal and business partner as Co Founders of SexCoachU.com. During the last 3 years, we have traveled around the world, leading trainings for professionals to become sex coaches. We took some video footage, but mostly photographic stills, of erotic images from various collections and museums, with permission. Often the theme we found was female sexual empowerment. For example, Robert was allowed to film the entire Salvador Dail exhibit in Bruges, Belgium, consisting of 200 images and also documented roomfuls of erotic images from the Sex Machine Museum in Prague. We showed a one hour documentary with narration at the conference.
If someone wanted to come to you, what investment of time, if you can estimate this, would be involved?
We start with an average of about 12 sessions, and give “permission” for the client to have a satisfying sex life. We are sexual beings from conception to death. I believe women and men have a divine birthright to experience their sexual power, eroticism and ultimate pleasure. Sexual energy is the Life Force Energy, which shows it is essential to being human.
How do you feel about porn?
I am a pro-porn feminist. I feel good old-fashioned, triple X porn can be a major contributor to the sexual health of the client.
What is the most common question you’re asked?
“Am I normal? Am I okay?” I saw a man in 1980. Every year he does a spot check with me. I’m a safe container for him to process his sexual confusion and dilemmas. He will never have a partner. Never wanted a partner, will never have sex with another person, wanted only self-satisfaction. Once he got “permission,” he could achieve that.
Everyone has different goals. Some just need “permission,” like the man I just referred to. Others want off-the-chart orgasms.
Sometimes clients have difficulty leaving the sex coaching relationship. “I just don’t know how to quit you,” has been the comment from more than one client.
As we age, we encounter challenges in the sexual arena. What do you see as hopeful for older people?
It depends on the individual, of course, but what comes to mind is a couple that came to me who, again, needed permission to enjoy themselves. As a result of getting it, they became so open in their later years. They now have sex four times a week! That is cause for celebration!
Indeed it is. Thank you so much for this interview. Finally, you have an online radio show where you interview prominent voices in the field of sexuality and other aspects of being a Baby Boomer like travel, anti-aging, comedy, health and entertainment. Can you tell us where we can go to hear these shows and where people can find you?
They can go to her website, www.drpattibritton.com to find me, and they can visit: www.theboomdoctors.com/episodes to hear their interviews. Or visit their online university at: SexCoachU.com
I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview. Please feel free to leave any comments you may have. You can hear me being interviewed by Dr. Patti by going to www.theboomdoctors.com/episodes and clicking on Episode No. 41.