A sexual surrogate is a member of a three-person therapeutic sex therapy team consisting of surrogate, client, and supervising therapist. The surrogate engages in education and sometimes intimate physical relations or sex with a patient to achieve a therapeutic goal. The practice was formally introduced by Masters and Johnson with their work on Human Sexual Inadequacy in 1970.
Most surrogates are women, a few are men, and there are married couples that practice surrogacy together. Some surrogates work at counseling centers while others have their own office.
Many surrogates have professional certification in the fields of sex education, somatic psychology, sexology, psychology, or counseling. This allows them to work in an interdisciplinary mode including psychiatrists, psychologists, sexologists and other therapists in the best interests of the person or relationship. Sex surrogates use a combination of techniques, for example, listening, psychoeducation, practical guidance and hands-on demonstration – to help a person or a relationship resolve their own issues with human sexuality.
Patients frequently present with these specific problems:
There are people who have experienced a change in sexual lifestyle due to an acquired disability (accident, paralysis, disease, trauma), and a surrogate can help them explore and develop sexual potential. The causes of sexual dysfunction are numerous and the methods a surrogate might use to help improve sexual function are varied.
Since many sexual problems are psychological rather than physical, communication plays a key role in the therapeutic process between a patient and the sex surrogate, as well as between the surrogate and the therapist.
Surrogates offer therapeutic exercises to help the patient. These may include relaxation techniques, intimate communication, teaching social skills, and some sexual touching. Sex surrogate and tantra sex educator Mare Simone says that physical intimacy is a rare occurrence between her and her patients, and she will not engage in intercourse with those in committed relationships.
- The 1985 documentary Private Practices: The Story of a Sex Surrogate explored the relationship between a sex surrogate, her clients, and her clients' therapists.
- The National Geographic show Taboo's episode "Forbidden Love" featured a professional sex surrogate in one of its segments.
In popular culture
- The TV series Boston Legal featured a sexual surrogate named Joanna Monroe (played by Jane Lynch) as a recurring character. The show explored her professional relationship with two of the main cast, their sexual problems, and how a surrogate can approach treatment. The show further drew attention to the legal and personal problems that can face those who offer sex surrogacy services.[episode needed]
- The movie The Sessions (2012) stars Helen Hunt as Cheryl, a sexual surrogate who helps polio survivor Mark (John Hawkes) lose his virginity at the age of 38, based on the true story of Mark O'Brien and Cheryl Cohen-Greene.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2011)|
- Noonan, RJ (1984), Sex Surrogates: A Clarification of Their Functions (Master's thesis), SexQuest/The Sex Institute