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  • Writer's pictureSarah Foley

TSS - 032 ~ lets talk about orgasms + pleasure with Clarke the sex coach


Well hello beautiful lovers! What a gorgeous interlude I've got for you today! If you've read any of this blog, you'll know by now that sex therapy has been absolutely integral in my progression to becoming orgasmic and more pleasure centric, generally. I love therapy. I love extrapolating what is coursing through my brain and softening it into tangible moments of meaning. I've been so lucky to have had two wondrous therapists in my life. The first, came at a point when I very specifically needed support with eating disorder recovery, and the second when I very specifically needed support with embodiment. Both of these women are magical. I cannot recommend them highly enough and have made it my mission to spout their goodness whenever I can.  


Therapy has been the greatest gift I could give myself. I am extremely aware that it is a privilege to have been able to access such consistent therapy in my life, and have had to become incredibly conscious of how I have engaged in therapy as I juggled my finances in recent years. The accessibility of therapy is a fight thoroughly worth fighting. I see every day in my work how inaccessible therapy is for people who desperately need it. Emotional health, is in many ways, a socio-economic problem. Not a huge shock, but a deeply frustrating one. Accessing the foundations of emotional health requires some level of comfortability. Socialist musings aside, I am so incredibly grateful to have had the chance in the last ten years to breathe life and softness into my musings, stagnancies, fears, and unhelpful schema.  


I have been working with Clarke since 2022, in the midst of a period of immense growth and refocus on sensation in my body. I wanted to feel all the things I had always intellectualised. I wanted to inject motion where I had been static and feel my blood flow with conscious sybaritism. I had spent the two years prior to that focusing on the physical and psychosomatic causes of my sexual pain and releasing the experience of trauma from my physical body, and was newly motivated to cherish myself and finally learn to enjoy masturbating. I read somewhere that Clarke was described as the 'orgasm fairy', so hello, obviously we were going to get along.  


I already knew that the shame I carried heavily in my body around self-pleasure had knotted itself within the bodily experiences of childhood trauma and created a hefty disconnect that absolutely did not serve me. By the time I met Clarke, I was having painless sex again (this in itself was a feat) and had refocused my attention on presence instead of overthinking as my earlier sex therapy had encouraged in me.  


Even though Clarke was very clear from the get go that focusing entirely on orgasming would most likely not support me to orgasm, in the back of my mind, I held a tiny flame that one day I would know what it felt like. I had always felt that it was deeply incongruent that someone who contains as much sexual energy as me, could not orgasm. It felt genuinely incompatible with my personality that I could not orgasm. I simultaneously searched for academic and colloquial explanations for my fascination, and sought it elements of it with a near constant voraciousness. In amongst all the fascination, orgasming became an elusive and untouchable sign to me of true embodiment. I desperately wanted to know myself in that way. Perhaps it was the ever unhelpful wanting what you can't have, or the nagging sense of fraudulence that trailed me. Orgasming is only one tiny element of connected, pleasurable, vibrant sex. I knew deeply that I don't need to orgasm to feel satisfied, invigorated and alive within my sexual experiences. But I wanted it, that part. That, and eating disorder recovery, are the clearest therapeutic goals I've ever had. I knew that it was not wise or healthy to fixate on the product or end goal of something so magical as sex itself, but I knew that I'd never quite be finished with my sexual self interrogation until orgasming was within my sexual script.


Needless to say (because I wrote two whole posts about it lol) orgasming happened because of years of therapy, unlearning shame, embodiment practice, empowerment and connection to the idea of an ancestral and inherent feminine power.  

I have been so excited and feel so privileged to share Clarke's words with you. I reached out to her to ask if she would share some thoughts around the journey I was on from her perspective as my therapist, knowing how relatable and common the experience of anorgasmia is. Her skill, experience and knowledge is so obvious as well as an extraordinary warmth and curiosity that she embodies in her therapy sessions. I cannot recommend her enough, and sex therapy generally. I've said it before, but my favourite thing Clarke ever said to me was this: the way we have sex is the way we live our lives. Ooof.  

 

Here she is, in all her wisdom and insight:  

 

1. How would you describe what you do in your job? What are some common reasons people book sessions with you?  

 

I believe as a mental health counsellor and a sex therapist my job is to offer people corrective emotional experiences, psychoeducation, and empathetic listening and reflecting. Oh! And asking damn good questions. This is probably the core of what I do. With a sex therapy lens, I am creating a space that we do not often have access to elsewhere (hopefully this is changing…) For the moment and historically, it is quite rare to have a space to talk about the most vulnerable parts of ourselves, and just be held in that. I am not trying to fix anyone, not deciding what is a right or wrong way to be sexual– I am helping the client to explore the life, including the sexual life, she wants to lead. Some of my client’s even identify as asexual after the course of our work. My work helps people decide what sexual, or not sexual, life they want to live. Over the course of my career people have booked in for: inability to orgasm, low sexual desire, decreased sexual satisfaction in long term relationships, casual sex that isn’t working for them, wanting to explore queerness/polyamory, wanting to step into sexual empowerment following assault/trauma, body image and related concerns, and desiring a deeper relationship with pleasure.  

 

2. When we began working together and I told you orgasming was a goal of mine, how did you envision us working towards this?  

 

I will speak generally as to maintain some form of confidentiality which feels important on my end. When people book in wanting to orgasm, I want to ask “Why?” But any half-way decent therapist knows that why is a terrible question. Clients/people seldom know why. But I guess I challenge my client’s to come up with a few goals that are not just orgasm. For example 1. I want to feel more pleasure during sex. 2. I want to understand my body better and be able to communicate what I want. 3. I want to not settle in my sexual experiences. I then use these more general goals to address wanting to orgasm, but from a different lens. And at that point I say I cannot promise orgasm, but even if the client achieves the three above goals- that is still a huge therapeutic success.  

By the time the client reaches me, they have already been putting so much pressure on themselves to orgasm, that if I say, “Okay, orgasm is our goal, in 7 sessions we should have you there” I am putting more pressure on the client and orgasm probably will not happen in that kind of stressful environment. On my end, I try to get the client to forget about orgasming entirely- and that is where I have found therapeutic success. We get to a point where we are not even working on orgasm, and that’s when I get the text, “Clarke! I orgasmed.”  

 

3. What is your perspective of how our journey has progressed?  

 

Hmmm, how to approach this. I’m gonna keep this shorter because sharing what happens in session feels personal/sacred to me. But I will say our work has felt like: a progression of a focus on love/appreciation toward others, to love/appreciation/gratitude towards self. :) 

 

4. How would you describe your focus on pleasure instead of orgasming? Why is this important?  

 

I feel like in the age of Instagram and tik tok therapy overload, people are probably so tired of sex therapists being like pleasure over orgasm!!!! But it is truthfully so important. Orgasm is goal directed. Why should sex be about a goal? Or about some kind of game where all the players need to finish equally? And how have we chosen that equal means orgasm? The truth is- the kind of genitalia you have has a pretty direct impact on how often you will experience orgasm. The other truth is, if you are someone with a vulva who has sex with a cis-man, your chances of orgasming go down by at least 30% (2024). If this is a reality for you and who you have sex with, you can keep fighting and fighting to have that orgasm every time, or you can define for yourself what good sex looks like and feels like for yourself. I believe, and others may have different opinions, that we have sex for many other reasons beyond having an orgasm: for connection, to kiss, to feel close, to have an embodied release (not synonymous with orgasm), to bond, to have fun, to laugh, to feel sexy, to play as adults, to come back together after distance or disagreement, to get to know someone… and many MANY more reasons. If we are JUST having sex to orgasm- isn’t that just masturbation with another person? I know it is not this black and white, but pleasure is such a beautiful journey and destination all on its own. Someone could technically have an orgasm, but not enjoyable sex. And someone could have very enjoyable sex without an orgasm. Looking at orgasm as the end all be all of sex is limiting, and unfortunately, somewhat unrealistic for women who sleep with men.  

 

5. What do you see as the next stages in my therapeutic journey towards pleasure?  

 Once a client achieves an orgasm- it can be a very complex assortment of feelings. I love one of your quotes about it - “Orgasming is somehow both entirely as transcendental and nowhere near as extraordinary as I imagined it would be.” We have done all this work around kind of forgetting about orgasm so that we can perhaps allow it to happen, and then it happens and usually the client becomes quite oriented around wanting it to happen again. So in some ways it is back to square one of what other things can we prioritize? How can we celebrate orgasm when it happens but not punish pleasure when it comes to the dinner party without its occasional guest, orgasm? I believe we live through phases of our sexual selves, so the next phase of therapy is who is Sarah now as a sexual being? What do you want out of your next few years of experiences? How will you not let being or not being orgasmic define you? Can you continue to have a beautiful and unapologetic relationship with pleasure? I love diving into hedonistic or selfish themes with women, who are so conditioned to be people pleasing and put others before themselves. I believe there is so much psychological deprogramming to do when it comes to having a happy and fulfilling sex life, and that is ongoing work in our world. And as always, self-love, self-love, self-love. Always work to be done there (for anyone).  

 

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You can read more about Clarke and book a session with her here 




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