On sexual surrogacy

February 3, 2013

The topic of sexual surrogacy is a hot one these days, mainly thanks to Golden Globe nominated movie, The Sessions, which features a disabled man’s work with a surrogate to help him experience physical intimacy for the first time.

Developed in the 1970’s by Masters and Johnson surrogacy is a specific process that occurs in a tripartite arrangement between client, surrogate and psychotherapist. The client has sessions with the surrogate and then both client and surrogate report back to the therapist about progress and any issues that arise during the intimate work. The therapist then supports the client to process this material in the therapeutic space. The combination of talk work and touch/intimacy coaching can be a transformative experience for clients.

There is a great need for this type of work. Around 4% of the population remains a virgin at the age of 25. For others, disability or issues of shame prevent both men and women from experiencing physical intimacy. For such individuals, talk therapy can help but there is no substitute for a physical experience, offered in a safe, boundaried space.

Sadly the psychotherapeutic profession has become very nervous about supporting clients in the use of surrogacy, with many therapists refusing to do so. However, there is a growing movement of practitioners offering this type of work. Many of those of us who work in this way, have trained as psychotherapists and operate with clearly defined boundaries and within an ethical framework. It is my belief that for some clients, surrogacy can be an essential part of the therapeutic process if safely held and responsibly managed.

On 15th February, I will give a talk at the Royal Society of Medicine on The Role of Pleasure and the Embodied Erotic in Sex Therapy. Tickets are available from the RSM website

I believe that surrogacy can be a highly valuable component of sex therapy and should be re-established as part of a more humanistic approach to sex therapy. I believe too that the time is emerging when the value of this approach will be recognised by both the public and professionals alike.

If you would like to find out more about surrogacy or to find a reputable practitioner, either male or female please contact me for further information.


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