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If you’ve read The Great Sex Rescue, it may have opened your eyes to so much that’s holding you back.

But where do you go from here?

Sheila here!

Today Dr. Camden Morgante, a clinical psychologist and good friend, is joining us to suggest next steps after reading The Great Sex Rescue. I know I said that I wasn’t going to run posts on Tuesday anymore, but I have a quick two-post mini-series about counseling that I thought I’d run today and tomorrow. 

Dr. Camden was actually on the podcast the week that the book launched talking about how much she enjoyed it, and I thought that, as we’re talking in our series about building confidence, I’d ask her to share her professional expertise in where to get more help if you have more work to do and you want to thrive.

So here’s Dr. Camden!

What came up for you when reading The Great Sex Rescue?

Validation? Anger? Hurt?

Hope and a desire for healing?

Reading The Great Sex Rescue may have brought up many painful emotions for you as you recognized yourself in some of the case studies or identified with several of the toxic teachings. Self-help in the form of reading other healthy, research-based books, listening to podcasts, and online courses can be a great first step to working through your beliefs and sexual issues.

What are some next steps you can take for to find a path forward?

In The Great Sex Rescue, Sheila, Rebecca, and Joanna helpfully uncover the lies we have been taught by popular evangelical marriage and sex books over the years. For my therapy clients who read The Great Sex Rescue, they often recognize how toxic these teachings were for the first time. That can unearth some problems that had been hiding below the surface in their marriage or sex life.

Here are some of the common problems I see arising from toxic teachings about sexuality:

Shame.

I call shame “the universal experience of purity culture.” Perhaps you experience shame because your married sex life hasn’t been as great as you’d been promised. Maybe you or your spouse struggle with shame over your sexual pasts. Or you may feel shame because you are single and struggle with sexual urges and desires. As The Great Sex Rescue taught us, the teachings in many Christian books perpetuate this shame.

Sexual pain.

Sheila has written extensively about vaginismus and its correlation with the “obligation sex” message and other harmful teachings. If you experience sexual pain, you may have just chosen to “grin and bear it” for years. But now that you’ve learned that it is not normal (although common) and does not have to be endured, you can seek help for it.

Sexual trauma.

If you have experienced sexual abuse or trauma in your past, popular books, pastors, and other Christians may have made you feel like you are damaged goods. Please know that you are valuable and beloved by God regardless of what was done to you in the past. You can experience healing from your trauma and a sense of peace in your sexuality.

Low desire or pleasure.

It’s not hard to see how a lack of focus on women’s pleasure and insufficient sex education have led many Christian couples to an unsatisfying sex life. Low desire or difficulty reaching orgasm can have a variety of contributors. Read on to see some options for treatment in the next section.

Relationship issues.

You may realize that your sexual intimacy is one-sided and become resentful of your spouse. Or you may have difficulty communicating about sex since you weren’t allowed to talk about it growing up. I am not surprised when relationship issues like these start to surface for a couple after they begin working on their sex life.

Disillusionment in your faith.

“Deconstruction” has become a popular and debated buzz term on social media, but essentially it means examining your beliefs and separating what is truth from what is cultural or man-made. The Great Sex Rescue is a deconstruction book—the entire purpose of the book is helping us take apart toxic teachings about marriage and sex and “rescue and reframe” those with healthy, biblical, and research-supported truth. This can lead to some confusion, doubt, and disillusionment in our faith as we try to sift through what was lie and what was truth.

The Great Sex Rescue

Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.

Great Sex Rescue Cover - Next Steps after Reading The Great Sex Rescue

What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?

What if the things that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these messages?

Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.

Finding the Path Forward from toxic teachings about sexuality

If you identify with some of the common problems I described above, there are several options for getting help. Please know that improving intimacy is rarely a quick and one-size-fits-all process. You may need to pursue several options before finding the best fit.

Here are some of the options I recommend to my clients:

Medical interventions

Whenever there is a sexual issue, it’s always good to first rule out any physical causes with a visit to your primary care provider, gynecologist, or urologist. Issues of sexual pain, low sex drive, or erectile difficulties can have both physiological and psychological causes. Often treating the physical causes is simpler, so talking with your medical provider is a good first step. They may refer you to pelvic floor physical therapist for issues of sexual pain; prescribe or make modifications to your medication; or refer you to a mental health therapist as a next step.

Therapy

I strongly recommend you see a licensed mental health professional for any of the above sexual issues. While a pastoral or biblical counselor may be able to pray with you and share biblical guidance about sexuality, they are not trained in treating sexual disorders, sexual trauma, or even complex relationship issues. I often hear from my therapy clients that seeing a biblical counselor did more harm than good.

Options for licensed professionals: A licensed mental health professional has at least a Masters degree and several years of counseling experience. Find someone trained in couples therapy, trauma, or sex therapy depending on your presenting concern. The degree (Masters or Doctorate) or license type (licensed counselor, social worker, psychologist, etc.) of the professional is often not as important as their specialization. It is important to note that licensing laws typically only allow clinicians to practice in their home state, so your options can be geographically limited.

Therapy can take as few as 8 to 10 sessions or last several years depending on the history and severity of your problem. You may want to find a therapist who takes your insurance, but also don’t be afraid to see someone who is “out of network” or “self-pay only”. While you may pay more out of pocket, this can be worth it in the long run because you can select someone who is highly trained and specialized in sexual issues and who is not restricted or limited by insurance.

You can find a therapist by asking your medical provider or friends for a referral, seeing if your work has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that covers a few sessions, or check with your insurance if you wish to use this as payment. Therapist databases like Psychology Today will allow you to search for all different types of mental health professionals in your area by specialty.

Coaching

Coaching is a professional relationship that offers the convenience of online help without the licensing restrictions of being in the same state as the professional. Coaching is unregulated—meaning anyone and everyone can call themselves a “coach”—so you’ll want to look for someone with credibility and an established record of speaking to the issues you face. Coaching may not be appropriate for those with a complex trauma history, untreated mental illness, or suicidal thoughts, so check with your coach or consider coaching in addition to licensed therapy. After years of writing and speaking about the effects of purity culture and sexuality, I received email after email from couples and women wanting to see me for therapy. I had to turn down so many people because they are outside of my home state, and I didn’t know anyone in their state to refer them to. By offering coaching for purity culture recovery, relationships, and faith, I can reach people in any state who want my help. You have a lot of choices for coaching, so I recommend you look for a coach who specializes in your issues and whose values and mission align with your goals.

Recognizing how many toxic beliefs you had been taught and the lasting effects can lead to painful feelings, but there is hope. Working with a medical professional, licensed mental health professional, and/or a competent coach can help you get the treatment you need. You can learn the strategies, tools, and resources for resolving your problems.

Let’s build on the groundwork of Sheila, Rebecca, and Joanna by taking the next steps toward healing.

Next Steps after reading Great Sex Rescue - Next Steps after Reading The Great Sex Rescue

What have you done to continue the work of The Great Sex Rescue? Did you seek out counseling? Do more journaling? See a professional? Purge your bookshelf? Let’s talk in the comments!

4a280fb508b2095c64198d940f99eecf?s=96&d=mm&r=g - Next Steps after Reading The Great Sex Rescue

Camden Morgante

Dr. Camden Morgante is a licensed clinical psychologist who writes and speaks about Christianity, sexuality, and gender equality. She offers online Coaching services for purity culture recovery, egalitarianism, and faith reconstruction. She is currently writing a book on the myths of purity culture. Camden lives in Knoxville, TN with her husband and their daughter. Take Dr. Camden's free quiz, Which Purity Culture Myth Affects You?. You can find Camden on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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