Delayed Ejaculation Solutions

Sensate Focus

This is one of the main techniques used to cure sexual problems without using medication. It is a gentle way to improve a couple’s sensuality and spontaneity whether they experience sexual difficulties or not.

Sensate Focus was developed by William Masters and Virginia Johnson, who were key figures of psychosexual therapy in the 1970s. This technique is tried and tested and has benefited thousands of couples. It is a behavioral program, which involves a couple completing “homework assignments” in the form of structured touching.

A Brief Introduction To Sensate Focus

The basic idea is that a couple sets a limit to their sexual contact for a period of time while doing the exercises, and take turns touching each other in specific ways. For example, in the first stage a couple will be asked to have one partner experiencing touch and the other giving it for twenty minutes, before swapping over and doing another twenty minutes the opposite way round.

The agreement at the first stage is that touch is allowed all over the body, but must not include the sexual organs, i.e. genital region and breasts. You also agree that sex is avoided at this stage, so if one or both partners gets aroused, he or she does not take that arousal into sexual contact of any kind (i.e. no intercourse and no mutual or solo pleasuring).

After several weeks of such practice a new limit can be set, such as including touch to the sexual regions of the body, but again no attempt at intercourse is allowed.

Aims of the technique

Sensate Focus works because it will eliminate the performance pressure for both partners by setting a clear limit to sexual contact.

The point is that the man involved will not “need to become” erect or turned on, or perform in any other way, and the woman will also not need to feel aroused. That’s because there is no expectation of sexual contact at this stage of the exercises.

The exercises give both partners time to fully experience their bodies, to observe their physical sensations, and to be playful and relaxed with their partner. They do not have to feel inadequate, worry about whether they are going to “perform” adequately or not, and they certainly should not feel overwhelmed in any way.

For the partner who is giving the touch, Sensate Focus can provide the freedom to really explore their partner’s body and to develop both familiarity and a sense of ease with it. And, above all, there is no pressure on him or her to stimulate their partner to become more aroused.

Additionally, a big part of the process is for the partner receiving touch to tell the partner giving touch how they like to be touched, and how it feels to be touched.

For many people it can be extremely difficult to say, during sex, what they would like from their partner during sex. Sensate Focus allows people to start communicating about their needs while connection, both physical and emotional, feels “safe” and things are moving very gradually.

This is why Sensate Focus is an ideal technique to overcome performance pressure, anxiety, a sense of disconnectedness with your body, or the impact of sexual trauma.

Sensate Focus is good for working on sexual issues such as sexual aversion, erectile problems in men, problems with reaching ejaculation and orgasm in men, and difficulty with orgasm in women.

Sensate Focus can also be a great thing to do when you want to develop your sex life, even if there are no pressing issues you need to attend to. It is a way of enriching a couple’s life and developing greater intimacy and ability to communicate desires.

Sensate Focus: The Exercises

Caution!

First off, Sensate Focus is a powerful technique, which was originally designed to be used while a couple was having sex therapy with a counsellor present. Although there isn’t anything dangerous about the exercises, a lot of emotional stuff may come up between you and your partner once you start on them.

So, for example, issues such as power dynamics in the relationship, or memories from each person’s emotional history, may surface when you start. Please have a think about whether your relationship is strong enough to tolerate the extra issues which may surface before you attempt Sensate Focus with your partner!

If you have doubts, please consider entering couples therapy first, or seek out a qualified psychosexual therapist. He or she can guide you through Sensate Focus and act as a resource and buffer for any issues which may surface. You can find a qualified practitioner via The British College of Sexual and Relationship Therapy and The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists. (Search on Google for more information.)

Ground Rules

You may also find it helpful to put some “Ground Rules” in place. Indeed, a couple really needs to set specific ground rules for Sensate Focus to work. These need to be mutually agreed on and understood. If the ground rules are not followed Sensate Focus won’t work!

  • During the exercises there is a ban on sexual intercourse, and at the start also a ban on genital touching. If a partner gets aroused, he or she can masturbate if necessary after the Sensate Focus session is completed, on his or her own. No attempt should be made to involve the partner! (i.e. please do not even ask him or her!)
  • Set up time to do the exercises at least twice weekly. Setting aside time without any stress or pressure to do other things is essential. Start off by spending 20 minutes on the exercises, increasing to 60 minutes in total per session over the next 4 weeks.
  • At the start do not talk during the exercises, unless your partner’s touch is uncomfortable or painful and you need to let him or her know. Do not have conversations during the exercise about other, unrelated matters, i.e. anything that isn’t happening just right now between the two of you. Later you may want to have the receiving partner to verbalize how being touched feels, but again, stick with talking about what is happening right here, right now for you. Otherwise conversations will distract you from your own sensations.
  • It is all about tuning into your own experience rather than pleasing your partner. The giving partner may want to take time to explore and touch without any intention to make the other person feel any particular way. The emphasis is even greater for the receiving partner: your task is to accept and appreciate (to take in) the touch without even trying to give anything back!
  • The exercises are all about learning to stay with your body and with yourself. If that turns out to be quite difficult for you, don’t worry. This is all about learning. Instead of getting worried, approach difficulties with curiosity. For example, isn’t it interesting that you start to plan your shopping for the next day when your partner strokes your back? Give yourself time to ponder what that might mean, how you feel at that point, and so on.

Sensate Focus for improving intimacy

Sensate Focus Exercise Plan

Sensate Focus is laid out in a series of stages, which slowly increases the intensity of sexual touch.

Stage 1 involves no sex and no genital touching.

Stage 2 includes genital touching and starts to explore this area more, however intercourse is still not allowed.

Stage 3 includes penetration, i.e., if a penis is involved it can now be placed in a vagina, if one happens to be around, and its owner is happy with that. During this stage, movement is slowly incorporated to result in thrusting to orgasm.

With each stage really take your time!

Please do not rush through the program, even if you feel you are OK with the preceding stage. If you rush on you may encourage performance pressure, which invalidates the whole project.

If you move on to the next stage and you feel it is too difficult, simply come back to the previous stage and practice some more.

You can also discuss with your partner after the exercise is over how things are going and what may have happened to make the next stage difficult. Only move on to the next stage if both of you agree!

If you are struggling with the whole thing, please consider getting advice from a qualified therapist. Keep communicating with your partner after the session is over about how the two of you are doing with it.

Getting Started

Agree which partner will be giving and which will be receiving to start with. Set aside time to do the exercise. Make sure you switch off the phones or prevent other interruptions. When you are doing the exercise, do the exercise and nothing else.

Make yourself comfortable in your bedroom or elsewhere, ensuring the temperature is warm enough and you have plenty of space, and maybe cushions, and other soft furnishings.

You could turn down the lights and set the tone. I would suggest not having music so that you don’t drift off listening to it but stay focused on the “here and now” experience.

You will need a clock somewhere within reach to watch the time.

Both partners start without clothes on; however, if that feels too challenging, start with as few clothes on as feels OK to you. In that case, you can include an extra stage at the start to get familiar with being naked.

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Next: The Sensate Focus Exercises

You’re going to do each of these exercises at least once, and you’ll move on to the next when you’re happy you’ve got as much out of the exercise as you can.

Make sure you and your partner know and understand what’s going to happen before you embark on the exercises. As you can appreciate, it helps if you have a regular time each week to practice these exercises, a time when you will be free of stress, distractions, work and family worries.

You aren’t going to “get it” all in one go, so don’t worry if things don’t go according to plan. If you can take the attitude that it’s a fun and light-hearted process, you’re much more likely to enjoy it and find that it’s successful for you – and your partner is more likely to enjoy it as well.

Why sensate focus can help overcome delayed ejaculation

It’s important that you keep your attention on what’s happening, and don’t mentally wander off on some fantasy unrelated to where you are and who you’re with. So each time you begin to think about other things, bring your attention gently back to the process. This includes the moments when you begin to think about what you look like, whether your partner is enjoying it, what state of erection you’re at, whether this will work, whether you will ejaculate, or indeed anything else irrelevant, including what you did at work that day and what you’ll be doing tomorrow!

When you find yourself drifting off on thoughts or fantasies like these, please remind yourself that you are focusing on your body, take a deep breath and breathe out slowly to relax any tension or anxiety that may have developed, and consciously bring your attention back to the matter in hand.

Please don’t be hard on yourself, and don’t think negatively. For example, if you think to yourself “Don’t get nervous!” you can most likely guess what will probably happen.

You do need to practice the skill of just being in the moment – or, at least, being more in the moment!

Step 1

Developing The Skill Of Deep Relaxation

The first thing you have to do before you try Sensate Focus is to learn to relax.

This may sound easy, but the truth is that the level of relaxation we’re talking about here is a lot deeper than the casual relaxation you might enjoy when you sit down after a hard day’s work to watch TV, say.

This kind of deep relaxation takes a little time and effort to develop. Whatever method you use, you’ll start your Sensate Focus sessions by relaxing for fifteen minutes, and continue to use the relaxation techniques throughout the exercises that come later.

You can develop the art of relaxation through deep breathing. There are three different methods you can use, and you’ll quickly find out which is most suitable and successful for you.

Method 1

Lie down on your bed, on your back, and breathe slowly and deeply. If you wish, you can place your hands on your abdomen as you breathe: deep abdominal breathing can be far more relaxing than shallow chest breathing, and you can feel your diaphragm rising and falling with your hand.

Each time you breathe out, relax more and more. Focus on your breathing. Each time you become aware that your attention has wandered, gently bring it back to your breathing, with a gentle reminder to yourself that the purpose of what you are doing is to be in the moment.

Focus your attention briefly on the places in your body where you feel tension, and feel them relax as you become aware of the tension. Do this for at least fifteen minutes, until you feel more relaxed.

Method 2

This is the exercise I personally recommend to clients.

Lie chest to back on your sides with your partner on the bed in the spoons position. You’re both facing the same way, so you can tuck yourselves together. You can start either way round, and swap later on. The idea of the exercise is to synchronize your breathing. You both breathe in and out together, slowly and calmly. One of you leads, and the other follows, sensing the time to breathe in and the time to breathe out by feeling the movement of your partner’s body alongside you.

If you can, allow yourself to give up thinking and focus on the breathing. Then you’ll find this is a wonderfully relaxing and calming technique that allows you to develop great feelings of intimacy and closeness to your partner. After you’ve spent ten minutes breathing one way, move over so the other person is in front and repeat the exercise.

You may find that you get aroused while you do this. In which case, try and focus more on the breathing rather than on the body of your partner. Try not to indulge in any excessive sexual fantasy, and don’t; enter into sexual activity at this stage.

Method 3

Reducing Your Anxiety About Sexual Situations

You probably know which sexual situations cause you to feel anxious. You can use these relaxation techniques to begin to feel more comfortable or to reduce your anxiety while you enjoy sexual connection in your life.

The way to do this is to associate some relaxing image that you find tranquil and calming with your physical state of relaxation. Later, when you are in the anxiety-producing situation, you can bring the relaxing scene to mind and you will find your anxiety levels reduce immediately.

Step 1

Start by thinking of an image that you find relaxing. It could be a place, a person or an object, or indeed anything at all that you find calming. Then, use the relaxation techniques 1 or 2 above to achieve a deep state of relaxation. Bring the image to mind and tell yourself that “whenever I bring this image to mind I will enter a state of deep relaxation, as deeply relaxed as I am now, and deeper every time”. This will forge an association between the image and a deep state of relaxation.

Later, when you are in an anxiety-producing sexual situation, you can either use the relaxation techniques described in methods 1 and 2 above to reduce your anxiety, or you can bring to mind the image of the relaxing scene you developed in method 3.

In all cases, you will relax, and your anxiety will significantly diminish. This will allow you to refocus on what you are feeling in your body, not on the anxious and worried thoughts in your mind.

Step 2: How To Stay Focused On the Here and Now

Now you’ve learned to relax, using the breathing techniques described above, the next step is to redevelop some skill in staying Focused on the “here and now”.

This is a simple expression which means you are able to keep your attention on the sensations in your body rather than going off into some other distracting, “not very much to do with the present moment” thoughts or feelings which will take you away from awareness of your body.

To do this, you can go through a series of exercises with your partner which will help you become more comfortable with the experience of being stimulated physically by touch, smell and taste. This may seem a bit off the wall, weird even, but try it out and see how it goes.

To start with, please practice this simple exercise in increasing your sensitivity to touch. Ask your partner to find three objects that differ in texture, size and shape. You won’t know what they are and you keep your eyes shut so that you can only feel them.

Focus on exploring them by hand, with your fingers. What does it feel like to touch these objects, to really focus on their physical form, shape, texture, and temperature? Do this slowly, so you get a full appreciation of the objects.

Don’t rush, and don’t feel anxious about “getting it right”. There’s no right or wrong here, there’s just your appreciation of these things as they feel to you.

Next, ask your partner to touch, caress, stroke and fondle your arm and fingers in as many different ways as she can.

Again, focus on how this feels with your eyes closed. This may seem strange, perhaps pointless, but it is another important step towards getting back in connection with your ability to appreciate physical touch.

Try and describe how this all feels, using words such as heavy, light, warm, cold, scratchy, smooth, delicate, hard, soft, feathery, loving, and anything else that comes to mind.

You could also ask your partner to stroke your arm with things such as a cube of ice, a feather and a piece of silk to get some sense of different types of touch.

If your response is that an object “doesn’t feel like anything”, please then stop and think about the experience you’re having. It can’t feel like “nothing”, since it is an object and you have sensory receptors in your skin. And really feeling into your sense of touch is highly relevant to your sexual arousal. This is because, as we discussed above, physical touch will be one of the main ways you get aroused in the future.

Keep trying this until it seems more meaningful to you, or, if you prefer, until you “get it”.

The next step in learning the art of touch and physical sensation is to get non-sexual touch from your partner. This is the essence of what we call Sensate Focus.