What is sensate focus? How is it diffferent from Erotic Touch?
“The critical difference between Sensate Focus and erotic touch exercises is that Sensate Focus involves touching for one’s own interest, curosity, and exploration, not for one’s pleasure or arousal, and not for one’s partner’s pleasure or arousal.” (Reclaiming the Lost Art of Sensate Focus: A Clinician’s Guide)
Sensate focus is a therapy technique that you can use to help treat relationship and sexual difficulties. The idea is to focus intently on touch in a mindful way, shutting out everything else. You do this by focusing on the temperature, pressure, and texture of the touches and moving from less intimate touch to possible intercourse or intimate touch. There is no talking, no music, no distraction. You guide your partner with your hand over theirs if you need to redirect, moving through each stage over the course of an hour.
I am pulling these stages and information from this PDF by Linda Weiner MSW, Neil Cannon PhD, and Constance Avery-Clark, PhD. They outline the entire process by stages and how to do it with a partner, including more detail than I did on the Instagram slides.
If you need to reset your sex life, or you are curious how focusing on touch could release anxiety surrounding sex, I would encourage you to give this exercise a try. You can look at the full PDF HERE. The goal of sensate focus is to keep you IN your body by helping your mind focus on touch. It removes sexuality from the touch in the beginning so that there is no pressure to perform, or to orgasm. The focus is totally and completely on the sensations surrounding the touch.
Many therapists use sensate focus to help with healing from sexual trauma. This is done with therapist supervision after the sensate focus sessions to work through issues, thoughts, and feelings that arise. If you are working through sexual trauma, it would be helpful to do this with supervision and not on your own.