Masterstrokes: Teaching the Art of Love

Sex Therapy

’Mars and Venus’, by Carlo Saraceni (circa 1600). When the amorous planets fail to align, elite therapists like Mike Lousada can help “people to step into their sexual potential to feel more fulfilled and happier.”

Call it sex therapy, intimacy coaching, sexual healing or what you will, exclusive practitioners such as Elena Angel and Mike Lousada are helping clients with the most universal of human relationships.

Mike Lousada

Mike Lousada is a sexual healer treating the intimacy issues of well-heeled professionals. A former investment banker, he uses psychotherapy and bodywork to empower individuals sexually and heal those that have been harmed from past traumas or destructive relationships. He has a starry following and a long waiting list at his London practice.

Lousada left a successful career in the City and became a psychosexual therapist to help others. He took up meditation to deal with the stress of his job, which inspired him to retrain as a counsellor. “I had been on a spiritual path since my early 20s and came to a point where I felt the need to step into work that had more meaning for me.”

He sees everyone from CEOs and celebrities, to doctors and teachers. Some are married and others not. But all of his mostly female clients come to him to resolve some sort of emotional or sexual difficulties, which are hampering their ability to have a normal physical relationship. “When we cut ourselves of from our sexual energy, we cut out a certain part of our aliveness,” says Lousada, who has been called a sex “guru” by British GQ, raved about by feminist Naomi Wolf and spoken at the Royal Society of Medicine. “Being in touch with our sensuality is healing and essential to a person’s well-being.”

For £300 per session, he helps people get over their fears and insecurities, encourages them to explore their sensual needs and desires, and puts people back in touch with their bodies. “Almost all of us struggle at some time with intimacy and my role is to support people through those difficulties,” he says.

Lousada was raised in “a typically sexually repressed British middle-class environment”. He adds: “My grandmother, who largely brought me up, was a Christian of the ‘sex is wicked’ variety. So, I grew up with a lot of shame, both about my body and sexuality. Over time, I healed these wounds. It’s because I’ve known these shame-filled places in myself and healed them that I can help others to do the same.”

Later, as part of his spiritual exploration, he started “attending Tantra workshops and, at the same time, began having meaningful experiences and relationships with women, which quickly became about supporting them to heal”.

For many people, coming to a sexual therapist for the first time, he says, can be profound, moving but sometimes scary because they don’t know what to expect. After he assesses a client’s problems and needs, Lousada will encourage them to reconnect with their body using conversation, meditation and sensual massage. “I work with women who have difficulties with sex and intimacy. Those who have psychological conflicts want to feel more desirable and revitalise their relationships or marriages. Or simply successful businesswomen who want to get more in touch with their femininity.”

Lousada works in four stages. The first is about helping the individual understand their blocks to intimacy and working with them to overcome any negative beliefs around sex and relationships. The second phase he calls ‘physical release therapy’, working with specific muscles, tensions, pressure points and the lymphatic system to release the emotions and memories stored in the body.”

The later stages are ‘body work’, which he explains can be anything from a hug to a massage. “Sensuality can act as a gateway into sexuality if sexuality itself feels overwhelming. For a lot of women who’ve had traumatic experiences that’s a new feeling,” he says. “Touching different parts of the body will trigger a reaction so we explore how they’re feeling throughout. All intimacy issues arise from negative earlier experiences, usually in childhood. Around 70 percent of my clients have experienced some kind of abuse. I’ll teach them how to regulate their nervous system in overcoming anxiety or use techniques I learnt and adapted from my training in somatic-trauma therapy. When they really engage in the work, it’s almost always successful.”

In the end, he says, the therapeutic nature of his work has the power to transform lives. “I’m passionate about empowering people to step into their sexual potential to feel more fulfilled and happier.”

Elena Angel
Intimacy coach Elena Angel is among a bold generation of young female counsellors guiding people who are struggling with sexual and intimacy issues or those who just want to reach new heights of ecstasy.

Angel has become something of a go-to ‘sexpert’ with her London clinic and immersive Ultimate Life-Sex Coaching workshops. She works with men, women or couples, encouraging them to talk about their bedroom blues and bring underlying emotional and physical issues into the open so they can get back into the habit of having sex. “I often come across clients who want to develop themselves to have more satisfying relationships, but feel uncomfortable revealing their feelings of inadequacy to their partners.”

A former classical musician who decided to transform her life and seek an alternative career as a sex therapist and healer, Angel works under the Tantric and Taoist tradition. “Growing up, I experienced myself both as a spiritual and a sexual being, but I found that common religious and societal attitudes distorted human sexuality. I found the Tantric/Taoist perspectives much healthier and sensible in terms of cultivating true intimacy, love and genuine respect in relationships.”

Much of her work involves helping people understand their sexual desires and how to express them. Through a mixture of conversation, meditation, visualisation, physical exercises and energy healing, Angel guides her clients through their fears and hang-ups, and how to manage anxiety and communicate their needs so they can feel relaxed with a partner and, inevitably, the act itself.

A typical session starts with her and the client sitting, fully clothed, doing breathing and meditative exercises, similar to those led by a yoga instructor. As they practice, Angel gently asks them to become aware of their own bodies and their surroundings. Mostly, though, she talks. “As we talk, things start to get into perspective and clients discover that there are ways to get through their difficulties,” she says. “They’ll notice the difference straight away and leave sessions feeling uplifted and empowered.”

Angel claims it takes between three and six sessions for significant results. “Some people choose to work more intensively with me, six to eight hours a day over a period of some days. These ‘intensives’ are very powerful indeed: they enable swift changes, a shift in the way they feel themselves sexually, and fuel amazing transformation.”

Many couples come to her seeking help when they’re lacking energy, losing interest in each other or suffering from a non-definite disconnect. Angel teaches them to be present, playful and rediscover desire, enhancing or repairing their damaged love lives.

She says you cannot overestimate the importance of sex for the endurance of any long-term relationship. “It’s the unspoken intimacy that makes the connection between partners stronger. It can offer all-important nourishment, tenderness and closeness to make the relationship sustainable and successful. When partners are happy sexually, they’re much more motivated to overcome challenges in other areas of life.”

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