intimacy coaching

What Is Intimacy Coaching And Is It For Me?

September 7, 2020 in Relationship, Life

One of our most experienced intimacy coaches, Marie-Claire, joined us to answer some of the most common questions that we get from people that are looking for relationship or intimacy coaching. This is the second blog posts based on these discussions.

Q: Can you help people who have cancer?

‘Yes, so the question I often get is: How do you go back to sexuality when your body is different than what it was pre-cancer? I can help you with that, and this is really important because this is a part of health.

Sexuality is a part of overall health, and it encompasses feelings, it encompasses desires and a variety of preferences. But most importantly, it offers a really important healing practice’.

‘I hope that sexuality can really help you heal, and it can really help you move forward. And opening up to your partner, learning how to communicate your feelings can make you even more connected’.

‘It’s in this vulnerability that you can find a space of connection. I know it’s hard, but I’m here to help you through it. I offer you a very secure, comfortable and very safe space so that you cant talk about your deepest feelings.

It’s not easy to talk about those feelings that you have during this time, it’s a very challenging time, and it’s a time where there’s a lot of uncertainty.’

Helping women with cancer and post-cancer

‘As an intimacy coach, I have helped a lot of women in my community with breast cancer and cervical cancer. I’ve worked with Rethink Breast Cancer. They are an organisation that helps women.

They think outside the box, and they asked me to be on an expert panel to help women. There’s a lot of scientific research, that’s how I prepare and present all my work. I use a science-based approach’.

‘In my research, I found that a lot of women with breast cancer have a lot of issues with body image. And also, sexuality post-cancer. And when I asked women if they did indeed have these issues, all of them held their hands up. So this is a place where I can really help you move forward’.

‘My mum had breast cancer. And I asked my mum after her breast cancer surgery, ‘mum, how are you going to do this?’ and she says ‘Oh, honey, I have a lot of other parts that are working really well other sexual parts’.

That attitude that I’ve learned from my mum, I want to share that with you. Yes, we can have a lot of fun. There’s a lot of other things you can do, and let’s really help you to connect more with yourself and with your partner through intimacy coaching’.

Helping men with cancer and post-cancer

‘Men that go through prostate cancer have a lot of issues to post-cancer. Some of them have issues with erectile dysfunction, or I like to call it erectile challenges, and also intimacy. I help them navigate the whole world of intimacy again’.

‘It’s very traumatic to go through all of this and to get closer to your partner is what I can help you with. 100% of my clients and students have a better intimate connection than they had pre-cancer.

That really sets my soul on fire, because I know I can help you have a better life, you’ve gone through enough. I want you to really feel the love, the connection and that boost to help you move forward’.

Q: Love languages. What are these, do we need to know them?

‘It’s important to me that my intimacy coaching sessions are really value-packed, so I always email my clients before we have our first session. I ask my clients to go on to Gary Chapman’s website to complete the love language quiz there.

My goal in our very first session is to recognise how your partner needs to be loved. And that can be non sexually in the beginning, but with time it’s also going to be sexually because there is a correlation’.

‘Say that your partner likes to be touched, so physical touch. That means massages are important. I will translate your love languages into lovemaking and how you can connect more through lovemaking. So check out those five love languages’.

Q: Once you know your love language, where do you go from there?

‘I teach my clients about the art of compromise. Gottman’s has a whole section in our training about compromise. It’s based on 40 years of studies so it’s based on science.

It’s based on a longitudinal study. So they are studying couples over a long time to make sure that the methods are still working, and they do.

During intimacy coaching, you learn to compromise, you need to go towards your partners love language, and he or she needs to go towards yours. That’s the key. And we set up the communication so you can do that’.

Q: Are there questions that I should ask my partner regularly?

‘There’s no easy one fits all answer to that. ‘Where are we?’ is a good question. I think it’s more important to let your partner know that you appreciate them regularly. So at the end of the day, let them know.

You could say for example ‘these are the three things I appreciated about you today’ or you just go right ahead and say them. You can say ‘so how are we doing, where are we in our relationship, is there anything you want to talk about?’.

‘Having regular conversations is important. In some couples, they need to have a communication type meeting every week. It’s not for everybody, but some couples need that because they don’t communicate otherwise. They set the stage so that it’s a sacred moment in their couple’.

‘If you’d like to have a cocktail prepare your partner’s favourite cocktail or if you have a special herbal tea, make tea. And you can take turns leading this and you each take turns saying what’s on your mind, and you can write it in a journal and maybe have a follow-up. I usually have my couples write little sticky notes because they always forget’.

‘When you do this special thing that your partner asked you to do, he or she will think ‘oh, I better do what they asked me to do’ so it’s a beautiful cycle instead of a downwards vicious cycle it becomes a beautiful, positive cycle’. Through intimacy coaching, I’ll help you identify what works for your couple’.

Q: One piece of advice on a couple’s first date?

‘I would probably back it up a little bit, so prepare yourself for that first date. There are lots of ways to prepare yourself, and that’s to get to know yourself.

We are in such a hurry to start dating again because we’re lonely, and it’s important to take time for yourself and to love yourself. And I do this with my dating clients, I check in ‘who are you’, ‘what are your values’, ‘what are your love languages’.

‘Knowing your love languages is a really good way to move forward. How do we build confidence? It’s awkward to date, so you need to build confidence.

I help them with confidence building exercises and also navigating the whole kissing thing. That’s really tough for people who are dating. Sheril Kirshenbaum wrote a book called ‘The science of kissing’, and in that book, there’s a study saying that 66% of women and 59% of men won’t go on a second date based on a bad first kiss’.

‘I give workshops, and you can learn to be a good kisser. And I have them bring some food that you love, and you practice kissing the food. There are seven different styles of kissing. And we talk about how they want to be kissed. Your partner needs to know how you want to be kissed. And I can help with the communication around that’.

‘Then it’s the whole question of when to have sex, right. When you start to date, you should ask yourself when you want to have sex.

I have a rule, and you can decide if you want to adopt it or not, my rule is to make sure you can talk about sex before you have sex because you want your first time to be special. You need to be able to talk about how you want to be pleasured. And that can take a lot of time, and just talking about it can be foreplay. Sexy conversation starters, it’s a section in my book, so that you can talk about how you want your partner to make love to you’.

Q: How do you start a conversation like that on a date?

‘On the first date, it’s important to talk about the authentic fun that you have in your life. Don’t make it into an interview. Then once you can see there’s chemistry, when you’ve kissed you can start asking each other questions. I have these written down in my book, and you can use them exactly as they are written there’.

‘Some starters are questions like ‘what do you prefer x or y’? ‘Do you find yourself sexual’? You have to be careful because some people might be nervous, but if they are showing you that they are interested, that they have this sexual chemistry, you can probably go ahead and start talking about it. For some people that have not been raised sex positively, thread very lightly. It can scare people away’.

‘Talk about the kissing part, then slowly go into what your preferences are and how slow do you want to take this. You can come right out and ask, ‘how slow do you want to go’? And ‘I’m willing to go as slow as you want to go’. If that’s something that you’re willing to do. I think it’s a good idea to go slow, because that whole sexual energy that’s building up, you can never take that back. That’s hot. If you just go ahead and do it, you’re missing that whole part. Where you’re feeling anticipation, that energy, keep that going. Some people are religious, so if that’s part of your values, wait’.

Moving at your pace

‘I’m here to help you with whatever you believe in; I go at your pace. Often we have to do baby steps if there has been trauma and you know a lot of women and some men have had trauma. There’s nothing wrong with that, taking baby steps, it’s important to take your time’.

‘I’m not here to be your intimacy coach every week forever. I work with my clients so they can live a happy life on their own, with the tools that I’ve given. And I meet them at their pace, maybe once per month maybe once per season. If you’ve ever said to yourself, ‘I’m not sure about this part of our relationship right now’. Then I think it’s time to get intimacy coaching’.

‘Intimacy coaching can be serious, but it’s also a lot of fun. I give a lot of exploration type assignments, those are the home play assignments where you explore each other’s bodies, and really take your time, and tease. I teach the art of the tease. We need this, we need to slow down and acknowledge our partner and love them the way they need to be loved, and that’s what we need to discover’.

Marie-Claire is currently accepting new clients, go to her profile to book a 15-minute free call.

relationship coaching

What Is Great Relationship Coaching

September 2, 2020 in Relationship, Empowerment, Life

One of our most experienced Relationship coaches, Marie-Claire joined us to answer some of the most common questions that we get from people that are looking for relationship coaching. This is the first of two blog posts based on these discussions.

Q: My relationship and sex life are very personal to me – how do I talk about it?

‘A lot of people have been brought up in a way that they don’t talk about sex or they are not comfortable talking about sexuality. For those out there that are parents, it’s really important to raise your children with a real sex-positive attitude’. 

‘To answer your question: It’s really tough. I’m a grandmother; I have four grandchildren and four children, so I have experience talking to all ages about sex. I try to make sex normal, like a normal everyday conversation. It’s something that I’m really relaxed to talk about; I’ve been talking about it for a long, long time’. 

‘I’ve been doing relationship coaching for over ten years, and I was a stress relief coach before that. I’ve been a teacher for 31 years, and I also taught sex-ed in school. So I’m used to talking about sex and my clients tell me that they feel very comfortable talking to me about sex. So my tips are: Don’t worry, you can just feel relaxed. Just say what’s on your mind and use any kind of language that you want. There’s no judgement in relationship coaching so you can say what you’re feeling and that’s going to be fine. I don’t start talking about sex straight away. I’ll ask you how you are. If you’re a couple, I’ll ask you things like what attracted you to your partner when you first met. So we start easy, and we start positive. We don’t dive straight into things that are really hard and negative. Coming from a place of compassion and love for your partner is the way I start off. I love the sandwich method. That way, we can end with some positives’.

Homework and home play

‘I always give a home play assignment for my couples. Marriages are about work, but they are also about play. I give on assignment, for example, a communication assignment, but I also give a play assignment. That’s what it’s about. I wrote a book called the honeymoon playbook. It’s a great book to help couples check in to see how they can get that honeymoon feeling again. The home play assignment could be something from my book, but it depends on what each individual couple needs. I’m also a dating coach so I will consider what each dating person needs to move forward into positivity so that they can attract the right kind of person and feel comfortable themselves’.

Q: What is the difference between marriage counselling and relationship coaching?

‘Marriage counselling and couple counselling go together because you need to be a therapist or social worker to be able to do those two jobs’. 

‘Therapists usually emphasise a lot of feelings, they go to the past and see ok, what went wrong with your past. They pathologise, actually diagnose pathology. Whilst when we do relationship coaching, we look forward. We check and see what are the issues now, what are the behavioural issues that are happening now. And how can we help you move forward? We also help our clients in that we hold them accountable. So whatever issues we talk about, whatever we agree we discuss it again and I hold my clients accountable to what we’ve decided together in a session’.

Relationship coaching – how to find the right coach

‘If you want to get relationship coaching, I would check to see that your relationship coach has an education in relation to the work they are doing. Check to see what their accreditations are. I’m certified by the American Association for sexual educators, counsellors and therapists.  To be certified by them, you need to have 1000 hours of experience, and you have a supervisor checking your work. So certifications are very important to make sure you get good advice. A lot of therapists don’t go into the dating world, because that’s really relationship coaching. I actually use therapists in my practice, whenever there’s a problem with regards to the past, for example, PTSD, trauma from childhood, I will refer to a therapist. But if anyone has gone through that already and they want to move forward I help them move forward by using home practices so that they can let go of the past, let go of what doesn’t serve them anymore and move forward into a beautiful, balanced life. Either in dating or with their partner. I’d also recommend asking for testimonials from any relationship coach you consider.

Preparing for a relationship coaching session

‘To prepare for a relationship coaching session takes a lot of work and a lot of research. I use science-based research in all of my work. So that you know that it’s time tested and the work I do works well all across the board. It’s not easy dating today; it’s tough to navigate the dating world. So I look to science and research to help people navigate the dating world. I spend all my time researching this, so you don’t have to’.

Q: How much time do you have to commit to relationship coaching?

‘I give home play, and I give homework, so you need to be motivated to complete that. When I see a client, I need a commitment from both parties if it’s a couple. And I ask them to give me a score on 1-10 on how committed they are to this couple. Or, if it’s an individual, how committed you are to dating and the assignment that I’ll give you’. 

Q:  Do you need to be a couple to get relationship coaching?

‘It’s always preferable if you’re both there because I do a lot of Gottman’s Relationship coaching and Gottman’s is a really great test to see where a couple is right now. It’s very comprehensive, and it’s the best tool that I have for couples to see exactly what’s going right and what’s going not so great in your couple. I have a treatment plan to help that couple move forward so they would need to both be there for that’.

‘I have experience helping clients move past infidelity and into an even richer loving life and feeling more connected’ than ever. These couples are asked to make up a new code of ethics that their couple must live by, and we work on building trust. I find it so rewarding, and at the end of these sessions, we celebrate a private renewal of their vows. They promise to be honest, truthful and finally tend to each other’s deepest needs. They often have a celebration with their families and friends also, which I find pretty special’.

‘Whether you’re seeing me as a couple or on your own. I come from a place of compassion; I care about your couple. I’m in your corner. To make sure that things go better to learn and communicate better, and I’m going to cheer you on. My sessions are very positive and encouraging so that you will feel really good. You will do your home play assignment, you’ll report back, and I’ll encourage you and be really positive. I’m your cheerleader. I’m in your corner’.

Q: What if my partner won’t come with me?

‘If your partner refuses, but you want to move forward you can come and represent your couple, and you go home to become the ‘teacher’ or the ‘relationship coach’. You have to be super positive and encouraging, and I’d help you do that. I would help you with the language and communication. And you can go back and really set your couple up for success. So if you’re in this situation that your partner doesn’t want to come, have them give me a call when they feel comfortable. When they see that it’s working and they see that I’m really helping them move forward, they might be more open to come in and see that I’m not as scary as it seems. This is scary for a lot of people’. 

‘It has happened a few times that one person shows up first and then their partner joins after a few sessions, in a heterosexual couple it’s usually the women coming first, and then the guy shows up. And the guys would usually tell me they were really nervous for nothing. Two of these clients have told me, ‘I was only nervous for two minutes’. In the workshops I’ve done in the past, all the men that I’ve met. Their primary goal is to give their woman pleasure. Because it gives them pleasure, it makes them feel like they are a great lover, and it really makes them feel connected and loved’.

Feeling wanted

‘You want to feel wanted. You want your partner to want you, and when you learn these tips and tricks from years of experience, you just find that place of love and connection, and it gives you bliss. It gives you that marital or connected bliss. It just makes you be better at your job; you’re more artistic, you’re more creative. Having this love from a partner, especially if you’ve wanted it for so long. You’ve been living like roommates, and now you have this bliss. You don’t even notice the toothpaste and the toilet seat; you don’t even notice those little things that used to drive you crazy. I did a workshop called ‘the afterglow’, and that’s how you end up being. This is your only life. You can choose a really good path to move forward in it’. 

This is the first of two interviews with Marie-Claire; you can read the second interview about intimacy coaching and cancer here.

Marie-Claire is currently accepting new clients, go to her profile to book a 15-minute free call.