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What Is Sex Esteem? This Sex Therapist Coined The Term

You can improve the way you feel about - and have - sex.

“People have a lot of shame and anxiety when it comes to sex,” says Sari Cooper, sex therapist and founder of the Center For Love and Sex.

Her goal is to help people—and couples—get past whatever is blocking them (embarrassment, a long marriage, infidelity, etc.) in order to improve their “sex esteem,” a term she coined to measure where people are at in their sex lives, and how they can improve. It's basically how they feel about sex, and how they can be themselves in bed and feel great. 

“Really my passion is teaching people with therapy or coaching or workshops, I help them gain clarity on what their interests are and teach them about staying calm around it,” Sari says. “Developing really good communication skills with your partner and being able to enact what you want sexually in a way that’s healthy is key.”

Sari says that throughout history, it’s been embedded in American culture that sex should be a shameful thing, people like to tell us how, where, and with whom we should be doing it. Instead of struct rules, Sari gets people being able to start talking about fantasies and desires without shame.

“You coach the couple and the partner can learn how to listen without judgment,” she says. “The bulk of my work is someone is say into some sort of domination, and the other person, it doesn’t turn them on. I get to are they willing to do it for their partner because it turns them on? Some people have hard limits and some people will not be in agreement. I can help them figure out if there room for play that is within the confines of the relationship.”

“I’ve had couples in which the partner knows their partner is going to a S&M dungeon, and that’s OK,” she explains.

She hopes to get couples to a place where their “sex esteem” has improved. But how can she tell?

“They tell me ‘I think we’re doing better, ‘I think we’ve improved,’” she says. “And they take a therapy break. I have clients who come back every so often, but you can improve a lot.”

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