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Let’s Talk Pleasure And Pain

Written by: Stephanie Larsen, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


I am a psychotherapist but also a sex therapist. When people find their way into my office, I always ask, “what made you choose me for therapy?” Many of the individuals or couples tell me it’s because they “get to” talk about sex too. This language tells me there is a part of them that is excited and wants to do this.

Now you have to understand, most people who come to therapy don’t want to come to therapy- they don’t often have the feeling they “get to” talk about their pain and problems. So we talk a lot about sex: what makes sex good, how do I have a great orgasm, how do we have consistent desire throughout the entirety of our relationship, how can we mix it up and have fun. I answer all their “weird” questions that they haven’t ever had the courage to state out loud because who talks about sex intimately and vulnerably in a social setting anyways?

But here is the thing that ends up happening. I am also a psychotherapist. I am a psychotherapist who has a deep drive to understand myself and others- what makes us do what we do, what makes us, us. The major barrier to anyone having an amazing sex life is being disconnected from themselves, their bodies, their identity, their wants, and feelings, from asking or connecting to people in a way that is fulfilling and creates a deep sense of understanding each other intimately.

And what disconnects people in this way? Trauma. Trauma is anything overwhelming to us to the extent that it results in this kind of disconnection and disintegration in the brain. This means that to connect to ourselves and others sexually in a way that is fulfilling and lasts, I need to address the trauma. If I do not do this, all the new sexual positions, tips, role plays, BDSM, whatever you are into will only stay novel for so long before we need something else to replace the intimacy with. But who wants to talk about their pain and trauma- no one does- I didn’t, and I would say most people wouldn’t want to unless they understand that this is what will set them free, make them feel the happiest, mind-blowing sex, most fulfilled and connected they have ever been in their entire lives.

I have never had more clients willing to jump into their trauma and pain with me. I have been asking myself why is this- what am I doing that is helping people get this kind of transformation in their life? Why are some people so willing to sit in and tolerate this pain with me? And for a lot of my clients, it's that they also get to talk about something that feels good and fun- like sex. They get to talk about something they really want to talk about. It is almost like talking about pleasure helps create a softer landing for the hard stuff- and let me tell you, people have hard stuff they have dealt with in their lives. I have heard unbelievable accounts of pain, loneliness, and violence.

So why did we survive all this hard shit to have a mediocre life? No way. When you go through pain and trauma like that, you need to come through the other side seeking connection, pleasure, intimacy. You won’t get there unless you tackle some of your pain- resolve it, process it. So I guess I am saying sorry, not sorry, that if you come talk to me, we will talk sex, fun, pleasure, but I will also ask if you will allow me to bear witness to your pain. You won’t be alone in it, you don’t have to sit in it forever, and it will pass and get better.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and visit my website for more info!


Stephanie Larsen, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Stephanie Larsen is a seasoned psychotherapist, sex therapist, yoga instructor, and workplace coach. Her mission is to breakdown difficult to understand relational and psychological dynamics to lead people through transformative change in themselves, their relationships, and their workplace culture. She is not just interested in providing relief but transformative change by understanding yourself and the patterning you carry, but also how you bring that patterning into personal and professional relationships. She started out working and training at Alexian Brothers, then created and ran a wellness program for Cancer Treatment Centers of America, advanced sexual training through the University of Michigan, had amazing supervisors and mentorship opportunities, and currently owns and runs a private practice outside Milwaukee WI. Stephanie contracts with local businesses to provide insight and mentorship into interpersonal workplace dynamics. She will guest speak on podcasts like Good Explanations and is highly sought out for individual and couples work in her community.



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