How much do you know about counselling and therapy?

Hi Readers!

Since there is some confusion/misunderstanding between counselling and therapy, I’ve prepared a simple guide for you. 

The similarities between counselling and therapy are:
  • Development of a healing, safe and therapeutic relationship between the professional and the individual
  • Effective for children and adults
  • Used to understand a person’s feelings and behaviours
  • Addressing issues with the goal of improving a person’s life

Although there are similarities, there are also some important differences. 

Counselling:
  • Short to medium term process to find solutions for the present problematic situation an individual is experiencing
  • Focused on a specific situation
  • The counsellor provides guidance, support and education to help the person identify and find their own solutions to the problematic situation
Therapy:
  • Long-term process to find solution to a recurring problematic situation
  • Exploring past issues that may be contributing to the present problematic situation
  • Focused on the bigger picture; how patterns of behaviour are affecting the individual’s life 
  • In-depth focus on internal thoughts/feelings leading to personal growth

I hope this has helped you better understand the difference between counselling and therapy.

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist

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Erogenous zones

Hi Readers! 

Last week we spoke about the Masters & Johnson sexual response cycle. In that article, I briefly mentioned erogenous zones and today we are going to talk about them!

What are erogenous zones? Do we all have them? How do I know what mine are? 

Erogenous zones are located all over the human body. They are an area of the body that has heightened sensitivity, which, when stimulated, may generate a sexual response: relaxation, the production of sexual fantasies, sexual arousal and orgasm. Sensitivity to each varies and depends on concentrations of nerve endings that can provide pleasurable sensations when stimulated.  Touching another person’s erogenous zone is an act of physical intimacy. Whether a person finds stimulation in these areas to be pleasurable or objectionable depends on a range of factors; level of arousal, the circumstances in which it takes place, cultural context, nature of the relationship between persons involved and personal history.

Spending time exploring your own body and that of your partner is a pleasurable way to discover exactly what turns you on sexually and what you really don’t like. 

When anyone talks about erogenous zones, people immediately think about the obvious body parts: breast, nipples, clitoris, penis. Yes, these are sexual areas that are more erogenous than other parts. But there are plenty of other erogenous zones, including but not limited to:

  • Eyelids
  • Eyebrows
  • Temples
  • Lips
  • Feet
  • Shoulders
  • Hands
  • Arms
  • Hair
  • Abdominal
  • Navel
  • The brain

I challenge you to find out what yours and your partner’s are. This can be a great lockdown activity or if you have some downtime during the holidays, explore!

Be kind to one another

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

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Sexual Response

Hi Readers! 

In this week’s article, I would like to explore the four-stage model of physiological responses to sexual stimulation by Masters and Johnson. The four stages are:

  1. Excitement phase, 
  2. Plateau phase, 
  3. Orgasmic phase
  4. Resolution phase

Excitement phase

The excitement phase is also known as the arousal or initial excitement phase. This is the first stage of the human sexual response cycle. This occurs as a result of physical and/or mental stimulus (kissing, touching, viewing or watching erotic videos and photos). In this phase, the body prepares for sexual intercourse. 

Every individual, every couple, has a different variation regarding preferences for the length of foreplay and the methods used to stimulate themselves or their partners. Physical and emotional interaction and stimulation of the erogenous zones during this phase usually establishes an initial arousal. 

What happens to the body? 

As erectile tissues in the pelvis, vulva and clitoris swells with blood, and nerves in the area become more sensitive to stimulation and pressure. 

The penis becomes partially or fully erect, often after only a few seconds of erotic stimulation. Both testicles become drawn upward toward the perineum and the scrotum can tense and thicken during the erection process. 

Plateau Phase

The plateau phase is the phase of sexual excitement prior to orgasm. This phase is characterised by increased circulation, an elevated heart rate, increased sexual pleasure with increased stimulation and further the muscle tension. Your respiration will continue at an elevated level. In some cases, if the time in the plateau phase is prolonged without progression to the orgasmic phase, it may result in frustration. 

What happens to the body?

The response of the excitement will intensify as the vagina becomes more sensitive and the glands of the clitoris retracts under the hood.

The testicles are drawn further into the scrotal sac and pre-seminal fluid from Cowper’s glands may be secreted by the penis. 

Orgasm Phase

The orgasm phase is the conclusion of the plateau phase of the sexual response cycle. This phase is the shortest of the 4, it usually only last a few seconds. During this phase, the muscles in the lower pelvis surrounding the anus and the sexual organs contract. Individuals with a uterus and vagina will also experience contractions in these areas. Orgasms are also associated with other involuntary actions, including vocalisations and muscular spasms in other areas of the body and some individuals get a euphoric sensation. The heart rate increases even further.  

What happens to the body?

With enough stimulation of or around the clitoris and for some, pressure on the cervix or other sensitive areas, a person with female genitalia may build up to a peak or orgasm. Contractions may be felt in the vagina, uterus and rectum. Some experience orgasm as a total-body contraction and release. 

In individuals with male genitalia, ejaculation/orgasm has 2 stages of autonomic response; in the first, the vas deferens, seminal vesicles and prostate trigger the urethral bulb to expand with seminal fluid, with internal sphincter contraction closing the bladder neck to prevent urine leakage. In the the second, the muscles surrounding the base of the penis contract, propelling semen externally. 

Resolution Phase

The Resolution phase occurs after orgasm and allows the muscles to relax, blood pressure to drop and the body to slow down from its excited state to the normal resting state of the individual. It can last from a few minutes to a half-hour or longer. This phase is usually longer for individuals with female genitalia than it is for individuals with male genitalia. The refractory period, which is part of the resolution phase, is the time frame in which an individual with male genitalia is unable to orgasm again, though individuals with female genitalia can also experience a refractory period. 

What happens to the body?

At this stage, the muscles relax and the clitoris, vagina and uterus return to their resting position. Blood pressure drops and respiration returns to the pre-arousal state. The erectile tissues return to normal. 

It is at this stage that the 2 sexes differ. Masters & Johnson explain and note that there is a greater refractory period in individuals with male genitalia, such that they are incapable of achieving an immediately successive orgasm. Individuals with female genitalia typically have a shorter refractory period, being capable of successive orgasms in a short period of time. 

Hope this article has expanded your knowledge on the different phases the body goes through during the sexual response. Stay tuned for next week’s article!!!!

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

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WORLD AIDS DAY – DECEMBER 1st

Hi Readers!

Every year on December 1st is World AIDS Day. On this day, we remember those who have died from AIDS, we show up to support those living with HIV and we continue to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.

The objective is to end HIV by 2030! To do this the global community will need to once again defy expectations. Achieving the funding required to end the AIDS epidemic will require renewed commitment, innovative financing and an intensified strategic focus. 

We want everyone living with HIV to have access to treatment that will extend their life expectancy and improve their health. Investments will have to be made by each country, especially those with a high diagnosis rate. 

“Continued investments will be needed to build the capacity of health and community systems to reach the ambitious goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Importantly, quickening the pace of scaling up essential HIV treatment and prevention services will, in and of itself, result in substantial benefits to broader health systems. In addition to helping sustain the AIDS response, investments in HIV programmes will have the potential to transform national capacity to address other health priorities, such as noncommunicable diseases, maternal and child health, emerging diseases and outbreaks of infectious diseases.”UNAIDS

Reports from UNAIDS : The number of people living with HIV in 2030 could rise to 41.5 million if treatment and prevention services are kept constant at the 2013 level (current coverage). Conversely, if ambitious targets are met by 2020, the number of people living with HIV in 2030 would decline to 29.3 million. Much greater emphasis will be needed on community service delivery. According to recent consultations with countries and experts, 95% of HIV service delivery is currently facility based. 
To optimise efficiencies, UNAIDS projects that community-based service delivery will need to be ramped up to cover at least 30% of total service delivery. Not only will community service delivery reduce costs, but by bringing services closer to the people who need them, community service delivery will also improve service uptake.

To help raise awareness, in the next couple of weeks, you will find awareness videos to purchase in the shop section. These videos are great for teachers and parents who would like to raise awareness with teenagers and young adults, support group facilitators, community engagements workers please find activities related to HIV awareness on the shop page. 

Be kind to one another.

Julia, Sexologist

** We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health.
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IVF treatments and the impact on your sexuality

Hi Readers!

Today, I would like to discuss the impacts In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) may have on your personal sexuality as well as your couple’s sexuality and intimacy. 

For those of you who may not know what IVF is or what in entails, here is a short summary. In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is one of many techniques available to help individuals and couples with fertility challenges have a baby. In the laboratory, the medical team and technicians take an egg from the woman’s ovaries and fertilise it with sperm. Once the egg is fertilised (embryo), it is returned to the woman’s womb to grow and develop. This technique can be used with the eggs and sperm of the couple or person going through IVF or the eggs and/or sperm can be from a donor. 

There is some medication that needs to be taken with this process. Many women will have reactions to these. The side effects may include: (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ivf/risks/) (if you are going through this and these symptoms are persistent and worrying you, you should call your fertility clinic) 

– Hot flushes 

– Feeling down or irritable

– Headaches

– Restlessness

– Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (very brief explanation: excessive response to taking the medicines. Possible bloating, nausea, and swelling of the abdomen. When severe, blood clots, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, dehydration, and vomiting are possible. Deaths are rarely reported.)

So, you can imagine that if a woman is feeling any of these symptoms, she is probably not in the mood for sexual activity. Same goes for the partner who is going through this with her. While they are not going through the physical effects, they are supporting the woman and will be sympathetic towards her. Also, most of the time, the couple is so focused on making this work as they want to have a baby that this will probably have an effect on each of their individual sexualities. These processes and procedures take a lot of mental and physical space. If your fertility clinic offers counselling services, you should take them. You and your partner will be able talk about the changes that are happening mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually. It is a good idea to also speak to each other about how you are feeling; your fears, worries and good thoughts. Communication is key! 

This may seem easier said than done but it is in your benefit and your couple’s benefit to not let the stress and anxiety of wanting a baby to interfere with the areas of your lives that you have chosen to share, especially the intimacy that you share. Life gets very busy and some people get lost in the hustle and bustle. 

It can be fun and beneficial for you and/or your couple to set one day a week aside to talk, to do an activity or just reconnect with yourself and/or your partner. Having a Board Game night or trying new recipes, taking a bath together, going to a painting class, anything really. Just something that you love doing together (or alone) to reconnect and relieve the stress you are each feeling as you progress through this new chapter in your lives. 

Intimacy does not only mean sexual intercourse or any typical sexual activity. It is also the romance, the vulnerability, the communication, the tenderness, the peacefulness. I will be sure to write about intimacy in the weeks to come. 

I hope this has helped you understand this subject a little more. 

If you have any questions please contact me via email depetrillojulia@gmail.com

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

£5.00

Gender Identity

Hi Readers!

Happy Monday! It’s great to be back on this platform. Today we are learning about gender identity! Let’s begin!

Gender Identity is a person’s internal sense or feeling of being male or female. This feeling may not be the same as one’s biological sex. To understand gender identity, you need to understand the difference between the terms sex and gender.

Gender is what you feel you belong to and may differ from the one you were assigned to at birth, based on your genitals.

Sex is about the genital and reproductive organs (penis, vagina, uterus, testicles, etc.), it is about the secondary sexual characteristics such as breasts, beard, hips, etc., it is the distinction between female and male.

By contrast, gender is the pronoun you use to speak to a person (him/her, he/she), it is the different social codes like the appearance, clothes, makeup, etc., it is the distinction between feminine and masculine.

Unfortunately, these terms are very rigid and binary. To be able to include and represent all of the diversity of gender identities, sexes and gender expression, we need to look at this in a more fluid way. Think of it as a horizontal ladder that represents diversity and so much more than just two options. Below we will look at gender identity, sex and gender expression. The words below are used to facilitate the reading. You can be anywhere on any of the ladders simultaneously as these 3 terms are mutually exclusive. If you do the exercise now and put a dot on every line where you are situated today, it may not be the same answer in a few days or months. Some individuals have a different response every day.

Gender identity

Woman                                                 Gender fluid                                           Man

Sex

Female                                                    Intersex                                             Male

Gender expression

Feminine                                               Non-binary                                  Masculine

There is an entire vocabulary to describe gender identity – let’s look at a few:

  • Bigender: Someone who identifies with two genders i.e.: male and female.
  • Cisgender or cis: When your gender matches the sex you were assigned at birth.
  • Gender fluid: when your identity moves around on the gender spectrum
  • Gender neutral: someone who doesn’t identify with any gender
  • Gender non-binary: Someone who doesn’t fit into the binary gender (male/female)
  • Gender fluid: When your identity moves around the gender spectrum. 
  • Gender expression: The way in which a person’s expresses their gender identity, typically through appearance, dress, and behaviour. 
  • Intersex: People whose biology doesn’t easily fit into male or female. This can include genitals, chromosomes or hormones. 
  • Polygender: describes people who have multiple genders at once. 
  • Transgender: A person whose gender identity, outward appearance, expression and/or anatomy does not fit into conventional expectations of male or female. 
  • Transsexual: An old fashioned term for someone who goes through, or wants to go through, gender realignment. This is why we use the word Trans* as it an umbrella term to describe people whose gender identity doesn’t line up with their assigned sex at birth. Also, if someone tells you they are a woman and would like you to use the pronoun she/her and her preferred name is ____. Respect that please. That person will really appreciate the fact that you are respecting their wish and you are not judging them.
  • Two-spirit: some Aboriginal people identify themselves as two-spirit rather than as bisexual, gay, lesbian or transgender. Historically, in many Aboriginal cultures, two-spirit persons were respected leaders and medicine people. Before colonization, two-spirit persons were often accorded special status based upon their unique abilities to understand both male and female perspective (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2011). 

I hope this has helped you understand some of the different terms that are out there and helped your mind to grow a little …. If you have any questions please contact me on depetrillojulia@gmail.com

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

Julia, Sexologist Blog

We are here to help you grow. To improve, maintain and restore your sexual health. To help keep this blog going, any contribution will be helpful.

£5.00

“Sexologist? Ooohh what’s that?”

Hi Readers!

So, you might have heard loads of myths about Sexologists, what we do, what we studied, where we work, how can we help, etc. 

This blog post is to help you better understand our educational background, where we work and what our ‘actual’ job is. The following explanation is mostly based on what I have learnt, my experiences, people I have studied with or have met along the way. If you have read my bio or visited my LinkedIn profile, you know that I am from Quebec, Canada and studied at the only university (UQAM) that offers this specific bachelor’s degree in North America. The Province of Quebec even has a professional order for Sexologists. If you are interested, and can read French, you can check out their website (https://opsq.org/).

Please read this post to learn more about my profession as I try to demystify some of the commonly held misconceptions about what we do. #knowledgeispower

What is a Sexologist?

A sexologist is a trained professional with either a bachelor’s, master’s or PhD in Sexology. Our education focuses on understanding a person’s sexual behaviour, development, and well-being to maintain, improve or restore sexual health whether they be an individual, a couple, a family, a group or a community. Sexual health is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being; as such, Sexology is an interdisciplinary subject. As Sexologists, we are trained to implement educational and preventative programmes across several sexual health themes. During our studies, we learn about the history of sexology, contraception, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STI), HIV/AIDS, human anatomy, sexual dysfunctions, creation and evaluation of educational and preventative programmes, theoretical and practical courses on sexual health counselling and coaching. These are the subjects that help shape a Sexologist as a professional, which in turn gives us the tools to help individuals and society with sexual health issues. 

The sexologist role is to improve, maintain and restore people’s sexual health and may include the determination of an intervention plan that is implemented alone or as part of a multidisciplinary team, or in collaboration with other partners.

Where to find us

Sexologists can work in private practice, in health and social services institutions, in schools, in correctional facilities or in community settings and so many more.

So, there you have it readers! I hope this has helped you understand a little more about what a Sexologist is.

If you would like to improve, maintain, or restore your sexual health you can contact me for more details.

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist