Overview of Surrogate Partner Therapy
In February 2020, Andrew made this video presentation for a college level human sexuality class. It consists of 30 minutes of slides and 30 minutes of Q&A. It's a really good overview of the work, and the students ask really good questions!
What is a Surrogate Partner?
Someone may reach a point where they realize some aspect of their social or sexual life is not working for them. It may be a specific complaint or just a feeling that something is not as rewarding or fulfilling as it could be. It may help to explore the matter through therapy, and therapists have found that when the client has an opportunity to experience or practice what they are exploring through therapy, the therapeutic process is more effective. This is where a surrogate partner comes in.
You do not have to be good.
A surrogate partner is a trained professional whose role is to partner with the client. The therapist, surrogate partner, and client, working together, design experiential exercises that remove anxiety and build awareness and skills in the areas the client wishes to enhance. Exercises are chosen for their therapeutic value and relevance to the client's goals, but generally involve trust, body image, touch, relaxation, communication, social skills, sensuality, and physical and emotional intimacy. The surrogate partner participates with the client in these exercises. The surrogate partner and client form a temporary relationship for the sake of reaching the client's therapeutic goals.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I will meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.” Rumi.
Because of the intimate nature of the work, and the absence of traditional therapeutic boundaries, it is important that the client has the support of the therapist to help them understand and process any resistance, fears, and feelings that may arise during their work with the surrogate partner. No ethical surrogate partner works without this support, so clients not already seeing a therapist/clinician will be referred to one before starting work with the surrogate partner.