Surrogate Partner Therapy – What Is Sexual Surrogacy?

Published: Jun 14, 2024
Edited by: Marce Ferreira

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In Surrogate Partner Therapy — also called Sexual Surrogacy — three persons work together: a therapist, a surrogate partner, and a client. The goal of this therapy, which may be part of Sex Therapy, is to understand and resolve the client’s physical and emotional issues with intimacy competencies and skills, sensuality, sex and sexuality, and their own body.

The therapist is typically a Psychologist i.e. Talk Therapist or licensed Sex Therapist. The Surrogate Partner, also called a Sex Surrogate or Surrogate Partner Therapist is a trained and certified professional, a kind of mentor for the client, who simulates being the client’s intimate and/or sexual partner.

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Surrogate Partner Therapy, through the Surrogate Partner, includes the possibility of physical touch, sexual intimacy, and even sexual intercourse — all depending on what’s functional and needed in the course of the therapy process. At any rate, the core idea behind Surrogate Partner Therapy is the belief that people can only learn about sexual intimacy by experiencing it, which makes this Mind-Body Therapy a so-called embodied experience or somatic experience.

The clients of Surrogate Partner Therapy are usually unpartnered, that is, they have no erotic or sexual relationship. As a general rule, Surrogate Partner Therapy is not recommended for those who are engaged in a relationship. In these cases, regular Sex Therapy, Sex Coaching, or Somatic Sex Coaching is the better treatment option for either the individual and/or the couple.

Surrogate Partner Therapy can be beneficial for (single) people who struggle with painful intercourse, sexual trauma, lack of intimate experience, physical trauma, erectile dysfunction, vaginismus, vulvodynia, body shame, self-confidence, communication, social anxiety and social skills, consent and boundaries, anxiety, shame or fears around sex and intimacy, disabilities, sensual and sexual touch, pleasure, confusion around gender identity or sexual orientation, and/or gender confirmation surgery.

The sessions first start with Talk Therapy guided by a Psychologist or Sex Therapist during which the client’s concerns are addressed, and the possible ways to overcome their sexual or intimacy problems. Subsequently, they also work together in designing the appropriate (somatic) therapeutic experiences with the future Surrogate Partner.

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The therapist will then talk with the Surrogate Partner and inform them of the goals and experiences that need to be pursued with the client, which include practical exercises and education such as effective communication, relaxation, sensual and sexual touch, managing or navigating nudity and body image issues, sex education, eye contact, social skills, and/or sexual intercourse.

Afterwards, the client will actually meet and engage regularly with the Surrogate Partner (for instance, on a daily, bi-weekly, or weekly basis for several hours) to pursue experiential exercises and build a relationship with their Surrogate Partner. One could say that the interaction between the client and the Surrogate Partner is for the client to practice what they’ve learned with their Talk Therapist through Talk Therapy (Psychotherapy).

During this trajectory, which may take several weeks, the client and the Surrogate Partner will also regularly meet with the therapist (alone and/or together, which may be weekly, bi-weekly, or any other frequency agreed upon) to discuss, process, and integrate the experiences.

When the Surrogate Partner Therapy process is (successfully) concluded — a decision made mutually between client, therapist, and Surrogate Partner — the relationship between the client and Surrogate Partner ends, with no further contact between them. Nonetheless, the client may continue to see the Psychologist or Sex Therapist for follow-up meetings or further Talk Therapy.

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