There are stages of Sensate Focus that have rules that are to be followed. These stages are prescribed to you by your therapist with suitable modifications depending on your problems. Please follow the stages and discuss any doubts with your therapist. Do not get tense or worried, the exercises are designed to help you relax and have fun along the way.
The purpose of the first stage of SF is to get both partners comfortable with each other's bodies. Erection and lubrication/arousal is not the end goal for this stage; however, if they happen it's a bonus. Try not to pay excessive attention to erection and lubrication. Mutual masturbation or any masturbatory activity is discouraged in this stage. But, if you are wanting a release, it's allowed to be done in private to help with sexual relief.
(1) Establish which of you will be the giver and receiver in every session - both partners can take on either of the roles during the exercise. The feedback given to each other must be constructive, i.e a “how can you do better” approach. You shouldn't complain about being bored and should wait your turn to be the giver or receiver.
- A giver is the one that gives pleasure which also builds intimacy (you shouldn't complain about being bored, you will have your turn).
- The receiver is the one that guides the giver by communicating their preferences (make sure the feedback is constructive "how can they be better: give examples "I would like it if you would...")
(2) In stage 1, there is a ban on intercourse and genital touching (also called the ‘bikini-area ban or the swimsuit area ban’). The purpose of this is to take away the pressure of genital arousal (erection and lubrication) and to help both partners understand that there are many areas other than genital areas that can be pleasurable to touch. Hence,
- A man cannot touch a woman's breasts, vagina, and/or buttocks.
- A woman can't touch the man's buttocks and/or penis area.
(3) The receiver is to lie on their tummy in the prone position. From head-to-toe (except in the banned areas) are available for pleasure giving which can be a touch, a massage, a kiss, a hug, or anything your partner prefers/likes. The receiver should help the giver by guiding them about how they like to be pleasured.
(4) Approximately after 5-8 minutes (without alarms, no stopwatches please) the receiver turns over on their back and the front of the body is available for pleasure giving which can be a touch, a massage, a kiss, a hug, or anything your partner prefers/likes.
(5) After another 5-8 minutes, the giver and receiver switch roles and repeat the above with any variations that you would like.
- Variations include: you don't have to lie down, the exercises can be performed in other rooms besides the bedroom.
Tip: For receivers that are ticklish, the giver should use the flat part of their finger or hand while touching, use continuous touch and not intermittent touch, and use firmer touch rather than a fine touch.
In this stage, genital touching is allowed but intercourse is banned. Mutual masturbation/masturbatory activity can be done in this stage.
- Begin with a stage 1 like touching, and progress to include genital areas as part of pleasure giving
- Engaging in oral sex/clitoral stimulation is allowed, and depends on you and your partner's preferences.
The last stage is sexual intercourse.
There are various sex positions that allow for mutual pleasure during and after experiencing Sensate Focus Therapy. Following are common sexual positions that therapists provide to help couples comfortably experience stage 3.
(1) Male on top
Also called the lithotomy or gynaecology position, this position encourages the woman to support the hollow of her lower back with a pillow. The woman will bend her knees and separate her thighs, before guiding the penis into the vagina.
(2) Female on top
After foreplay, and when the male’s penis is erect, the woman lowers herself onto his pelvis. She then guides the penis into the vagina, before moving in all directions before lowering herself down to a comfortable position and continuing.
(3) Side position