You will be invited to work through a series of sessions that are designed by a team of experienced sex and relationships therapists, incuding Dr Katherine Hertlein, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, to help you reconnect with your body and your partner.
Your plan will initially focus on your relationship with yourself, bringing you back in touch with your body, thoughts, and feelings. The sessions will teach you how to explore your body through touch, how to cultivate pleasure and desire, and how to address your anxious or negative thoughts.
As the plan progresses, the sessions will support you with your communication with your partner, and eventually guide you both through touch activities together that are designed to increase intimacy, reduce anxiety, and bring you back into the foundational experience of touch.
The sessions consist of:
Psychoeducation – Actionable insights from the cutting edge of sex therapy and research, teaching you how sex, desire, and arousal really work, the things that can interfere with them, and how you can start to think differently about sex and sexuality;
Sensate Focus - A powerful technique used by sex therapists all over the world that helps you get out of your head and into your body through the essence of mindful touch;
Connection - you’ll focus on your communication with your partner, encouraging you to explore together everything you’re noticing and learning, as well as cultivating your imagination with exercises focused on fantasies and desires.
These are carefully structured to start with the most low-pressure activity in each exercise or topic, and provide you with the tools to develop the self-knowledge and skills needed for a happier, healthier sex life that works for you and your partner.
During the first stage of your therapy plan, you will be staying away from breasts, chest and genitals during your touch activities. This is to make sure you go right back to a comfortable, anxiety-free place, and start from there so you can slowly build back up to where you want to be.
If, when you get to partnered touch activities, there's a temptation to skip ahead before you're ready, we encourage you to stay strong – it won’t help your therapy progress if you do things that you might not be comfortable with.
OK, OK. So this may or may not be a surprise to you, or indeed even a change in circumstance at all. But there is no sex allowed during your time with Blueheart. Maybe you aren't anyway and that's the problem! But here's why, and it's similar to the above, we need you to start at the lowest level, learning and growing and building up to your goals, whether that's more confidence or pleasure, increased intimacy, or improved communication skills.
It might be difficult for one or both of you to stick to this, but please do try: it's really important and will benefit you so, so much in the long run. If you or your partner want to know more about this part of your plan, have a look at our blog post, ‘Taking the Pressure Off’, so that you can see the reasoning behind this rule.
We would encourage you to work at your own pace and be unafraid to repeat or stay on one session for as long as it makes sense for you. This will help you embed the key ideas of each stage and feel comfortable with everything you learn before moving on. You can even move back to earlier sessions if you find this helps you, or repeat earlier sessions alongside later ones if that helps supplement them. Although some sessions follow on naturally from others, everything is designed to be simple enough for you to move back and forth.
Everything you learn and work through is key; there is no ‘beginner’ section where the topic is ‘too easy’ or ‘unimportant’, and the reverse is also true: you’ll never have to do anything you’re not ready for. Everything is a building block for what comes next.
The recommended frequency of your Blueheart time is 3 to 4 times a week. But, as long as it's a regular practice, whatever you can fit into your schedule will get you there. Most sessions are around ten minutes long, so this actually isn't a lot to find in your week.
Make a space on your calendar for a time when you know you'll be able to complete your sessions; lots of them need to be done in privacy, so they're good for before bed, early morning or just a quiet moment in the home. Some you can listen to on the bus with headphones - just look out for the icons to tell you what sort of session it is, so as not to get you thrown off at the wrong stop!
This will help you to find time for the sessions without feeling like you’re having to cram them into your life and create more anxiety and pressure for yourself. It also ensures that the levels are not so spread out that the skills and information are not being regularly and effectively reinforced.
However, there is no rule when it comes to how long you take to complete this. If you find it helpful or meaningful to repeat an area or return to something covered early on, it’s really important that you do this because you are the best judge of what you need to feel good about your sex life. Learning to recognise and be open to your needs and what is or isn’t working for you is central to the programme and the science that underpins it, so don’t be afraid to pay close attention to the thoughts and feelings you notice as you work through the program.
Some people might find this is useful as a long term tool to keep up their skills and maintain their newly found connected relationship.