When people hear the term “sex therapist,” many will likely imagine Gillian Anderson’s character on Netflix’s hit “Sex Education” series.
On the series, Anderson’s character, Jean Milburn, is a single mom who works in sex therapy and has a rather adventurous view of life and sexual exploration. Her character has been loved by fans of the Welsh filmed show since he appeared on our screens.
But even though you may have seen sex therapists depictions on television, have you ever thought about what they actually do? Do you ever think about how they are helping people who live in our streets, towns and cities?
There are currently fewer than five sex therapists working in South Wales, but one person who recently qualified in the field learned what it is like to help people understand more about sex and relationships. It turns out there is a lot more to the job than you might think.
Rhi Kemp-Davies, 38, of Pontypridd, qualified as a clinical sexologist, also known as a sex and relationship therapist, in December.
Since then, Rhi has been working to build a customer base in Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT), as there was no one in the area who offered a similar service.
Rhi, who is not binary, said, “There are no sex therapists in Rhondda Cynon Taf, so I wanted to make sure I settled in Pontypridd.
“There are only three other sex therapists in South Wales based on the Monmouthshire or Cardiff side. So I didn’t know if there was a need.”
(Image: Richard Swingler)
It turns out that while Rhi is still working in Cardiff, the appointment slots for people in the Valleys area are full. When asked what sex therapy is about, Rhi said it was just a place where people could “open up” about it.
“Sex therapy can be for people who feel they have genital dysfunction,” said Rhi.
“I also work with sexual stigma and people who have experienced sexual trauma and are labeled ‘sex addicts’, but that term is a bit out of date [say that] I work with out of control sexual behavior.
“I’m also a relationship therapist, so I also work with relationships.”
Essentially, Rhi can help people with many things – from helping with feelings related to sexual identification, to discussing issues such as affairs and infertility, to helping people with low sexual desire or people who are unable to orgasm.
Her journey to becoming a sex therapist is quite fascinating, as Rhi said that a natural talent for helping people talk more openly about sex came while working in retail. There was also a time when Rhi organized sex toy parties, primarily intended for women, to promote sexual liberation and sexual autonomy.
Rhi said, “I started out working in a sex toy store in London. It turned out I had a good knack for making people comfortable talking about sexual pleasure.
“A few years later, I opened my own store – it was a sex shop, but it was only online. I did this for about three years, but I realized that I’m not a huge fan of the retail trade. I did 2016 with the Training started.
“I didn’t know how much more pleasant I was talking about sex until I met the clients who were less comfortable.”
(Image: Richard Swingler)
When asked what kind of topics people usually want to discuss, Rhi said that most of the time these things are not problems at all. Instead, it is the mindset that can influence many people.
Rhi explained that people can often think they are in trouble because they are constantly comparing themselves to what they see on TV or read in books. It is said that this constant comparison builds up a picture and a specific picture of what is expected or desired in sex when it is not actually a real representation.
“People think they have something wrong with them, but they are just weighing what they see in movies or read in books,” Rhi said.
“A lot of people come in thinking they are in trouble, but they walk away thinking that society has the problem and suddenly they stop seeing sex in a certain way.”
Rhi explained that there are also cases when people might be worried about experiencing things like erectile dysfunction, but after the conversation, Rhi said they realize that there are ways to have sex and enjoy it “without yourself.” constantly having to straighten up “.
Rhi also stated that in some cases, pornography can put a heavy load on a person’s mindset. The therapist explained that sometimes sex education can play a role in when young people are not taught about certain things in school, they look elsewhere for answers. Although many young people are educated about the safety of sex, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy, Rhi says there isn’t enough focus on how sex can be enjoyed.
When asked how porn can affect a person’s perception of sex, Rhi said, “There’s a big link here. People worry about what their genitals look like and what classes are considered sexy and what aren’t.
“I’m 38 so I had sex education over 20 years ago and I was told that not much has changed since then. You show them how the car works, but you don’t show them how to drive the car. They attract don’t show them the pleasure.
“It means people then turn to the internet to learn about sex and watch porn.”
Rhi also said that sex education was also taught as something that “happens a great deal between a woman and a man” and little discussed about sexual identification.
As a Welsh queer and non-binary sex and relationship therapist, Rhi is passionate about providing a space for the gendered and sexually diverse community. The therapy offered by Rhi can also help people explore sexual orientation and gender identity without focusing on sex.
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Although shows like Sex Education and, more recently, It’s A Sin have helped educate people and learn more about sex, history, and relationships in different communities, it’s important to know that people like Rhi are present in our communities, ready to listen and ready to help.
Rhi said shows like sex education were brilliant and praised the way certain episodes focused on different types of topics.
Speaking of It’s A Sin, Rhi said, “It was obviously amazing, but I think it was really different from sex education. It felt more like a history lesson and a look at how far we’ve come. Go ahead see how awful it was for gay men and their community – I think shows like this are educational. “
To learn more about Rhi and what Rhi does, visit their website.