A surrogate partner, sometimes called a sex surrogate, is a trained professional who works with clients in therapy as part of a three-way team in conjunction with an accredited or licensed therapist or clinician. The surrogate is a nurturing partner to the client, helping them build skills in the areas of physical and emotional intimacy achieved through experiences involving communication, relaxation, sensual and sexual touching, and social skills training.
Sessions with the therapist are interwoven with the surrogate/client sessions, and “an open, honest, consistent communication among all participants is a fundamental ingredient of successful surrogate partner therapy” as stated by IPSA, the International Professional Surrogates Association. The surrogate and therapist collaborate jointly to move the client forward effectively toward reaching their personal goals.
While there are some typical exercises and milestones across most surrogacy, each practitioner will have their own style. Since all clients are unique, the process can be very unique too.
Surrogate partners work with a wide variety of clients, each practitioner setting their own parameters. While most of my clients are cis men, I am comfortable and confident working with the complete gender spectrum.
For more information about Surrogate Partner Therapy, please visit SurrogatePartnerCollective.org.
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There are many ways Surrogate Partners practice Surrogate Partner Therapy (SPT). For myself:
• I see SPT as a modality most effective when the client is well established with a mental health professional and continues after our work is completed for as long as needed to process the completion of our work together.
• I value the attachment nurtured between the surrogate partner (SP) and the client as part of the healing modality. This is why I feel a mental health professional is essential in the triadic model. The clinician positioned outside of the relationship allows reframing and generalization of feelings that occur within the client-SP relationship. This objective view is, at times, impossible for me, as the surrogate, to communicate and is essential for client growth.
• I approach the work as both a trained practitioner and as a vulnerable human being who has authentic feelings and responses when relating to another. That authentic connection is also part of the healing modality.
• I’m committed to engaging with my clients from a place of boundaried compassion.
• Outside of this therapeutic and triadic model, I offer other modalities of work with clients, such as cuddling and intimacy coaching, in a much more limited container. That work is not SPT, has different goals than SPT, and is not a substitute for SPT. These other options are an offering of different modalities for individuals with different needs.