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Sex with Dr. Jess


October 18, 2019

Expand Pleasure, Navigate Trauma, Manage Anxiety & Have More Fulfilling Relationships

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Interdisciplinary sex therapist, Jamila M. Dawson, joins Jess and Brandon in to discuss how sexual pleasure can be part of healing from trauma, the elements of happy relationships, how to be emotionally present, strategies for responding to anxiety and rejection, power dynamics in therapy and much more.

Jamila sees suffering not as a failure of your body or your mind but as responses to a culture that has damaging and unhealthy views on sex, religion, relationships, bodies, race, and gender. Her work is strongly rooted in somatic practices, self-discovery, social justice, and helping clients navigate not just their own relationships, but the cultures in which they live. Her success with clients is shaped by her pleasure-based, trauma informed framework and her concept of the 5 C’s (Curiosity, Creativity, Collaboration, Courage, Compassion).

Her goal is to break down sexual stigma and help people design mindful, vibrant relationships. Listen to this episode to get started today!

Follow Jamila on Twitter & Instagram.

This podcast is brought to you by Desire Resorts.

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Rough Transcript:

This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.

Expand Pleasure, Navigate Trauma, Manage Anxiety & Have More Fulfilling Relationships

00:00:10 – 00:05:10

relationship advice you can use tonight you’re listening to the sacs with dr jasser podcast sacks wins owning and considering your own power is sex therapist activist in speaker jamila m dawson from los angeles back to communicate having those difficult conversations are so fruitful in terms of the results well here to talk about those difficult conversation the last few days so that’s thanks to the sex down south conference which is a conference down in atlanta and you attended a session are attended a session on for board i started i used to work in the film industry and the company i was working for was going under and one day saw an advertisement getting in navigating the the gentleman that was presenting disgust his his sexual about sex helping people you know they would come in and seem very ashamed and quiet in their body language was so kind of hunched over will feelings and how his desires is probably a better description of what he shared with the group and it was it was interesting it was and some of the strongest miss creative most powerful people i know are s types you create things run things and to that’s an i relate to that our dynamics there’s still kind of meth that if you’re an ass type of your slave or even a submissive that your doormat that you have no will of your own curious about socks even though my family’s rather conservative and sir working at the store and i just fell in love fell in love with reading about sex all day talking great great feeling definitely know i’m feeling i’m feeling good i’m feeling inspired him feeling like i’ve learned tape like a like MS dynamics that’s the so for me it’s not like i like very intense authority exchange and that feels uh all day long so why would somebody who is so powerful want to be an ass tight want to be a submissive want to play a slave role i’m in this person and to me when you know that you have value then you can give that to somebody if you know you have no value you’ve given nothing thanks for being here it’s wonderful to be here thank you you are a sex therapist how did you find your way into this wild field it is still a wild field polly emery the panel was just really discussing their experiences and their their lived experience and challenges and triumphs if you will don’t compressed and then they would leave with their shoulders back and a smile on their face and excited and watching that transformation i just i fell in love with that craigslist i love craigslist for a women owned and operated adult store and they were looking for a store clerk and something and we said he should just apply because i’d always been like safe and exciting and erotic to me and is that what it means to be an s type yes we talk a lot when i’m working with really anybody’s kinky but anybody who wants to talk about so much and we’ve negotiated shared and discussed so much that it feels safe to give you not control but authority over how we navigate things that means that i do research that i give you my opinion that everything that i am off my skills all of my passions all of my experience is now put in service of ever get any takeaways quick ones you do you you know what i mean like own own your feelings own how you feel an as it always comes back to fill and you work with a lot of people who either identify as kinky or are interested in bedia sam you yourself identify as a sub i will tell us when for a lot of us like it’s not really a role it is having an authority exchange meaning you’re giving a sense of sharing authority somebody i trust us not but i’m not an expert and we create it and so how do you deal with the fact that they are sharing all this information with you there is always a desire among clients dynamics and as a culture if we do not start talking about are sick history with power dynamics were gonna continue to replicate on experiencing like being to humans together and that the clinical part comes with assessment and how can guide you but i am i have an extra listen you’ll hear brennan i talk about our relationship about our sexual experiences adventures triumphs disappointments and the podcast is really the only place i shared world my goal is i want my clients to know how to handle relationships and to create healthy relationships in order to create a healthier world and really when it comes to good masters and good dominance are looking for a strong person they’re looking for you know you have something and more about you there are certainly divide in the clinical community with regard to self disclosure should you share i actually get that to a small degree even breath while and i want to be part of that and amplifying that now you talk a lot about power dynamics in relationships workplace what happens if we build a relationship and then you choose to tell me something later or in more depth and so constantly what i call real time our as well right right and we can also talk in terms of agency that while i haven’t expertise as a clinician i am not an expert on the life of the a german context a highly stratified highly rigid dissociated culture and we need to be careful somebody who’s being paid and somebody who has letters after their names is seen as an expert how do you navigate that power dynamic and then maybe the client has i’m sure in session right because everything particularly i’d say in america like our entire history is one of misused an implicit and i’m always constantly real-time both marrying and modeling transparent communications with my clients i’m gonna ask you a question i’m not seeing people clinically at the moment on instagram they they’ll ask me to share about my own life and there are things that i share especially on this podcast if you go back awesome and that i am what a clinician can do is not to pretend that they don’t have power but to amplify enhanced the power of the client tell me about yourself be discussing how do i want to navigate disclosure how do i want to navigate schering about my life a lot of clinicians were still taught that like you shouldn’t and also again because my vision is not about i want isolated individual wellness i am after like domestic ever disclosed that there’s shame that that’s unprofessional but what we need to remember psychology in very specific context that was of what elements are we taking from that culture perpetuating so his model freud i both love and hate and i have a lot of conversations in my head with him happy to hear that i really like i’m like oh my god freud you need trauma work i would love to sit with you and do some somatic trauma work because do something was happening how’s the power that the client has and then we can start collaborating creating something because the point is not to just get my clients like well to send them back into the that with the public because i believe that you know people if you’re listening that you know you’re supportive that you may not agree with everything i say but you see some value in this congress z.

00:05:11 – 00:25:27

interactions and so what i want more clinicians to be excited about and comfortable about is talking about the power that’s the power that the therapist international wellness and that means if i lived in a village with this person and i had interact with them would i not want to know just a little bit about me and so the i like if i just give them some empathy of like i feel that if i just do that will that get to it or if i’m sharing as a black woman is she is this disclosure going to support more of their awareness more of a sense of safety is there another way that i can create that sense of safety by family upper-middle-class predominantly whites and so i’m predominantly meals right still we’re seeing that shift but it’s slow right and so again me about what’s happening in your body tell me fill this room with your words to ideas your concepts what is occurring within you and i will share with that and witness that you don’t have to answer that question or when i have new clients and they wanna tell me all about their stop from like you don’t know me yet you don’t have to answer questions because i ask it over there and i will always drift in the angle of like i need to be a human with a human yeah that seems to be a shift in therapy yeah and so that there’s other models of how do you build relationship whenever you feel kind of lost my two questions are of three but one is is this in service of the client assessment of your safety learning what your body is telling you so that you can train other people and help other people understand new ways to communicate is communication serbian relationship that is what i’m after right and that doesn’t work if i just see you as the superhuman who has the answers for me who is perhaps judging me i can’t back to me that’s it there is nothing else have we make you feel comfortable how do we navigate conflict how what happens because we’re coming from a different perspective what and not only considering the roots but considering the limited research in very limited populations so much research in with university and college students right are we studying and then who what assumptions are going into the questions we’re even asking but i remember what what shifted me years ago leave how many people tell me they were either therapists of judging them so i don’t share this critical piece of information and i’m like that’s not wellness and what am i modeling if nation how do you deal with self disclosure and i acknowledge that there is no one way anything smart questions and people sex educators in the field should oh cool with this and there are a black woman and that sense of shared identity opened something so the question is always like does the serve the client is there another way in some people like i want to learn how to communicate better you have words people already how words so if it was just about words you would have figured it out but it’s actually more about empathy snus feels like do we know what excitement feels like a lot of when people have trauma a lot of times they’re frozen and that their body is really either all is a well society not just a bunch of individuals who are well because they can afford it but how do you grapple with that you know having a well society loop around like this situation always feels like this and life always feels like this or they’re in a state of hyper vigilance and so they’re always constantly looking differently how do we help them understand that this is different and the why of it like this is literally like grassroots how do you change culture in the past there’s no real distinction so are you are you helping people understand the physical sensations of what it means to feel those are the kinds of questions that i asked myself of m i being a human with another human when all of a sudden done or am i being like i’m therapist in your client and i’m appeared a lot of shaming around oh always so like vigilant irritable or angry it’s like those are trauma symptoms the more when i day like what recommendations do you have to help them strengthen those relationships so that that healing the you called it continues outside is the method study that regardless of theoretical orientation regardless of what you believed the greatest predictor of oh you’ve had some stuff happen to you and this is how you cope trauma is a coping mechanism it is the body wants to survive and it will for threat and so they’re never feeling other kinds of data data’s happening but they’re usually in a frightened place or frozen place do you mean aren’t things so even if you’ve got a great a great rapport everybody’s feeling good there when they go out and then they interact with the partner or with their co workers how vigilant when i leave my house every day i am this culture is traumatizing and so i will absolutely like be vigilant and i’m not going to be afraid you help other people realize that there is one different culture and that you’re trying to get them to a different one that benefits everybody does that answer your question yeah no it does what do you mean every single thing that happens because i can slow down ham a little anxious right now let me look around let me breathe let me find somebody who can help me feel safe when you look outside and things look very broken because trying to fix somebody within the confines of your workspace and then sending them out to very very who’s a health and wellness for the client was the relationship with the therapist and ever since that like why are we not focusing on the art and science of relationships eh and about being in their body and that’s what i train people around and then we have what i call scaffolding conversations which is you’re gonna start communicating with them stop doing things or start doing things in order to continue to go and so once i can help somebody understand what a trauma response is and then how to navigate it and then like would you say they’re not present experiencing hyper vigilance or that anxious nervousness that they’re kind of caught in the past the present how to loosen it like that’s and then they can start interacting with their world with different tools i’m never going to tell them to get rid of like it’s okay your office for and that’s it goes back to we’re going to talk about what are the element of a great relationship right the goshi ation transparency boundaries but i can slow down my experience that i couldn’t years ago and so i help people do the same thing slow down so that you can choose like taking the data still and neither can i so this new sense the way that i was trained was heavily somatic heavily into social justice and again the goal welcome to the sex with dr just podcast i’m your co host brandon wear here with my lovely partner dr jess hey hey happy to be here how you doing today did then strengthen other relationships like would you do that in in your is that an example what you do yeah i’ve had you we understand what a trauma response even is because a lot of people have as a therapist i’m like oh it’s always the answers i’ve never supposed to let you know that i’m unsure with freaked out or that i’m tired with to use the bathroom or any you don’t he maybe you could describe in greater detail what you mean when you say being in your body i mean are you talking about the physical sensations or what yeah of do we know what nervous that’s what i want and so how do we even begin so for example in session where does the power lie when you have a client and a therapist right we don’t we don’t drink with my clients bringing food bringing water we can’t do therapy if you’re thirsty and hungry and lake disconnected from yourself we feel how you feel but the navigate with clarity with choice and that’s where the power piece comes you’re not driven you’re not haunted you know you have an one way you help people to navigate trauma is through sexual pleasure right what does that mean and i would say like sexual pleasures only one phobic right culturally and so when you talk about experiencing pleasure on the whole whether it’s something you eat for breakfast or the feeling to that right we wouldn’t use big words i’d be a lunatic i’d be like how’re you doing supportive way because i do now like hey solve like how are we feeling are we a little tired do we need something like and it changes pleasure like we know what pleasure feels like and the more that we can pay attention to that and then call in that and layer that inter lights through life with a mindlessness and so this to me what you’re describing navigating sexual trauma through all sorts of pleasure including sex what colors make you happy what textures a lot of times people don’t know right because we don’t consider pleasure and i think it’s partly because we moved presence being able to say okay at this moment in time i feel nervous and the nervousness shows up in my body with a little bit of a half faster heartbeat right differentiation between pleasure and sexual pleasure because i think even the word pleasure scares people because we live in this era which is not sexual it can be but the erotic is when we feel alive when you look at a painting and there’s at thing that happens in your body you’re like life will be and then the more live will be when we’re having sacks we won’t switch from after beat associated and rigid and in this like scared place i’ll it actually freak myself out but i would why don’t we do that but you have a smile on your face and what would it be like if we talk ourselves in this like gentle enthusiastic nowa pleasure feels like because i recognize it and it’s layered into my everyday existence and so if there’s something do that’s really what it is i appreciate that nervous right now okay heart let a shared a loved person know that or if you’re in a unfamiliar on safe environment than just what you have access to but i feel as as a man guy in my forties and i’m owning this but say one of my favorite essays of all time everybody should read it the roddick is power by audrey lord and she talks about when we live from a place of the erotic joie pleasure it sounds to me like it’s a practice of mindfulness yes rooted in the five senses yes you also described what i would describe as emotional mhm maybe i feel a little bit sweaty maybe i’m not really feeling grounded i’m a little bit shakey i am not being okay because again so after people like oh that’s like you can tell yourself that when if my tricks with clients is talk to yourself the way you would to you know if you like kittens or if you like pepys like how would you talk you know there’s something about this language that you have to i’ve had to overcome where i’m like this isn’t hokey pokey this isn’t you know what i mean rather shaky like get it together like an like no no no no i want what if we slow that down what if we said just bree the with and like i how or when you see a movie and you’re talking about it in your jazzed or when you’re playing sports you’re eating amazing food those both of you cut alike role is and like you have to be strong you can work through our through it and listen i have air quotes powered through but that has unlike oh my god am i going to pass out is something going on like what’s happening with me and then of course all these layers are coming showing themselves okay you’re going to take a moment you’re just going to take a deep breath you’re gonna analyze your surroundings and you’ve got help if you need it frankly right and that’s why we need the more that we can practices and the more we become a culture that is like no i’m going to slow down a little bit there’s i can just be a human i don’t have to have the thing doesn’t work for you then how would you talk to small childlike who can function but you’re not trying to freak them out of like relax kid being firm but come with implementing some of these strategies that you just mentioned its grounding yourself it’s breathing through it it’s understanding with that is i listen to you talk about you know understanding how you’re feeling i’ve been there i’ve been there where you know i’m out in public and gentle yet and also that it’s the idea that i think if if in need is somebody turned to me that i didn’t know an absolute stranger on the street your body type your insurance all of those you’re perceived class right all of those intersections affect how people respond to you right so for me for example on the streetcar anywhere and said i’m really struggling right now like i just need to talk to somebody for thirty seconds or five minutes i i would save heyman have your bed sheets right you or the sheets that feel good to you what our sense that make you a lot of times with my clients like what sense do you like and i have this overwhelming wave of anxiety that just comes over you and the first thing that i wanna do is i want i want i want to leave what that what everything you said something that a really good coach would say something you would say to a child that you’re like coaching try to do something like if the kitten fancy words i just need to be with this person and usually just listen you know the more we can do that that’s powerful stuff and is brown and all of those factors affect our not only are perceived safety but our real actually and so that’s something you have to consider when you are it’s so big like those dots you getting that somatic language i love that so much and i wanted to add a layer to that based on the work you do around around pleasure was you can’t really get rid of trauma like you can reduce some symptoms but it is this this kind of like now for a minute it’s hard turn your back on prey but i think when you’re in the moment it’s hard to think that somebody’s gonna help you right and that’s that’s the struggle into maybe reach out human to human but i was thinking that in all of this brennan talked about you know being out in public and feeling overwhelmed feeling anxious sir i was thinking that in that moment when brandon’s feeling that way and i use brandon but we’ve all felt that way is there a way to use pleasure to ground ourselves back to the present lesson attenuate the effects of that anxiety because you can’t chase anxiety away right we can’t and