There are changes in every stage of life including sexual changes that follow us as we grow older. With the following scenario’s that talk about the different points of our awareness and stages of sexual relationships, I will suggest from a counselors perspective ways to help each person in the settings presented. The first case is Anna, an adolescent girl, is very much in love with her boyfriend who is three years older than she. He is putting a lot of pressure on her to have sex. At the same time, she is anxious about her parents’ attitude towards her boyfriend.
Her mother constantly warns her about dating an older boy and assumes that he intends to take advantage of her. The first thing I would go about is setting a relaxed and comfortable exchange to allow Anna to express her own opinions, in doing so I would simply ask her what she feels about having sex with her boyfriend, not how her parents feel, not how her boyfriend feels, but how does she feel about it. I would then ask her is she was prepared to have sex, has she discussed with her boyfriend what precautions they would take, and what they would be prepared to do if something happened and she became pregnant.
Some of the questions would be directed towards her once I could visually observe her, I would ask her if she was feeling peer pressure to have sex, or if her boyfriend was pressuring her to have sex. I would also explain that sometimes it is okay to say no to sex and just because her friends say they have or are encouraging her to have sex does not necessarily mean it is the right decision for her. I would also enter into a discussion of what sex means to her, and bring about the questions to see if she feels if she does not have sex with him she would perhaps loose him.
I would recommend to her that she see a gynecologist or her family doctor to further explore all the birth control options and make sure she understands that even though it is a shared responsibility with her and her boyfriend, she should make sure she is practicing safe sex. For me I would also mention that her mother is concerned, because Anna is her daughter. I would ask her if she had any questions for me, and then assure her that what ever we discuss is between us and she can feel free to come to talk with me at anytime.
I would also tell her to take all the time she needed to come to her decision, and make it because it is what is right for her. I am a realist, and all we can do is provide the kids with good information and hope that we have given them enough of it for them to make a decision that is right and safe for them. Tom and Susan are an elderly couple. Tom has been retired for several years, and Susan is more recently retired. She has shown a renewed interest in sexual activity.
Tom has not reciprocated Susan’s interest as he is anxious about his sexual ability at this age. I feel it would be best to first address some issues with Tom and see if he felt there was a possible physical reason that perhaps he had not brought up prior to this. Several factors may play a role in sexual inactivity including declining activity, physical problems, boredom, and attitudes about sex among older people. If he was having physical issues I would suggest to him that perhaps he should see his physician about some of the things that may help in this area.
Many men have problems with erections due to stress and other factors, and when you can get to the cause of it, there is often help for it. I would discuss with them about Susan’s recent retirement and see if that change has triggered her to have some extra energy and less stress from not having a regular scheduled job. I would suggest that they try date night, or think about activities or things that used to make them feel more romantic, and suggest that they try to stop thinking about it and just let it naturally occur.
Go out and do things that make you both happy, couple things, individual things, get to know each other again because in a sense that is what they are doing, getting to know each other again. I would encourage them to communicate and talk about things, not turn the television on or the phone on when they go to bed, and discuss their needs openly with each other and figure out what will meet both of their needs. Bill has been paralyzed from the waist down since he was a child. He is involved in a romantic relationship and wishes to be intimate with his partner but is unsure how to express his interest.
Bill becomes very nervous and uncomfortable when talking about this subject Sex and the ability to have sex with a partner and have a long term intimate relationship is desired as much by people with a disability as it is with most people. The amount of physical sexual function and ability to feel pleasure or pain sensation is often the first thing they think of, raising fear and anxiety. Yet it is something we all desire because sex enriches our lives and brings us to understanding and closer relationships with our partners.
People with a physical disability often have a poor self body image, thinking they are damaged goods, broken, somehow less than. These feelings are normal you should talk about them with your partner, but don’t dwell on them. Healthy love making is about pleasing your partner. Often people in Bill’s situation find excitement and release simply from the closeness of pleasuring their partner. Healthy sexuality involves warmth, tenderness, and love, not just genital contact, so I would encourage Bill to step outside of his comfort zone and talk to his partner about how he feels.
I recommend that Bill seek his physician’s medical opinion and assistance to see if one of the clinical treatments for erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra could improve the quality of erections and sexual activity with him. I would also remind him that orgasm after paralysis is possible for some men but it is often not the same as it is usually defined. It can become less physical, less focused on the genitals and more about his state of mind. It is important Bill comes to understand that the loss of sensation does not rule out loss of sexuality.
In conclusion, we all experience sexual awareness and activity during all ages of our lives. So we all need to take a moment to just breathe and know we are not alone. Talk to our partners, talk with our physicians/counselors and learn what will work for you in your own situation. Take control of your life and learn to understand your own body. References Rathus, S. A. , Nevid, J. S. , and Fichner-Rathus, L. (2011). Human sexuality in a world of diversity. (8th ed. ) Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
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