Editor’s note: The following Q&A is one of several featured in this week’s Wellness, Part 2 issue.
Jenny Shealy is an Asheville-based licensed clinical social worker and certified sex therapist. She also holds a certificate in interpersonal neurobiology. She speaks with Xpress about understanding pleasure, misconceptions about sex therapy and the joys of connecting with nature.
How has the pandemic impacted people’s experiences of their sexuality?
The pandemic has helped us expand our ideas of what “sex” actually is. People who didn’t live with their partner(s) during the beginning of the pandemic figured out how to connect, both sexually and nonsexually, through virtual ways like sexting or video dates. This challenging time motivated many people to begin exploring their own sexuality through solo sex, rather than partnered sex. And the benefits? Understanding and expressing your own pleasure creates better sex!
What’s a misconception about sex therapy or sex therapists?
While sex therapy focuses on sex, sexuality, intimacy and relationships, you will also talk about your whole life during a session. Your relationship with sex is affected by everything else going on in your world. Context is everything.
Sex therapy never involves nudity or sexual contact or behaviors with the therapist or in the therapy room. This dynamic can help people learn how to talk about sex without sexualizing the situation.
Where do you go to unwind?
The N.C. Arboretum is my favorite place to walk. I always feel better when I’m moving my body and connecting with nature. It’s a double win!