The Couch is Just for Talking in Linda Humphries’ Sex Therapy Practice
She’s a talk therapist with an advanced degree in the thing that most people don’t talk about — sex.
Like the world’s most famous sex therapist, “Dr. Ruth” Westheimer, Tallahassee’s Linda Humphries is a cheerful, matronly sort with a ready laugh who disconcertingly and matter-of-factly uses anatomically correct words when describing people’s private parts and very private activities.
Sitting in an overstuffed chair in her sunny Park Avenue office, the 60-year-old therapist shared information with Tallahassee Magazine editor Rosanne Dunkelberger that she has gleaned over her 35 years of counseling, including more than 20 years locally specializing in sexual matters.
While she’s open-minded and non-judgmental, when it comes to casual sexual encounters, Humphries offers advice that seems downright old-fashioned.
In addition to her private counseling practice, Humphries offers PG-rated advice on her blog featured on the tallahassee.com website. A more frank version of her blog appears on her personal website, drlindahumphries.com.
I started off just as a regular therapist. As a social worker, I was taught to look at everything: “How’s your job? How’s your relationship with your family?” — everything, including the sex part. I would ask and people would say, “You know, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I just don’t have an interest in sex anymore” or “I don’t know what’s happened, but I just can’t get it up anymore.”
When you go to regular school for counseling, they only have maybe one or two courses in sexuality. I started taking classes and more classes until finally I had so many classes I figured I just might as well get a degree in this. So that’s my higher degree, a doctorate in human sexuality.
I can do regular therapy. I can do sex therapy. I can do a combination, which is a lot of times what it turns out to be. Very seldom do you have people coming in for just the sex where it doesn’t affect any other part of their life.
Most people come in thinking they’re the only ones having sexual issues. A lot of couples will come in and say, “We know we’re the only one in our group that doesn’t have sex hardly ever at all,” and I’m thinking to myself, “You really just don’t know.”
For women, low sexual desire is way out front more than anything else they come in for. No. 2 are orgasm issues, such as “I’ve never had an orgasm. I’d like to have more orgasms. I don’t know if I’ve had an orgasm. My boyfriend tells me I should have more orgasms.” No. 3 is pain. Dryness or something’s wrong or they have back issues and they don’t know how to have sex without pain.
For men, it used to be always No. 1 was erectile dysfunction, for as long as I’ve been doing this, but now the top contender with ED is sexual addiction problems. When people are having financial stresses like they have been now, their addictions are more prominent. As the recession came, there are more people coming in with addictive behaviors. There are more people drinking, taking drugs, doing all kinds of stuff, including the sexual addictions, because they’re so stressed out.
There’s a very high rate of kids doing sexual things other than just straight intercourse and considering it not to be sex. I would say that it is sex. When I talk to them, I say, “You want to think about what you’re doing and what kind of sexual activity you’re having with people. Are you putting the cart before the horse when you have sex with them before you really know them?” There’s an emotional price to pay, especially for women and girls. Women get very much connected to the person they’re having sex with a lot more than what some men do.
People who are sexually connected to each other are happier and they’re healthier. Scads of studies show that. It’s about the connection and also the physical release, and it’s also good exercise. But mostly it’s about the deeper connection.