For Therapists

Sex and Couples Therapy

One of the reasons I became a Sex Therapist was that for many years I was working as a Couple’s therapist and trying desperately to help couples survive the rocky terrain of marriage and long term committed partnerships. I found myself in graduate school, in post-grad trainings and certificate programs, and seeking out licensure programs looking for someone to teach me how to work with couples to make long term monogamy work.

How could I help couples maintain a passionate, more alive relationship when they neglected their partner, when they lived in conflict, when they felt no desire for one another? And you know what I learned? Nothing.

Most graduate programs taught zip about desire, or about passion, and none of them ever talked about sex. In fact, they all taught that if you fixed the relationship, the sex would take care of itself. I disagreed with all of them. I found that the opposite was true – if you help a couple with their erotic life, many things in their relationship would fix itself. And so I wrote the book Getting the Sex You Want; Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together, which combines sex and good couples therapy.

Because of this interest, I pursued a degree in Sexology. In fact, I got my PhD. Now, many years later, as a Certified Sex Therapist and a Supervisor and a CE provider and trainer for other Sex Therapists, I am finding a whole new problem. Sex Therapists know nothing about Couple’s Therapy. Yes, they know about Erectile Dysfunction. Yes, they can talk a good game about open marriage, or BDSM or LGBTQ rights. But not many of them have been trained in good Couple’s work. How to work with a couple is different than when an individual sits in your office.

Couple’s work is hard. It is important. And probably the most crucial of all psycho-therapeutic dilemmas when it comes to sexuality – because we are working with the primary dyad, a couple. I am saddened and confused when I hear from sex therapists that they have never been trained in basic couple’s therapy skills.

So now I am determined to teach what I know and what I have learned over my many years of education and teaching throughout the world and around the country.

Join me, and many other skilled practitioners, as we venture into the world of SEX AND COUPLE’S THERAPY TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION. Come learn from the experts; those who are in the trenches and know what it’s like at the cross roads of sexuality and couple’s work. Come train with us and learn from the best. But come quick, registration is limited – we have small classes in intimate settings for the highest educational benefit and learning.

To register and for more information, click here.

Sex Therapy Trainings in 2016

Want to be a sex therapist? Or be a better couple’s therapist?

If you are a professional working with couples to improve their sex lives, I want to invite you to the Sex Therapy U (MAKE THIS LINK LIVE) trainings offered by the Institute for Sexuality and Human Development.

These trainings are a great way to build your practice and expand your awareness of sexuality issues with some of the best educators in the field. We are meeting in Washington DC at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. It is close to public transportation, restaurants and hotels.

These trainings provide 8 CEUs per day/24 CEUs total for each three day module. You do NOT have to have attended a previous training to register. Join 1 day, or all 6 days.

If you register for February and May now, you will also receive a discount.

Module II: February 4, 5, 6th 

Thursday: Sex & Couples Therapy Practice Building:
Morning: Writing and Publishing with Dr. Tammy Nelson
Afternoon: Marketing Your Private Practice with Evan Leepson, MBA

Friday: Core Elements of Treatment:
Morning: Out of Control Sexual Behaviors with Michael Vigorito
Afternoon: The Basics of Sex Therapy with Gail Guttman

Saturday: Alternative Relationships
Morning: Round Table Alternative Relationship Discussion with Tamara Pincus and Panel Guests
Afternoon: Fetishes and Nonconsensual Sexual Behaviors with Hani Miletski

Module III: May 12, 13, 14th

Thursday: Desire Dilemmas
Friday: Sex and Couples Therapy : New Marriage and New Models
Saturday: Alternative Sexuality; Gender Issues

You may register now for any combination of days. If you register for all three days there is a significant tuition discount.

More interested in publishing? Come back next week to hear more about the Institute for Sexuality and Human Development’s training for writers, beginner and advanced.

For a Healthy Relationship, Tell Me How I was Awesome

This study, “Tell Me About A Time When I was Awesome,” is from a ‘Best Self Study’ at Harvard Business School, and indicates that performance improves when we are told we are good at something. It is called ‘best self activation.’ Reminds me of what we do in Imago Relationship Therapy, when we work on “appreciations” – a form of healing that is done in dialogue (and for homework) in couple’s therapy. We don’t need a Harvard study to confirm that you always get more of what you appreciate. But good for them for proving it. Nice job, Harvard.

For more information on couple’s therapy or setting up an Imago couple’s therapy session, or an Intensive, or a phone consult, contact me at or check out my books, Getting the Sex You Want or The New Monogamy for a good introduction to Imago. For the roots of Imago therapy, or to find out about the founders of Imago, Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt, or to read Harville Hendrix’s book, Getting the Love You Want, you can find them at or you can find the book at or To find out more about this type of therapy or if you are looking for an Imago therapist in your town, go to

Falling Asleep in Sessions?  Need more aliveness?  Join me.

Do you ever feel sleepy in your sessions?  It happens sometimes.  For me it doesn’t necessarily mean I need a nap.  It can be an indication that the person sitting across from me isn’t in their feelings.  My awareness of my own countertransference is one of the most powerful tools I have in my work with others.   In my trainings and supervision we use our own self awareness to be better sex therapists, better with couples, and more in tune and alive in sessions.

Come to a new training in DC, or join my New Haven one day supervision group, or join an ongoing Supervision phone group.  Space is limited.  Student discounts and payment plans available.


In-Person AASECT Certification Supervision Group   **NEW GROUP** Oct 23, 2015 from 12 noon – 4 pm Eastern Time Location: New Haven, CT  See more at: 

And the next online phone Supervision group meets:

Monday AASECT Certification Supervision Group
3:30pm – 5:00 pm Eastern Time

Contact me at

Think a good divorce is rare?

It’s actually not, and you can play an important role in helping couples who have decided on divorce, to end their union with civility, new self-awareness, and good will.

In this video for Psychotherapy Networker, I will walk you through my 3-phase process. And I illustrate how well it works with one couple’s story from my own clinical practice. This approach opens up new territory for you as a couples therapist and makes the good divorce a positive outcome you can help your clients achieve.

Want more instruction? You can still access the recording of my Good Therapy webinar, An Intentional Divorce After An Affair for free with a 60 day trial membership to Use the code TRIAL602015NELSON to sign up for your trial membership.

Quick Tip for Therapists: Working with Couples in Non-Traditional Relationships

How do you work with and understand couples who have a non-traditional lifestyle that may not align with your own? I answered this question for therapists who are subscribed to New Harbinger Publication’s e-newsletter list.

Working with Couples in Non-Traditional Relationships

What does it mean to work with couples in open marriages? Not all therapists personally agree with the concept of open marriage. However, you don’t have to change your values to treat couples who have chosen a lifestyle that doesn’t align with your own. It’s important to be aware of the myriad of possible non-traditional relationships you might encounter in your practice. Here are some examples:

Closed Marriage. This is what most of us think of when we picture “monogamy.” A closed marriage is one in which both partners agree to sexual and emotional fidelity.

Open Marriage. “Open” is a general term that covers many different types of marriage agreements, but usually is defined as leaving room for outside sexual partners. In open marriages, sexual encounters with people other than the spouse are accepted as part of the relationship agreement.

Polyamory. Poly comes from the Greek, meaning “many,” and the Latin amour, meaning “love,” so Polyamory defined means “many loves.” It is different from open marriage in that it’s not just ‘sex for fun’ with outside partners, but loving, romantic, and emotional connections with others outside of the marriage. Poly couples believe they can love more than one person at a time, and maintain a primary partner at the same time.

Swinging. Traditionally, swinging couples swapped partners for a fun sexual experience, purely for the eroticism. The North American Swing Club Association (NACSA) describes swinging as “the recreation” for couples whether they are married, committed (having an ongoing emotional relationship), living together (co-habitating, with or without an ongoing intimate relationship), or single couples who date. To learn more, visit:

In working with couples, one of the biggest challenges arises when one partner wants to open the marriage, while the other one does not.  One exercise therapists can use in a couples session is to have each partner write down their fears, fantasies, and desires with respect to the possibility of changing their monogamy agreements. Then have them share with one another, and discuss the power and potential of the answers. This exercise allows each partner to be heard, and when each experiences validation, they can usually come to agreements on what type of relationship they want going forward.

It’s advisable that partners examine every aspect of their monogamy continuum from fantasy to polyamory, to decide if they should—or if they want to—make changes to their marriage or relationship. It’s also important that the couple talk before, during, and after if they want to make any changes to their monogamy agreements—explicit or implicit—or after they’ve been hurt if one of them strays.

Can couples cheat in open marriages? Any time a partner goes outside of the agreement, they have violated their relationship, whether open or closed, fluid or flexible, and the root of the problem is usually dishonesty. The lies each partner tells usually begin long before the betrayal becomes concrete. Having an open discussion about how the dishonesty began is the first step toward healing the relationship.

Therapy should be a safe place with concrete therapeutic interventions to help anyone working on their relationship, regardless of its openness, its dimension, its phases of monogamy, or its form.

To receive future Quick Tips for Therapists from other New Harbinger authors and experts, subscribe to their e-newsletter list at

Last Call: Savings on Great Sex this Summer!

With summer coming to a close, children returning to school, and the temperatures beginning to drop, it’s a great time to create more heat in the bedroom with a more passionate and erotic sex life. We are still offering the following three teleclasses on Getting the Sex You Want at a 50% discount! Purchase all three classes together and save $222 on the total purchase price.

Getting the Sex You Want with Dr. Tammy Nelson (for Couples & Therapists), a 3-part teleclass with Dr. Tammy Nelson, *3 AASECT or IMAGO CEUs*
Teleclass Overview: Do you crave a more fulfilling sex life? Do you wish for a more intimate and emotionally rewarding relationship? Join one of the top experts in the field of love and eroticism for an open discussion on the keys to creating and sustaining passion in a long-term love affair with a partner and with yourself.

A Beginner’s Guide to Sharing Fantasies: How to Talk Dirty in Bed, a 90-minute teleclass with Dr. Tammy Nelson
Teleclass Overview: Do you want to create a more connected, more vital and erotic sex life? Even if you’ve been too afraid to share your fantasies, or if you have tried in the past and failed, this course will teach you to communicate your fantasies and desires.  Learn how to turn up the heat in your sex life and get it just right. Talking dirty can be hot and it can connect you in bed. But sometimes it can be hard to say out loud what you are really thinking.  Learn how to be honest, and whisper, shout, growl and reveal your most erotic longings.  Talking sexy will turn you on, turn your partner on and bring you to your most intimate moments together. Afraid?  What’s too much? How do you use the words you may never have said before?

Women & Sex: Women’s Sexual Questions & Confessions, a 2-hour teleclass with Dr. Tammy Nelson, *2 AASECT or IMAGO CEs*
Teleclass Overview: Do you wonder how to have a more intense or passionate sex life? Do you want a deeper emotional connection and at the same time reach great heights in bed? Do you want to communicate your inner fantasies? Most women have questions. This course will answer real questions from real women about sex.

Reminder: Writing and Publishing for Professionals this Fall

Do you have a writing project, a blog, an article, a book, or a screenplay, that you want to start, complete or publish? Then you don’t want to miss the next Writing and Publishing for Professionals series happening this fall. We are offering a discount for Imago therapists, but this workshop will give everyone the information you need to create, continue and give birth to your dreams.

In this workshop we will work on beginning an idea for a writing project, creating a plan, unblocking creative flow and writing a proposal. Participants will complete a submission for book proposals and publishing plans by the end of the 8th week: We will review the positives and negatives of self publishing versus publishing through a publishing house. We will review marketing plans and creation of social media platforms to launch a book into the world. Participants will learn the basics of a proposal and cover letter, outline and submission guidelines for books. Blogging and creating a plan for blogging will be explored. Participants will learn how to create time for writing and will receive feedback and critique for their writing, instructor feedback included in the course.

Writers need support, encouragement and feedback. A writers group can provide positive suggestion and critique to give guidance and direction to a project that is stuck or in the vision stage.

A group can inspire you and more importantly, motivate you to get started and to finish to completion a project. Being accountable to a group, completing writing exercises, getting and giving feedback, and creating a plan for submissions will help you as a writer complete your projects. The class will help you get through a first draft, a second, a third and maybe more. It will help you create a plan and a vision for publication!

Break through your writer’s block and register for Writing and Publishing for Professionals Fall 2015

This group is limited ­ reserve your spot now.

I will be presenting at the SSSS Annual Meeting in November!

I’m honored to announce that I will be presenting at The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality’s 2015 Annual Meeting, BEYOND BOUNDARIES: Exploring the Emerging Dimensions of Sexual Science in Research, Education and Practice, held November 12-15, 2015 at the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town in Albuquerque, New Mexico USA.

Southwest design of Beyond Boundaries SSSS Conference logo

Beyond Boundaries SSSS Conference Logo


I will be presenting Writing and Publishing for Professionals – Finding a Topic, a Market, and Success

Most therapists have contributed important works to the professional field of sexuality.  Yet they may also want to do more.  A book is a dream for many clinicians, but a popular press publisher may seem out of reach.   This workshop will help therapists decide on how to choose a traditional publishing route versus self-publishing, how to find a literary agent, how to write a Query and a book proposal, and when to build a platform and how to do it.  We will also discuss what to what to write and how to find time to write.  We will share writing, and discuss how to nail down your niche and how to narrow your expertise.  Dr. Nelson is the author of three traditionally published nonfiction books, several eBooks, chapters and forwards in several professional books, many articles and journal pieces, has thousands of expert mentions, and has written a memoir that is now a novel and an upcoming screenplay for television.

  • Explore and decide on a topic for your book or article.
  • Create an outline for your Query letter, learn about book proposals and begin your journey toward publication.
  • Learn the difference between electronic publishing, self-publishing, and traditional publishing houses and decide which one is for you.
  • Find out how to create a social media platform and narrow down your niche, to capture the interest of a literary agent or editor.

This working will include real life examples of publishing potential for psychotherapists who want to write or publish.  Expanding into new fields of the publishing world, most therapists have the option to publish today, but are held back by lack of knowledge and will only be successful with a good editor, a literary agent and the right tools for publication.  This workshop will help attendees define their writing and publishing goals.


AND The New Monogamy; Redefining Relationships and Boundaries of Marriage in the New Millennium and Beyond

Monogamy is no longer the traditional agreement it was in the past generations. Couples today are negotiating their monogamy in new and creative ways involving different types of sexual commitments and, as a result, different types of issues around betrayal.  There are three stages of recovery after infidelity, regardless of online, in person or emotional cheating.  These three stages are clinically significant and must be understood in order to avoid retraumatizing couples in therapy, by recreating a victim/perpetrator model of treatment.  Although providers may have some knowledge of sexual health, most are limited in their experience of communication models and psychotherapeutic interventions after infidelity.  Redefining monogamy is instrumental in a cultural perspective but therapists must understand the difference between social trends and and global societal and relational challenges, and the advanced skills required to create sustainable marriage and committed partnership.

In this workshop, Participants will learn how to:

  • Identify 25 types of monogamous relationships with varied types of open sexual behaviors as well as nontraditional monogamous arrangements, including polyamorous, open, semi-open, and sex partnerships online with emotionally monogamous commitments.
  • Identify a re-membered Code of Honor that will define the contemporary couples monogamy as one of integration and a new form of transparency, even when it involves a departure from traditional sexual fidelity
  • Formulate an explicit monogamy agreement that challenges the implicit monogamy’s assumptions and hidden betrayals that have been negotiated in prenuptial and postnuptial monogamy arrangements and how defended psychological systems and collusion are created after infidelity
  • Review intentional divorce, marriage completion and  conscious uncoupling counseling techniques to help couples end their affairs and their marriage and committed partnerships without animosity or shame, in contrast to current models of abuse and financial devastation, without treatment failure for the therapist

The Intentional Divorce: Helping Couples Let Go with Dignity

I’ve always made it my primary goal to save the marriage, if at all possible; however, I’ve often felt that I was working harder at it than either of the partners involved, especially with the couples who come to my office only to check off an imaginary box—“tried couples therapy”—before heading off to consult their respective lawyers. Of course, even among these last-ditch efforts, some unhappy couples do find new and better ways of relating to each other during therapy and decide to stick together. But what I’ve come to realize is that once a marriage has sufficiently unraveled, therapy often hits an impasse, and divorce becomes an inevitable reality.

At one time in my career, I’d have considered divorce as an outcome of therapy to be a failure—by the couple and by me. But over the years, I’ve learned to think of it as another opportunity to help. I’ve come to realize that I can support divorcing couples by helping them explore viable alternatives to the often wounding and adversarial legal process that normally ends marriages—a process that can make what’s already a bad situation for the couple, their children, and their extended families incalculably worse. I’ve learned that I can help couples end their union in as thoughtful and pragmatic a way as possible. In other words, both partners can come through the experience with their dignity intact, their sanity whole, and in a greater spirit of cooperation and goodwill—attributes they’ll need as they continue to share responsibilities for their investments, their interests and their children.

Thus, when couples clearly intend to divorce, I often guide them through what I call an intentional divorce, which I reframe as not the end but the completion of their marriage.

Read the full article in The Psychotherapy Networker here

Want to learn more about helping couples face separation and divorce, how to introduce a process for healing with intention? October 2nd I will be teaching a free webinar for members with clear and effective treatment strategies to apply in your work with couples as they determine how to move toward a healthy separation when necessary.

Register for the webinar at