West Coast Centre for Sex Therapy
by Emily Beers.
When I told a friend I was interviewing a sex therapist for a Business of the Month piece, he asked, “What does she do? Critique people having sex?”
A MadLabber for a little over a year, Dr. Carolin Klein is indeed a sex therapist, but that’s the last thing she does.
She is a registered psychologist and one of the owners of the West Coast Centre for Sex Therapy (https://westcoastsextherapy.com/) on West Broadway in Vancouver. She is also the Director of the multidisciplinary vulvodynia program at VGH, and spent some time as the associate director of the UBC Psychology Clinic.
What exactly does a sex therapist do?
Klein explained two of the most common reasons people come to see her include desire discrepancies in couples, such as the man wants a threesome and the woman doesn’t, as well as a pain condition called vulvodynia.
Though nobody talks about it, Klein explained somewhere between one our of six and one out of eight women experience some degree of vulvodynia, which is essentially pain in their vulva. Often the pain is what Klein called “provoked pain” via sex or even a tampon, and other times it’s a constant burning of the vulva, often experienced when a woman goes through menopause, Klein explained.
Though a physical pain, Klein explained the psychologist also plays a big role in this disorder.
“Often times when your brain is predicting pain, then your brain emits even more pain signals,” Klein said. “So psychologists help people lower their anticipation of pain.”
And in the case of vulvodynia, often times it leads to emotional problems in a relationship. Sometimes it gets to the point where the woman just won’t have sex anymore, or doesn’t even want her partner to touch her, Klein explained.
“It can get to the point that she loses the ability to get aroused at all,” Klein said.
And on the other side, in a heterosexual relationship, the woman’s partner assumes she doesn’t want to have sex with him, assumes it’s all in her head.
“Male partners don’t get it and think it’s an excuse not to have sex,” she added.
Helping people through situations like the latter is where Klein comes in to help. That being said, she believes the best approach to vulvodynia is generally a multi-layered one, one that includes not only a psychologist, but also a gynecologist and often a pelvic-floor physical therapist.
3 Sexual Misconceptions Klein Deals with
Of course I had to ask Klein about the biggest misconceptions she sees her clients have about sex.
“There are lots,” she said. “There’s lots of misinformation out there about what is normal function.”
Misconception #1: Premature ejaculation
Men come to Klein thinking they have a problem when they don’t, she explained.
“I’ll ask them how long they’re lasting and they say 7 to 10 minutes. They have been educated through watching porn and think they should be lasting 30 minutes,” she said. “But 7 to 10 minutes is normal and it’s what the female body is designed for.”
Misconception #2: Erectile Dysfunction
“Back in the day, people looked at still images (for porn), and now they’re watching people have sex and they never see a flaccid penis. Men think, ‘As soon as this hot woman touches me, I should be instantly ready to go,’” Klein said.
She added: “They have been watching porn and all they see are erect penises for 30 minutes, so they think they have a problem,” she said. “Lots of times they don’t actually have ED, but they have developed anxiety.”
Misconception #3: If a woman doesn’t want to have sex she should get her hormones checked
Not true at all, explained Klein.
“The truth is when it comes to sex and women, hormones play a very small role,” she said.
The above are but three common misconceptions about sex, but there are many more, Klein said. It’s a topic that never ceases to pique her interest, she added.
“I just think talking about sex is quite interesting and it can be a lot more light hearted (than other types of therapy). Overall, I can have a lot more fun in a session with clients,” she said.
If you think Klein can help you navigate the murky waters that always go along with sex and relationships, check out her website at the West Coast Centre for Sex Therapy (https://westcoastsextherapy.com/).
MadLabber, Dr. Carolin Klein
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