MIAMI (CBS4) - Sex therapists in South Florida say they are seeing an increasing number of patients using sexual surrogates to overcome intimacy and performance problems.
A sex surrogate is a licensed counselor who works with single people suffering from sexual problems to overcome their issues, often by serving as a surrogate to allow them to practice overcoming the sexual issue they are trying to overcome.
"It's a taboo topic, but it, shouldn't be," said Miami sex therapist Dr. Sonjia Kenya.
The controversial therapy using sex surrogates is in the national spotlight as there is a new movie heading to theaters on the issue.
"The Sessions," which opens this month in South Florida Theaters, chronicles the story of a disabled man who enlists the services of a sexual surrogate to learn how to be intimate with a sex partner, despite his physical limitations.
Dr. Sonjia Kenya said sexual surrogates working with patients in South Florida are helping adults with autism, wounded warriors, and mid-life virgins.
"They're professional and successful in every other capacity of their life, but they've never hugged anyone intimately, or been massaged without all of their clothes off or walked down the street holding someone's hand," Kenya said.
Sessions with a surrogate range from learning to flirt, hold hands, and touch to full blown sexual intercourse.
South Florida sex therapist Dr. Marilyn Volker says this isn't for someone who is bored in their sex life and looking to bump things up. She said this therapy, which is perfectly legal in Florida, helps people with "terrible performance anxiety, horrible past experiences of rape and incest, and even adults with little or no sexual experience."
Dr. Kenya said surrogates are also working with transgender people in South Florida.
"People who have transitioned from one sex to another, they've undergone a new gender assignment, they may use a surrogate to be comfortable now having sex in their new body," she said.
Dr. Volker said she was a sexual surrogate working with disabled people 35 years ago. She said most therapists will recommend a surrogate to a client. However, its up to the client and the surrogate if they wish to proceed.
"It's up to the patient and surrogate to set a program with a start and stop date. It's important to point out both parties can stop at any time," Volker said.
Therapists said surrogate sessions are often happen in patient's homes.
"Often times its going to someone's place of residence and...being sexually intimate with someone, even WITHOUT the physical act of sex," said Dr. Kenya. "There are many other activities involved in a successful intimate relationship and surrogates practice all of those."
Therapists said more satisfied people in the bedroom leads to less sexually-transmitted diseases, less divorce, and more happiness.
"There is a lot more about sexuality than just what's between the legs," said Doctor Volker.
Dr. Sonjia Kenya talks about the use of surrogate therapy in her new book "Sex on South Beach." You can find out more at www.drsonjia.com or call 305-420-5739. You can reach Dr. Volker at email@example.com or 305-443-8850.
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