This book presents an integrative, growth-oriented approach to therapy with couples that demonstrates the dynamic interplay between partners’ emotional issues and their sexual difficulties. It offers a model for relational and sexual enhancement that focuses as much on partners’ present, nonverbal body-to-body communications as on their words. Dr. Stella Resnick draws on research from interpersonal neurobiology, sexology, positive psychology, and Gestalt therapy, and shares a rich assortment of therapy vignettes to demonstrate the transformative power of pleasure and how a focus on body-to-body intimacy can heal emotional wounds from the past and encourage greater presence, empathy, authenticity, playfulness, and sexual pleasure between intimate partners.
The therapeutic process is explored in four related spectrums: the Problem-Transformation Spectrum, the Attachment-Sexuality Spectrum, the Pain-Pleasure Spectrum, and the Cognitive-Somatic-Experiential-Behavioral-Spectrum. Part I lays the theoretical foundation for the work. Part II examines the early attachment bond between parent and child and its effects on adult capacity for emotional closeness and sexual pleasure. Part III offers methods for resolving painful emotional issues underlying many sexual difficulties. Finally, Part IV describes the procedure for moving from a cognitive reframing of the problem to a somatic focus on the body and tracking present-moment emotional interactions to the repair of relational injuries that nurture transformational change. Also included is a series of process-oriented exercises and a handout that therapists can use in their own practice.
Body-to-Body Intimacy will enable couples and sex therapists to expand their practices and enrich their clients’ sexual and relational dynamics. This book also contains valuable information that will be appreciated by anyone interested in a greater understanding of a growth-oriented therapeutic process for couples and what can be achieved together by gaining a deeply loving and sexually fulfilling intimate love relationship.
In this groundbreaking volume Stella Resnick applies recent advances in neurobiology and decades of clinical experience to offer an overarching integration of couples therapy and sex therapy. Using evocative clinical vignettes, she eloquently describes various right brain implicit change mechanisms operating in both close emotional relationships and intimate sexuality. I highly recommend this remarkable feat of clinical scholarship to all mental health workers.
Allan N. Schore, PhD, author of The Science of the Art of Psychotherapy, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine
Dr. Stella Resnick has been a powerful and highly respected thought leader in the fields that address therapeutic approaches to sexual issues for many decades. Her science based work is innovative, but also firmly grounded in the best information scholars and researchers have certified as worthy. This book will be a must read guide for therapists, researchers and educators who wish to understand and apply the emerging interdisciplinary discoveries of how our minds and bodies can enrich our sexuality.
Pepper Schwartz, PhD, Past President, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexualities; Sociology Professor, The University of Washington, Co-author: 50 Great Myths of Human Sexuality
Stella Resnick has written an invaluable and insightful book that addresses the important issues of the real relationship and that the mind, brain and body are one. Her well-written approach is positive, and the book highly detailed and well researched. She has a positive and healing vision which successfully integrates couples therapy and sex therapy. Dr. Resnick has brought back the concept of "corrective emotional experience" and effectively weaves the current thinking about attachment theory and interpersonal neurobiology into couples and sex therapy. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in relationships,
Walter E. Brackelmanns, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Director, Couples and Sex Therapy Training Program, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA
Filled with the integrative wisdom of a seasoned relationships therapist, Stella Resnick’s new book weaves together interpersonal neurobiology, somatic awareness of the mind-body connection, and attachment dynamics within the couple. Dr. Resnick’s emphasis on present-centered experiential processes highlights ways that therapists can access our own body-based wisdom to help couples drop beneath their words to recognize and learn from the deeper meanings in their non-verbal, implicit communications.
Bonnie Goldstein, PhD, Lifespan Psychological Center Director, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, Teaching Faculty
Stella Resnick, author of the classic The Pleasure Zone, has done it again! She has created a compelling case for the need to integrate mind and body, past and present, the individual and the relational in sex and couples therapies. Recommended strongly for novices and the experienced therapist.
Peggy J. Kleinplatz, PhD. Professor and Director of Sex and Couples Therapy, University of Ottawa; Editor, New Directions in Sex Therapy: Innovations and Alternatives.
In this new book, Stella Resnick, a highly regarded expert on human sexuality and relationships, uses a vast range of research to create her own model of dealing with sexual concerns and issues. She integrates the Gestalt approach with those of Maslow, Reich, and even Freud. But what is most interesting is her attention to the right brain, describing the large, often unacknowledged role of the sensory, emotional, and kinesthetic in all relationships. At the end, it is her ability to add her wisdom, compassion, and joy to this endeavor, which makes this book so important for all therapists and practitioners.
Joseph Melnick, PhD, Founding editor of Gestalt Review, Co-Chair of the Cape Cod Training Program, Gestalt International Study Center
Resnick’s work on couple’s sex therapy is arguably one of the most important contributions to body psychotherapy for couples in recent years. It leverages the experiential wisdom of her Gestalt orientation that is endowed by contemporary neurobiology. This book will help foster embodied intimacy through a contemporary relational approach, and invites us all to experience a greater, more playful and creative form of love."
Christopher Walling PsyD, MBA, President, United States Association for Body Psychotherapy
With a laser focus on the body/mind connection, Resnick’s Embodied Relational Sex Therapy model is an integrated system directing therapists to work with the couple as a living, breathing entity, instead of a problem to be solved. Incorporating cutting-edge neuroscience with Resnick’s years of experience and wisdom, this multi-faceted approach situates dyadic regulation where it belongs – between the couple—to create deep empathy and change. This book is a "must read" for the modern couple/sex therapist!
Alexandra Katehakis, PhD, founder of Center for Healthy Sex, author of Mirror of Intimacy: Daily Meditations on Emotional and Erotic Intelligence
Finally, a professional book has arrived that details the primacy of sexual issues to emotional intimacy! Stella Resnick’s latest book, Body-to-Body Intimacy, provides couples and sex therapists with everything they need to know about sex but either have been afraid to ask or not known where to get answers. Just as the body is inseparable from the mind, so too is couples therapy inseparable from sex therapy.
Terry Marks-Tarlow, PhD, author of Clinical Intuition in Psychotherapy; Awakening Clinical Intuition; Truly Mindful Coloring; and Psyche’s Veil
This is an important book. Dr. Resnick brings a wealth of knowledge of individual and couples therapy, neuroscience and developmental theory, and brings all of these to her work with couples experiencing difficulties in their sexual relating. The most important aspect of her work is that she does not separate out couples therapy and sex therapy, seeing them as inextricably linked.
Peter Phillipson, MSc, author of The Emergent Self: An Existential-Gestalt Approach, Gestalt Institute of Manchester, UK
This brilliant book by Dr. Stella Resnick is a "must read" for all who are interested in the intersection of sex therapy with couple counseling. Dr. Resnick uses pieces of her personal story and illuminating clinical examples to illustrate her holistic approach to relational healing—an approach which combines the latest findings in the neurobiology of attachment, with positive psychology, sex therapy, and Gestalt therapy.
Elinor Greenberg, PhD, CGP, Gestalt Therapy Institute of New York trainer, author of Borderline, Narcissistic, and Schizoid Adaptations: The Pursuit of Love, Admiration, and Safety
In this well-written, engrossing, and trailblazing book, Dr. Stella Resnick integrates a wealth of data from diverse fields of science into her decades of experience as a therapist to expand upon our understanding of the transformative power of pleasure in achieving sensual intimacy. It is destined to become a classic in the study of sexual and relational dynamics and in the practice of couples and sex therapy across multiple disciplines.
Carol Cassell PhD, Former health scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and author of Put Passion First: Why Sexual Chemistry is the Key to Lasting Love
Stella Resnick is a dedicated genius of collaborative exploration. Her new book, Body-to-Body Intimacy, creatively integrates neuroscience, Gestalt psychology, life experience, couples and sex therapy. It instructs those seeking relationship to resist the trigger, ignore the knee jerk, live for moments of presence. Dr. Resnick shows how to ride the wave of right brain to right brain communion. She is a pleasure activist who convinces us pleasure can make us better.
Susan E. Stiritz, MBA, PhD, MSW, President-elect, American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, (AASECT), Associate Professor of Practice Chair, The Brown School Washington University in St. Louis
Stella Resnick has broken new ground with her alchemical integration of the seminal ingredients that will help our clients to repair the damage from their sexual wounds and seize the opportunity for sexual healing and pleasure fulfillment. Professionals of all backgrounds will find this a readable, thought-provoking, evidence-steeped paradigm shift, worthy of acclaim.
Patti Britton, PhD, Co-Author of Designing and Leading a Successful SAR and Co-Founder of SexCoachU.com
Stella Resnick presents an integrated, comprehensive, and neurobiologically informed fresh approach to therapy, distilling a brilliant career as a Gestalt couples and sex therapist. Finally, we can stop separating the emotional, sexual, and relational when we practice therapy – transferring people from one provider to another. This is the book the field has been waiting for. Every therapist needs to read this book!
Tina Schermer Sellers, PhD, author of Sex, God and the Conservative Church: Erasing Shame from Sexual Intimacy
Sexuality is ubiquitous but it’s astounding how little we know about the intertwining of relational intimacy and sexual expression. Shame, insufficient personal exploration, and inadequate training in this vital realm of treatment restrict the therapist in the quest to help others. Dr. Resnick’s personal wisdom journey through the deepest realms of the heart, the spirit, the psyche and human sexuality make this a riveting book."
Susan Warren Warshow, LCSW, Founder, DEFT Institute
Stella Resnick’s new book, Body-to-Body Intimacy gives therapists a powerful theoretical, and skills training model; one that will positively enhance working with clients in couples and sex therapy. Her work deserves serious time for consideration, digestion, discussion, and application. This is a remarkably important work and a reflection of a lifetime journey of discovery.
Melvyn S. Kimura Bucholtz, MA, Invited Lecturer on Psychology, Harvard University Medical School; Boston University School of Biobehavioral Medicine
Dr. Resnick’s latest book, Body-to-Body Intimacy, delineates her approach to couples and sex therapy. She skillfully utilizes research from interpersonal neurobiology, sexology, positive psychology, and Gestalt therapy, to demonstrate how pleasure and body-to-body intimacy can lead to a closer and more dynamic relationship. Body-to-Body Intimacy will be a valuable resource for any therapist engaging in couples and sex therapy.
Herb Samuels, PhD, Past President, The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS).
Table of Contents
Introduction: Body-to-Body Intimacy—The Link Between Couples and Sex Therapies Part I: The Problem-Transformation Spectrum 1. The Problem: Distress as a Developmental Opportunity 2. Transitional Resources: Change as a Body-Based Experiential Process 3. Transformation: Restoring Evolutionary Progress Part II: The Attachment-Sexuality Spectrum 4. Attachment: The Sensory Links Between Love and Libido 5. Sexuality: Sexual Development, Love, and Lovemaking Part III: The Pain-Pleasure Spectrum 6. Pain: Emotional Healing Awakens Pleasure 7. Pleasure: The Transformative Power of Body-to-Body Intimacy Part IV: The Cognitive-Somatic-Experiential-Behavioral Spectrum 8. Embodied Relational Sex TherapyTM: A Neurobiological-Gestalt Integration of Couples and Sex Therapy AfterwordAppendix: Family Closeness Profile
About the Author
Stella Resnick, PhD, is a clinical psychologist specializing in couples’ sex therapy in Beverly Hills, California. She is an AASECT-certified sex therapist and supervisor who trains therapists and leads couples retreats at Esalen Institute and other centers around the United States and abroad.