Sexual healing through body and spirit

As the medical establishment begins to take notice of sexual healing practitioner Mike Lousada, Gillian Capper pays him a visit and discovers the ethical integrity of his hands-on approach

“Your task is not to seek love but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” So said the poet Rumi. And this encapsulates the ethos of sexual therapist Mike Lousada who has built up a very successful practice in North London specialising in women.

I was first alerted to his work by an article in The Sunday Times in 2010 by the writer and feminist Naomi Wolf. Initially worried about the dubious morality of  “bodywork,” she was won over by his integrity.

Mike Lousada is not your average healer. He trained in psychotherapy, reiki, and tantra. His work draws on many different disciplines and traditions from obstetric osteopathy through bio-energetics and psychosynthesis to Buddism. He is bound by a strict ethical code on questions of confidentiality, boundaries, respect and consent. And he is in a committed relationship with a partner who does the same kind of work with both men and women.

About 45% of his clients have suffered from sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Others present less traumatic but still debilitating issues; the persistent choice of unsuitable men, perhaps, or problems with self-worth, inhibitions, difficulties receiving rather than giving love.

I consulted Mike initially in a spirit of curiosity and adventurousness. Single for the past three years after the end of a passionate, dysfunctional 13-year relationship, I had no interest in casual sex or internet dating and I did not feel ready for a new love relationship. But I emphatically did not want to live a life without any sensual/sexual element. A session with Mike Lousada promised what I imagined would be a glorified massage in a safe, secure and gentle setting.

After two preliminary hour-long psychotherapeutic talk sessions, however, I had uncovered a few old wounds of my own (the emotional legacy of an abortion when I was 18, for example).  With a few weeks in between these sessions I was drawn to think more deeply about my sexual history and to realise that this kind of work did have the potential to be truly healing and not just a rather expensive self-indulgent treat.

I had also satisfied myself that Mike Lousada was not a phoney New Age flake, as I had also feared, but a composed, grounded, empathetic, intelligent, humorous man with a quite extraordinary passion and devotion to the cause of womankind. I felt ready for the bodywork.

Sessions are generally three hours long. There is no typical session; each is tailored to the unique needs and sensibilities of the client. The client is in control. There is no goal, only the non-judgemental, compassionate acceptance of whatever happens in the present moment. I was advised that if I felt anxious or tense I would be guided back to the breath, as in a meditation.

Unexpected emotions might be released, I was warned – grief, rage, pain. But in my case the most unexpected emotion was a tearful gratitude for what turned out to be one of the most tender, natural and human experiences of my life.

Of course, ‘the elephant’ in this particular consulting room is sex. Mike Lousada does do what he describes as “yoni-work” (yoni is a Sanskrit word for the “sacred space” of the female genitals). It is only done if appropriate, and with full discussion and agreement in advance. Even so, one might be forgiven for suspecting that “healer” is a palatable euphemism for prostitute – albeit an upmarket feminised version in the service of the newly economically enriched, sexually dissatisfied and disillusioned women of the Western World.

But this is by no means the main focus or intention of his work. And his work is, happily, beginning to be recognised by the mainstream health establishment.

The use of psychosexual bodywork was discussed at a workshop on vaginismus and sexual pain hosted by the British Society of Sexual Medicine in February 2011. Articles are beginning to be written about Mike Lousada’s type of work in specialist journals such as the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health.  He recently made a presentation to 30 doctors and nurses at an NHS London hospital. And there is a clinical study of his work in the pipeline.

Mike Lousada is a pioneer. In a culture saturated by pornography and sexual violence, his work, for the lucky few like me who have reaped its benefits, is a balm and an antidote. People may still titter about words like ‘tantric’ but I remember the time they did the same about vegetarianism, meditation and psychotherapy, all of which are now firmly accepted remedies for the dis-ease of our times. The Mike Lousadas of the world are the good guys; his path, as they say, is a path with heart.

Mike and his partner, Elena Angel, will be running a series of mainstream Sex and Self workshops to help improve men’s and women’s sexual confidence. Open to singles and couples; 20 May 2012.