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Sensate Focus - How It Works?

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Sensate focus is a therapeutic technique that can help people with difficulty experiencing and expressing emotions. Read on more to know about it.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Raveendran S R

Published At November 29, 2022
Reviewed AtNovember 29, 2022


Sensate focus is a type of psychotherapy that capitalizes on the importance of touch. It is used to help couples re-establish the physical and emotional closeness that has been lost. The sensate focus aims to help the individual become more aware of their body and senses. This awareness of the body can be gained through a variety of activities such as massage, aromatherapy, and music therapy. Sensate focus can also be used to help people who have difficulty communicating their needs and wants. Sensate focus is widely accepted by sex therapists and physicians to treat sexual dysfunction. This article will show you how this approach works in dealing with different sexual problems.

What Is the Sensate Focus?

Sensate focus is a technique that is often used in sex therapy and can be helpful for couples who are experiencing sexual difficulties. It involves focusing on the senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) during sexual activity. This can help to increase pleasure and intimacy while also helping to reduce performance anxiety. Sensate focus helps in improving the intimacy and communication between partners around sexual activity. Sensate focus aims for a mindful sensual, touching experience. Sensate focus helps to identify problems related to body image, desire, orgasm, premature ejaculation, arousal disorders, and erectile dysfunction.

Sensate focus is also sometimes called mindful touching or non-orgasmic sex. Sex therapists may recommend sensate focus to couples who want to improve their sexual relationship. During sensate focus, couples take turns touching each other in a non-sexual way. This can help them become more aware of their bodies and their partner’s bodies.

What Are the Steps of Sensate Focus?

Couples reconnect with each other physically and emotionally by doing sensate focus exercises. The five steps of sensate focus are designed to help couples explore and experience new levels of intimacy and sexual pleasure.

Nongenital Touching: Nongenital touching is any touching that is not directly related to the genitals. This can include touching the hands, arms, chest, or any other area of the body. Nongenital touching can help partners feel more connected and intimate with each other. Partners can wear loose and comfortable clothes if they are not willing to be naked. In the first phase of this process, couples begin by deciding who will be the toucher and who will be the receiver. Halfway through this process, they will be switching roles.

During the exercise, the toucher will focus on touching the receiver in a slow, gentle, and non-sexual way. The receiver will focus on relaxing and enjoying the sensations. Both partners will focus on the physical sensations they are experiencing. Thus exercise can help couples reconnect and feel more intimacy with each other.

Genital Touching: After nongenital touching, this step can move into sexual touching, including breasts and genitals. This can be a very exciting and sensual experience, as it can lead to deeper sexual intimacy. Communication with your partner is essential during this step, as it can be easy to get carried away.

This step involves “hand riding.” This technique involves the receiver putting their hand over the toucher’s hand and giving signals to increase the pressure at times. During this procedure, the receiver will be sitting between the legs of the toucher. After some time, the couples will switch roles. This technique can add a new level of intimacy and connection to your relationship.

Adding Lotion or Lubricant: Adding lotion or lubricant to the body and genital touching can enhance the experience for both partners. The added moisture can increase friction and sensation, making the experience more pleasurable. It can also help reduce discomfort if either partner has sensitive skin. Ultimately, using lubricant or lotion is a personal preference, but it can definitely add to the experience.

Mutual Touching: Mutual touching involves touching one another at the same time by noticing the sensations and feelings of contact. A couple will use their lips and tongue to touch each other without doing a kiss or oral sex. This is because mutual touching is a way for couples to connect on a physical level without getting too intimate. It can help build trust and intimacy between partners.

Sensual Intercourse: Sensual intercourse is a sexual activity that is characterized by a slow, gentle, and intimate approach to experiencing each other’s bodies. It is often seen as a more romantic and intimate alternative to traditional intercourse, which is often seen as being more focused on physical pleasure. Sensual intercourse often includes lots of kissing, caressing, and other forms of physical affection. This type of sex can be very satisfying and can help to strengthen the bond between partners.

When it comes to sensual intercourse, it is all about being mindful of the sensations you and your partner are experiencing. That means paying attention to the temperature, shape, and texture of each other’s genitals as you come into contact. It also means taking your time, inserting fingers slowly and deliberately, and exploring different patterns of thrusting and touching until you find something that feels good for both of you. By being present and adapting to each other’s pleasure, you can create an incredibly intimate and satisfying sexual experience.


The sensate focus aims to help the individual become more aware of their body and emotions and to help them express their needs and wants more effectively. Sex therapy usually involves ten to twelve sessions, and also the number and duration of sessions depend on the problem and treatment. There is a great debate surrounding the effectiveness of sensate focus as a method for treating sexual dysfunction. Some studies have shown that it can be an effective treatment for problems such as premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction, while other studies have found no significant difference between sensate focus and other treatments. However, the decision should be made by the doctor and the patient to take sensate focus as a treatment option, taking into account the specific circumstances of the individual case.

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Dr. Raveendran S R
Dr. Raveendran S R



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