Dr. Holly Richmond is a Somatic Psychologist, Certified Sex Therapist (CST), and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) who joined us at Sessions Live 2019 to talk about "Eros Resurrected", which was about reframing trauma and moving beyond recovery.
To find out more about Holly's work and upcoming projects and events, visit www.drhollyrichmond.com.
I was captivated by the idea of a full-day conference about Finding Eros from the moment Esther and her team asked me to participate. It is essential that we take eroticism out of the closed container of sexuality, and apply concepts of vitality, vivacity and lifeforce to all areas of our lives and our clients’ lives. It wasn’t until I took a moment to reflect more deeply that I realized there have been many moments when I’ve done this for myself, and really, this is what I’m most often doing with clients. I don’t teach them to have better sex or better relationships, I support the integration of all that they are—and want to be—in a way that feels wholly compelling.
For my topic, Eros Resurrected, I keenly felt the pressure and enormous possibility for reframing sexual trauma and moving past recovery into something more. We hear a lot about sexual trauma and shame within the general scope of psychotherapy, but parsing out the details of “what comes next?” has been lacking. It’s that question that has driven my research and work, first specifically with survivors of sexual trauma, but now with most clients, survivors or not. I have not met a single person who doesn’t identify as being in recovery or having recovered from something, whether it’s lost romantic love, friendship or job, illness or injury, or long-held emotional trauma from childhood. The process of reclamation of what was lost or even what’s missing often starts with the body and our intuition, allowing us to reimagine ways in which we feel most whole, most ourselves and most alive.
I believe there is something to be erotically gained through exploring control (maintaining it and more importantly, relinquishing it), pleasure and connection. How do these principles factor into our inclusive lives of family, friends, work and community? How do they translate into our more private lives of sexuality? This integration is the work. There is almost nothing more exciting than seeing people let themselves off the hook for perceived failings, shortcomings and wrongdoings. In helping them separate the past from the present and place blame squarely where it belongs, and meet themselves with acceptance and compassion. Recovery can’t stop with healing emotional and psychical wounds but must address the bigger picture of reclamation of spirit and ourselves.
I, quite literally, felt the audience with me as I shared survivors’ stories and offered what I see as a new path towards and beyond recovery. I could not have asked for a more supportive, open-hearted crowd to walk with through processes that are hard and hopeful, all in the same breath. Esther’s following brings with them a thoughtfulness and expansive mindset that I feel incredibly honored to have been a part of during this day of searching for, finding and resurrecting Eros.
Dr. Holly Richmond is a Somatic Psychologist, Certified Sex Therapist (CST), and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) with offices in New Jersey, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. This unique combination of credentials enables her to focus on clients’ cognitive processes as well as mind-body health. She works with women, men, couples and gender-diverse individuals on relationship and sexuality issues, offering sex therapy and sexual health coaching nationally and internationally. Her treatment specialties include low libido, sexual dysfunction, compulsive sexuality (often called “addiction”), desire discrepancies in couples, recovery from sexual assault and abuse, and alternative/non-traditional sexual expression. Her dissertation The Recovery of Sexual Health after Sexual Assault, is an innovative look at both somatic and psychological factors in survivors’ recovery.