Esther Perel

Mating in Captivity: The Paradox of Intimacy and Sexuality
July 11-15

Why does great sex so often fade for couples who claim to love each other as much as ever? Why doesn't good intimacy guarantee good sex? Can we want what we already have? Why does the transition to parenthood so often spell erotic disaster? Loss of desire is the prime sexual and emotional complaint that leads to depression, loneliness, infidelity and even divorce. This bold new take on intimacy and sex grapples with the obstacles and anxieties that arise when our quest for secure love conflicts with our pursuit of passion. The story of intimacy and sexuality in committed modern couples is one that often tells of a dwindling desire and includes a long list of alibis, claiming to explain the inescapable weakening of erotic connection. The absence of fantasy, the proliferation of pornography and affairs, the overwhelming expectations placed on adult intimacies, as well as a lack of understanding of the nature of erotic desire all contribute to this predicament. Lust, Romantic Love and attachment live in dynamic tension in our brains as well as in our lives.

Through lectures, video case examples, and group participation, we will explore how our need for secure attachment and closeness co-exists with our need for separateness and freedom. We will probe the intricacies of love and desire, how they can be inseparable, or incompatible and we will map the connections between partner's attachment orientation and their sexual feelings and behaviors. You will learn how erotic blueprints are formed, how our emotional history expresses itself in our sexual fantasies and in the physicality of sex. This model draws on attachment and psychoanalytic theory as well as on family systems, psychodrama and body oriented approaches. It offers a multi-cultural perspective and applies to people of all sexual orientations.


The paradox of intimacy and sexuality
Differing definitions of love, long-term relationships, and sexual behaviors: A nuanced, relative and multicultural perspective
Sexuality is a window into the self, the "other" and the relationship
Love and sex in the digital age


Attachment blueprint and Erotic Blueprint
"Tell me how you were loved and I'll tell you how you make love."
Emotional and sexual conflicts (intrapersonal, interpersonal and intergenerational)
The inverse correlation between greater emotional intimacy and loss of sexual desire


Erotic Imagination
The four cornerstones of the erotic mind (Jack Morin)
Fantasies as symbolic transpositions of emotional needs
Sex and Trauma


Clinical applications
Develop therapeutic interventions to unlock sexual blocks, open up sexual communication and cultivate eroticism between partners
Dealing with sexual differences without polarizing or pathologizing
Nurture playfulness and mystery in and out of the bedroom
Present an original approach to treat the decline of desire during parenthood
Show how to grant the body its profound capacities for emotional expressiveness Reaching beyond intimacy as mere verbal communication
Transference and counter-transference when working with sexual issues


Examine the motivations behind affairs
The multiple meanings of infidelity
The choices of truth telling, and boundaries
Working with secrets in therapy
Rethinking our clinical attitudes towards Infidelity
Fidelity and monogamy
Three stages of the post revelation crisis
After the Storm: The affair in retrospect

Esther Perel, MA, LMFT, is a master trainer, therapist and workshop leader and an acknowledged international authority on couple therapy. Fluent in nine languages, she brings a rich multi-cultural perspective to her clinical practice, and her writings on cross-cultural relationships, trauma and sexuality. She is the author of the international bestseller Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. Trained and supervised by Dr. Salvador Minuchin, she serves on the faculty of The Family Studies Unit, Department of Psychiatry, New York University Medical Center, The International Trauma Studies Program, and The Ackerman Institute for the Family. She is a member of the American Family Therapy Academy and the International Society for Sex Therapy and Research.

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