Shawn and Kerrie

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Homework assignments are a common part of sex therapy, Dr. Berman says. "It's specific information about what's happening in your sex life and how you can resolve it from a mind/body perspective," she says. "So the couple's sent home with homework assignments that they do on their own away from therapy, and then they come back and report."

For his homework assignment, Dr. Berman wants Shawn to look at his wife's vulva. "Just look," she says. "Take a few minutes to make a little visual assessment of what's in Kerrie's genitals."

Later that night, a tired Shawn takes a peek, but Kerrie isn't satisfied with his effort. "You did not look at that place long," she says. "I'm telling. You're completing your assignment half-assed."

Shawn disagrees. "She didn't put a time limit on that," Shawn says.

When Kerrie talks to Dr. Berman, she says she feels that Shawn was half-hearted on his homework. When Shawn talks to Dr. Berman, he says that he was comfortable with the assignment—but Kerrie wasn't. "I could see almost a sense of embarrassment," he says.

Later in the car, Kerrie and Shawn discuss what they each talked about with Dr. Berman. "Maybe my halfheartedness was due to your uncomfortableness," Shawn says.

"Maybe my uncomfortableness was due to your halfheartedness," Kerrie says.

Dr. Berman says it's natural for women like Kerrie to feel some unease. "She's got poor genital self-image herself," she says. "She's uncomfortable receiving that pleasure orally, and she's uncomfortable with her genitals. She's self-conscious about how they look or how they smell or how they appear."
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FROM: Sex Therapy 2: Fears, Fantasies, Faking It
Published on November 21, 2008

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