Who are you?
How does your sexuality fit into who you are?
These were the first questions I asked the women
I interviewed for
These interviews, and others, guided the creation
of the 16-page Ellison/Zilbergeld Survey
that asked women about how they experience and express their sexualities.
What these women told me -- in their interviews and through the Survey
-- forms the foundation of this book.
Professionally, I've been a licensed psychologist and also a licensed
marriage and family therapist specializing in issues of sexuality and
intimacy for over 20 years; in addition, I teach sexuality courses for
mental health professionals and therapists-in-training. I am certified
by AASECT as a sex educator and as a sex therapist. (AASECT is the American
Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, & Therapists.) I'm also
a research fellow of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.
When I do sex therapy, I wear at least three hats:
1. sexual choreographer
in which I am a coach facilitator, and instructor
for creating erotic pleasure.
2. sexual detective/problem solver, in which I try to figure out, diagnose,
what is going on in the sexual problems my clients bring to me.
3. sexual advisor, in which I assume the role of mentor, knowledgeable
teacher, trainer, guide, educator, counselor, tutor, consultant, and provide
solutions to problems and other relevant and appropriate information.
In my personal life, I'm blessed with a wonderful life partner; he brings
happiness and serenity into my life and we laugh together every day. I
have a son, three daughters and two grandchildren. Like you, I've had
to make decisions and find my way with respect to my sexuality. And like
you (if you're like most people), sometimes I did this wisely, sometimes
In my research I've been particularly interested in variations in how
women experience their sexualities and in how sexuality fits into the
various ages and contexts of women's lives.
How do we become who we are?
What are the developmental milestones on the path to sexual womanhood
that contribute to a positive sexual self image?
What makes sex meaningful and satisfying?
And what detracts from sexual well being and a positive sense of self?
I hope you will find Women's Sexualities
a valuable resource.
Dr. Carol Rinkleib Ellison