- In their book Human Sexual Inadequacy (1970), researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson reported great success for single clients in sex therapy who worked with “partner surrogates.” Someone shortened “sex therapy partner surrogate” to “sex surrogate” and for a time that was the common term. But the term sex surrogates was always a misnomer, and is now just an outdated misnomer. The correct term is Surrogate Partner (or Professional Surrogate Partner).
- The terms sex therapist and sex surrogate (aka surrogate partner) are NOT now and nor have they ever been synonymous. Sex therapists TALK with clients and give experiential homework assignments that are done outside the presence of the therapist. Some of those assignments require a partner. In addition to the talking with clients, surrogate partners engage clients in experiential learning – practicing relaxation, mindfulness, communication and sensual and sexual touch. Sex Therapists are all talk. Surrogate Partners are talk and touch.
- In every human sphere you can find some unethical or inept individuals. This is also true of some people associated with surrogate partner therapy. Anyone can use the term surrogate partner or sex surrogate. Some people claim to be certified or trained but they are neither. The only way to be sure one is not getting snared by con artists is to check their credentials through IPSA. IPSA is a non-profit organization serving the public and the therapeutic community.
- The involvement of an engaged supervising therapist is central to surrogate partner therapy (SPT). Clients are generally in therapy for weeks, months or years before their therapists suggest the possibility of adding a surrogate partner. During Surrogate Partner Therapy, clients see the surrogate partner the continue to see their therapists (usually on a weekly basis) and see the surrogate partner separately. Therapist and surrogate consult with each other (usually by phone), after every session. These consultations center on the client’s response to the relationship and activities with the surrogate partner, discussion of client psychology, and session planning.
Every legitimate SPT program includes an actively involved therapist, an appropriate client, and a trained, ethical professional surrogate partner.