• Rafaella

Intimacy Counseling: What it is and why you need it

Updated: Apr 25

Queer and lesbian couple holding hands

Sometimes when we hear the word intimacy, the first thing that comes to mind is sex. Although that is one important aspect of intimacy, there is so much more to it. Being intimate with someone is about experiencing a level of closeness which can include a combination of mind, body and soul. It’s about feeling connected to those around you in the deepest way possible.

You can experience intimacy in various types of relationships, whether it’s romantic, platonic, or familial. If you’re struggling in this department, intimacy counseling can help.

What is Intimacy Counseling?

Most humans crave intimacy––it’s what makes us feel connected to the people around us and like an important part of a community. However, we aren’t always able to experience intimacy in ways we’d like to. This is where intimacy counseling comes in. Is it the same as couples counseling? not quite.

Intimacy counseling is a service that helps both singles and couples explore intimacy. The goal is to identify any roadblocks keeping you from experiencing the connectedness you desire and deserve. It can easily be confused with sex therapy, but they are different. Sex therapists focus on sex-related issues, but this type of counseling doesn’t have to.

Effective counseling should help you get to a place of trust, vulnerability, and commitment with yourself and others. It is a form of talk therapy that can help you find healthy solutions to intimacy challenges you have.

Different Types of Intimacy

To see whether intimacy counseling is something you need, it’s good to understand the many types of intimacy that exist. Here are a few of the most common.

  • Emotional: Often relates to your feelings and perceived closeness to someone. It could be anything that makes you feel a strong emotional connection such as feeling loved, seen, heard, or safe sharing your feelings.

  • Sexual: When you engage in sensual or sexual activities with someone.

  • Intellectual: The connecting of two minds through meaningful conversation, shared values, or similar interests.

  • Physical: Non-sexual or sexual closeness including hugs, kisses, massages, cuddling, or hand holding.

  • Spiritual: Respect for one another’s individual or shared beliefs, fostering one another’s personal development, and sharing a common goal or purpose.

  • Experiential: Connecting through shared experiences or leisure activities.

How Counseling Can Help

Of all the education we’re given, intimacy isn’t usually at the top of the list. We often receive some unhelpful examples from media, caregivers, or friends. This means we may pick up habits that can keep us from experiencing intimacy and healthy relationships.

Maybe you’re struggling to be intimate with yourself because you can’t get past feelings of shame. Or perhaps a once intimate relationship has suddenly become cold. This wouldn’t be uncommon considering research finds intimacy builds up during the incipient stages of a relationship, and then eventually becomes stagnant.