Who is Tatyana Zagorovskaya in a nutshell?
Tatyana Zagorovskaya is, first of all, a person. A person which in the ninth grade began to dream of becoming a psychologist. Now I am a psychologist, a sex therapist, an author of the book “Sweet Life”, this is a psychologist's advice on how to live happily. Now I do group and individual therapy, so I believe that the dream has come true. My specialty means that I will study all my life, and I really like this, because the horizons for development are endless.
You write a lot about sex. What happened to you before – a sexologist or a psychologist, and how did you come to the concept of “sex psychologist”?
I came up with the concept of “sex psychologist” myself so that my clients understand what this activity is about. A sexologist is a psychiatrist who received additional qualifications in sexology. I'm not a doctor, I am a psychologist and when people read “sextherapist”, they do not really understand what it is all about. They think that I will treat them, that I will give some tests for them, they have some terrible pictures in their minds. I decided that the term “sex psychologist” would be clearer and they will they get used to it more easily. In general, I am a sex therapist. This qualification I received 2 years ago with French sex-therapists Alan and Mary Eril.
You work in different directions: art therapy, gestalt therapy, body-oriented therapy. Which direction is closer to you personally and why?
Gestalt therapy is a whole worldview. I really love this direction because we get in touch with the client, build healthy high-quality relationships, through which he gets a kind, supportive, healing experience. The rest of the methods I use in aggregation and call it the body awareness method. This is necessary in order for a person to acquire contact with his or her body, to better feel what is happening in it, and to make it more alive. For example, art therapy is a great help to uncover sexual fantasies, through which we can get deeper into what is happening to a person and help him. It often happens that we either deny some things or do not know about them. Various methods contribute to the fact that a person begins to play with all his qualities.
It turns out that sexuality can be revealed through art therapy. Can I have an example? I don't really understand yet.
For example, a couple comes to me. It is difficult for a woman to talk about sex, but a man has already fantasized a lot and would like to try it all. And this woman is even not against it but it is almost impossible to discuss such an intimate question with her – she simply cannot talk about it. In such a situation, I can offer her to draw in colors what and how she thinks. She does not need to have any skills and draw anything sensible. Here it is important to simply convey the mood, some atmosphere using colors. Then gradually the woman realizes that it is safe, and we can cover it with words. After discussion, sometimes we turn to bodily practices.
What do you do when a person says that he cannot draw and will not do it?
Sometimes I can draw in parallel, I say that I can’t either, let's try together. Or I might say, “Take a writing object such as pencils or a paintbrush in your left hand or in your non-working hand”. It is already clear that a person is not expected to have any superpowers.
What is most often helpful in dealing with a sexual topic? What are the most common methods?
The main thing for me is visible boundaries with me. That is, we build the main interaction first, this gives security.
You can compare this with a child who begins to master the world at the age of two. If he has an attachment to his mother, and she suddenly disappears, and then returns, the child will constantly cling to her skirt. It is extremely difficult for a small person to explore the world in such a state, because the child tries to follow his mother all the time. It's about the same with sexuality. That is, while there are no clear, understandable boundaries, it is very difficult for a person to relax and begin to get to know his body, the world, and another person. It is difficult for him to let himself relax. This is the first and foremost thing.
I also really like working with fantasies – through them you can understand a lot. Some are even scared of their thoughts in this vein, but when we analyze everything, it becomes more transparent. One of the functions of fantasy is to master a reality in which a person does not feel confident and in control. Therefore, he begins to fantasize something, and just there he takes everything into his own hands.
It also helps me a lot that I am always on the client’s side – I accept it in any form. I think this is what gives the maximum gradual acceptance by a person of himself: his body, the fact that he is alive and that anything can happen to him.
Now we are talking about working with individual clients, but what about working with a couple? What kind of things work there?
Again, borders. We build them. As it often happens that in a couple they are violated. A person cannot say “no” or cannot fully agree, therefore he is self-forced. This is a very common story: so that the partner feels good, so that he or she will not leave. Moreover, it works in any direction. Not surprisingly, at some point, sexual desire may disappear altogether, and with this partner in particular.
We learn to calmly communicate and create a conflict, because many people are afraid to do it. For example, Alena, when you look at me directly in the eyes, I feel fear, so please, could you not look me straight in the eyes. This is a simple example, but here you can see the formula by which we talk about our feelings, and it helps a lot.
It also helps when couple come to me together. Because it turns out that they have found time for each other and can overcome something together. That is, this is such a kind of team-building. Very often it seems that sex is about naked bodies. However, it consists of very simple everyday things: who washed the dishes and who did not, when send the children to bed, did we have an hour left for each other after that? Can we allocate time in our very busy work schedule to take a walk in the park, drink coffee, hold hands? This is what determines whether we will have sex later. That is not every couple reaches some kind of superfantasies, some new practices, sometimes it is not necessary. The first thing you need to do is to establish this daily routine, which often sucks all the sexual juices.
Interesting! And do they come to you with such a request “our sex has evaporated”?
Of course, only with different words. They say that it no longer sparks, it became boring. And usually these are couples who had been together for some time. Very often, such a question rises when the first child is born.
And there are times when a couple comes in, and you see at the first glance that this is a broken cup, you can't glue it? Or does this never happen?
Unfortunately, this happens. This usually happens when there is no mutual respect in the couple. Also, when I see and understand that the sexual temperament is so different that it is just like day and night. That is, one of them wants everything, and another one wants nothing. We cannot squeeze this out of a person, because everyone has their own personality, created by mother-nature. If the couple has strayed apart for long, it may be better to let each other go. And in the case when the marriage is 20 years old and the situation is growing, I find out how it was before. There are completely different situations here.
If you understand that there is no respect in a couple, do you still work with them or turn them down?
I have a scheme that is accepted in Europe and is now used in Russia. First, I meet with a couple and then each person separately. Because it happens that partners hide fr om each other something that is important to me in the framework of therapy. Then we discuss with each of them what they are ready to bring up for discussion. If a person is not ready, then it remains only between us. Sometimes it happens that a person is ready to part. He just needs a little support, a little confidence and understanding of wh ere to go when he gets out. Then I can suggest, if I see that the pair work will not go further, individual work to one of the clients. In parallel with two people, I cannot work, this is a violation of ethics. To the second person, I will recommend one of my colleagues.
Please tell me, how many years have you been working with people as a sex psychologist?
For 2 years, and as a psychologist for almost 6 years.
That’s a decent term! Surely there are some cases that you remember?
You can watch the full version of the interview with Tatyana Zagorovskaya on our YouTube channel.