What is Sex Surrogacy?
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The 2012 movie "The Sessions" is the Hollywood version of a very real, relatively new sex therapy treatment. Sex surrogacy has been around for about 40 years. It involves three people: the client, the surrogate and the therapist. Therapists refer clients to surrogates and stay in contact until the end of treatment.
"The process with surrogacy is very clinical," says Dona Caine Francis. She is a certified sex therapist in Cornelius. She has researched sex surrogacy for several clients, though none have gone through with it. She says the people who could benefit from this treatment include those with physical disabilities, those trying to overcome sexual trauma, or very late bloomers. Francis says, "They're feeling very naive or they've had such negative sex messages either from their parents or church communities, which make them feel kind of unable to step into that arena of sexuality without feeling overwhelmed."
Sex surrogates aren't exactly easy to find. The closest one to Charlotte lives about four and half hours away in Virginia.
"The moment I heard about it, I knew it was something I could do," says Roger Tolle. He is a certified surrogate partner. In the 40 years the practice has been around, he says there has never been a successful legal challenge. Prostitution, he says, is about instant gratification, which is not the case with surrogate therapy. "The process would be months in coming or many sessions in coming as you get to know each other and develop both this deeply personal and deeply therapeutic relationship first," he says.
Francis has practiced in the northeast, the west coast and here in the south. She says attitudes toward surrogate therapy are similar across the country. Her advice starts at home. She says, "The more we can be askable parents and address these sexual conversations as a child grows, i think if opens the opportunity for sexual comfort."
The fee for a surrogate is usually in line with what the therapist charges. In this case, around $120 an hour. Most clients generally require 12 to 25 sessions. Insurance doesn't cover surrogate therapy.