We present an interview with the founder of Sensual Solutions, Trish St. John. Located in British Columbia, SENSUAL SOLUTIONS provides intimacy coaching and sexual surrogacy for individuals with disabilities. In appreciation of her time we are establishing a 20% discount for readers. Simply enter TRISH in the discount code window at checkout and you will receive 20% discount off our Sex & Disabilities Collection.
Also Trish has asked us to include Spinal Cord Injury British Columbia in our Coupons for Causes program. This means that if you use discount code SCIBC at checkout, we will take 7.5% off your order (excluding shipping) and we will make a donation in the same amount to SCI-BC.
How did your organization get its name?
I was driving in my car mulling over names. I wanted the name to convey an answer to a problem and I felt we had to have something that was sexy and could be googled easily. Once I said the name out loud, it stuck! Sensual Solutions.
Please tell us about your organization and how it came about. What kinds of services or programs does Sensual Solutions provide?
If you look on the website's 'founder' page you'll be able to read the story in full. http://www.sensualsolutions.ca/
We provide education, awareness, advocacy and assisted or facilitated intimate services for men, women, and couples with physical disabilities in the Greater Vancouver area. From cuddling and kanoodling to erotic energy work and more, we help our clients understand, explore and ignite their personal passion. Pleasure without apology!
How does Sensual Solutions differ from other organizations?
I don't think there is another organization like this in Canada. Health organizations offer information about sexual health and we take it to the next level to give our clients a way to experience the information and explore further. We take the theory and apply it practically.
How do your programs enhance customers' experiences?
Just read our testimonials. Minds are blown.....lol. We not only make a difference with our clients but also with many parents of adult children with disabilities who are grateful they have a resource to turn to.
Adult toys have gone mainstream. We see them everywhere from Walmart and Target to Rite-Aid and of course on Amazon. How has mainstream acceptance affected your group and how you develop programs or interface with the public?
Mainstream acceptance is not 100% across the board. We still come across people from the stone-age who feel that people with disabilities are not sexual beings and therefore do not condone what our organization does. Having said that, at this point in time we are really seeing and feeling a positive shift around the world for the human and sexual rights of persons with disability. Many countries offer intimacy services either through sex workers, surrogates, or clinical studies such as the case in Israel.
We've opted to interface with the public by branding our organization as more of a medical model and part of everyday good health. With the advent of a variety of sexual and sexuality-type services and education today, it's no longer about lumping sex work under prostitution as the 'spectrum' of sex work is evolving -- somatic sexology, sex surrogates, tantra practitioners, yoni massage, rehab spinal cord injury sperm retrieval, and many other modalities under the Human Sexuality umbrella.
Who is your target market?
Adult men, women, and couples with physical disabilities; doctors, relationship and sex therapists, parents of adult children living with disability, health care education system.
What would you like clients to know about your programs and organization that marketing materials might not adequately communicate?
Use the service and help us break down barriers about sexuality and disability.
What are there programs or resources which your group provides that do not get enough recognition?
What kind of regulation or oversight affects your organization?
It’s a pioneering field so its legally unregulated however some would argue differently.
How do you evaluate the effectiveness of the services and education you provide?
We ask our clients. We provide pre and post session questions and survey. We measure feedback, referrals, repeat clients, and social media tracking.
Who are three others in your field whom you admire and why? What makes them different or distinctive?
Rachel Wooten (Australia), Cheryl Cohen-Brown (USA), Andrew Gurza (Canada).
Is there a more polite term or appropriate term we should use when discussing this subject?
Sexual surrogacy or facilitated or assisted sexual health. And thanks for asking!
Can you please explain the most common challenges faced by those with physical disabilities?
I cannot speak for all, but depending on the injury or disability, I hear and read that depression, isolation but also lack of privacy, are huge issues.
What are common misconceptions that both disabled and non-disabled persons have when it comes to sex and sexual wellness?
Some common misconceptions from disabled people is:
- Spinal cord injury - I'll never be able to have sex or have children - this is inaccurate
- I won't be able to achieve orgasm
- I won't be a good sexual partner
- I am not sexy or feel sexy or look sexy
The able-bodied population has misconceptions about people with disabilities having sexual pleasure. Many people who use wheelchairs are asked outright by strangers about their sex life and how they "do it."
What kind of training for healthcare professionals receive when it comes to sexual wellness?
Lots of materials and training is available and very useful information. It's just 'applying' the information that seems to be a huge ethical and legal barrier.
Since we do sell products for all walks of life, what are some products you recommend?
Anything that someone can use who has limited use of their hands and arms - i.e. VELCRO® straps are helpful. Intimate rider, foam wedge, bean bag chair, Magic Wand, etc are all popular. Virtual reality and other products like the life-like dolls from Japan are pretty amazing too! Who knows what we'll have in 20 years that will help anyone who is isolated or far away from their lover.
Anything to do with brain mapping and retraining the pleasure/erogenous zones from non-working parts to other areas of the body that have sensation. I am hopeful that virtual reality or artificial intelligence will play a role in this.
Have you ever encountered problems with the design of sexual wellness products because of physical limitation or disability? Please describe.
Yes. Too clunky, too hard plastic, too hard to hold, too embarrassing, too loud.
What are some recommendations you have for disabled people to build their self-esteem and feeling of “sexiness”?
We find that there is no single sex toy that works for everyone because everyone is different, everyone has some limitation or idiosyncrasy that affects their tastes or sensitivities. The same is true for disabilities as each limitation is different and affects people uniquely. What are some of the more common products that your clients and students have reported as effective?
Don't have this info unfortunately.
What are some of the criteria you recommend for clients and students when choosing a toy?
Easy to use, easy to clean, discreet, not too noisy : ), controllable either through attachments or keyboard/remote control, not too expensive, nothing where you have to put in batteries or ask your care aide for help. Almost need a "selfie stick" that bends easily!