Relationship Therapist Charlene Douglas – Experienced sex therapy counsellor, relationship expert and life coach, you might recognise Charlene Douglas as the newest addition to the Married At First Sight UK team.
Based in London, Charlene first realised her passion for teaching young people whilst studying at The University of Manchester in 2004. This led her to embark on a career in counselling and coaching, with a particular focus on sex and relationships. Since then, she has specialised in teaching sexual health to students, has successfully worked with many couples, appeared as a sex therapist on E4’s The Sex Clinic and most recently became the latest addition to the Married At First Sight team as a sex therapist.
Women Talking had the opportunity to touch base with Charlene regarding her career path and relationships today.
What was your career path before becoming a therapist?
“After graduating with my German Studies degree, I started my first role as a Recruitment Agent, before I moved into life coaching for young people. It was there I became interested in discussing sex and relationship issues with young people. I’m presenting the Rising Star Award at Pour Moi’s Uplifting Women Awards this year, which I’m very proud to be involved with. The Rising Star award recognises a woman under 30 who is making a significant impact in her career, demonstrating ambition to build her career in any given industry. My curiosity about relationships, and why people behaved the way they did, led me to train as a Psychodynamic Counsellor and shortly afterwards a Psychosexual Therapist. I realised that the questions young people had about life, were not too dissimilar to questions posed by adults”.
With developing technology, do people, in general, find it more difficult to communicate with one another on a personal and intimate level?
“I think that people have become so used to communicating via technology, that they aren’t always able to find the right words to express how they’re feeling when having a conversation with a loved one. Some people are choosing to text their loved ones important, intimate information relating to their thoughts and feelings, which can create a block for an intimate connection to form.
Texts/WhatsApp can be misinterpreted, as it can be difficult to read the tone of a message. Many of the couples that I work with struggle to look their partner in the eyes when talking to them. They would much rather prefer to have an emotive conversation/disagreement using text or WhatsApp”.
Do you have any general tips on how to reconnect with your partner?
“Set aside time that is mutually convenient to talk to your partner about what you are feeling, and to allow the space to listen to what it is they would like to share. Remove all distractions including mobile devices, so that your attention can be solely on the conversation. It’s important to be mentally and emotionally present when connecting with your partner”.
Can all intimacy challenges and barriers be overcome?
“The desire and determination to overcome intimacy barriers and challenges need to be there to give yourself the best possible chance of finding a solution. For some intimacy issues, further exploration is required to identify the root cause. The key is to work on the cause of the intimacy issue, perhaps this is linked to a trauma, a lack of trust in a partner, confidence issues or a limiting, nonfactual belief about what their body can do”.
From your experience, has sex therapy changed over the years?
“I feel like sex therapy has moved more towards exploring pleasure, and away from the medical, functional aspects of sex. My work usually involves helping people to listen to what their body wants and needs and to shut themselves off from what society has told them that they should be enjoying. When people understand that they have a choice when it comes to sex, they are often left feeling less distressed and more empowered”.
Charlene is part of the all-female judging panel for the Pour Moi Uplifting Women Awards. Nominations are open until Wednesday 5th April.