San Francisco Bay Area Sex Therapy & Relationship Experts Speak on how to create secure-functioning within open-relationships & other nontraditional relationship configurations.

San Francisco East Bay LGBTQ+ Queer Couples Counseling & Sex Therapy. We celebrate diversity and all of our clinicians are LGBTQ+ sensitive and/or identify as such. We support sexual and gender diversity, kink, poly, and other non-traditional relationship configurations. We believe in creating a safe and confidential therapeutic space without judgement or lack of cultural needs.

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San Francisco Bay Area Relationship & Sex Therapy

Our relationship counselors & sex therapists understand the unique needs and issues for nontraditional partner configurations and non-monogamous individuals and partners. We are LGBTQ, Kink, Poly and trauma informed and are specifically trained to help cultivate deeper, intimate and more satisfying partnerships from a shame-free and empowerment paradigm.

Non-monogamy, open relationships, multi-partner relationships or polyamorous partnerships have unique needs for relationship and sex therapy. 

When previously monogamous couples mutually realize that having one sexual partner doesn’t work for either of them, they may consciously decide to explore open relationships. This requires advanced levels of emotional and relational intelligence, awareness, communication skills and trust. Our highly trained and specialized San Francisco Bay Area Relationship and Sex Therapists can assists you and your partner(s) in navigating relationship boundaries, identifying needs and fantasies and help you process feelings of insecurity, jealously, fear, excitement, curiosity and desire. We will assist you in co-creating a relationship contract or explicitly stated and mutually understood agreement that works for all partners while maintaining secure attachment (emotional safety and trust in knowing your partner(s) is there for you.

However, this non-traditional relationship approach may bring with it many unanticipated fears, needs and feelings. This is especially true when one or more partners have attachment trauma from childhood (insecure attachment styles) or when one partner wants to open the relationship and the other has ambivalence or does not want to open to other partners and/or lovers.  Our top-rated East Bay Attachment-Based Couples Counselors, Relationship Coaches, Certified Sex Therapists Licensed, Psychologists and Psychotherapists would love to help you explore how open relationships may flow for you and navigate any obstacles that may arise.

As with dyadic partnerships (couples), other healthy relationship configurations need to operate from a place of secure-functioning, which means the individuals feel emotionally attuned to, safe, trusted and trusting, respected and together in this adventure of a relationship and life.

Our SF East Bay Relationship Counselors and Sex Therapists are experts in facilitating partners in cultivating emotional and sexual security, deepen intimacy and develop more effective relationship skills, such as communication, identifying and expressing core feelings and needs and being in true partnership together.

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Get Deeper Love and Connection This New Year! San Francisco East Bay Couples Counselors & Sex Therapists Speak on How to Build a Secure Relationship

As the year draws to a close many people create lofty New Years resolutions and set intentions and goals to have their best year ever. For many single people, finding love often ends up in the center of their vision board or top of their New Years goals list. What happens to couples once they have found the love they so desperately once longed for? Often love no longer makes it on the New Year’s Resolution list because we already have our partner, so why focus on more love? We tend to get more of what we focus on, so if we put energy and focus on love, the more love we can have in our life. Unfortunately, we often do the opposite and instead focus on what is not working, so we get more of that. It’s time to put love back on the list and keep it as a top priority.

Many couples end up in my therapy office because they have somehow drifted apart and have lost that feeling of love, intimacy, and connection they once had with each other. In today's fast-paced world it is so easy to get caught up and distracted by things like work stressors, children's schedules, family obligations, technology, and social media, just to name a few. When this happens couples may lose sight of each other and often one or both may start to feel neglected or taken for granted. During a recent session, one partner confessed that "I just assume that I'll catch up with my partner whenever because, after-all, were together for life". Meanwhile her partner has been feeling like they've become more like roommates, seeing each other in passing and not knowing what the other is going through. This lack of connection led one of them to question the relationship and seek out couples therapy.

Sound Relationship House Theory

In renowned Couples Therapist and researcher Dr. John Gottman's “Sound Relationship House Theory”, he uses the metaphor of a house having different areas which need to be maintained and worked on in order to have a strong house. If one area is weak, over time it can cause the house to fall apart. In couples therapy there are exercises that couples can do to maintain and strengthen the different areas of the house. The foundation of the house is what Gottman refers to as “Enhancing Your Love Maps” which is essentially knowing your partner and staying current about what is going on in their world. This level often gets neglected in long term relationships because partners assume they know their partner already and they assume they will be alerted to any new information as needed. 

San Francisco Couple Counseling and Sex Therapy Sounds-Relationship-House.jpg

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This assumption is a false one because just like the world is changing rapidly every minute, so are we and our partners. It’s a challenge to keep up with all of the new information coming at us from different directions and so much can happen in a day, let alone a week. Without staying current on each other’s worlds, partners may find themselves feeling distant, lonely, and like they hardly know their partner who lives under the same roof. Knowing your partner not only deepens your connection, but helps prepare couples for stressful events such as illness of a parent or having a new baby. In one study of new parents by Dr. Gottman it was found that after the birth of their first baby 67% of couples experienced a decline in marital satisfaction while the other 33% saw an improvement. The difference between those that saw an increase versus those who had a decline was, love maps. Those who knew their partners deeply and kept current of their changing worlds, continued to feel closer and more connected versus those who did not.

The Love Map Game

Dr. Gottman created a fun game that can be used by couples to assess how well they know their partners, and to get current on each other’s world, using The Love Map Game, available as a card deck or free phone app. I’ve included some sample questions below if you want to try this at home with your partner or any other person you consider close to in order to deeper your bond and connection.

The way this game works is one partner pulls a card or picks a question from the list. They read the question out loud to the other partner and then that same partner answers the question. The other partner then confirms they are correct or provides the most current information. For example, Partner A picks the question: Name your partners two closest friends. Partner A then proceeds to name the people who they believe are their partners two closest friends (Jill and Jane). Partner B responds by confirming that they are right or gives them more current information. For example, Partner B may respond, “Yes, you are right that one of my close friends is still Jane and we talk daily, however I am no longer close with Jill because I don’t feel I can rely on her ever since she agreed to help with my party and then bailed on me last minute. That’s the 3rd time she has let me down, so I no longer consider her my close friend. Now I would say my second best friend is actually Patricia.”  Then you would switch turns and go back and forth picking and answering questions.

This is meant to be a fun and lighthearted game with the goal being deeper connection and allowing yourself to know and be known by your partner.

With this in mind, when giving your partner up to date information, do your best to keep it positive and acknowledge your partner for trying to answer the question even if they are wrong. It won’t feel fun if every time they get the answer wrong you criticize them for not knowing you. Instead, try to keep in mind that your partner is actually interested in knowing you and what is current in your world so it helps to encourage them to do this.

Sample Questions from Love Map Game:

1. Who is my favorite artist or composer?

2. What was my worst childhood experience?

3. What personal improvements do I want to make in my life?

4. Who is my greatest source of support (other than you)?

5. What are some important events coming up in my life? How do I feel about them?

You can see all of the questions in the Gottman Card Deck App- under Love Maps. These decks are currently available for free in the app store: There are several other card decks included that are great for deepening your knowledge of each other providing other insightful questions around life and sexuality.

If you find yourself wanting to reconnect with your partner yet unable to connect without conflict, you may need some outside support

In some relationships there may be resentment and conflict present which may prevent you from being able to interact and have these sorts of deep, connected conversations with each other. . One of our trained and highly skilled therapists and coaches can help facilitate your reconnection.

Let us help you get the love and connection you desire this New Year and beyond.  


10012720_10152050734092843_1619463177_o.jpgBy Victoria King, LMFT, San Francisco Bay Area Couples Therapy, Sex Therapist  & Relationship Therapist

East Bay's Leading Sex Therapy & Couples Counselors

Blog Author: Victoria King, LMFT, Sex & Relationship Therapist

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Partner Doesn’t Orgasm?


Seven Ways Not To Take It Personally!

You, like many other people, could be taking it personally when your partner doesn’t come to orgasm during love-making. Are you worried that you’ve done something wrong? Do you wonder if you aren’t pleasing them at all?  Have these frustrations contributed to a fight or a tense moment which has led to a missed opportunity for sexual connection?

Orgasm can be a very elusive for many people.  Our San Francisco Bay Area Couples Counselors & Sex Therapists see all genders in our therapy practices who report having a difficult time coming to orgasm.  A lot of people are frustrated, angry at themselves, ready to give up hope and pretty depressed about their inability to orgasm during sex.

Orgasms are healthy and wonderful and it’s great for everyone to have them, however, pleasure is the goal in love-making and being frustrated and tense is not the way to go.  When the non-orgasmic person is frustrated and you are frustrated it causes a real lack of possibilities for true pleasure and satisfaction to happen.

Here are some simple ways you can stop taking it personally and enjoy your own body’s pleasure:

  1. It’s not you. While it can be tempting to believe that you have control over your partner’s orgasm it may be truer that their body’s functioning has to do with what’s going on with them, not with you.
  2. Have some patience.  Usually, it’s the person who is unable to achieve orgasm that is suffering more than you. Have patience with them as they go through their emotions.
  3. Ask how they like to be touched.  When tension and frustrations arise it can be easy to neglect healthy communication.  Healthy communication with your partner includes asking them how they like to be touched.  Asking questions like, “what pressure do you like”? “where do you feel the most sensation in your body”? “what type of touch arouses you”?  brings a sense of comfort and curiosity to the dynamic.  Sometimes people are so busy getting to the “finish line” that they forget the journey is the most important part of getting there!
  4. If you are sexually frustrated and can’t be present for your partner, take some time out for yourself and your own pleasure.  If you want your partner to orgasm so much that you are neglecting your own needs, take a break and masturbate! It’s okay to masturbate in front of your partner and it can be sexy too.  Sometimes, taking the pressure off the orgasm of your lover and putting the attention on yourself can break some of the tension.  Then, go back to making out and finding ways to please them.
  5. Engage in some slow, sensual foreplay and massage.  Bring the energy and tension down by going back to the basics.  If everyone is tense and frustrated they are not experiencing pleasure so enjoy some gentle, slow caressing and sensual massage.  Remember, Get Out of Your Head And Into Your Body  (if you want to have great sex).
  6. Enjoy the moment, whatever it takes.  If you are processing verbally and emotionally during sex, don’t.  Take a shower together, give each other acknowledgments and gratitudes, do some breathing together and enjoy each other.  Striving for orgasm and feeling like it’s your fault that you can’t “give” your partner an orgasm is a missed opportunity to simply enjoy each other.
  7. Learn some creative, fun techniques and learn how your partner’s body works.  We are all different and we all come to orgasm is our own unique ways.  For some, they need a little fantasy role-play, others need a little verbal stimulation through “dirty talk”, some peoples bodies take a longer time to warm up and become aroused.   Learn how your partner’s body works as well as a few techniques to help them along the way.

You are in this together and you can be a team! If you feel down about yourself come back to these steps again and again.  There is a lot of good that can happen by letting ourselves off the hook and instead, maintaining a sense of team-work and creativity in the process.

At North Berkeley Couples Therapy Therapy Center, our highly trained couples and sex therapists have helped hundreds of partners turn their whole relationships around by learning how to be a team when it comes to sex and leaning into the experience of getting to know each other in a whole new way.

Remember, it’s all about Pleasure and you deserve it!

How Sex & Couples Therapy Can Help

San Francisco Bay Area's Top-Rated Couples & Marriage Counselors & Sex Therapists can help you build intimate, lasting and loving partnerships. 

East Bay Sex Therapist & Author: Dr. Anya de Montigny, DHS is a sexuality expert with over 20 years experience working with individuals, couples, and groups. Dr. Anya has a Doctor of Human Sexuality (DHS) degree, is a certified sex educator and certified sex coach and was the host of the popular radio show The O Word Sex Talk Radio. Dr. Anya has a private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area working with individuals and couples and invites straight and LGBTQ people into her practice. She also teaches adult sex education classes as well as consent & boundaries workshops at Universities and Colleges.



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Creating Your Couple Bubble: East Bay Couples & Sex Therapy Tips for a Better Relationship

This intimacy building exercise is adapted from Dr. Stan Tatkin's Psychobiologial Approach to Couple Therapy (PACT) and his book "Wired for Love."

East Bay Couples therapist, East Bay psychologists, East Bay Sex Therapy,

Creating Your Couple Bubble


By creating a “couple bubble,” you will be utilizing the power of the brain to create a sense of safety and a secure attachment both in yourself in your partner.  When this sense of safety exists, you’ll both be equipped to relax and bring your best selves to the relationship.


Your partner should embody your “safe zone” – where you go for respite and a feeling of being wanted and fully accepted. 


“The Couple Bubble is an intimate environment that partners create and sustain together that implicitly guarantees such things as:

•I will never leave you.

•I will never hurt or frighten you purposely.

•When you are in distress, I will do my best to relieve you, even if (especially if!) I am the cause of that distress.

•Our relationship is more important than my need to be right, what other people think, or any other competing value.

•You will be the first person I come to with information, not the second, third or fourth.

•I will always have your back.

•Our relationship comes first.


Exercise:  How close are you?


1. Do you agree with the guarantees listed above? If not, which ones would you remove from your list?

2. What other guarantees wouldyou like to give?

3. What guarantees would you like to receive?


Remember, you do not have to receive a guarantee from your partner in order to provide one.  Each day, look for moments in which you can express your feelings of closeness and promise safety in the relationship.


*The Couple Bubble concept is taken from “Wired for Love” and “Your Brain on Love,”by Stan Tatkin, PsyD

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