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“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.”                   ~Mary Oliver

What is a Surrogate Partner?

Someone may reach a point where they realize some aspect of their social or sexual life is not working for them. It may be a specific complaint or just a feeling that something is not as rewarding or fulfilling as it could be. It may help to explore the matter through therapy, and therapists have found that when the client has an opportunity to experience or practice what they are exploring through therapy, the therapeutic process is more effective. This is where a surrogate partner comes in.

A surrogate partner is a trained professional whose role is to partner with the client. The therapist, surrogate partner, and client, working together, design experiential exercises that remove anxiety and build awareness and skills in the areas the client wishes to enhance. Exercises are chosen for their therapeutic value and relevance to the client's goals, but generally involve trust, body image, touch, relaxation, communication, social skills, sensuality, and physical and emotional intimacy. The surrogate partner participates with the client in these exercises. The surrogate partner and client form a temporary relationship for the sake of reaching the client's therapeutic goals.

Because of the intimate nature of the work, and the absence of traditional therapeutic boundaries, it is important that the client has the support of the therapist to help them understand and process any resistance, fears, and feelings that may arise during their work with the surrogate partner. No ethical surrogate partner works without this support, so clients not already seeing a therapist/counselor will be referred to one before starting work with the surrogate partner.

"I have known Andrew for over a decade in his role staffing our workshops on Love, Intimacy and Sexuality. One of his strongest qualities is his incredibly kind presence. In the areas of intimacy and sexuality, a certain amount of delicateness and sensitivity is required. Andrew has those qualities as well as the ability to understand someone's more subtle needs.

"I believe his work as a surrogate partner is a spiritual gift to whomever works with him. Andrew is a kind, deep soul, who is very present and respectful. He is an amazing human."

Peter Sandhill, Facilitator,
Human Awareness Institute

Copyright © 2010–2017 Andrew Heartman

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