Naked therapy gives a new meaning to baring it all with your therapist. Although men seem to be most drawn to this new type of therapy, women can still possibly get some benefits.
“Naked Therapy is a form of talk therapy in which the therapist and/or the patient get naked in an environment in which arousal (physical, emotional and/or intellectual) is encouraged and utilized to arrive at unique self-discoveries,” according to the website. “Naked Therapy is based on the assertion that it is not enough to say a person seeks arousal just 'because he naturally wants sex.' People seek physical arousal not only to feel physically good, but for the psychological benefits and effects of it.”
A Google search will bring up all sorts of articles disputing this therapy’s legitimacy, and the therapists aren’t licensed through any official process. However, Sarah White, the founder of Naked Therapy and the concept of “power through arousal,” believes that her therapy can help people discover more about themselves.
“I'm not licensed but am highly educated,” White said in an email. On her website, she stated that she majored in psychology, biology and art as an undergraduate and is still pursuing further psychology education. “It's a new form of therapy - I founded it in 2010 - and I am currently looking into the most effective research methods for assessing that.”
It does appear that there was nude psychotherapy in the 1960s, created by Paul Bindrim, according to various articles. There is also a book called “Therapy, Nudity & Joy: The Therapeutic Use of Nudity Through the Ages from Ancient Ritual to Modern Psychology,” by Aileen Goodson, printed in 1991. However, White’s nude therapy seems to be the most current form.
The naked therapy website stated that patients come to naked therapy for different reasons, including relationships issues, sex issues, pornography addiction, frustration and confidence issues. Some don’t necessarily have anything “wrong” with them, but just want to try a unique experience. Some might just come for the nudity itself.
“Nudity is part of it,” White said. “All my clients so far have come for the right reasons.”
There are in-person and web cam sessions, and both therapist and patient are allowed to get naked in sessions. Although masturbation is allowed, physical contact is not, according to the website. White said no patients have tried to take advantage of her.
White said that she decided to become a naked therapist because “I wanted to try a new way if helping people.”
“Many of my patients express feeling happier and more powerful and I consider that a good measure of success,” she said.
Currently there are three female naked therapists (including White) and one gay male naked therapist. White expects to have more male therapists in the future. All except White are therapists-in-training, and they all appear to be in shape, but White said “it's not a necessary requirement.”
Some women might be discouraged from therapy sessions just because of that – they might feel threatened or envious when faced with young, naked model-type therapists. However, White suggests that women can be helped from this type of therapy.
“I think it's potentially a very valuable form of therapy for women as well and I encourage them to try it,” White said. “I think women could get a lot in terms of improving their body image and improving their relationships with men.”
Women with self-esteem issues could be helped by this therapy as well, she said.
Sessions are one hour each, and the price varies with the therapist. White’s sessions are $200 an hour for a webcam session, whereas a session with Carli Moore, a naked therapist-in-training, is $120.
Moore said in an email that she was drawn to naked therapy because of her uncomfortable experience with other therapists.
“This therapy forms the environment where there is a balance of the nature of talk therapy by exposing more about themselves and letting you into their world of advice and legitimacy,” Moore said.
She believes she has helped patients, just like White.
“I have had many patients come to me lost, with problems they don’t know how to share or fix, and have left with a better outlook on themselves and their lives,” Moore said. “We try to give them an insightful experience where they can find out more about themselves.”
She said there are a wide variety of patients who come to her.
“The types of patients I treat vary widely, from the socially withdrawn to the most outgoing doctors, to the moderately disabled,” Moore said. “The patients are always intelligent people that just want more insight to themselves and want to understand the concept of being free to talk about whatever they want and have nudity not be a wall of secrecy.”
Like White, she said she has not been taken advantage of during any sessions.
“I think if it did happen, I would consider that a need of treatment, and if I couldn’t get to the bottom of why they would take advantage of that and act that way, then I would consider their actions not for therapeutic purposes and discontinue further conversations,” Moore said.
She counters the assumption that this form of therapy is a form of pornography.
“We aren’t exploiting ourselves in the way porn does,” Moore said. “This is a form of therapy where you accept nudity in its natural form and we learn about that through the process. Changing times call for different measures of addressing problems and this is a new outlet to do that.”
She is hopeful that more women will start coming to naked therapy.
“I would love to see a woman in this therapy,” Moore said. “We can start our journey into realizing that nudity makes you genuine and open and you should be proud of your body in any form. Sometimes life-changing experiences change they way you view yourself, and I would like to see women be able to talk openly about everything, and not always think it’s sexualized.”
Women can get many benefits from naked therapy, including “learning that we are all the same, regardless of our differences and we should embrace our bodies and open up on another level of self-acceptance,” she said.
Although it can be a scary thought to bare your body, rolls and all, to a complete stranger who also happens to be super sexy according to society’s standards, the nudity involved in this therapy can address self-esteem and body image problems.
“I think that conversation while naked makes a huge impact on how you feel naked and by expressing ourselves in our natural state we can open our minds to loving our bodies in all of our forms,” Moore said.
She acknowledged that all the therapists are in good shape, but that confidence is what matters.
“I would think that we are all about a healthy life and having a healthy life leads to a healthy body, but with the act of promoting naked therapy you must have confidence, and I think regardless of your body style or type, if you have confidence that is what this therapy is all about while instilling it in our patients,” Moore said.
What do you think? Would you ever try naked therapy? Have you? Are you interested in becoming a naked therapist? Do you think it’s a legitimate form of therapy that women could benefit from?
White, Sarah. Email interview. July 10, 2011.
Moore, Carli. Email interview. July 12, 2011.
Reviewed July 13, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton