Lauren Kairys, Intern Sex Therapist
2673769613Lauren “LA” Kairys is an intern therapist at the Center for Growth (6/1/2022 – 6/1/2023). She is currently completing her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and is a student member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (ASSECT), the American Counseling Association, and the Pennsylvania Counseling Association and the PA Society for Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Identities. Lauren plans on pursuing certification as both an AASECT Sexuality Educator and ASSECT Sex Therapist upon completion of her MS program.
Lauren provides a warm, supportive, and non-judgmental environment for all her clients and is mindful of the intersectional identities we all have. She strives to ensure that all her clients feel not only accepted but celebrated while working with her.
Lauren’s interest in sexuality education began when she was completing her undergraduate studies at Temple University, when she realized much of her earlier sexual education programs had felt awkward or rushed and did not adequately address crucial topics such as consent, mutual pleasure, or various forms of contraception. Throughout her time at Temple, Lauren was most interested in adolescent development and the intersections between physical, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing. She realized that her passion for sexual education, physical wellbeing, and mental health counseling all led her to pursue a career in sex therapy.
Lauren went on to pursue her MS at PCOM, where she has focused her studies on trauma, sexual wellness, and LGBT+ communities.
In her graduate program, Lauren has worked as a facilitator for a positive-psychology group wellness program and has presented at conferences on topics including shape and weight concerns within LGBT+ populations and addressing religion and spirituality with clients.
What Sex Therapy Looks Like with Lauren
Lauren believes that sexuality is a fundamental aspect of the human experience. She strives to create a therapeutic environment in which her clients are comfortable discussing sex and intimacy and hopes to normalize discussing such topics. Lauren understands that therapy itself is daunting and recognizes that talking about topics as personal as our sex lives can be even more scary. Lauren provides a warm, welcoming, and supportive space for you to explore these sensitive topics at your own pace – she realizes it can be strange to talk to a stranger about more intimate details of your life, and she’s happy to move as slowly or as quickly as you’re comfortable with.
As a counselor, she helps clients embrace their capacity for erotic pleasure and develop gratifying intimate relationships. Lauren believes everyone deserves to feel empowered, confident, and good about their sexuality and sexual experiences. In addition to helping clients embrace their sexuality, Lauren also assists individuals who are struggling with sexual distress or dysfunction. Common issues Lauren addresses with clients include erectile dysfunction, early ejaculation, difficulty reaching or inability to reach orgasm, lack of desire, partnered desire discrepancies, pain or discomfort during penetration, intrusive or unwanted sexual thoughts, and anxiety surrounding sex and intimacy, including shape and weight concerns and body dysmorphia.
Lauren works with individuals who want to focus on their solo or partnered sexual experiences, as well as with partners who want to improve their communication and sexual functioning together. Lauren also enjoys working with clients regardless of their sexual preferences or practices, including clients who practice BDSM or self-identify as “kinky.”
Lauren’s Sex Therapy Approach
Lauren’s general approach to therapy is a holistic and narrative approach, with techniques pulled from trauma-informed treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and systemic counseling theories. Lauren believes that every client is the expert in their own lives, and that our life stories impact how we view, understand, and respond to the world around us. She finds a narrative approach particularly helpful when working with couples. Lauren helps couples move problems they experience from an internal (inherent to and embedded within their relationship) space to an external (separate, changeable) one. She also finds this approach helpful when members of a couple are perceiving situations through different lenses.
Lauren also utilizes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which looks at an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Using CBT, Lauren helps clients identify thought and behavior patterns that are no longer serving them and works collaboratively with clients to either alter or replace these unhelpful patterns. She uses a trauma-informed approach to ensure the physical and emotional safety of clients during sessions, as well as to empower clients and encourage their active collaboration in therapy. Lauren also considers the bio-psycho-social model when working with clients to explore how biological and social factors are impacting clients’ sexual functioning.
As a queer individual herself, Lauren works with clients who identify with a wide array of sexual orientations and gender identities. Whether you are gay, bisexual, asexual, trans, polyamorous, demisexual, or anything else, Lauren is excited to get to know you. She celebrates all identities and would love to explore what your sexuality means for you.
Topics Addressed in Sex Therapy
There are a variety of topics that can be explored in sex therapy. Below are some more common topics that Lauren addresses (although it is certainly not an exhaustive list!).
Many individuals experience anxiety about sex in some form or another. Some people have anxiety about their sexual performance and ability; others may find it difficult to be present during sexual experiences because they are concerned about the appearance of the body. Regardless of what form that your sex-related anxiety takes, you are not alone and there is hope! You do not need to endure these feelings for the rest of your life. When working with clients struggling with anxiety, Lauren first works with clients to understand to explore underlying causes of their anxiety. She then utilizes cognitive-behavioral techniques, relaxation techniques, and mindfulness to help clients combat thoughts and behaviors that may be contributing to their anxiety and decrease anxiety symptoms.
Sexual dysfunction takes many forms and can have numerous causes. When working with clients who are living with sexual dysfunction, Lauren takes a holistic, multidisciplinary approach as some sexual dysfunctions may have underlying medical causes which should be discussed with a doctor. Sexual dysfunction can damage your self-confidence and can lead to stress in your relationships. Treatment for sexual dysfunction varies depending on the type of dysfunction a client presents with, but Lauren most often uses trauma-informed cognitive-behavioral therapy in treatment.
Common sexual dysfunctions Lauren treats include:
- Lack of interest in sex/sexual desire
- Difficulty reaching or inability to reach orgasm
- Pain or discomfort during intercourse
- Erectile dysfunction
- Early ejaculation
- Intrusive or unwanted sexual thoughts
Chronic Pain Therapy
Chronic pain, whether it’s from a clear and obvious injury or pain that seemingly came out of nowhere, can have a negative impact on our ability to enjoy activities and be present in the moment. Chronic pain can impact our ability to feel good in our bodies and can also decrease our interest in sex and related behaviors. Psychotherapy for chronic pain is similar to treatment for anxiety; it typically targets thoughts involving pain catastrophizing. When working with clients who are struggling with chronic pain, Lauren uses cognitive-behavioral interventions as well as mindfulness and somatic tracking, or paying attention to how our body feels. She also works with clients on relaxation training and addresses other co-occurring issues such as depression and anxiety.
Non-Monogamy and Polyamory
Individuals may seek counseling when they realize that they or one of their partners are interested in exploring non-monogamy or may be seeking counseling to deal with concerns in an already non-monogamous relationship. In therapy, Lauren works with individuals and couples to help establish and navigate new boundaries for a relationship, manage conversations around safe-sex practices, enhance communication skills, and process feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, and loneliness. Some individuals may find that non-monogamy is the right choice for them and for their relationship; others may decide, after some exploration, that they would rather engage in strictly monogamous relationships. Regardless of the structure of your relationship, Lauren is excited to work with you and your partner(s) to help you improve the quality of your relationship.
Relationship Issues and Transitions
Grief is a heavy burden to bear, whether we are dealing with the loss of a loved one or the loss of a relationship. Many individuals seek counseling either after the end of a romantic relationship or while they are deciding if it is time to end a relationship. Lauren helps individuals and couples handle and process relationship troubles and transitions with a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and emotionally focused therapy. Lauren works with clients who are grieving the loss of a romantic relationship and, when they are ready, helps them process their feelings about their former partner and their breakup. She also supports couples who are struggling but want to repair and improve their current relationship.
Outside of the counseling room, Lauren is an avid fan of both live music and of yoga. She lives in Philadelphia with her cats, Ron and Toby, and a handful of houseplants. She likes to spend her free time listening to podcasts, testing out new recipes, and trying to keep the cats from eating her houseplants. (2673769613