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What is it like to be a sex, love and relationship coach? Andrea Tan of Athena Rising lets us in on her work 

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In an interview with Vox, Dr. Orna Guralnik, a clinical psychologist and star of Showtime’s engrossing reality TV series Couples Therapy underlines the pressure that comes with her job.

“It’s a very ethical profession,” she says. “You take on responsibility for other people, and there are a lot of things that are set as parameters to keep the space safe — to know what are the limits of how much contact you have, how much they know about you.”

This revelation — as well as the show — illuminates the work of a therapist/coach sitting on the opposite side of the couch. It’s also something that Andrea Tan, a certified sex, love and intimacy coach, can certainly relate to: “I wish there was less trivialisation of the work and transformation that is being done in the coaching journey,” says Tan. “Many look on from the outside and make sweeping comments about not wanting to pay for coaching or being able to ‘read it off a book’. While I try to make the majority of my content accessible, the expertise of a trained coach (especially one in love and intimacy) requires training, practice and integrity. Transformation and healing in some of the deepest areas around emotions, love and intimacy is life-changing – not just for the client, but those they go on to impact around them.”

Andrea Tan

Thanks to German brand Womanizer, which recently launched the world’s first biodegradable and recyclable Pleasure Air device (read more about it at the end of our Q&A), we got a chance to chat with Tan on her coaching challenges, the importance of self-love, and her hopes for the sexual wellness industry.

What does your role entail? 
As a certified sex, love and relationship coach, I work with individuals and couples in enhancing their relationships in the realms of pleasure, sexuality, sexual wellness or healing (including dysfunction issues like vaginismus).

This is done by combining coaching with mind-body techniques, psychology and somatic practices. I also work with those exploring love and intimacy issues through life transitions as well like divorce, post-partum, parenthood or illnesses.

What was the biggest challenge you’ve ever had in your career?
There are many challenges given the niche I deal in. The biggest would be to address inaccurate information that non-trained coaches decide to put out because they perceive this to be a sexy area with growing awareness and want to capitalise on trends. One simply does not become a coach the very next day, especially so for topics like love, intimacy or pleasure. Often, they also employ specific marketing tactics with shocking headliners, which makes it harder to convince most social media channels that sexual educators and coaches are legit (another hurdle to overcome). I’ve since learnt to train my focus and concentrate on my own community and clients, while trusting that new clients will have discernment.

Is self-pleasure the same thing as self-care?
I see self-pleasure as an essential part of self-care, which consists of other aspects like diet and exercise for example. It is essential because it’s a way of caring for our well-being and our bodies through pleasure.

How do you think women can more take control of their bodies?
I think a key step is in dissolving the guilt, shame and judgement that comes with our own bodies. Not all three at once, but just working through one and the related beliefs that come with it is significant enough to shift the needle on how we reclaim sovereignty over our bodies.

Can you tell us what you love about the Womanizer Eco Premium?
I love the thorough design that went into Premium Eco in its entirety to allow a battery-operated device to be sustainable, right from the biodegradable Biolene, to its ability to dismantle parts that facilitate sorting in recycling, provide longer shelf life and a shorter cable wire. This is definitely a first in the market because it’s not easy to create a tool with sustainable principles overall. The Eco Premium does all these while keeping the Pleasure Air technology and sleek design that is comfortable to hold and use.

What would you recommend to a woman looking to purchase a new pleasure device?
I always recommend looking at quality brands, for durability and safety. If you can, touch and feel to see if it’s something you want close to your skin intimately. I like to test the vibrations along the flesh between the thumb and second finger, as it’s less fleshy so you can feel the pulses better. Lastly, don’t be shy about choosing those that look pretty to you as well. It’s definitely not superficial to choose a color that appeals to you from a quality range, as you’d likely use it less if it looks dull or uninspiring.

What are your hopes for women?
Love ourselves more, and I say that on all levels. As women, we can be really tough on ourselves. We pamper or soothe ourselves a bit, then go back to being really critical and judgmental of ourselves. If we don’t love ourselves fully, how can we then recognise what being fully loved by others will feel like?

How has the pandemic changed the way you approach your work?
I’ve always been coaching via video calls because not all my clients are based in the same geographical location, so that part hasn’t changed. The pandemic has definitely affected offline workshops and events, like speaking through masks (which is very tough to be clear), wiping down any samples and equipment I bring and managing class sizes depending on changing restrictions.

My travel plans to connect with various coaches and pleasure businesses across the Asia region have also been shelved indefinitely. As such, I’m looking to move my content and courses to digital forms, as well as away from the mainstream social media platforms over time.

Are there any trends you’re noticing in the field of sexual wellness?
In the growing field of sexual wellness, I am heartened to see more women-centered platforms educating about health and wellness with the woman’s body and more brands incorporating women-centric designs. There is definitely more awareness about boundaries, consent, understanding our bodies and what is considered normal.

Where would you like the sexual wellness industry to go from here?
I’d like to see more platforms open up to allow sexual wellness coaches and educators to effectively do our work. Our hands are currently tied in many of the social media and mainstream platforms with regards to censorship. While awareness and education has been growing, there is still a huge gap in outreach. As we further normalise these conversations, I’d like to see the growth of work integrated into various systems  – not just more information sites, but integration into a child’s educational journey, parenting and marriage programmes, company policies in handling wellness and boundaries for employees, etc.

Sustainability is sexy

Constructed with Biolene, a bioplastic made from 70 percent natural materials (predominantly corn starch), the new Womanizer Premium eco is the world’s first biodegradable and recyclable pleasure tool that also features a replaceable and rechargeable battery. Its modular design allows easy dismantling for proper disposal when it reaches the end of its life, while the charging cable is shortened so less material is needed for production.

Like bestselling Premium, the eco has a sleek, ergonomic design and is built with the Pleasure Air Technology — the first ever of its kind to stimulate sensitive nerve endings with gentle air waves. There are 12 intensity levels and a Smart Silence function, in which the device starts pulsing only when it makes contact with the skin, until then it’s in standby mode.

Womanizer doesn’t stop at the product: the packaging for the Premium eco is 100% plastic-free, and it comes with a 100 percent organic cotton drawstring pouch. In partnership with One Tree Planted, the German brand is pledging a tree planted with every purchase of the device.

Shop here.

(All images: Womanizer)

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