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The Short Version: Sex and Relationship Therapist Cyndi Darnell has clients around the world, and she’s seen nearly every issue related to intimacy. However, her clients share one common thread: Most of them aren’t quite sure how to derive maximum pleasure from sex. Cyndi teaches her clients about those subjects in person as well as through online courses, workshops, and a soon-to-be-released book. With more than 20 years of experience in the field, she’s helped people work through many problems and live more fulfilling and exciting lives.
Perhaps you were in a high school class and an embarrassed teacher taught you how to put a condom on a banana — while the other students giggled at the sight. Or maybe you’ve had “the talk” with your seemingly nervous parents who explained the birds and bees, but not much else. Perhaps you found a random book that explained the function of sex organs or watched pornography that you thought explained how it all works.
If you’ve had much more education than that, you’re one of the lucky few.
Cyndi Darnell, a Sex and Relationship Therapist, Coach, and Mentor with more than 20 years of experience, knows that most people learn about the mechanics of procreation. But they rarely, if ever, learn how to please a partner, or themselves, during sex. As a result, they may struggle in both their romantic relationships and in their lives.
“Most of us haven’t had proper sex education, so we’ve had to fill the gaps with our own online research,” she said. “It’s hard to know how to integrate that information we find online. When people want to feel more comfortable with the shape of their butt or the size of their penis, online searches may give them a cognitive idea but not show them how to integrate that into their lives. Those are the types of issues that we often need help with.”
Cyndi has two master’s degrees from prestigious Australian universities and uses her more than 10,000 clinical hours of experience to educate her clients. In addition to sharing information on the latest research and scientific studies on sex, she also helps people better understand and accept their bodies.
Cyndi said that with so much information out there, people still feel paralyzed and confused when they find it.
“The old problem was that the information just wasn’t there. But now we have all of the information, and we don’t know what to do with it,” she said. “We don’t know how to sit with the feelings, sit with the conversation. We don’t know how to sit with the complexity. I teach my clients how to use that information.”
Cyndi moved to New York City from Australia last year and has already expanded her practice to see clients all over the world. Most of her clients are between the ages of 30 and 80, but they vary in terms of gender, sexual orientation, and concerns they encounter in their love lives.
“I’m particularly well-known for working with people who are interested in exploring sexuality that may be outside the norms. I’ll work with anyone who’s willing to do the work required and who is looking for more than standard answers,” she said. “Someone who is really invested in exploring what is possible rather than trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.”
“I draw very heavily on research and science, so I approach things from a medical, clinical, social, and even political perspective.” — Cyndi Darnell
It helps that the entire therapy industry has evolved over the last few years. Today, clients don’t need to see a therapist in person unless they want to. Cyndi visits her clients wherever they have an internet connection and a couple of hours.
“If clients are passing through New York, they can book intensive sessions, where I will work with them and their partner for a whole day,” she said. “For those outside of New York, I offer sessions online. It’s a fantastic format because people can have the conversations that they long to have without ever having to leave their house.”
One significant difference she’s noticed since moving to the U.S. is that many people think of getting treatment as going to the doctor and using their insurance. Yet, sex therapy is less like curing an illness and closer to an education that people can integrate into their lives.
Cyndi describes her style as a therapist and coach as talking to an old friend — but one you won’t have to worry will tell others. And she’s probably more knowledgeable than most friends.
“I draw very heavily on research and science. I read all the latest studies and keep abreast of all the trends in human sexuality all over the world,” she said. “So I approach things from a medical, clinical, social, and even political perspective.”
But working with Cyndi isn’t just about getting over your own thoughts about sexuality.
“When we talk about integrating ideas, we must take them out of the mental realm and into a lived experience. The wisdom of the body, I find, is the most useful,” she said. “It teaches people how to experience their own body and their partner’s body in such a way that sex is less about the performance and more about pleasure.
Integrating science-based education into their sexual experiences has helped her clients dramatically. One client who visited her in Australia said she was afraid to be penetrated during sex — even though she was married and in her mid-30s. But she wanted to conceive a child, so she was ready to do the work.
“We worked together for 14 months on unpacking some of her fears about painful intercourse or high expectations, and we unpacked her shame and embarrassment,” Cyndi said. “She was very brave, and earlier this year, she sent me a photo of her brand new baby, so the therapy worked.”
Beyond learning the basics in a high school class or from flustered parents, most people never receive a proper sexual education. That’s why Cyndi offers The Atlas of Exotic Anatomy & Arousal course, which is available along with other online courses.
She created the online courses after she realized how many of her clients simply viewed sex as a way to make babies, rather than the other ways it can bring joy.
“The truth is, that most people don’t have sex to have a baby. They have sex for a lot of other reasons, she said. “When people don’t get the information they need about how sex works in high school, they may never understand how pleasurable it can be — especially women.”
By explaining the inner workings of the body, Cyndi helps partners learn how to please one another. Regardless of penis size or other social tropes, couples have plenty of ways to have a fun and fulfilling sex life, she said.
To help with this, Cyndi is working on a book about creating eroticism for those struggling with their libido. While traditionally considered a problem for females, more men are struggling in this area as well. People are encouraged to sign up for her newsletter to be among the first to learn when the book is released.
“I’m also working on more classes about online dating, mindfulness, and intimacy, as well as projects about creating erotic connections,” she said. We need to expand our conversations about sex in a modern context. And that’s all coming in 2019.”