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The Short Version: Couples Counselor and Sex Therapist Jessa Zimmerman, MA, is passionate about helping couples improve their sex lives. She teaches them to understand that they can’t passively work through problems — but instead must be active and invested in working together. Jessa counsels couples of all ages who want to remove barriers to intimacy because, when their sex lives suffer, so do their relationships. She works with clients in person and online while also reaching people through her podcast, blog, YouTube channel, and Facebook group.
It’s not enough for couples to see a successful relationship and emulate it. Relationships require knowledge, dedication, and, often, a fair amount of work to successfully maintain.
Jessa Zimmerman, MA, a Seattle-based couples counselor and sex therapist, has not only seen this in the couples she works with but has also experienced it firsthand. Her parents set a wonderful example for her, as they were happily married for 52 years until her mother passed away.
But when her own marriage ended in divorce, she realized that she couldn’t just learn how to have a successful relationship through observation.
“Watching my parents wasn’t enough to equip me to be successful in a relationship. I needed more,” she said.
Following her divorce, Jessa returned to school and discovered a passion for learning about relationships. She studied how to unearth insights that can’t be gleaned through observation alone. After a module on sex as it relates to grief and loss, she decided to narrow her focus to sex therapy.
She was inspired to help others learn how sex can impact a person’s well-being, and how improving the intimate aspects of their relationships can boost the overall quality of life.
Jessa works with couples of all ages in her practice, and she’s counseled clients from their early 20s all the way to their 80s. The need for understanding one’s sexuality, and how you can have the best possible relationship with your partner, seems to have no age boundaries.
One of the first things she said she noticed after starting her practice was how many young people were struggling with intimacy. She also found that many older clients were still highly focused on their sex lives. Jessa helps her clients work through those issues by starting with better communication.
“I work almost exclusively with couples, and I want both people in the room to talk about the problems and how they’re each contributing to them,” she said. That open communication quickly turns to a discussion about how both partners can take responsibility for their actions and make changes that positively impact their relationship.
Jessa describes her style of coaching as direct but warm and approachable. She wants clients to challenge the beliefs and expectations that may be holding them back. Those may include things they learned from family or past relationships.
“What we were raised to understand and believe isn’t always useful now,” she said.
When backgrounds collide in romantic relationships, problems can arise around expectations, stress, children, and work. Jessa’s counseling can be instrumental in deciphering the causes of those issues and providing individualized paths forward for each person.
“We spend time analyzing strategies and course correcting to help each person grow where they need to grow,” she said.
Some of her older clients have challenges related to their stage of life, and Jessa often helps them modify their definition of sex.
“If they broaden their idea of what sex is — and their expectations — they find that it can be more enjoyable,” she said.
She added that she’s worked with countless couples experiencing a desire discrepancy, which is when one partner desires intimacy more often than the other. Jessa helps them refocus on the bigger picture — their relationship and intimacy as a whole — and change their expectations to relieve the pressure.
“Once they find the freedom and reduce the pressure, they gain the desire to have these experiences together,” she said.
One of the practical tools Jessa uses with clients also appears on the homepage of her website — a free sex quiz. The quiz consists of 30 questions that cover various aspects of the individual’s sex life — including desire, engagement, positivity, presence, and intention.
The results include scores for each of the five areas discussed in the quiz and tips on actions you can take to improve the intimacy in your relationship. The report also provides links to useful blog posts that address specific areas in which couples often struggle.
Quiz takers simply enter their email address to receive a free copy of their report. By submitting an email address, respondents will also be added to Jessa’s mailing list so they can receive tips, updates, and information on a regular basis.
Jessa is based in the Seattle area, where she works in person with clients, but she also makes her advice, tips, and knowledge base available to people around the world online. In addition to the sex quiz on her website, she runs a free Facebook group, Sex, Intimacy & Relationships, which is designed to help committed couples. She fosters a sense of community by sharing resources; both her own and those of her colleagues. Her YouTube channel also contains a wide assortment of videos — including the ones she shares on Facebook.
Another channel through which Jessa helps people is The Better Sex Podcast. Each week she interviews experts — including doctors, therapists, and authors — who share how their work helps people enact positive change in their sex lives. Her guests share stories on the podcast, too, illuminating the challenges they’ve overcome. Past guests have talked about medical issues, sexual abuse, grief, and how they all relate to their sex lives.
Jessa’s book, “Sex Without Stress,” will be released in fall 2018, and is aimed at couples who struggle with sex — or avoid it altogether. She’s also creating an online course which is scheduled for release at the same time as the book hits stores. The course will help readers dig deeper, provide support and answers, and add another dimension to the do-it-yourself theme of the book.
Jessa said she most enjoys helping couples expand their mindsets and improve their relationships, and her mission is to teach them to make the changes necessary to have a balanced, satisfying relationship.
“Sex is a normal part of life, and problems are common. In fact, in long-term relationships, they’re inevitable. That’s why I’m here to help,” she said.