Wiser Sex Therapy Associates Assists People of All Sexual Orientations With Intimacy Issues

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Wiser Sex Therapy Associates Assists People of All Sexual Orientations With Intimacy Issues

Suzanne Wentley Suzanne Wentley
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The Short Version: When sexual identity, attitudes, desires, and expressions make people feel like outsiders, it can be a painful experience. And feeling uncomfortable with who you are while judgment is coming from society, family, and, often, within, can be even more isolating. Sometimes, all it takes is  for someone say, “You are welcome here.” That’s the message at the Wiser Sex Therapy Associates offices in New York. Specializing in a variety of sexualities and gender expressions, the team of therapists is ready to meet their clients where they feel comfortable and help them find both happiness and love.

Coming out and loving who you are in the face of society’s norms can be one of the most difficult challenges in a person’s life. I remember when one of my oldest friends, who I’ve known since second grade — I’ll call her Anna — told me that she was a lesbian. We were teenagers by then, and she had even changed schools. We didn’t hang out a lot, but she was a fun, active girl like me. When she told me she was gay, I replied that it wasn’t an issue for me, and told her that she should live her truth and that it would never change my opinion of her.

Still, Anna rejected my invitations to hang out, and I could tell that she was dealing with some issues, so I gave her space. I ended up moving to New York City for college a short time later, and Anna and I lost touch.

Then, seven years ago, I visited New Orleans for Jazz Fest. As is turned out, Anna lived there, too and we had a chance to reconnect. I learned that she had a fantastic career and was happily married to a kind, gentle woman. I knew that Anna’s path to self-love and acceptance was rocky for her, and it was wonderful to see her happy.

Screenshot of Wiser Sex Therapy Associates logo and background

Wiser Sex Therapy Associates has two locations in New York — in Brooklyn and Chelsea.

People who identify as gay, transgender, bisexual, among many other identities, can face a deluge of both internal and external pressures. That’s why Wiser Sex Therapy Associates in New York is on a mission to offer a place for affirmation for all different types of individuals — regardless of sexual desires or expressions. The Wiser Sex Therapy team begins by letting clients know that they are OK exactly as they are.

“We find people are pathologized for so long that normalizing and validating one’s experiences can be just as important as anything else we do,” said Carolanne Marcantonio, Senior Therapist at Wiser Sex Therapy Associates. “It feels amazing because these are changes I’d like to see in the world. We want to make sure our values are reflected in everything we do.”

Providing an Intimate Healing Space

Wiser Sex Therapy Associates was founded by Dr. Kelly Wise, who partnered with Carolanne and others to form a collaborative group of therapists. They work together to help a growing community of people who are working to honor and accept their gender expressions, sexual behaviors, and sexualities.

“When Kelly and I met, we created the mission statement and the website, because we wanted to make sure this was a space that was very affirming to many different sexualities and gender expressions,” Carolanne said. “It’s important for us to have social justice.”

To prove their commitment to social justice, the team offers a sliding scale of payment so that everyone who seeks therapy can receive it. Wiser Sex Therapy also sought out a diverse team of therapists who can help clients deal with any of the difficult issues they face.

10 Therapists With Differing Perspectives and Styles

The practice has 10 therapists currently on staff in two offices — one in Brooklyn and one in Chelsea. There is a wide range of training and specialties represented on staff, but therapists all use evidence-based modalities in their work. Some incorporate a feminist perspective, while others rely on cognitive behavior therapy. And all strategies and methods are customized to each client’s situation.

Photo of Carolanne Marcantonio, Senior Therapist at Wiser Sex Therapy Associates

Carolanne Marcantonio, Senior Therapist at Wiser Sex Therapy Associates, connects with clients.

“We think it’s important to meet people where they’re at, including a sliding payment scale and working with clients in a collaborative nature. We like to build hypotheses together with our clients,” Carolanne said.

Sometimes other issues are unearthed in sessions, such as a mood disorder, and the team at Wiser Sex Therapy is trained to address those through the course of therapy.

Sex therapy is as individualized as each patient. People who need to work through trauma can benefit from trauma-focused treatment while those who have anxiety issues can choose a cognitive behavior therapy. The treatment depends on the client’s needs.

Many Problems Can Be Easily Overcome

According to Carolanne, the practice sees a diverse range of clients — ranging in age from late 20s to early 50s — including individuals, couples, and, sometimes, families.

Early on, therapists like to meet with patients at least once a week for 50 minutes.

Photo of Wiser Sex Therapy Associates office

Wiser Sex Therapy Associates gives clients a comfortable place to talk about their issues.

“That facilitates the most progress. People often request to meet every other week, and we like to stress the importance of building a solid foundation to understand who you are and learn more about you. If it feels right after three months, we can switch to once every other week,” Carolanne said.

The most common problem the practice’s therapists work with couples on is a mismatch of sexual desires. Men frequently visit for help dealing with erectile unpredictability or premature ejaculation issues. Women tend to struggle with anorgasmia, which is a chronic inability to orgasm.

Some couples also seek out Wiser Sex Therapy for help with problems that arise in polyamorous or open relationships. Others need help with common relationship issues and want to talk them through with their partner and a therapist.

Wiser Sex Therapy Mulls Expansion as Clients Share Success Stories

As I realized when my friend Anna confided her truth in me, issues dealing with sexuality and gender identity are often difficult to discuss — even with friends who are willing to accept you as you are.

Carolanne said she’s been buoyed by the feedback the practice has received from clients whose lives have changed as a result of sex therapy.

“The work that we do helps people reconnect with her bodies and bring intimacy and sex back into their lives. And those are always beautiful success stories.” — Carolanne Marcantonio, Senior Therapist at Wiser Sex Therapy Associates

“One client I worked with had sexual trauma in her childhood. That led to she and her partner having sexual issues in the bedroom, and she began blaming herself,” Carolanne said. “We worked through identifying triggers, communicating with her wife, and understanding how trauma worked in the body and the brain. It was beautiful because she said to me, ‘I learned to stop blaming myself for my past and stop dreading sex.’”

Because of that impact, Wiser Sex Associates is exploring opening another office in Manhattan soon.

“The work that we do helps people reconnect with her bodies and bring intimacy and sex back into their lives,” Carolanne added. “And those are always beautiful success stories.”