Sensate Focus: A Sexual Technique to Help You Connect With Your Partner

Sensate Focus: A Sexual Technique to Help You Connect With Your Partner

Last update: 06 January, 2022

One of the techniques that sex therapists usually suggest to a couple is to find moments to caress each other. This process forms part of the sensate focus technique, a series of methods that help a couple communicate and explore their sexuality beyond mere intercourse. This is where pleasure arises when the couple caress each other with no other intention than to enjoy that type of contact.

It isn’t necessary to have sexual problems to practice this technique. It’s simply a matter of exploring the physical sensations of touch and communicating them to your partner. In fact, it’s an exercise of pleasure and fun that’s suitable for anyone.

If you want to know more about this technique, in this article, we’ll tell you all you need to practice it. However, if you think that you and your partner need the help of a professional or you feel that there’s something wrong with your sexuality, don’t hesitate to go to therapy.

The sensate focus technique

After World War II, what we know today as the sexual revolution began. This was a profound change in Western society regarding the conception of sex. Indeed, it challenged the conventions on sexual morality, relationships, and behavior.

Within this movement, were the two authors of the sensate focus technique. These were gynecologist, William Masters, and sexologist, Virginia Johnson. Together, they studied the human sexual response and defined its four phases: arousal, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.

When sexual response becomes pathological, the consequences affect the entire relationship. For this reason, the sensate focus technique was born. It’s a way for the couple to reconnect with each other without resorting to intercourse. Indeed, it’s based on the simple communication of the sensations that caresses arouse in the naked body.

Woman laughing in bed with partner

Applying the technique

While the technique is useful for any couple who wants to explore their sexuality and improve communication, it also works for certain sexual problems. For example, it’s widely used as systematic desensitization for those who have some type of trauma surrounding physical contact, such as victims of sexual abuse. In fact, when sexual contact produces anxiety and rejection, the sensate focus technique helps create a safe and relaxed environment to which the sufferer is gradually exposed.

It’s also useful for sexual dysfunctions such as premature ejaculation, pathological loss of sexual appetite, or vaginismus. Furthermore, couples whose sex life has become rather routine and whose relationship has suffered from this fact also benefit from this technique. That’s because, beyond intercourse, many people don’t really understand sexuality.

How’s it practiced?

The couple has to follow a series of steps. However, intercourse is forbidden until the end of the exercise. Ideally, they should plan to adopt a calm and positive attitude. Once they feel comfortable, relaxed, and safe, they should proceed as follows:

  • One of the members of the couple lies down, naked, face down, and with their eyes closed. The other, also naked, begins to caress their partner gently from head to toe, skipping the erogenous zones. It’s about transmitting feelings through the caress, feelings of calm, love, and tenderness.
  • When they reach the feet, whoever is lying down turns over and the process begins again. Once again, the erogenous zones like breasts or genitalia are omitted.
  • The one who’s lying down sits up and the couple spends a few minutes discussing the exercise. They talk about what sensations it awakened, the quality of the caresses, and so on.
  • The one who did the caressing lies down and closes their eyes to receive the same process.
  • Once the exercise is over, the couple decides if they want to have a sexual encounter or not. In this way, sexual frustration is avoided. Furthermore, assertive communication regarding the relationship is promoted. Either way, both partners must respect the other’s refusal, if this is the case.
Couple in bed


There are many benefits to this simple technique. For example, relationships are degenitalized and partners learn to give affection and pleasure without asking for anything in return. In addition, they develop eroticism and create a bond of confidentiality and security within the relationship. This is worthwhile for any couple, whatever their characteristics.

Physical contact is vital for most animals, especially those that live in groups. In a society of instant pleasure, we sometimes forget that sexuality is much richer than genitality. In fact, this culture of immediacy is what anesthetizes the body when life is too hectic. For this reason, it never hurts to reconnect with the most basic sensations through caresses.

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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Masters, W, H. y Johnson, V.E. (1996). Respuesta sexual humana. Buenos Aires. Inter-médica.
  • Clarke, M., & Parry, L. (1973). Premature ejaculation treated by the dual sex team method of Masters and Johnson. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry7(3), 200-205.
  • Weiner, L., & Avery-Clark, C. (2014). Sensate focus: Clarifying the Masters and Johnson’s model. Sexual and Relationship Therapy29(3), 307-319.

The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.