We’ve talked about this topic before, but the importance of what it holds never gets old. In this day and age, we have to make sure that our mental health and our relationships are affecting our lives in a positive way. And, when things seem like they’re on the decline, having a place to go that’s free of judgment and free of criticism to talk things out makes tackling life’s harder conversations a little bit easier.
Couples and Sex Therapy:
That’s where Maegan Megginson comes in. The owner and clinical director of The Center for Couples and Sex Therapy, Maegan is a certified psychologist, as well as a sex therapist, and she uses her degrees and passion for understanding the human mind to help those who’re finding themselves in difficult situations—whether it be in personal relationships, or a journey of their own sexuality. This week, Maegan and I talk about what got her started in this field of study, how her clinic works, and what people can expect when they book a visit. Let’s get started!
IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:
- What Maegan does at her clinic! Located in Northeast Portland, the clinic is a small group practice that contains 6 therapists. While each therapist has their own unique specialization that makes them perfect candidates for a litany of people, all of them specialize in working with relationships and sexual issues in the psychotherapy setting.
- Maegan explains the kind of people the clinic might work with, explaining that they see both individuals and couples, and polyamorous (more than 2 partners) couples as well. Together, they deal with things like not understanding how to create healthy relationships with people, not feeling emotionally connected to people around them, having a lot of conflicts with your primary partner (or yourself), sex therapy concerns (personal sexual desire, you and your partner being on different levels of sexual desire), and severe medical concerns that might affect your sexual desire or sex drive (such as medical treatments that come with being diagnosed with cancer). If it falls under the umbrella of relationships and sexual health, it’s something they work on at the center.
- Maegan does expand on the fact that if your primary concern is that you’re struggling with something like depression, they’ll refer you to a therapist or provider that specializes in that area. However, if your primary concern is how your depression is impacting your marriage or relationships, the center will work with you as a couple to make sure your relationship is safe and protected (while also referring you out to someone else who can help with the other pieces you’re struggling with). Collaboration is a big part of their process!
- Maegen discusses with us the various treatment options at the center, stating that they focus on business models that are really tuned in on the way people attach to each other. They look at the science behind how human beings connect with other people in their marriages, friendships, and so forth, and dive into each individual makeup as to how people understand emotion, and how people connect with other people, in order for their clients to develop healthier relationships in their lives. By focusing on what’s called “emotionally focused couples therapy”, they can spend time looking into mindfulness theories, neurobiology, and understanding how the chemicals in the brain interact and influence the way we act in our relationships.
- On the side of sex therapy, Maegan explains that they have a deep understanding of how the body responds to different contexts, and how sexual problems might be manifesting in the body. By understanding how our society shapes the way we view and understand sexuality, they can bring all of these theories and techniques into the room with clients to understand what each specific client needs in order to get to where they want to be in their relationships, and sexual lives.
- As an expansion to that, Maegan also explains that all the modalities they use at the center are evidence-based, meaning they’re models of psychotherapy that have been tested, researched, and proven to show effectiveness with clients that come to psychotherapy. By also working with theories that are evolving, changing, and continually researching, Maegan states that they’re on the cutting edge of what research is showing up, and what works (and works quickly) in the psychotherapy setting.
- Maegen then explains to us what made her start her own practice, stating that after she spent her undergrad studying psychology, therapy was what seemed the most interesting. As she dove into her marriage and family graduate program, she became enamored with the art and science of couples therapy. Through this studying, however, Maegan came to 2 startling realizations: 1) most psychotherapists are not adequately trained in doing couples therapy, and 2) a vast majority of couples therapists receive no education on sexual health/sex therapy related concerns. Because of that, Maegan took the initiative to dive in with a postgraduate specialization in sex therapy.
- Maegan explains to us why she started her group practice in couples and sex therapy, stating that she wants to expand the accessibility of services for providers who can do both, and do it well. That way, people in her field can come to the table with a great understand and skill set of sex therapy. Overall, Maegan is trying to create a space where clients can come and, rest assured, that they can take care of your sexual concerns and relationship concerns in one place.
- Coming back to the statement of couples therapists not receiving any amount of training in sex therapy (a research-based finding in which the average is about one course per therapist), Maegan talks to us about why she thinks that number is so low. Her first instinct is the fact that, across the board in our country, graduate schools are typically housed in old academic institutions that aren’t comfortable having professors and coursework talking about these provocative topics. We should be passed this by now, but we’re not, and the biggest reason is a deep societal, conservative discomfort with talking about our sexuality as a human species. Locationally, there’s a greater comfort in her area than there is in the South, but there are certain clients who need to work together for a few months before they’re comfortable exploring the more vulnerable topics around sexuality.
- Maegan goes through what someone should expect when they call in for an appointment, stating that it begins with the client care coordinator who talks to people who’re interested in becoming clients. After answering a series of questions (what you’re looking for in a therapist, what your concerns are, your budget, and your availability), you’ll be matched with a therapist from the center and receive a free 30-minute phone consultation. During that time, you can connect with your chosen therapist over the phone to see what they have to offer and to voice any concerns. If it’s not a match, they’ll find someone else. But, if it is, you’ll work with your new therapist for the first 2 to 3 sessions to get a full understanding of everything you might want to work on and accomplish in a therapy setting. (Online therapy sessions are also available for those who live in Portland, but cannot make the drive to the center!)
- Lastly, Maegan talks with us about her staff, stating that there’s currently 1 male identified therapist and 5 female identified therapists. Each person has their own specialty, too — Jess Bradshaw, their male identified therapist, specializes in working with people in the LGBTQIA+ community, while Maegan specializes in working with couples who are going through medically complex functioning concerns. They all work with couples therapy, sex therapy, and marriage counseling, however, and are interwoven into a broader context as a team.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Maegan Megginson
- The Center for Couples and Sex Therapy
- CCST Blog
- Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy For Dummies
Did Maegan not get to answer a burning question on your mind? No problem! You can get ahold of her through the Center’s website (listed above), underneath the contact tab. Maegan is a smart and wise woman who works hard to make sure the lives to people around her are as fulfilled as they can be, and we can only hope that you’ve learned as much from Maegan as we certainly have!