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Dr. Holly Richmond is a Somatic Psychologist, Certified Sex Therapist (CST), and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT). This unique combination of professional credentials enables her to focus on clients’ cognitive process as well as mind-body health. Dr. Richmond is one of North America’s leading sex therapists serving Hollywood’s elite as well as prominent corporate clientele. She works with women, men, couples and gender-diverse individuals on relationship and sexuality issues, and offers consultation to students and fellow therapists. Treatment specialties include compulsive sexuality (often called “addiction”), desire discrepancies in couples, recovery from sexual assault and abuse, and alternative/non-traditional sexual expression. Dr. Richmond’s dissertation The Recovery of Sexual Health After Sexual Assault, is an innovative look at both somatic and psychological factors in survivors’ recovery.
What do I do best?
Normalize, normalize, normalize. So much of sex therapy is about helping people to answer some version of the question, “Am I normal?” or “Is this weird?” Over the years I have honed my ability to sit firmly in a position of nonjudgement, sex positivity and utter curiosity. Of course, all therapists hear secrets, but a sex therapist hears SECRETS. Sexuality and vulnerability are interminably linked, and doing my job well means highlighting the transformative possibilities that come from connection while putting the brakes on shame. Sexuality is a vast landscape of emotional and physical potential, and in helping my clients celebrate their own potential, I help them change the question from, “Am I normal?” to “Why would I want to be normal anyway?” I believe the beautiful, erotic, intimate, vulnerable and wild side of ourselves should be celebrated rather than suppressed, and I love helping people get there.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Trusting my gut has been the single most important skill that has gotten me to where I am today. It’s a huge part of the reason that I studied somatic psychology. I realized I’m a somaticizer, and had to learn how to make that work for me rather than against me. It’s also something I help my clients with, which leads to feelings of embodiment and empowerment. One of my central questions in my life and work is, “What is your body saying that you cannot?” The answers provide incredibly rich insight.
What are my aspirations?
I feel fortunate to be in a field where my personal and professional aspirations overlap to a great degree—I think they must to fulfill all possibilities. One of my strongest personal aspirations is to continue cultivating my own self-awareness. I truly believe this is the key to living mindfully in a fully integrated way. I don’t kid myself into believing total self-awareness is a possibility because my lens will always be biased, necessarily. I can’t look through the lens because I am the lens, but the goal of objectivity is ever-present for me. This categorically translates into my work and wanting to help people realize the power in their choices, from sexuality to relationships to body image. More concretely, my professional aspiration is to be a go-to voice in the rapidly evolving world of sextech, helping people feel competent and fulfilled in the space of sex and technology intersection, which today is pervasive and only getting more so. Sextech has enormous potential to benefit people individually and relationally, and I’m thrilled to be making my mark here, though my hope is that my reach increases over the coming months and years.
My Biggest Success?
Being a late-in-life mom feels like my biggest success on a daily basis, as in, “Holy shit, this is real, chaotic and more filled with love than I ever imagined possible.” I’m not saying that I think having children is necessarily an accomplishment, but for me, opening myself up to that possibility was huge. It forced vulnerability and connection is a way I had never experienced before. Deciding to try to have a baby and trusting my body through the process was somatic psychology is one of its most beautiful forms.
My Most Challenging Moment?
My most challenging moment lasted about 12 years—lots of sarcasm there. I functioned in a place of protection, control and compulsivity that got me by and gave me some success but included very little joy and pleasure. While there was no one decision that changed that for me, there were little choices I made, all strung together, that provoked adventure, connection and love, as corny as that may sound.
As I started to move away from my omnipresent challenges, I considered whether I wanted to live in a space of probability or possibility. Now, this is something I still ask myself and work with my clients on recurrently. It starts with, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” The end. True beyond true. So, by staying in a safe space of probability, I know what’s the coming—more of the same. By taking chances, even big risks, I open myself up to possibility, and from there the sky is the limit. I’m learning to believe in myself more, and that translates directly to how I feel about my clients. Almost every single client has said some version of, “I wish I believed in myself as much as you believe in me.” The process of getting them there is beyond fulfilling. I am amazed by the people I’m lucky enough to sit across from.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
If I didn’t answer this question with, “my boys,” inclusive of my husband and two- and four-year-old, I’d be in big trouble! Of course, they are my favorite people and have made me aware of emotions I didn’t even know existed, good and bad. More generally, I honestly have the best job ever because I get inspired by my clients each and every day. Some of them have persevered through incredibly difficult situations and have come to a place where they have so much to give to their relationships and to themselves. It’s an incredible process to witness, perhaps most profoundly in my work with survivors of sexual abuse and assault. Professionally, I’m inspired by Dan Savage and Ether Perel—Dan changed our cultural discourse on same sex relationships and LGBTQIA rights, and Esther radically altered our dialogue about marriage and infidelity. I soak up as much as I can from them both in hopes that my work will similarly impact the way people think about sex and technology. If I need a quick hit of productive inspiration, Tim Ferris is my guy.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
My favorite travel destinations are Australia and Bali. My husband and two children have dual citizenship in the U.S and Australia, so we visit as often as possible. I love the friendliness of the Aussies, their laid-back way of life and of course the tropical weather in the north. I adore Bali for many of the same reasons. I have never experienced more heart-felt expressions of warmth and joy than I did in Bali. And, it’s gorgeous, warm and tropical. If I could pick anywhere in the world to live, it would be there. And, Australia is only a few hours flight away. Ok, so now it’s out there in the universe
My Favorite Products/Objects?
Good moisturizer and strong coffee. I’m joking a little bit there, but not much! I also love the art work I have from my friend and classical realism painter Carin Gerard. Her pieces reflect natural elements like fruit, flowers and butterflies in a hyper-realistic but incredibly artful way. They soothe me, and they’ve traveled with me to numerous homes over the years. Another object that I consider a work of art is my wedding ring. It’s three bands nested together—the middle ring is a very old Indian piece with a small, imperfectly cut diamond, and the two outside bands are an abstract white gold and diamond bone design. It’s contemporary and vintage all in one—I get to celebrate all of the different and nuanced facets of myself every time I glance down at it.
My Current Passions?
• As far as my clinical somatic psychology and sex therapy practice is concerned, I am putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak, in regard to my belief in the positive attributes of technology. I am meeting people where they are emotionally and geographically by exclusively offering distance counseling via technological applications like Skype, FaceTime, Hangouts, etc., though I’ll travel for intensives with my clients upon request wherever they choose. Technology is only going to get more pervasive and immersed in our lives, and I want to help people learn to use it in ways that are beneficial, and certainly doing therapy or coaching is one of those. In regard to my forthcoming book about sex and technology, and the sextech consulting I’m involved in, I’m excited about opportunities to produce more content that combines entertainment and sex education by focusing on pleasure and connection rather than performance. I have also put an immersive technology team together (VR, AR and teledildonics) and we are creating content and products that are aimed at meeting the sexual and relational health needs of individuals and couples. And, I couldn’t be happier and more grateful for the speaking engagements I’m being offered. It is a huge responsibility and gift to share my thoughts about the future of sex and how to move along our contemporary continuum in a sex positive way. As a therapist, it’s like I have a front row seat into people’s bedrooms (without the nudity, of course!), and I’m eager to affect change on a much wider scale.