Sex Educator Profiles: Melissa Fritchle, MA
How did you start giving sex advice?
I have always been comfortable talking about sex and wanted to know more .I give my parents a lot of credit. They answered my questions about sex honestly and directly and so I became the kid that my friends could ask sex questions and I would go and find the answers. I remember a friend asking me in college how to orgasm, since she never had. I had never really thought about it and I realized how little we had actually been told about how to enjoy our sexuality. I think I said something along the lines of , ” I can’t tell you how to orgasm but I know when It happens for me I am not trying to orgasm, I am just focusing on what I am feeling in my body in the moment. Not bad advice from a 19 year old!
Where did you get your education in sexuality?
My base of training is as a psychotherapist. I got my Master’s in Holistic Counseling Psychology through John F. Kennedy University and received great supervision throughout my various internships. I have added a variety of sexuality training where I can find it. Much of my training has been through AASECT approved workshops. I also completed an internship specifically focusing on sexuality and working with transgender clients, so I am also a Gender Specialist.
What do you love about giving sex advice?
I love seeing people shed their shame or fears about sex and let themselves be open to their own experiences. You can see people transform through dropping some of the burden of sexual expectation and myth and they become playful and curious again. It really can feel like you are seeing people bring parts of themselves back to life again.
What is your most common question?
The question that seems to be under so many questions is, Am I OK?
Where do you teach? If you travel, what is it like? Where was your favorite place to teach? Most unusual panel or experience?
I teach Human Sexuality for graduate students in Holistic Counseling Psychology at John F. Kennedy University which is a lot of fun because we work from a very self-reflective model of teaching so the students really explore their own beliefs and assumptions about sexuality. I also lead workshops periodically at Pure Pleasure in downtown Santa Cruz which is a great sex toy store with an education focus, much like Good Vibes! I have been a guest on local radio show. I have guest lectured for acupuncture programs, women’s crisis centers, foster care facilities, anywhere people want to be more comfortable talking about sex.
This February I am traveling to Uganda for 1 month to teach students at the St. Francis Counselor Training Institute. This will be the first time Human Sexuality is a part of their curriculum and I am so excited to be bringing it to them. It is an honor to be a part of opening that door.
What was the most interesting thing you learned in your exploration of sex?
I have been amazed at how resilient our bodies and our sexual selves really are. The new information about paraplegics being able to “think themselves off and the huge variations in ways to orgasm and find pleasure in our bodies is really fascinating and inspiring. And each of my clients’ unique abilities to grow and change, make meaning and heal are endlessly interesting to me.
What would be your number one piece of advice for someone interested in a career of sex education?
There is so much potential in this field but you may have to be a part of making it grow by carving out places for yourself. Use your passion and energy to create new jobs, new classes where they have never been offered, new resources. This is a field for people with pioneer energy because there aren’t a lot of established jobs to fall into; so be willing to make your own.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about sex?
That there is a right way to do it, you learn it and then do it that way for the rest of your life and it will be enjoyable. Sex is much more fluid that that! We change and the sex we have can, ideally, change with us. I like to see people being curious about their sexuality rather than deciding they have it all figured out.
Which is your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
I am really excited about the Queer Consciousness Emphasis that we have developed at John F. Kennedy University’s School of Holistic Studies. It is a 50 hour program for our students who chose to graduate with cultural competency for working with clients who identify as queer and who want to work in supporting sexual diversity and rights in their communities. I think it is so important that therapists trained for the future understand the complexity, variety, fluidity and the beauty of sexuality and gender expression. I hope to see this program open up to offer continuing education for therapists who are already licensed and wish to gain more understanding and competency for working with queer clients.
What is your best piece of sex advice for women?
Sexuality is so much more than who you touch and where “ It includes how you treat yourself on a daily basis, how you think about your body, how you find ways to give yourself physical pleasure of all kinds. Expand your vision of sex to include ways to love yourself and please yourself throughout your week. Remember that you have a sexual relationship with yourself first and foremost; what are you doing to keep that relationship healthy and vital?
Where can people find out more about you?
I currently am an intern at Process Therapy Institute in Los Gatos and I teach at John. F. Kennedy University in Campbell.
Phone contact at Process Therapy Institute 408.358-2218 X451