Phillip Hodson: Seeing blobs of ectoplasm in a shape-shifting dance is hardly titillating

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The Independent Online

After all the marketing hype, you may feel cheated by The Sex Inspectors. Far from showing naked couples making love, the programme specialises in a type of horizontal thermal imaging. It reminded me at times of news footage from the night assault on Fallujah.

After all the marketing hype, you may feel cheated by The Sex Inspectors. Far from showing naked couples making love, the programme specialises in a type of horizontal thermal imaging. It reminded me at times of news footage from the night assault on Fallujah.

I'm afraid you will not see explicit images of a married couple from Romford but rather two blobs of red and orange ectoplasm engaged in a shape-shifting dance. No Soho sex shop will be stocking this title.

Is it still worth watching? Yes. The good things include vivid demonstrations of how to raise the subject of sexual communication in a marriage that is well past the honeymoon phase, and the subtle humour and common sense of the co-presenter "gay agony uncle" Michael Alvear - although he needs to stop using the term "innermassy" because it sounds rectally painful.

Attempting to do therapy on television when you yourself are not trained as a therapist is one of the down sides. Most trained therapists would not make it on to television because they are too academic, ponderous, old and long-winded. But I question the ethics of calling someone an expert who is not trained and accredited by any mainstream psychotherapy organisation and has never worked with clients under appropriate supervision. The amateurishness shows.

In the Romford episode, Tracey Cox overlooked the range of causes of low libido among new mothers, which can include high levels of prolactin and other hormones from continued breast feeding. At no point did she suggest there ought to be tests to exclude possible medical conditions, or exploring the mother's diet. Her starting and finishing presumption was that psychology is all. This in my view is bad work.

I would also question the evidence base of many of her statements. "If they don't fix the sex soon they will separate," was one of her wild assertions. Her prescriptiveness on cunnilingus smacked of what Ms Cox may personally prefer. How does she know that every woman wishes to be slurped like an ice cream (I'd suggest that many dislike direct genital touches during the opening 10 to 15 minutes)?

The programme ends with Ms Cox setting the Romford couple a damaging goal for "penetrative orgasm", which any professional training would eschew. I fear we are going to be faced with a battery of false sex norms in consulting rooms as a result of the Cox Factor.

Phillip Hodson is a fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Sex Therapy

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