Understanding Sexual Healing
"Sexual healing" is more than the name of a pop song that might get you laid. In recent years, sexual healing has become a true healing modality for numerous serious practitioners. Non-medical sexual healing work can be distinguished in two primary ways. The first generally-accepted category of sexual healing helps sufferers heal issues with their sexuality and sexual functioning. The second avenue of sexual healing uses erotic methods to heal other dysfunctions and diseases. Within these broad categories are multiple specifics.
The most prevalent sexual problems, after medical issues have been dealt with, are caused by the cultural disapproval of sexuality. It may seem that sex is highly regarded due to the ubiquity of sexual images, references and jokes, but the nature of those references is not usually respectful and upbeat.
There's a general, usually unrecognized, sense that a person's body is not really their own to do with as they please. If you doubt this, think about the societal disdain for tattoos. Even tattoos that aren't visible are considered of questionable moral value. Our culture judges the use of our bodies. Society decides that another's body can be used in a certain way or not, or that it's OK to decorate it with make-up and hair color but not personal artwork. The recent surge in body art (including piercing, branding and so on) is partly a rebellious act against these unspoken rules.
Society has also decided that some drugs are OK to take, but others are not. The only differences between the two are that (1) a doctor prescribed one set of them, and (2) it was decided by the government that those drugs didn't make a person feel high, but at best (in the case of anti-depressants, for instance) put a person in an acceptable level of emotional ease. Thus, the government gets to decide how happy we feel if that feeling is produced by the physical ingestion of a substance.
As for sex, religions and governments have consistently decided who we can have sex with and when and how, even sometimes when the person we want to have sex with is ourself. This insidious disapproval is a part of us as members of the culture, and it harms us more than you would suspect. When person feels that an inherent part of their nature is "wrong," they can fight against themselves internally in extremely destructive ways. (Consider the high rate of suicide among young gays in some religious environments.) Even when a person mentally rationalizes away the negativity, it still affects their sex life. This results (for many people) in sexual dysfunction and the inability to tolerate physical pleasure.
So the first issue for those doing sexual healing work is often simply helping others to feel and receive pleasure. Sometimes that means helping them to overcome guilt for things they've actually done, or for merely being a human tainted by "original sin." Licensed sex and marriage therapists can discuss these issues, but they are not allowed to touch their clients. So sexual healers working outside of societal approval do physical aspects of this work. They might work with a therapist to address the specific needs of the client(s), but this is rare.
The next big area of sexual healing work is with the many, many people who have been abused or violated. This includes even those for whom the abuse was not sexually focused. Self-worth issues and physical boundary violations affect one's sexuality also.
Another growing field of healing is needed for those who have undergone surgeries and other medical treatments which affect their sexual functioning. Some of the most obvious cases are individuals who have had radiation, mastectomies, and sexual reassignment surgery. People benefit from learning how to use their changed bodies and from developing new ways of giving and receiving sexual pleasure. These options are not often offered in medical situations.
The use of erotic methods to heal other issues than sexuality is a lesser understood phenomenon. It is based on the philosophy that the body has a natural tendency toward health and when given its basic needs—food, sleep, sex, etc.—it naturally maintains its own health. Many alternative health modalities are based on this fundamental process. In your biology classes, it was called homeostasis.
Sexual healers who use erotic methods to enhance healing of other physical processes encourage the build-up of erotic energy in their clients. In a way that sounds like some descriptions of how Reiki and other energy healing systems work, erotic healers claim to raise the energy and allow it to flow through the body to give the body what it needs to do its own healing.
In addition to healing the body, many people will tell you that good sex can heal a relationship going through a rocky patch. Others have had transformational experiences during sex that truly changed their lives for the better. Sexual healers offer such experiences intentionally. Some will work with couples in order to help them through those tough times—and to teach them how to do it themselves, with each other.
It's not easy to find a good sexual healer due to the societal factors involved. But the need for them will change their availability. It's not as if we haven't needed them all along. They've fallen in and out of favor for centuries, and their time has come again.