Women and Mental Health

By Elizabeth Howell; Marjorie Bayes | Go to book overview

19
Group Process for Women
with Orgasmic Difficulties

LONNIE GARFIELD BARBACH

TONI AYRES

It is well known that many women have difficulty experiencing orgasm. According to the research of Kinsey and his associates (1953) and the more recent survey of Hunt (1974), about 10 to 15 percent of the married women studied have never experienced orgasm by any method, and approximately 40 to 50 percent rarely or never experience orgasm during intercourse. For the sexually active unmarried female population, the percentage is even higher. Because of its prevalence, people often discuss this concern with counselors.

In November 1972, at the University of California—Berkeley, Lonnie Barbach and Nancy Carlson began the development of a group treatment program for women who complained of orgasmic difficulties but who were deemed inappropriate candidates for traditional couple sex therapy (Masters and Johnson 1970) due to the lack of a steady sexual partner, partner unwillingness to attend conjoint therapy, unwillingness to tell the partner that a problem exists, or the expense of conjoint sex therapy.

The women included in the program had never experienced an orgasm by any means. The group members decided to label themselves "preorgasmic," since they viewed themselves as not yet having the proper information and experience to enable them to achieve orgasm. At present the preorgasmic group program generally consists of six

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