If you’ve been watching Married at First Sight this year then you’ll be familiar with Alessandra Rampolla, the impossibly beautiful new expert on the series whose intoxicating accent makes everything sound sexy. Hell, this woman could be giving a talk on sewage system maintenance and it would sound like an adults-only bedtime story.
Rampolla is way more than just a refreshing new face on the latest season of the reality series, the 46-year-old holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, and a number of other degrees and certifications in the field of sexology.
As a certified clinical sexologist, you might think that Rampolla’s job is just to make the MAFS couples participate in awkward endeavours, like gazing into each other’s eyes for uncomfortably long periods of time (we feel for you, Belinda and Patrick!) but there is actually a ton of science behind the profession so let us break it down for you.
Sexology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of human sexuality, including sexual behaviours, interests and function. Sexologists specialise in human sexuality and the intersections of sex, environment, past trauma, learned behaviours and other relationship factors. They may also work in the fields of behavioural research and public policy.
According to Huffington Post Australia, “often people who go on to be sexologists have educational backgrounds in disciplines such as sociology, psychology, biology, public health or anthropology, among others, depending on their specific interests.”
Some sexologists may choose to use their skills to become sex therapist and work directly with clients to help them improve issues with their intimacy and sex lives. Sex therapists typically will hold an advanced degree in either psychology, therapy or counselling, specific sex therapy training and clinical experience.
Clinical sexologist and author Claudia Six told Cosmopolitan, “Clinical sexology might sound like I know every sex position under the sun, but what I do is actually pretty similar to couples’ therapy. You have to know the fundamentals of psychology and counselling in addition to knowing about sexuality.”
In other words, you shouldn’t sign up for a session with a clinical sexologist expecting to get your kit off and basically get a blow-by-blow (sorry) lesson in how to please your partner. Instead, prepare to get emotionally naked as you delve into what is holding you back in your relationship and how your past experiences could be causing roadblocks for you.
Clinical Sexologists facilitate clients’ sexual growth by helping them to identify their sexual goals and by offering education, resources, tools and techniques to help them meet those goals and ultimately manage their own sexual growth.
And it’s not just for couples either, individuals can also seek treatment with a sexologist to address issues in their past, present or future relationships or to work on their own intimacy issues and sexual self-esteem.
Outside of therapy sessions, clinical sexologists can also use their expertise in the education space, particularly as we, as a global community, still have quite a way to go when it comes to breaking down certain stigmas around sex and sexuality.
A clinical sexologist might also provide education on sexual health and the prevention of STI’s or work with government bodies to implement programs or policies in schools and communities where resources are needed most.
So, now you know a little more about the role of a clinical sexologist perhaps it won’t be so baffling and uncomfortable the next time you watch the MAFS participants staring into each other’s eyes or pressing their groins into one another because…science. Oh, who are we kidding? It will still be awkward as hell, but isn’t that the exact reason we keep watching?