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The Sessions shows Americans get little positive information about sex

Helen Hunt stars as sex therapist Cheryl and John Hawkes plays poet Mark O’Brien in the Sessions. Photo courtesy of Entertainment Weekly.

The film “The Sessions,” which is now playing in theaters, offers some important lessons about the distorted attitude many Americans have about sex, social worker Sari Eckler Cooper says in this review in Psychology Today.

Many Americans are robbed of positive and accurate information about sex, said Cooper, LCSW, who is a New York City individuals and couples psychotherapist and sex therapist.

“What people can learn from this film is that the many people who grow up feeling ashamed of their sexual thoughts have few people to whom they can go to who are willing and able to tell them the facts as well as process the feelings that can go along with sex,” Cooper wrote.”

“The Sessions,” which stars John Hawkes and Helen Hunt, is based on a essay from the late poet Mark O’Brien. O’Brien suffered from polio as a child, was paralyzed, and was forced to live in an iron lung for long periods.

Sari Cooper

As a result, he had little experience forming relationships outside of his family and decided to visit a sex therapist when he was still a virgin at age 36. The film shows how sex therapist Cheryl (Helen Hunt) help Mark (John Hawke) discover what he liked sexually and how to please his partner.

However things get complicated when Mark begins to fall in love with his therapist.

Cooper said many of her clients are like Mark, and are raised with misconceptions, myths and extreme shame about sex. Some were raised in religious faiths that did not allow romantic contacts before marriage while others came from families that made negative comments about sex, she said.

In her practice Cooper says she tries to educate clients about sex and become more open about their sexual desires while remaining respectful of their faith.

“It is my role as a therapist to ask the right questions to find out what a client’s goals are regarding their sex life and to determine what emotional, psychological and physical impediments need to be addressed and by whom,” she wrote.

Sari Cooper earned a degree in fine arts from Juilliard and had a career in dance before becoming a social worker. She earned a masters degree in social work from Hunter College and trained in family and couple’s therapy and sex therapy. Cooper runs a private practice in Manhattan’s Upper West Side and in Midtown. She regularly blogs and was recently featured as a sex therapist on the Dr. Oz show. To learn more about Cooper, click here to visit her website.


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