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To my Quaran-tine: How can we navigate our relationship during a pandemic?

Due to the restrictions on dating activities that would normally happen during Valentine’s Day, couples may feel like it’s going to be just another day. Which can be disappointing to those who enjoy taking a break from the repetitiveness of everyday life relationships. This is a universal conflict for all couples, new or old, healthy or strained. COVID-19 did not just impact how people meet, but also the exploration of romance and even how much time people spend together. For partners who are living together and are spending more time with each other at home throughout COVID-19, emotional connection has improved; physical connection on the other hand has not. 

The amount of time spent with partner(s) does not necessarily equate to “quality time”. For instance, more time together could mean more conversations about things each person isn’t happy with within their relationship or changes they might like to see. Some partners may realize they aren’t as compatible with each other and may be starting to realize that they want different things. 

Some relationships may be trying to work through betrayal, such as infidelity, and are finding it difficult to not be able to take space from their partner(s), as they try to figure out what they want. If we layer in those relationships who have children, it’s even more difficult to have privacy and to take time to grieve aspects of the relationship when the kids are around and people are isolated from their support systems, like family, friends, co-workers.

For those who are dating, there is also a lot more communication and negotiations of boundaries during COVID-19. For instance, folks may be asking themselves:


Is it safe to be discussing COVID-19 related precautions with this new person?

How do we discuss and navigate consent?

Should I be isolating after sharing a physical connection, and if so, for how long?

Are relationships that came to fruition during the pandemic going to last past the pandemic?


A list of common challenges people have felt in their relationship during COVID-19 includes:

  • Experiencing Low sexual desire and desire discrepancy
  • Sharing less physical intimacy or avoiding sex
  • Overcoming infidelity
  • Finding ways to effectively communicate feelings and listen to alternative perspectives
  • Managing erectile dysfunction & rapid ejaculation
  • Exploring sexuality
  • Reconnecting sexually
  • Wanting to open up the relationship


Sometimes when there is a crisis, it can either connect and bring partners closer or it can have the opposite effect. It’s important to remember that relationship bumps are inevitable, pandemic or not, No matter the situation, great new things will come from this, even though it’s hard right now.

At Bliss, we want to help our clients through these challenging times. Navigating relationships during COVID-19 can be hard, but not impossible. Here are some tips from our very own therapists who specialize in sexual health and wellbeing in relationships:

Have separate time

You’re not going to desire someone when you spend all of your time with them. Do what you can to separate yourself. That could mean, self-care, taking up jogging, biking, connecting with friends, and having outdoor hangouts in safe ways. Do not feel guilty for taking time for yourself. 

Increasing pleasure and fun

Figure out target specific activities you can do at home, or outside, these can be brainstormed with your therapist. Some activities you can discuss with your partner(s), or date are:

  • Exercising
  • Board Games
  • Movie Marathons
  • Puzzles
  • Planning Future Fun Events
  • Cooking Together
  • DIY Spa Dates
  • Bubble Baths
  • Colouring
  • Dressing Up For A Date Night In
  • Reading To Each Other
  • Paint Night
  • Online Classes
  • Yoga
  • Stargazing
  • Create a Photobook Of Memories
  • Long Drives
  • Bake Off
  • Share Your Favourite Stand-Up Specials
  • Streamline a concert together 
  • Make (chocolate) fondue together
  • Make breakfast in bed
  • Recreate your first date, from home!
  • Make your own valentine
  • Ask conversation starters, or quiz yourselves on your love maps!
  • Write each other a poem or haiku
  • Write each other love or gratitude letters
  • Cook a romantic dinner, with candle light and all

(some of these ideas are great for an COVID friendly Valentine’s)  

Open Communication

Anxiety about COVID-19 leads to stress and irritability in the relationship. Effective open/transparent communication around what you are going to do is key. Whether it is with your partner(s) or someone you’re dating. If you have the same perspective, it’s okay. If you have two different perspectives, or pre-existing anxiety and OCD, it will affect the relationship. So, discussing boundaries and negotiating “dating terms” should be at the forefront of conversation.

Managing Stress

If you find yourself being hypervigilant in managing emotions, minimizing conflict, protecting kids from the tension or outburst, you may be giving yourself additional unnecessary stress. In managing stress levels, remember that you cannot control anyone else’s emotions except your own. You must let your partner(s) regulate themselves. For those in couples or individual therapy, this is something you can talk to your therapist about. Finding ways to regulate your own emotions will help in figuring out how to move forward with your partner(s) with no resentment. 


It’s really important to normalize your experience and your partners’ relationship concerns. Our therapists here at Bliss validate client’s emotions and experiences while supporting them in reframing thoughts, changing habits, breaking patterns, and getting out of cycles they may be stuck in. Navigating relationships during a pandemic can be hard. Give yourself more credit, and Happy Valentines Day!



  • Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski, for desire/arousal in women.
  • Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire by Lori Brotto
  • Not Always In The Mood by Sarah Hunter Murray, for low desire in men and myths around male sexuality 
  • Esther Perel – Infidelity


Written By: Raman Dhillon

Raman Dhillon is the office strategist & digital content manager and helps assist our clinic/operations manager Jess. Raman has a background in Psychology & Literature from the University of Waterloo, and more recently a Post Graduate Degree in Mental Health and Addictions from Humber College. Raman has experience with client-centered intervention as well as holistic assessment. She’s very interested and well versed in different therapeutic approaches such as mindfulness, naturopathy, and art therapy. Raman loves merging her two passions, mental health, and art to convey messages, psychoeducation, and awareness to the masses. 

How to Explore Your Sexuality As You Age!


Today is International Older Persons Day!

International Older Persons Day was passed by the United Nations in 1990 to raise awareness of issues that affect older people in society and to appreciate the contributions they have made to their communities.

But, who is an older person and how do you know?

Who is an Older Person?

It depends who you ask!

When we’re thinking about national policies, research, programs and services, and other benefits or entitlements, the government will define an older person chronologically as 65 years of age and older. On the other hand, if we consider recreational supports or when discounts might become available, we may consider an older person to be someone 50 years of age and older. Based off of appearance alone, we may try to categorize a person as either younger or older, but if we were to ask somebody if they feel they are an older person, they may or may not consider themselves to be.

This is because the process of aging is a subjective experience!

Don’t get me wrong, there are objective aspects to aging too… like the biological changes our bodies encounter with time. For instance, as we grow older our skin becomes more wrinkled and less elastic, while our hair thins and becomes grey. We experience losses in muscular strength, joint flexibility, as well as bone strength and mass, which could leave us feeling frail. Our cardiovascular system becomes less efficient and our lungs become less elastic, especially when we are exerting more energy. Our immune system’s ability to fight off illnesses declines with age, so we may become more susceptible to illnesses. There are changes to our kidneys, which could increase the length of time that a drug stays active in our bodies. We may also notice that our vision, hearing and cognition are affected, and that there is a decline in the hormones our bodies are producing. However, all of these changes to the body vary from person to person and are impacted by so many factors that we both can and cannot change, such as: genetics, sex, race and ethnicity, substance use (e.g., cigarette, alcohol, etc.), level of physical activity, nutrition, gender, medications and therapies, race or ethnicity, education, income, occupation, relationship status, and where you live.

With these changes to our bodies, the nature of our relationships and roles in our communities also change. So when we ask somebody if they are an older person, there is a lot to consider! They may need to think about their physical and mental health, their (dis)abilities, whether they are giving or receiving care supports, the number and quality of social connections they may have, their level of activity and engagement in their communities and perhaps whether they are following certain aging stereotypes or social scripts.

What are Aging Stereotypes?

Even though research has found that aging is a complex process that is distinct to the person and their circumstances, we continue to perpetuate misconceptions of aging which impact how we think about and interact with older persons.

Aging stereotypes are myths that often go unchallenged. These stereotypes may also include ideas around who is considered beautiful and sexy or how people should dress and behave once they reach a certain age. Sometimes they can be positive by viewing older persons as active, healthy and wise. But more often than not, they are negative and depict aging as undesirable because of illness, loneliness and a lack of capacity for decision-making.

Any stereotype, whether positive or negative, has the ability to reinforce ageism, that is, discrimination, oppression, and exclusion based on a person’s age. For instance, one study found that very active older adults wanted to stay physically and mentally active so that they could avoid becoming old (e.g., frail, dependent, diseased). To actively resist aging stereotypes may be empowering for these older adults, but it also perpetuates ageism and the fear of illness, rather than acceptance for a natural process. Similar experiences also come up when we think about an older person’s sexuality…

When older persons integrate aging stereotypes into their perceptions of self they may feel sexually invisible and could experience an altered sense of body image because of it. Feeling a lower sense of confidence and self-esteem, older persons may limit themselves from expressing their sexual needs and desires out of the fear of being judged.

When older persons reject aging stereotypes or aging sexual scripts they may reject bodies that are aging naturally and may place importance on medical interventions (e.g., Viagra). Physical limitations that impact sexual functioning could be seen as inevitable and fraught with frustrations, disappointments, distress, and other barriers when it comes to being able to have sex or to openly discuss their sexual health needs and desires. For these older persons, they may be focusing on trying to conform to a certain sexual standard, or trying to have “normal” sex, instead of exploring their true sexual abilities, pleasures and desires.

What is Sex?

Most of us were taught that “sex” had to include a penis being inserted into a vagina. But, your definition of sex can include whatever activities arouse you and bring you pleasure, whether you are having sex with partners or going solo. It should describe what you can do and want to do now –  not what you wanted or used to do in the past. Take a moment to think about how you define “sex.” Consider these questions:

Does it include the kind of sex you’re having?

Does it include intimacy and connection?

Do you feel aroused or does it bring you pleasure?

Is it what you feel you are supposed to want?

Is it possible to have right now, given your circumstances?

Does it involve one partner or more partners?

Does it include solo acts (i.e., self-pleasure and masturbation)?

Recently, we have been having more conversations that normalize aging sexuality and there has been greater research to depict that older persons are sexually active well into later life! Even if older adults are having less sex, or experiencing sexual limitations and greater health concerns, it does not mean that they are having less quality or enjoyable sex. For instance, a Canadian study found that older persons have great sex regardless of ability, age, or illness when they move away from “normal” sex and adapt their sexual activities to meet their needs and abilities. Some ways older persons have done this is by:

Being present in the moment;

Creating a connection and being intimate with their partners;

Being open in their communication;

Remaining authentic about their desires and needs;

Being receptive to new ideas and taking safe sexual risks;

Feeling vulnerable;

Exploring all of the ways of being sexually expressive and;

Being transcendent and letting go of goal oriented sex.

By letting go of aging stereotypes and goal oriented sex, or sex which focuses on achieving orgasms, older persons are able to achieve great sex that goes beyond functionality, medical interventions, physical limitations and penetration.


What are 10 Ways to Compensate for the Changes that Come with Aging?


  1. Accept Change: If you enjoyed sex when you were younger, there is no reason why you can’t continue to as you age (unless, of course, you don’t want to !). The only thing is that you may need to let go of some of your past sexual expectations, so that you may embrace and explore your new sexuality. Do your best to accept the changes you are experiencing and remember that aging is a natural process.


  1. Track Your Responses: Track what time of day you feel aroused or responsive, especially if you are taking medications or have any medical conditions as these tend to affect our arousal and response drive at different times of the day. When you feel it, go with it! If you can’t act on it right away, try scheduling partnered or solo sex accordingly.


  1. Schedule Your Sex: If you struggle with getting aroused or reaching an orgasm, it will help to start scheduling weekly partnered or solo sex. The more you practice the easier it will be for your blood to flow the next time. Scheduling sex isn’t spontaneous, but it will help with building anticipation…


  1. Talk About Sex: You may not have been brought up to talk about sex, but it’s the only way you will get what you want. Your sexual needs and desires change over time, so be sure to communicate them to your partners. Remember while you are discussing your desires to use “I” statements and to explain what you mean, avoid blaming or judging yourself or your partners, talk about it while you aren’t having sex, be curious and ask your partner what they would like, make a plan to incorporate your desires and check in with each other regularly. Being playful, using humour and gentle teasing can really lighten the mood!


  1. Find New Positions and Toys: If you are experiencing physical limitations consider which positions, toys or other technologies may more easily or better support you during partnered or solo sex. For instance, is there a cushion that you could prop under yourself to help with weight distribution (e.g., the Liberator), is there a toy that you could use hands free or with limited hand movements (e.g., the Satisfier, the DiGit, the Wand, the Perfect Stroke, the Fleshlight with suction cup, etc.)?


  1. Exercise 30 Minutes Before Sex: Increase your blood flow to speed up arousal, function, and pleasure. You only need to raise your heart rate enough so that you breathing quickens, but you can still talk. Try dancing, walking, or any other activity that will get your blood moving!


  1. Avoid Eating Before Sex: When our digestive systems are in full swing it slows down our blood flow, which keeps it from reaching our genitals as quickly. So whether you’re having partnered or solo sex, try to plan your meals afterward.


  1. Focus on Intimacy and Touch: Sometimes we may not actually be looking for sex, instead it could be intimacy and to be touched, held, looked at, admired, smiled at, to laugh, or to feel a loved, a connection, or safe and secure.


  1. Take your Time: Spend more time on pleasure and intimacy. Draw out foreplay so that it is a before and after sex experience! Find ways to relax and be comfortable with partners or on your own.


  1. Use Lube: With age, our skin thins and hormone production declines. This means our bodies are producing less natural lubricants and that our skin is more susceptible to tearing . To avoid this, try using a personal lubricant! There are many types of personal lubricants (i.e., water, silicone, oils, hybrids, flavours, etc.). Click here for a guide that will help you choose  one that is right for you.


Remember to also keep the lines of communication open with your doctor! There are normal changes related to aging and these could be creating limitations to sexual functioning… but there are changes that may not be! For instance, diabetes and cardiovascular issues affect blood flow and could be limiting arousal and response. Although some older persons may experience greater excitement and sexual desire after menopause, others may have vaginal pain or itching and burning around their vulva. These cases should be explored further with your doctor, or a specialist like a urologist, gynaecologist, pelvic floor physiotherapist, and/or a certified sex therapist. When having sex, there’s also a higher chance of transmitting sexual infections, no matter your age. There are many different types and sizes of condoms that you can be using whether you’re having penetrative or oral sex with long-term, new, or casual partners, or even while sharing toys. Check-in with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns and request more information, as well as regular STI screenings.


Now… Go celebrate International Older Person’s Day by having sex!


Where Can I Learn More About Older Persons’ Sexuality? 

Catie’s Safer Sex Guide

How do older people discuss their own sexuality? A systematic review of qualitative research studies (Gewirtz-Meydan et al., 2018)

McMaster: Optimal Aging Portal

Naked at our Age: Talking out Loud About Senior Sex (Joan Price, 2011)

Senior Planet: A Senior’s Guide to Lubrication

Sex After Grief: Navigating your Sexuality after Losing your Beloved (Joan Price, 2019)

Sexual Health and Aging: Keep the Passion Alive (Mayo Clinic, 2017)

Sexuality in later life (National Institute on Aging, 2017)

Stereotypes of Aging: Their Effects on the Health of Older Adults (Rylee Dionigi, 2015)

The Components of Optimal Sexuality: A Portrait of “Great Sex” (Peggy Kleinplatz et al., 2009)

The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50 (Joan Price, 2014)


Written by: Jess Boulé, Pronouns: they, them, theirs / she, her, hers

Jess is our office strategist at Bliss Counselling. Jess is a Master’s graduate from the University of Guelph. During their degree, they focused on aging and end-of-life, communication, human sexuality, LGBTQI2S+ health, inclusive practice and policies, knowledge mobilization strategies, research methods, and program evaluation.

What you need to know about the 2019-2020 Human Development and Sexual Health Curriculum

Last year, Doug Ford promised voters that if the Conservatives were elected, they would repeal the controversial 2015 Health and Physical Education Curriculum introduced by Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals.

At the time, Wynne stated that the 2015 curriculum brought Ontario in line with other provinces. In the fall of 2014, the Ministry of Education consulted around 4,000 parents across Ontario, 2,400 educators and other stakeholders, 700 students, as well as police, academics, and other community organizations. Ford however, insisted that parents were not consulted and as promised, he scrapped the 2015 curriculum last summer and replaced it with an interim version that was a combination of the 1998 and the 2010 revised curriculums. Read more about the interim version here.

On Wednesday August 21, the province released the 2019 Revised Health and Physical Education Curriculum, Grades 1-8, to be implemented this September. This new curriculum collected feedback from more than 72,000 parents, students, educators, employers, and organizations across the province. It covers topics on mental health, healthy relationships, cyber-bullying, consent, cannabis, vaping, concussions, body image, LGBTQ experiences and communities, homophobia, and gender identity and expression.

Human Development and Sexual Health is only one part of the Health and Physical and Education Curriculum, but it is the only component that parents/caring adults may exempt students from learning this school year. In comparison to the 2015 Human Development and Sexual Health component, there are very few differences:

(1) Body appreciation is now a mandatory topic in grade 2.

(2) Gender identity and sexual orientation have been removed as  subtopics of invisible differences in grade 3. Mental illness has been included instead.

(3) The topics of sexual orientation are mandatory in grade 5 (2019), instead of grade 6 (2015).

(4) Gender identity and expression is now a mandatory topic in grade 8 (2019), instead of grade 6 (2015).

(5) Sexually explicit media (i.e., pornography) is now a mandatory topic in grade 6.

(6) Transsexual (i.e., a person who transitions from their sex assigned at birth) and intersex (i.e., a person born with male and female sex characteristics, typically assigned one or the other at birth) has been removed from the topic of gender identity in grade 8 and there is no explicit mention of them elsewhere (aside from the Glossary of Terms). Male and female, which are sexes assigned at birth, remain a topic of gender identity. Pansexual and asexual are now included in the topic of sexual orientation.

(7) Pleasure has been removed from the topic of decision-making skills in grade 8.

(8) Greater focus on consent and the legal age of consent, personal boundaries, respect for others, avoiding assumptions, discrimination (e.g., homophobia/racism), body image, mental health, and that decisions regarding sexual activity be made in consideration to being in a loving and healthy relationship.

(9) Minor edits to the terminology/language being used throughout the document (e.g., STBBIs, unplanned pregnancy/becoming a parent, self-awareness, self-acceptance, etc.)

For more detail on each topic and to compare the differences between the two curriculums, click here Comparison of Curriculums.

If a parent/caring adult wishes to opt a student out, they will be given a form 3 weeks before the lesson is to be taught. This form will need to be returned up to 5 days before the class. The form will offer the following three options:

(1) The child may remain in the classroom, but is not to be involved in the lesson.

(2) The child may be removed from the classroom and kept in a safe and supervised location elsewhere on school property.

(3) The child may be removed from the school.

As parents and caring adults who are looking to exempt students from the Human Development and Sexual Health component, ask yourselves why this is may be important to you:

How might the topics be conflicting or challenging your personal values and beliefs?

What are the short and long term benefits and harms of discussing certain topics?

What is missing from the curriculum?

Will you have these conversations instead, and to what capacity or with what resources?

This curriculum was designed in order to keep all children healthy and safe in Ontario. Many of these topics are in line with human rights at both the federal and provincial level. But, diverse perspectives about sex, sexuality, gender identity and expression, media, consent, joy, and respect (among others!) are still missing. You can address these gaps by having conversations about human development and sexual health regularly with your kids. Although they are not available yet, the Ministry of Education will be releasing online resources this 2019-2020 school year so that parents/caring adults can discuss these topics at home, once they feel ready to do so.

For more information on all of the topics being taught in the new Health and Physical Education Curriculum, click here. You can also compare the Human Development and Sexual Health components to other educational resources that describe the appropriate age to discuss sex and sexuality with children, such as About Kids Health and Caring for Kids.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for ideas and resources on when and how to have more ongoing talks about sex and sexuality with your kids!


Written by: Jess Boulé, Pronouns: they, them, theirs / she, her, hers

Jess is our office strategist at Bliss Counselling. Jess is a Master’s graduate from the University of Guelph. During their degree, they focused on aging and end-of-life, communication, human sexuality, LGBTQI2S+ health, inclusive practice and policies, knowledge mobilization strategies, research methods, and program evaluation.

Your Sex Life: What’s normal?

We’re inundated with rules every day, and in almost all areas of our lives. But when it comes to the rules of sex, there’s only one:

There’s no such thing as “normal” sex.

That’s right. It’s a complete myth.

Perhaps you may be wondering:

  • Is our sex life normal?
  • These fantasies I keep thinking about—are they common?
  • Is wanting sex this infrequently or frequently natural?
  • Are all these ups and downs in my desire okay?
  • Is it normal to have to schedule sex?


The answers, in case you’re wondering, are—yes, normal, natural, and you’re perfect.

If you have a health concern, of course, we recommend speaking with your primary care physician. With any medical concerns aside, there’s no normal when it comes to sex, and that’s wonderful news! That is, as long as all parties are able to consent and it doesn’t involve animals.

Sex is a key part of our adult lives, and still, it can be a taboo topic in many social circles. As a result of putting sex-talk to the bottom of our lists, we don’t talk about it nearly enough.


We need to be talking about sex more.

Without conversations about sex, it can often lead to assumptions that leave us judging our sexual activity. It’s common to worry if you’re having enough sex, or too much, or if what you’re doing between the sheets is natural.

These assumptions can also lead us into the comparison trap. We assume our friends are doing it more or less than you and your partner(s) are, and that can leave us feeling less than awesome and swirling in a pity party.


Know this: whatever you’re doing in your intimate life, it’s healthy and natural.

And millions of other people are doing the same.

Getting intimate and having sex regularly is healthy, and a big sexual appetite is a sign of high energy, vitality, and sound hormone function. And, if you do discover that you’re having more or less sex than your neighbors, that’s perfectly okay. You get to decide what “normal” sex means to you and your partner(s). Whether you have sex 3 times a day or 3 times a year—it’s perfect if that’s what works for you.

The most significant sex challenge we see in our practice within intimate relationships, is when one person wants sex more than the other(s). If there’s a desire discrepancy in your relationship, there are practical ways you can ask for the sex you want.

This is also completely natural for our libidos to be more intense during certain phases of our lives, and it will ebb and flow throughout our relationships.

Our advice to clients usually starts with clear and compassionate communication. The more you can open up and share your sensual wants and needs in your relationship, the deeper your connection and the stronger your bond will become.

Keeping the conversation going about your sex life can help you create a deeper connection with your partner(s), and help you to feel confident in your sensual desires.


Written by Bliss sexologist Kelly McDonnell-Arnold. Learn more about Kelly and get her secret “Tips From the Couch” here.

If you liked this article you might enjoy these too:


Do you have any questions for us? Or do you have questions about your sex life? We’re happy to help! Get in touch with us here.
If you’re interested in booking your first appointment with Bliss, you can do that here.



Sexy Friday: Pre-teen Sex-Ed and Healthcare Accessibility for Transgender Individuals

This week, join us for another Sexy Friday to talk about pre-teen sex education and healthcare accessibility for transgender individuals. On this episode, Kelly is joined by Stacey Jacobs again, a sexual health education manager at Sexual Health Options, Resources & Education – SHORE Centre. Deanna Clatworthy, nurse and clinical manager at HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health (ARCH), in Guelph, Ontario is also on the show today to discuss the healthcare needs and supports available to transgender individuals.

Stacey addresses talking to pre-teens about sex, and taking advantage of the many resources available to us. She explains that we shouldn’t avoid answering a question simply because we don’t know the answer. We have access to resources to help us answer these questions, so we should be working toward finding the proper answer to the questions our children ask, instead of avoiding or guessing the correct answer.

Another very important suggestion Stacey makes is to watch TV shows and videos with your children. This ensures that you are aware of what they are watching, and can help them navigate complicated or incomplete information. Make sure to be engaged with them, ask them questions about what they are watching and challenge them to critically view the program to challenge the stereotypes. Allow them to talk about gender, gender roles and gender expression, and most importantly, let your child be themselves.

Deanna joins Kelly to share with us the health care support that is available to transgender folks, and the knowledge that community members should be responsible for seeking out to ensure a comfortable environment for all. She also talks about gender affirming surgeries, providing further information on what surgeries are accessible and paid for, and the obstacles or lack of support that people may experience during this process. Finally, Deanna addresses the importance of using appropriate language, “It doesn’t cost you anything to call someone by their preferred name, but it means everything to them”.

Watch the full episode for more information on these very important topics HERE!


Guest Information:

Stacey Jacobs

Instagram: @shorecentrewr

Deanna Clatworthy

Twitter: @ARCHguelph

Sexy Friday: Menstruation, Sex Education and Therapy


This week’s Sexy Friday blog focuses on a number of important topics, including menstruation, strengthening relationships, and how chronic illnesses and disability affect self-love, relationships and sexuality. There is a lot of valuable information packed into this 30-minute episode of Sex Talk with Kelly, so we definitely recommend checking out the full episode! Kelly invited some wonderful guests to join her for this episode, including Kristen Schultz, a sex educator, activist and writer, Stacey Jacobs, a sexual health education manager at Sexual Health Options, Resources & Education – SHORE Centre, and Bliss Counselling’s very own Tammy Benwell.

Kristen addresses the ways in which our education system has failed us with its lack of representation, explaining that the education we receive reflects a society that is solely abled, cisgendered, and reproductive focussed. In addition to these major concerns, Kristen explains how things become even more complicated for individuals with disabilities, or those suffering from illnesses. Kristen emphasizes the importance of conversations, “Be open. Open hearted and have open conversation”. We are so thankful for Kristen’s wealth of information, and willingness to share her own personal experience with chronic illness and sex. This is an important conversation that you will definitely learn so much from! Thanks, Kristen!

Kelly is then joined by Stacey, who addresses the importance of talking about menstruation and how to talk to kids about sex. She explains that it is important for schools and families to provide appropriate information about menstruation, and the need to discuss it in a positive light so as not to scare or confuse young people. “It is important for people to feel empowered by their bodies, not annoyed or frustrated”.

Addressing sex education, she explains that children model adult behaviour, and that it is important to be mindful of this and to model consent for your children by asking before you touch them, and reminding them to ask before they touch you. Additionally, it is important to be honest with children in an age appropriate manner. Lastly, she explains that it’s crucial to ask your children questions as well, and not to wait for them to ask you, because they may not.

Finally, Kelly is joined by Bliss Counselling therapist, Tammy Benwell to talk about the strategies you and your partner can implement to strengthen your bond. Tammy explains that your relationship therapist is your supporter, lean on them to prevent the problems from getting worse. Tammy provides both individual and relationship therapy at Bliss Counselling.

To watch the full episode, follow the link HERE!


Guest Information:

Kristen Schultz

Twitter: @chronicsexchat

Instagram: @chronic_self_love

Stacey Jacobs

Instagram: @shorecentrewr

Tammy Benwell, Bliss therapist



Bliss Specialists Answer Questions About the Intensive Sex Therapy Training Program

Recently, Bliss specialists Farrah Kherani and Stacey Harris participated in the Intensive Sex Therapy Training Program at the University of Guelph. Although they were dearly missed around the office, they returned to Bliss with valuable knowledge to further support their clients!

Below, Stacey and Farrah answer some of the burning questions that we had about their experience with the Intensive Sex Therapy Training Program.

What sparked your interest in the intensive sex therapy course?

Stacey: The course was highly recommended by Sex Therapists, Kelly and Lindsay. I have been working with individuals and couples that have struggled with their sexuality, and I wanted to be able to offer more resources and information. People have shared struggling with intimacy due to pervious trauma, having low desire, pain, infidelity and other struggles. I want to offer a space for individuals and couples to feel comfortable exploring their sexuality to discuss their desires, hopes and fears.

Memories, emotions, thoughts and expectations have an enormous influence on pain. I offer hypnotherapy for pain management and I wanted to learn more skills related to sex therapy to incorporate into practice.

Farrah: My colleagues at Bliss had been raving about this course, and I wanted to learn more about what Sex Therapy entails.  I also wanted to learn about a different type of therapy that I could implement into my practice with individuals. Interestingly enough, many of the clients that I see come in for various reasons, and some of these reasons impact their sexuality and intimacy in their relationships with others.  This course helped me expand my knowledge and skill set in order to help clients discover themselves as sexual beings, and work through any sexual struggles they may be facing.

What did you enjoy most about the course?

Stacey: I enjoyed meeting people from all over the world and hearing their stories. I’m grateful that I got to participate in a diverse group that sparked many light bulbs in my mind. It was an embodied experience that left me feeling more energized and motivated to help others. I enjoyed learning more about sensate focus and plan on incorporating hypnotherapy sensate focus to help individuals calm the nervous system, increase intimacy and build self-esteem.

I plan on asking people what gives them pleasure more often. It may be sex or it may not, and that’s okay. Something that gives me pleasure every day is playing with my dog.

Farrah: Such an exceptional course!  I met so many professionals from various backgrounds and from as far away as Australia and Sweden.  The content provided in this course was beyond what I had expected and I learned so much. It left me wanting to keep learning more. We were taught by well-informed professionals, which included; Sex Therapists and Researchers, a Pelvic Floor Therapist, an OBGYN/ Sexual Medicine Doctor, a Pharmacist, and an expert in Sexual Pleasure and Sexual Play.  Each presenter brought a wealth of knowledge to this course and to my learning. We had some intense dialogues as well as lots of fun and laughter.

What portion of the course did you find most informative to your practice (group discussions, practice therapy sessions, lectures or videos)?

Stacey: I highly enjoyed the presenters that offered various perspectives. There was an OBGYN, Pharmacist, Consensual Non-Monogamy Researcher, Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, Sexuality Coach and different therapists. I learned different skills from each person that I plan on incorporating into my practice. A quote that stands out to me by Albert Einstein, “Education is not the learning of facts. But training the mind to think.” The course was holistic and certainly opened my mind to various ideas, theories, medical information and strategies. I plan on offering clients a safe space to share about sexuality, and train the mind to think in different ways.

Farrah: I would have to say that all of the presenters were informative to my practice.  No questions were off limits, and I enjoyed and learned from the open dialogue among the group and the presenters.  Group discussions offered a variety of perspectives. We were given the opportunity to witness an actual sex therapy session, which provided an in depth view of what types of concerns and trauma clients may have experienced, and how this impacts them as sexual beings. I also learned more about how the dynamics of the act of sex changes in relationships over time and while individuals age. One particular video that stands out which really informed my practice was “Naked on the Inside”. I would highly recommend watching this.

Could you share a resource that you used during the course that you found especially interesting/helpful to your learning?

Stacey: Naked On The Inside Documentary- Six individuals share their stories about body image issues and dig deep into their vulnerabilities to create inner healing.

Farrah: “Want”- Lori Erikson. This video describes the realities of homosexuality and aging.  Documentaries such as this inform us on how homosexuality can affect our ability to get appropriate personal care, and how individuals feel they have to go back ‘into the closet’ in order to get into a proper care facility.


Written by Bliss therapists, Stacey Harris and Farrah Kherani. 

Are you interested in booking an appointment with Bliss? Find more information about doing so HERE!


Sexy Friday: How to Ask for the Sex You Want in 8 Completely Practical Tips

Is your sex life only, “pretty good”? Do you wish your partner(s) would do something a little (or a lot) different in bed? Maybe you’ve fallen into a rut with the same old positions, or your routine looks the same every time, leaving you craving a little variety.

Whatever your sensual desires, wanting something more or even completely different is totally normal. Approaching these topics with a partner can feel a little uncomfortable and awkward at first, but the more you flex those communication muscles, the easier it will be to spark a discussion about sex.

Know that you’re responsible for your pleasure, so if you’d like to heighten, diversify, or intensify your sexual experience, you’ve got to ask for it!

As nice as it would be, your partner(s) can’t read your mind. It’s time to ask for the sex you want. Here are some ideas to broach the topic:


  1. Change can be uncomfortable—embrace it!

When you maintain the status quo, it can be all too easy to fall into a rut—the bedroom included! In our practice, we’ve worked with many people who have been enduring sex that doesn’t light their fire—sometimes for years, all because they were too afraid to speak up and ask for what they needed. While it may feel awkward at first, we promise you that it will get easier the more you embrace the discomfort—because that’s where you’ll find the most significant growth.

  1. Build trust.

You may be nervous to ask for the sex that you want out of fear of being judged. At the foundation of your relationship, you should find trust, respect, and open communication. And with a solid foundation in your relationship, you can approach sexual discussions with honesty. If you trust that your partner(s) won’t hold judgments in other areas of your life, then it’s vital to trust that they also won’t judge when it comes to sex. By being courageous and forthcoming in your relationship, you’re giving your partner permission to do the same—further setting the precedent for trust and vulnerability in your relationship.

  1. The time and place matters.

When you’re in the moment and want your partner to make a quick adjustment—more of that, less of this, slower, faster—that’s totally cool to bring it up while you’re between the sheets. If you’re bringing up an entirely new topic or a potentially sensitive topic, the best time to ask is when you’re not in the middle of sex.

Approach the discussion when you’re both feeling relaxed and comfortable—perhaps while settling in for an evening on the couch, you’re out to dinner or going for a bike ride. This way, you can offer your partner a pressure-free environment to process and respond to your request. Even when you’re relaxed, mention that you would like to plan a time that works for both you to talk about your sex life… so you are both prepared and in the right frame of mind to be vulnerable and listen… really hear one another

  1. Be crystal clear.

Before beginning your conversation, consider if what you’re asking for is clear. Get specific with your request. Instead of asking for “more foreplay,” you could suggest that you kiss and play for 30 minutes before getting down to it. By telling your partner(s) precisely what you’re craving, you’ll leave less room for miscommunication. Allow your partner to ask clarifying questions too—if they need to understand better where your request is coming from, spend the time to help them properly understand.

  1. Keep it positive.

Approach your sexy requests with positivity. You can try out a “compliment sandwich.” Begin by saying something along the lines of, “I love how good you feel when you’re on top of me. And it would feel incredible for me if we could spend a little more time in that position. I feel so alive when we’re done.” This is a much friendlier approach than only throwing criticisms their way. Make sure you also focus on what’s working great—because you want more of that! Even if you’re asking for what you want while you’re in the act, focus on what’s working and not only on what’s not turning you on.

  1. Give more than you get.

After you’ve asked your partner for something, make sure you leave it open so that you can return the favour. Ask them what they’d love in bed. What more can you do to enhance their pleasure? For every ask, encourage your partner to make a request as well to keep building those emotional bonds and practicing give-and-take.

  1. Show Appreciation.

When it’s working well—say so. Notice and express your appreciation where your partner is trying to fulfill your requests. Instead of responding with more demands, first, focus on what you loved and make sure they know that you appreciate their efforts. Your relationship can continue to grow when you both learn to ask each other for what you want and need without condemning them.

  1. Practice Makes It Easier

Asking for what we crave takes practice. As you start to settle into expressing your desires regularly, every ask won’t feel so awkward or uncomfortable. And remember, if your partner isn’t ready to fulfill your request (yet), be okay with hearing, “no,” and move on.


Keep the dialogue going regarding your sex life to make sure you’re all on the same page, and everyone feels secure enough to speak up when the urge strikes.

Regularly set time aside to focus on strengthening your bond by building trust and honing your communication skills in your relationship. Make sure you’re having regular heart-to-heart conversations to express each of your relationship needs. As you get more practice expressing what you want, these conversations will start to feel easier to approach over time.


Written by Bliss sexologist Kelly McDonnell-Arnold. Learn more about Kelly and get her secret “Tips From the Couch” here.

Are you a new Sexy Friday reader? We don’t want you to miss anything! Check out some of our previous Sexy Friday blog posts:



Sexy Friday: Sexual Trauma, Divorce and FAQ!

Welcome to another Sexy Friday at Bliss Counselling! We are confident that you are going to love what we have in store for you this week! Today we are sharing another fun and informative episode of Sex Talk with Kelly on Rogers TV! On this episode, Kelly is joined by special guests Keri Martin Vrbanac, a registered physiotherapist and pelvic health physiotherapist, as well as Roger Macintosh, a lawyer at Rabideau Law. Before the episode is over, Kelly will be joined by Jo Flannery to answer some of their most frequently asked questions!

Keri joins Kelly to talk about sexual trauma and pelvic health, explaining that sexual trauma is quite common for all genders. On this episode, Keri provides some insight on how she works with survivors, emphasizing the importance of creating a survivor friendly environment in order to ensure that everyone receives a positive medical experience that supports healing from past abuse.

Roger Macintosh is on Sex Talk with Kelly to talk about mediation and litigation divorce, explaining that separation agreements will help set the expectaions clear so that there are no surprises when it comes to child support, custody, assests, and so on. He also explains the difference between mediation and court, explaining that mediation can be a helpful way to resolve issues in a much less aggressive arena and in a way that can ultimately be cheaper for both parties. However, he explains that this process will require significant cooperation between spouses.

Lastly, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Jo Flannery and Kelly answer the most frequently asked questions about size, porn, fantasies and more! Are you interested in hearing what these experts have to say? Check out the full video HERE!


Guest Information:

Keri Martin Vrbanac

Facebook page: A Body In Motion Rehabilitation

Twitter: @ABIMpelvicPT and @abodyinmotion1

Roger Macintosh

Twitter: @rabideaulaw

Instagram: @rabideaulawcanada

Jo Flannery

Twitter: @SEXOLOGYMag

Instagram: @sexologyin


Sexy Friday: 9 Secrets of Becoming an Epic Lover


The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence; it’s greener where you water it. Where you direct your attention matters when it comes to grass and sex. If you want to be an epic lover, you need to put focused intention on being just that—an epic lover.

With your consistent investment in love, attention, and time, your relationship with your partner(s) will grow and flourish.

Maybe you’ve heard that great lovers are made? It’s true.

“Great lovers are made, not born.” – Dr. Peggy Kleinplatz

Becoming a great lover is a learned skill. Do you recall your very first sexual encounter? Maybe you’d describe it as awkward, clumsy, different. Or perhaps it was the stuff of daydreams on the very first go. Either way, becoming a fantastic lover is not only attainable, it’s also very doable.

If you want to serve your partner(s), and be a wonderfully, wholehearted lover—here are our favorite recommendations. Please don’t look at this as a checklist, but rather a list of ideas to play with.


  1. Get to know (and love on) your body
    The more you know your body, the more sexual satisfaction you can experience. Start by looking after yourself—body, mind, and soul. Maybe you’ll pick up some new healthy habits such as exercise, nourishing food, taking long baths, and enjoying massages. Keep in mind the voice you use when you’re talking about your body. Both out loud and in your head. Celebrate all the amazing things your body can do, feel, and experience and focus less on negative self-talk.
  2. Tune into the desire channel
    You know which radio stations make you dance and sing in the car, so learn which of your body’s channels get you feeling sensual. By tuning into what you crave and what makes you feel good, it’s easier to go after it in your relationship too.
  3. Tell a new sexual story
    Whether we realize it or not, we all have stories about sex that may or may not be true. Some of these scripts may no longer be serving us. These are messages from our upbringing and past experiences, the media, advertising, and our culture. The great news is that you have the power to decide if these stories will continue to define your sexual experience and write a new sexual story—one that feels good and boosts your confidence.
  4. Get your sexy on
    It can be hard to feel sexy if we’re struggling with old sex stories or a lack of body confidence. Consider, if you were a confident and skilled lover, what would you wear? Where would you shop? What kinds of things would this person say about themselves? Once you have an image of what this sexy person feels, acts, and talks like, consider turning this into your reality to play with your sensual side. You’ve heard about faking it until you make it—this works between the sheets too. Act as if—as if you’re already your utterly fabulous, sexy, and desirable self.
  5. It’s not a game of solitary
    You and your partner(s) are not on opposing sides. You’re on the same team working towards common relationship goals. Avoid falling into the trap of keeping score on what household chores you’ve taken on, who makes more money, or acting as if your partner owes you. This can lead to resentment in the long run. Look at your relationship as a team sport so that you can be aiming for constant improvement, for the sake of the unit.
  6. Be a lover you’d desire
    It’s easy to fall into the habit of leaning back and requesting our partner(s) please us in a particular way. Here’s your permission slip to take the lead and be the person you’d love to love. This is also where being a flirt can pay off. If you love to be flirted with, then embrace being the flirter.
  7. Your lover can’t be everything
    Chances are, you still need various people to fill the many roles in your life. Expecting your partner to fill all your needs for conversation, connection, support, and companionship might be too tall of an order to fill. Keep in touch with your friends, reconnect with your family, revisit an old passion project that used to bring you joy.
  8. Random acts of goodness
    There are so many opportunities to give just a little each day to keep the spark alive. You can leave love notes in sneaky places, go on regular dates, do a chore that’s normally theirs without being asked for help, cook up a favorite meal, or send surprises to your home or their office.
  9. Make the time
    We’re all busy and have neverending to-do lists. We’re never going to be “done” so we may as well focus on the areas of our life that bring us pleasure. By making your intimate relationship a priority, you can help it to deepen. Even if the idea of scheduling date nights and intimacy feels a little funny at first, play with it. By making the time to prioritize your personal life, you’re sending the message loud and clear that you care. And epic lovers care.


By placing our focus first on ourselves so that we can become a better lover, we give our partner(s) the opportunity to rise to the occasion and match our sexy efforts. Sounds like a win-win, right?


Written by Bliss sexologist, Kelly McDonnell-Arnold.

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Sexy Friday: Open Relationships, Masturbation and Sex Toys

It’s another Sexy Friday! This week, catch another episode of Sex Talk with Kelly, where Kelly and her guests talk about open relationships, masturbation and sex toys!


Karen joins Kelly again this week to continue the discussion on open relationships, stating that, “We assume that love is finite, but love isn’t necessarily finite”. Karen explains that there are different types of open relationships including swinging, which entails exploring sexual relationships with others, as well as polymaory, which generally involves an emotional attachment that accompanies the sexual component.

Jo is also back this week, sharing valuable information about masturbation, encouraging us to “Feel empowered when getting to know your body!” You don’t want to miss Jo’s insightful tips for self-pleasure, and Kelly’s hilarious childhood story!

Finally, we catch up on the latest and greatest sex toys with Dianne from the Stag Shop! She shares some of the top vibrators, gels and lubricants, and also emphasizes the importance of a proper toy cleaning system. Keep in mind; the best toy for you is completely dependent on your own personal preference! Want to learn about which new gadgets would be best for you to try? Watch the full episode HERE!


Are you a new Sexy Friday reader? We don’t want you to miss anything! Check out our previous Sexy Friday blog posts:


Guest Information:


Twitter: @stagshop

Instagram: @stagshop

Jo Flannery

Twitter: @SEXOLOGYMag

Instagram: @sexologyin

Bliss psychotherapist, Karen Grierson




Sexy Friday: Kink, BDSM and Polyamory

Thanks for joining us for another Sexy Friday at Bliss! This week, check out another link to Rogers TV for a Sex Talk with Kelly episode that is sure to WOW you!

Kelly invites Headmistress Shahrazad, professional dominatrix and owner of the Ritual Chamber Dungeon in Toronto, Ontario to join her this week. Kelly asks Headmistress Shahrazad to share some advice for individuals who are curious about the realm of BDSM and kink, and also asks her to provide some information about the workshops, events and training schedules at the Ritual Chamber. Headmistress Shahrazad shares that there are a variety of people who are interested in BDSM and kink. Some individuals simply enjoy being tied up in the bedroom occasionally, for others, it is a lifestyle. She explains that all are present and welcome at the Ritual Chamber Dungeon!

Later, Kelly speaks with Karen Grierson about polyamory, and later invites Joanne Flannery to talk about how to start a conversation with your partner about opening up your relationship. Karen asserts that although some polyamorous folk do engage in the kink and BDSM community, not all polyamorous individuals are interested in BDSM and kink, just like not all monogamous individuals are interested in it!

To learn more, watch the full video linked HERE!!



Guest Information:

Headmistress Shahrazad

Twitter: @ShahrazadTRC and @RitualChamberTO

Instagram: @thealchemicalseductress

Jo Flannery

Twitter: @SEXOLOGYMag

Instagram: @sexologyin

Last but certainly not least, Bliss Counselling’s very own Karen Grierson!



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