VIP Interview With Dr. Holly Richmond Sex Therapist And Co-founder Of Next-Sex

Dr. Holly Richmond is well known for providing her services to Hollywood elite, and for heated discussions in the media regarding sex addiction and whether rehab for A-list celebrities in the recent onslaught of scandals actually works. Pulling no punches, her position is that sex addiction is a misnomer and the treatment principles unfounded. Her opinion on sexual health and wellness topics is well sought after and backed by a unique combination of credentials. She has a Ph.D. in somatic psychology, is a certified sex therapist and a licensed marriage & family therapist. She is also the founder of Sex and the Soma, a clinical practice, and the co-founder of Next-Sex, a consulting agency that focuses on technology, sex and health. She has worked with individuals of all genders, couples with desire discrepancies, and has helped women discover their sexual empowerment. Her expertise does not stop there. She was also the very first person to write VR adult entertainment for women—also directed by a women— that bridges the gap between entertainment and education. This is a VIP Interview with Dr. Holly Richmond.

Tell me about yourself

My name is Holly Richmond, PhD, and I am a somatic psychologist and certified sex therapist. I am the founder of Sex and the Soma, a clinical practice, and co-founder of Next-Sex a sextech consulting agency. My areas of expertise are fairly diverse under the umbrella of sex therapy and couples counseling, and I work in a way that pays equal attention to what my clients are saying and what their body is communicating somatically. This could be through body language, chronic pain issues, nervous system concerns, sexual dysfunction, or issues of body-based rigidity or laxity. One of my main areas of focus has been working with survivors of sexual abuse and assault, helping them to restore their sexual and relational health. I also treat couples with desire discrepancies and those in sexless marriages, as well as those wanting to explore consensual non-monogamy and open relationships. Much of my work over the past three years has been with men and women who struggle with sexual compulsivity (often erroneously called sex addiction) and I’ve had fantastic outcomes. Lastly, but certainly not conclusively, I love my work with individuals and couples with kinks and fetishes—you will never hear me say, “I’ve seen it all!” I truly appreciate how my clients surprise me.

What inspired you to work in the realm of Virtual Reality (VR) adult entertainment?

I was doing research for the book I’m writing, and interviewed the biggest names in sextech. One of the leading companies and initial purveyors of VR adult entertainment is Badoink, and through our talks they asked me to write the first VR script from a woman’s point of view (POV) that combined entertainment and sex education. I created this script based directly on issues my female clients struggle with, and wrote three scenes that all, in different ways, answered questions about female desire and arousal. I was on set during the shoot to work with the actors and ensure clinical authenticity, and am really happy with the final product. Please check out Virtual Sexology II at Badoink.

What inspires you?

I honestly have the best job ever because I get inspired by my clients each and every day. Some of them have persevered through incredibly difficult situations, and have come to a place where they have so much to give to their relationships and to themselves. It’s an incredible process to witness. Professionally, I’m inspired by Dan Savage and Ether Perel—Dan changed our cultural discourse on same sex relationships and LGBTQ rights, and Esther radically altered our dialogue about marriage and infidelity. I soak up as much as I can from them both in hopes that my work will similarly impact the way people think about sex and technology.

If I need a quick hit of productive inspiration, Tim Ferris is my guy, but if I need to go deeper, I turn to Buddhist psychology. Some of my favorite quotes in that realm are:

“Don’t believe everything you think”

and

“If it’s in the way, it is the way.”

But, my all-time favorite quote that inspires my work daily is by Anais Nin:

“You cannot save people. You can only love them.”

Sex therapist
Image: Dr. Holly Richmond Portrait

What is your book about?

The book is called Next-Sex, and my colleague, Stephen Duclos, and I are answering the question, “What’s next for sex?” The book comprises our research on the most emergent trends in sextech including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), teledildonics, sexbots and more. By investigating the influences of immersive technologies on sexual health, we identify how these developments affect individual satisfaction and intimate relationships, from dating apps to long-term partnerships. While it is certainly a comprehensive exploration of the technology, it’s actually more about us—the people who use it—and includes therapeutic insights on how to make the intersection of sex and tech as relationally beneficially as possible, whether the relationship is with others or ourselves.

What can we expect in the future of technology within the sexual lifestyle industry?

The sex toys that are coming out in the near future are going to blow your mind! Several innovative companies already offer teledildonics, and the capabilities of these products is only going to improve. Teledildonics are ideal for long distance couples. They can experience intimacy and eroticism together through immersive technologies by controlling and enhancing each other’s pleasure. Teledildonics offer a sense of deep connection, even when partners are multiple time zones apart. I see a future where more and more first date sex is virtual, and it will feel as close to actually being together as possible.

VR sex toy techology slideshow
Image: Whats Next For Sex

Should we be worried about buying VR sex toys. Will they replace our real sexual lifestyles, relationships and dating?

I don’t like to differentiate in-person sex and virtual sex with the term “real.” Where does that leave people who have only ever had sex with themselves or those who prefer to experience others sexually through technology? It feels wrong to tell them they are not having real sex. Sex, as long as it is consensual and pleasurable, gets to be defined by each individual. I also don’t think we need to be worried about VR or any of the emerging immersive technologies replacing person to person sex, and it certainly will not supplant relationships. I believe, because of the technology’s experiential qualities (instead of just watching, we are now experiencing through a felt sense) it will encourage more connection, not less. It’s people who are using the technology, technology isn’t using us. At the end of the day, the majority of us will still have an inherent need for proximal connection, touch and relational intimacy with all the messiness and beauty that entails.

Sexbot slideshow
Image: Sexbots

Do you feel this technology will change how we as a society view and engage with sex?

Absolutely, and this is one the things I am most excited about. I’m truly hoping this is the point in history where we decisively and unrelentingly step into a position of sex positivity. Through my lens, this means that all sex is good sex as long as it’s consensual and pleasurable. There are no “buts” here. That’s the end of the story. If someone only wants to have sex within a monogamous committed relationship, great. If someone wants to practice polyamory or BDSM or be asexual, demisexual, pansexual or only have sex through their use of technology, great. It’s all good, and it’s all good sex.

With technology giants like Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk being worried about killer robots taking over the world, should we be worried about VR technology?

I have a hard time imagining a world where that’s a possibility. VR has actually been called an “empathy machine,” and I believe it’s the closest thing to that we’ve ever experienced. My interest in immersive technologies is largely about their somatic qualities—the felt sense they deliver—and a huge piece of this is encouraging eye contact. That’s something that’s not possible with the 2-D technology we use now. With eye contact comes empathy, and with empathy comes compassion, so it’s really hard for me to get from there to killer robots.

 

Image: Dr. Holly Richmond Banner

Is there any question or information you would like to add to the article?

As far as my clinical practice is concerned, I am really putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and am exclusively offering distance counseling via technological applications like Skype, FaceTime, Hangouts, etc. At this time, though I’ll travel for intensives with my clients upon request. Technology is only going to get more pervasive and immersed in our lives, and I want to help people learn to use it in ways that are beneficial, and certainly doing therapy or coaching is one of those.  In regard to my sextech consulting, I am excited about opportunities to produce more content that combines entertainment and sex education, as well as develop immersive technology products that truly meet the sexual and relational health needs of individuals and couples. I feel like I have a front row seat into people’s bedrooms (without the nudity, of course!), and I’m eager to affect change in a positive way.

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Sexpert is our resident full time sex blogger. Having successfully owned and managed a number of blogs relating to women’s lifestyle, she easily blended into her role as chief blogger of the Adultsmart Blog. She is in a long term relationship with her boyfriend. She also runs Good Girl Guide, a sexual lifestyle blog.

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