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A Brief History of Surrogate Partner Therapy

Masters and Johnson, Human Sexuality Pioneers

The Masters and Johnson research team, composed of William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, pioneered research into the nature of human sexual response and the diagnosis and treatment of sexual disorders and dysfunctions from 1957 until the 1990s.

Masters and Johnson introduced the practice of sexual surrogacy in their book "Human Sexual Inadequacy", published in 1970. They believed that people could learn about sexual intimacy only by experiencing it. The practice of Surrogate Partner Therapy reached its peak in the early 1980s with a few hundred surrogate partners practicing in the U.S. Since then, Surrogate Partner Therapy's popularity declined but has recently reentered social consciousness after the 2012 film The Sessions, which depicts one surrogate partner's work with a disabled man. Currently, those practicing Surrogate Partner Therapy are still very few in number.


"The practitioner participates with the client in structured and unstructured experiences that are

designed to build client self-awareness and skills in the areas of physical and emotional intimacy. These therapeutic experiences include partner work in relaxation, effective communication, sensual and sexual touching, and social skills training. Each program is designed to increase the client’s knowledge, skills, and comfort. As the days pass, clients find themselves becoming more relaxed, more open to feelings, and more comfortable with physical and emotional intimacy". ~International Surrogate Partner Association

The WIHL’s  Surrogate Partner Therapy

is based on the successful methods of Masters and Johnson, combined with modern somatic therapy modalities .

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