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Thick-Skinned, Tender-Hearted: my journey to practicing sex therapy


I am frequently asked how and why I found myself in the field of sex therapy. In all honesty, I feel this is my true calling. I believe that no matter what, I would have found myself here. For this, I am grateful. This practice lights me up, inspires me, challenges me, and breaks my heart all the same.

“I often tell people that I have thick skin and a tender heart. It takes a tender heart to really work with the people I’m working with and to really understand what is going on and what is felt and what is needed, but thick skin because there is so much shame and so much judgment.”

It is no secret that sex is still a taboo topic heavily tied up in shame, fear, and disgust. We may be surrounded by sex, yet we don’t have the spaces we need to be curious and openly discuss sex with others without judgment. Not to mention the very limited—sometimes complete lack of– access to quality, accurate sex education. Because of this, many walk around wondering if they are “normal” (I put this in quotations because what is normal anyways) and filled with shame around their sexuality. This isn’t limited to sexuality, it spreads to gender expression and many parts of our humanity.

This is where my practice comes in. I strive to offer a safe space for others to question, explore, deepen, and understand themselves and their partners and the relationships they are in; to peel back the layers. But, how did I end up here? And, why?

In September, a colleague of mine, John Harrison invited me to share my “why” on his podcast “The True Calling Project”. In this conversation, I shared both my journey and my multi-layered “why”. I certainly have my standard answer, yet it was on this platform that I verbalized for the first time aloud my deepest why. I vulnerably opened myself up in ways that I haven’t publicly before and as nervous as I was to share, I was equally proud to speak this truth.

I invite you to listen in, to learn more about me and my practice of sex therapy that goes much deeper than what most expect at the surface. Join us here.

Until next time,


headshotAbout the Author:

Dr. Lily A. Zehner, MFT-C is a therapist who specializes in sex, intimacy, and relationships. Her private practice is located in Denver where she helps others connect emotionally, sensually, and intimately. To learn more about her and her services, please feel free to take a look around her website.

About the Author