Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy (LIIST)

Month: March 2020

Therapy by Phone or Video Chat [Can Suck]. Here’s How to Make It Better.

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LIIST has been providing video therapy for years. We do still think in-person sessions are best because we believe we can better attune with our clients. This pandemic has encouraged all of our sessions to move to video. So far, we are very happy with the results.

person holding MacBook in car with black interior
person holding MacBook in car with black interior

Our greatest concern for the feasibility of online sessions was with regard to couples. In our sessions with couples, we have figured out some great workarounds. One of our favorite new techniques is to have each partner participate from separate devices in separate parts of a home. Interestingly, we are finding that couples are doing a better job of turn-taking in conversations during these video therapy sessions!

This article in Vice by Caitlin Flynn outlines more ideas for continuing to ensure you’re getting the most out of your video therapy sessions.

Looking for some support?

If you would like some support for your relationship, or your sex life, feel free to reach out to us. LIIST has an outstanding team of therapists. We specialize in helping individuals, couples and relationships navigate difficult times.

Better sex in quarantine

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Here on Long Island, most of us are home. We are either without work at the moment or working from home. Others are essential and life-saving personnel going to work in this heavy moment in time. For now, this post will be for those who are staying at home for this quarantine.

You have all this time on your hands. No what?

When thinking about sex, lots of time is a great thing. Many people are often rushing through sex because life has its own schedules to be managed. Right now, you can have sex like you’re on a vacation! (No, this is not a vacation, it’s a pandemic and we are existing with way more anxiety than usual. Sex also helps reduce anxiety and increase our sense of connection during this time of social isolation.)

two people holding each others hands
two people holding each others hands

Start by using your hands!

Great sex often starts with some wonderful sensual touch. You can start by suggesting you play with your partner’s hair, massage their feet, or caress their hands. This could be especially nice for those who have a heightened anxiety level right now. People often hold a lot of tension in their bodies, and loving caresses might help relieve some of that embodied stress.

Giving a great hand massage

Here’s an idea for how to give a great hand massage.

  1. Ask your partner. “Could I play with your hand for a bit?” If they say yes, then proceed. If they say no, respect that decision and maybe ask them if there is another way they would like to connect with you or if they would be open to playing later.
  2. Oil up! Hand lotion could be useful here. Massage oil and coconut oil are also good options. Start with a small amount, you can always add more later. Cover your hands in the oil first and then place a bit more in your hands as you get ready to massage your partner’s hand.
  3. Gently place your partner’s right hand on their lap. Cup your partner’s right hand between both of your hands. Hold their hand between yours for a few moments (slowly count to 5).
  4. Turn their hand parallel to the ground and start by massaging their wrist. Using your thumbs to apply pressure is a good option.
  5. Check in about the pressure of your touch, “you good?” “would you like me to go softer?” Add more oil as needed.
  6. Move up from the wrist to the back of their hand. Feel the space between each extension of the finger in the back of the hand.
  7. Slowly count to 10 for each space you massage.
  8. Turn their hand over, so the palm of their hand is facing you. Now, massage the palm of their hand. Start with the base of their palm, the space closer to their wrist, then the space near along the base of the thumb, then the space between each extension of the finger into the hand.
  9. Check back in every once in a while with either “is this good?” or gazing into their eyes for non-verbal confirmation.
  10. Next, you’ll go finger by finger, starting with the pinky and moving toward the thumb. As you move up each finger, apply a bit more pressure at the tip of the finger as you let go.
  11. Go slowly. Count to 10 for each finger.
  12. Move their left hand to their lap. Pick up their right hand. Repeat steps 4 through 11.
  13. Pick up both hands and cup them between yours. Slowly count to 5.
  14. Consider giving each hand a little kiss and lovingly gazing into your partner’s eyes as you end your great hand massage.

You can do this for any other part of the body.

Take what you’ve learned about giving a great hand massage and apply it to other areas of each other’s bodies. If you want to play with massaging each other’s full bodies, start with the feet and move up the body to the head. At first, consider avoiding breasts and genitals or other erogenous zones. If you want to play with greater levels of sexual energy, try teasing erogenous areas but not purposefully stimulating them for the purpose of orgasm.

Take your time.

You have lots of time, right? So there’s no rush to have intercourse or reach orgasm. If you really really want to, that’s great. Enjoy this sensation, play with it, tease it, fantasize with your partner about what you’d like to do with them.

A simple trick for talking dirty.

Try this out: “I can’t wait to ____ your ___ until ____.”

Not sure what your or your partner would be in to?

At LIIST, we use this wonderful worksheet from Autostraddle.

The way we use it:

  • On your own, fill out the bubbles on pages 1 and 2
  • Get together and compare notes, using page 7 to help you learn about what you are both in to and how to team up to accomplish your dreams!

Curious about adding in a toy?

If you already have some toys to play with, now might be a great time to enjoy them again. Perhaps you could come up with new ways of incorporating a familiar toy into your play. If you’re looking for some ideas, you can find a list of our favorite toys here as an Instagram story. If you’d like a custom toy recommendation, feel free to reach out to either Sara Rosen or me, Dr. Torrisi, for a bespoke curation of toys. We also have an exclusive discount list for some of the most popular toys at LIIST.


Enjoy this time together. If you’d like some more personalized support for your relationship or your sex life, feel free to reach out to us. LIIST has an outstanding team of therapists who specialize in helping individuals, couples and relationships navigate difficult times.

Check out other posts for more info.

I will write another post for those who are still working away from home right now.

If you don’t have a partner (or would rather do something on your own first), check back later for another post about solo sensual play.

amusement & edification list

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LIIST therapist, Crystal Russell, has passed along this list of activities for amusement and edification in this time of quarantine.

The list includes virtual tours, live cameras, online access to museums, musicals to watch at home, joyful body movement at home, yoga and meditation, free online courses, free digital and audio books, resources for kids, and writing prompts!

Bored? Overwhelmed? Help each other out.

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Are you bored? Overwhelmed? How can we help each other?

man covering face with both hands while sitting on couch

Right now, there’s a big divide between those who are overwhelmed because of this crisis and those who are bored.

If your are an overwhelmed person, please consider reaching out for help. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself, your family, your loved ones.

If you are a bored person, consider doing something more socially productive with your ‘free’ time. Doing something productive isn’t only about getting paid. In fact, you are staying home right now, doing nothing, because it is the most productive thing most people can be doing right now. But you can do more if you want to.

Some ideas for bored people to help overwhelmed people:

– get more engaged in local/state/federal politics.
– offer to help someone safely get groceries or necessities.
– have a career skill you’re not using (as much) right now? Post your skill/what you’re good at and see if someone would like some donated support in that area right now.
– offer yourself as a good listener for people who need some emotional dumping.
– send people messages of encouragement. “You got this!” And “you are wonderful” are good places to start.
– engage virtually with someone else’s kids for any amount of time so they can have a bit of a break. This could look like a video chat where you watch a baby playing on it’s own for 3 minutes so a parent can pee with less panic, or enjoying an online game with an older kid while their parent cooks a meal.
– offer to help with a kid’s homework/at home learning. No one really knows what they’re doing unless they’re a teacher. Your help is likely just as good as any other person’s might be.
– lend some logistical support to those who might be too overwhelmed too figure out how to get the day done.
– make donations of time, money, energy to non-profit organizations that help people in need.
– connect with an older relative or neighbor and encourage them to move about as they talk to you.
– purchase gift cards from small businesses.
– help someone who is isolated with harmful housemates connect with a helpful organization, such as a crisis hotline or a domestic violence shelter.

As a bored person, can you think of other ways to help overwhelmed people?

As an overwhelmed person, can you think of ways bored people can be helpful to you?

It’s okay to break up with someone right now

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Dr. Torrisi was interviewed for this article in Vice by Hannah Smothers.

“[Dr. Torrisi], a certified sex therapist based in New York, told VICE that this moment is essentially a compatibility test for a lot of couples, old and new. The coronavirus pandemic is going to reveal not just how they respond to this specificsituation, but also how they might deal with other rough life moments. “Being in a high-stress moment for a long period of time in a relationship… that’s gonna happen,” Torrisi said. “Whether it’s COVID[-19], or someone getting really sick, losing money, or losing a job, there’s a million ways that you will be stressed in a long-term relationship. This is one of those moments.”

Online sessions

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There’s a growing panic on Long Island about Corona Virus. This is likely a time of high anxiety for many people, which might actually be a good time to reach out to a therapist. Please know that all therapists at LIIST are able to conduct online or in person sessions.

FYI: all therapists at LIIST are able to conduct online sessions

How to Tell Your Partner You Want to Go to Couples Therapy

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Dr. Torrisi is quoted in this Vice article with some great advice about bringing up this important conversation and what to do if you partner is resistant.

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