Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy (LIIST)


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.

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.”

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.

Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Bondage by Mistress Couple

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book cover for the ultimate guide to bondageReview of The Ultimate Guide to Bondage: Creating Intimacy Through the Art of Restraint. By Mistress Couple, Jersey City, NJ, Cleis Press, 2018. 294 pp. $ 16.95 (softcover). ISBN: 978-1-62778-274-6

Dr. Rosara Torrisi, LCSW, MEd, CST, PhD

The Ultimate Guide to Bondage is exquisitely written, from nose to tail. With Mistress Couple’s writing style, it is easy to be right there with her. This book is encompassing of all the information necessary to become a rising bondage practitioner. If you find yourself struggling against Mistress Couple’s instruction throughout this book, consider what this might say about your own relationship to dominance and submission. It is not feasible, however, for 294 pages to make up for real-world experiences. As a sex therapist and educator, I recommend that you make note of where you have questions, meet up with respected bondage experts in your area, and learn more.

The introduction follows Mistress Couple’s journey to bondage and is the beginning of a thoughtful examination. This primer underscores the quality of her training and expertise as a Mistress. She is honest, cautious with her reader, and tenderly nudges as she engages the reader on this journey. Her expert advice is evident, as she effortlessly speaks to the novice and the professional alike.

As a researcher and professor, I appreciate that Mistress Couple gives credit where it is due. The historical contexts are part of the cultural sensitivity needed when appropriating techniques. It is an act of privilege to disregard the historical implications of what one might be using for play. Although my academic background would have done this differently, I do appreciate that Mistress Couple’s footnotes link to sources that are not in scientific journals. This means the resources are more readily available to any reader.

Mistress Couple utilizes recognizable educational pathways to instruct her readers. There is a well-rounded definition of terms used throughout the book. These definitions allow everyone to understand her vocabulary the way she intends to use the words. She also uses accessible examples for complex ideas. The flow chart provides a structure for readers to absorb how bondage techniques crystalize or bifurcate. The number/color system of pain/pleasure considers multiple dimensions to quickly convey receptivity. The overview of the most common materials used in bondage is outstanding. There are also valuable pictures, drawings, and first-person-account essays. She also provides a quick overview of prevailing ideas within the mental health community about the origins of fetishes.

I agree with Mistress Couple’s connections of bondage to birth, trauma, consent, intimacy, and finding the authentic self. The Ultimate Guide to Bondage persistently reminds the reader to enact emotional and physical safety measures. More than sexual tension is released through sexual connection, so trauma-informed bondage is crucial. The conversation about how to receive and give consent is refreshing and woven throughout the book. It would be wonderful for everyone to understand consent so well, regardless of involvement in BDSM. I find Mistress Couple’s assessment of restraint as a method of returning to the universal experience of being in a womb, and the release of traumas such as birth, to be quite interesting. Developmental, trauma and attachment therapists will recognize their theories echoed in these pages.71MQJ8rUA9L

The Ultimate Guide to Bondage is comprehensive for those personally and professionally interested in bondage. There are some areas of BDSM in general that are not discussed in this book. For example, further exploration is needed for anyone interested in learning more about anatomy and physiology, role play, specific fetishes, penetrative play, impact play, and non-monogamy. This book could easily be used in an academic course, along with scientific journal articles and supporting primary documents.

Timing and TTC

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08502a85-1af3-4aff-bf43-8fe66fd20ed9-romperstock_ab-3022Dr. Torrisi offers some very advice on approaching sex when trying to conceive (TCC) for Romper. Read here for more! Interested in learning more about sex and pregnancy? The therapists at LIIST are experts in helping couples retain and regain intimacy before, during, and after pregnancy. And for some extra support, consider visiting with a pelvic physical therapist after giving birth. Give us a call at 516-690-6779.