Ethical issues concerning surrogate assisted sex therapy

Ronit Aloni*, Rafi J. Heruti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sex therapy, by definition, is a couple therapy as well as behavioral therapy by origin. As such, practicing a series of exercises is an essential part of the therapy. Masters and Johnson, in their book " Human Sexual Inadequacy" , wrote that one cannot learn about sexuality in any practical way without actually experiencing intimate behavior with a partner. This ethical approach directed them to develop the therapeutic method of working with surrogate partners, as they thought all people are entitled to receive therapy, if they so wish, including people without partners. Surrogate is a form of mentoring this is a one- on- one relationship that allows practicing classic behavioral methods such as gradual progress, breaking the task into small goals, onsite feedback, rehearsals, role-play, modifying the environment, etc. The content and the skills that are practiced are related to sexual dysfunction as well as social, couple and intimate skills. The lack of those critical skills prevents the clients from fulfilling their wish to develop social or intimate relationships in which they will be able to accomplish their sexuality. Ethical procedures should be strictly kept in order to protect the clients and the surrogates, in a three-way therapeutic team, working together to reach the goals of the therapy. During the therapy process a weekly meeting is held between the therapist and the client, between the therapist and the surrogate and, only then, between the surrogate and the client. At the end of the therapy process the relationship between the client and the surrogate is terminated, completely. In this article, the authors illuminate the complexity of this therapy process, as well as dealing with some of the ethical issues that are raised. The article also identifies types of patients who can benefit from surrogate therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-619
Number of pages5
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Ethics
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sexual therapy
  • Social skills
  • Surrogate therapy


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