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Sensate Focus for Sexual Concerns: an Updated, Critical Literature Review

  • Clinical Therapeutics (B McCarthy and R Segraves, Section Editors)
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Purpose of review

Despite the fact that Masters and Johnson’s Sensate Focus has informed the sex therapy field for decades, there has been a lack of clarity about its updated description, and its use with sexual dysfunctions versus facilitating optimal sexual interaction. The authors suggest separating Sensate Focus into two components: Sensate Focus 1 for resolving dysfunctions; and Sensate Focus 2 for optimizing intimacy. Six specific questions are addressed: Does the literature continue to reference Sensate Focus? What is its efficacy? In what types of journals is it referenced? How do recent publications define Sensate Focus? Is it referenced as a general citation or are details included? Are details consistent with different phases of Sensate Focus (1 and 2)?

Recent findings

Sensate Focus: continues to be referenced in the literature especially with diverse clientele; continues to be an effective sex therapy technique; is increasingly referenced in medical journals; is increasingly defined as having two components (Sensate Focus 1 and 2); is increasingly referenced in greater detail; and details increasingly reflect a nuanced understanding of differences between Sensate Focus 1 and 2.


The complexities of Sensate Focus are being recognized in terms of phases of treatment, application to diversified populations, and as incorporated in biopsychosocial models for treating sexual problems.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Correspondence to Linda Weiner.

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Avery-Clark, C., Weiner, L. & Adams-Clark, A.A. Sensate Focus for Sexual Concerns: an Updated, Critical Literature Review. Curr Sex Health Rep 11, 84–94 (2019).

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