Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Carl Haeck
Let’s talk about SEX, baby. This week’s Q&A is with Carly Haeck, who is incredible. She helps couples navigate relationships, sexual issues and anxiety/depression. This is one of my favorite interviews to date!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I work in my hometown of Seattle as a licensed marriage and family therapist associate and am in the process of pursuing certification as a sex therapist. I work with both individuals and couples on a variety of topics, such as navigating relationships, sexual issues (i.e., low desire, erectile dysfunction, trauma related issues, etc), and coping with anxiety and depression. I am technically in private practice, as I have my own business, but I rent office space from two different groups of therapists. I love it because I get to be surrounded by and learn from colleagues while at the same time building my own practice.
For as long as I could remember I wanted to be a therapist. It’s difficult for me to trace back exactly where and when I landed on this career path, but I think it probably has to do with the fact that depression runs in my family. And as a result my parents have, thankfully, always been open to and encouraged going to therapy. This led me to major in psychology and human development at Northwestern University, where I earned my undergraduate degree.
College was also where I became passionate about uncovering cultural myths about sex, as I took several human sexuality and gender studies courses during my time there. I was able to combine my interests in therapy and sexuality at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, where I completed a master’s of science in marriage and family therapy with a specialization in sex therapy.
What do you love most about your job?
A lot of people who come to see me for sexual issues feel like something is wrong with them, but really they have just been given a very narrow view of sexuality by society. My favorite thing is helping people see that they are perfectly normal, and that the reason they feel differently is because they’ve internalized negative messages about how sex “should be.”
That really resonated with me because I’ve found in my work that every single person is truly resilient. I feel very privileged that my job is getting to hear those stories, and I love that I am able to form really close bonds with the people I work with.
And being my own boss and making my own schedule is pretty cool, too :)
What do you love most about yourself?
I love my ability to cultivate really meaningful, long lasting friendships. I am still very close with many friends from growing up as well as from college, and I am so grateful to have them all in my life!
Take us through a day in the life of Carly. We want all the deets!
Most days I don’t start work until later in the morning, so I get to enjoy my coffee and then take my dog, Enzo, to the dog park. I then get ready for the day, head to my office where I have about four to five 50 minute appointments. I also spend some time each day working on my business, including updating my therapy Instagram page, working on marketing, keeping track of finances, reading relevant articles, etc. My fiance and I have been making an effort to cook 4-5 nights a week, so experimenting with recipes has been a really fun way for me to unwind in the evening!
One tip that couples can use to enhance their relationship and sex life?
The most common sexual complaint I hear from couples in long term relationships is that one or both partners wishes they were having more sex. I often hear people say that with their busy lifestyles, sex tends to be put on the back burner, and it’s true that the mundane details of everyday life don’t always lend themselves to “setting the mood.” This doesn’t mean that long term relationships are incompatible with sexual satisfaction- it just means you have to be more intentional about sex and prioritize it!
So, my tip for couples in this situation is to think about all the environmental and emotional factors that make you feel more in the mood (i.e, feeling connected to your partner, feeling relaxed, you’re feelin’ yourself, being energized), as well as all the factors that make you less likely to be in the mood (i.e., you’re stressed, you’re feeling bloated, you’re already in your favorite comfy sweatpants and can’t wait to pass out). Compare lists with your partner and brainstorm how you can create an environment together in which you are both more likely to be in the mood. This may require planning ahead and setting aside designated time for sex and/or other sexy activities. For example, maybe you plan on having sex before dinner instead of waiting until right before you go to bed, so you both feel more awake. If you’re still not in the mood during your designated sexy time, that’s okay- brainstorm other ways you can connect physically and still use that time. Sometimes I hear from people that they feel resistant to the idea of scheduling sex, because it is ingrained in us that sex should be spontaneous… but think back to when you and your partner were first dating- you probably planned your dates ahead of time, spent time primping and grooming for those dates, and planned the evenings’ activities, knowing that sex was going to happen. Was sex really that spontaneous then?
What do you wish men knew about women (in the bedroom), and vice versa?
I think a lot of men feel pressure to be “good in bed” and please women. I would love for all men to know that every woman is different. There is so much variation from woman to woman- even in terms of anatomy (size and sensitivity of the clitoris, distance between the clitoris and vaginal opening, etc). Some women’s clitorises, for example, are so sensitive that direct touch doesn’t feel good, while other women may like more pressure. So the number one tip for being “good in bed” is the ability to ask a woman what she likes. And if she hasn’t found what she likes yet, then there’s an opportunity to go on an exploratory mission together!
I think many people use porn as education for how to please women, and I cannot stress enough that porn is meant to be entertainment, not a how-to-guide. For example, only around 25% of women can orgasm from vaginal penetration alone, yet you would think this number was more like 100% if you were basing it off of what happens in porn. Amongst those who don’t orgasm from penetration, some may enjoy penetrative sex for reasons other than orgasm, and some may prefer to add clitoral stimulation (from her hand, your hand or a vibrator)- you just have to ask to find out!
Similarly, I wish women knew that men actually welcome directions in the bedroom. I think women sometimes feel pressure to make men feel comfortable, and one way they do this is to hold back from giving direction out of fear that it will come off as criticism. Some women may even feel compelled to fake orgasms to perform for men, which isn’t doing either party any favors. You are responsible for your own pleasure, and deserve to embrace that!
And lastly, what makes you feel like a kween?
I’ve learned that in order to be as helpful as I can be to others, I need to fill my own cup first. My self-care routine includes heated vinyasa yoga, frequently cleaning my apartment (yes, I’m one of those people), hiking whenever I can, and always making sure I have a trip planned to somewhere I’ve never been before at any given time (next stop is Montreal!). All those things make me feel like a kween!