ENCRYPTED INTERVIEW SERIES
Background and current role
Sierra Reed: Hi, Maegan! Thanks so much for being with us today. You’re the owner of The Center for Couples & Sex Therapy. Why did you start your practice?
Maegan Megginson: Well, I started first in private practice, and I noticed a gap in the market for psychotherapists who could do both couples therapy and sex therapy.
This might sound counterintuitive because it feels like those two pieces should really exist together all the time in relationships and sexual health. Therapists are trained separately with couples’ work and with issues around sexuality.
I noticed that this gap and the field needed a space for therapists who can do both, for therapists who are equally well versed in working with relationships and integrating sexual health and sexual wellness into the therapy space.
I felt inspired to start a therapy center that solved that problem.
Sierra: Amazing. What's the biggest challenge or mission that you have?
Maegan: The mission is to educate everyone about what healthy relationships and healthy sexuality can look like.
That is challenging because the society we live in, the religious groups we grow up in, and the families that teach us about our bodies don't always set us up to build healthy relationships and feel confident in our sexual bodies.
Our mission is to re-educate adults about what it looks like to communicate well, love well, and focus on pleasure to live a pleasure-focused life. Our challenge in doing that is a barrier to entry, first of all.
It can be challenging for people to start the therapy process; it can be expensive and time-consuming. We're always looking for creative ways to share high-quality information with people who cannot join us in the therapy room.
It’s also a challenge to confront the narratives about sex being shameful or needing to stay in relationships that aren't healthy for you. So we’re challenged by societal norms, we're challenged by a barrier to entry to really good psychotherapy services.
We are on a mission to ensure that everybody has access to the information they need to succeed in their lives and relationships.
The Center for Couples & Sex TherapySierra: I love that. It's fascinating. Hearing you talk, I want to learn more about this topic. Do you mind telling us a little bit more about The Center for Couples & Sex Therapy?
The Center for Couples & Sex Therapy is a psychotherapy center located in Portland, Oregon, that we can provide services online to clients in Oregon. We have a few of our clinicians who are also licensed in the state of Washington, so we're able to serve clients in Washington state as well.
We have ten therapists on our team, all specializing in relationship therapy and sex therapy. All of us have slightly different areas that we're interested in, from helping people who can't orgasm to assisting couples in navigating opening their relationships, ethical non-monogamy, and everything in between.
We're here to help people with the taboo topics that they don't know where else to talk about them.
Sierra: It's a fascinating dynamic for sure.
Maegan: Never a dull day in the life of a sex therapist.
Sierra: How has delivering services changed with COVID? How are you making or saving money during COVID?
Maegan: Therapists, in many ways, are set up for success going into the pandemic and quarantine because we’ve provided online therapy for a long time. Granted, it's been a tiny percentage of our overall caseloads have been clients working with us online. Now we are entirely virtual.
The most significant change to the way we deliver services is, sadly, at the moment, we're not able to welcome people into our beautiful office spaces where we love to relax.
Right now, therapy is happening from home, which is different but still very effective. Our business is, and most therapy businesses are busier than ever at the moment.
Profitability hasn't been an issue. We are doing so well right now, compared to many businesses. So, how do we use the money that's coming in to make mental health support more accessible to people during this really challenging time?
We haven't been focusing on saving money as much as we're focusing on reallocating funds to make sure we're serving as many people as possible.
Sierra: That makes sense. With COVID, every single person needs some type of therapy right now.
Maegan: I'm telling you, I don't know a single therapist who isn't booked with the waiting list at the moment. Therapists have a hard time finding their own therapist because we're all just struggling to keep it together.
Sierra: It’s a little bit of a stressful time. Maegan, thanks so much for sharing all of that. What differentiates your business from other psychotherapies?
Maegan: Sex therapy is interesting because sex therapy itself is not a protected term.
That means that anyone can say they're a sex therapist, Sierra, you could say, tomorrow, you could hang a shingle and say you're a sex therapist. No kind of regulatory body could stop you from saying that.
What differentiates us here at The Center for Couples & Sex Therapy is we hold ourselves to the highest standards of training and experience education certification.
Our therapists are doing everything aboveboard. We all have graduate school degrees. We are licensed to practice psychotherapy in the state that we're in. All of our therapists are either fully certified as a sex therapist through AASECT, which stands for the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, or our therapists are in the training process or in the certification process to eventually obtain that full certification.
When you come to work with us, you can rest assured you are working with the top tier of relationship and sexuality professionals.
Sierra: You do have a ton of letters behind your name.
Maegan: So many letters, it's a little bit ridiculous! But you know, it's there for a reason. I love it.
Sierra: How do you see psychotherapy evolving in the next ten years?
Maegan: This is such a good question.
I think the most obvious answer is I think therapy will continue to be more focused on telehealth. Many of us look forward to the day when we can reopen our offices and have the traditional, you know, sit on the couch, have a cup of tea, do therapy in the office space together. I won't be surprised if the ratio shifts dramatically.
I said earlier, just a tiny percent of our caseload was telehealth before COVID-19. I have a feeling when we do reopen our offices, we might stay around 50/50 people who want online work versus people who want in-office work.
Psychotherapy is becoming much more diverse; we’re identifying many of our traditional therapy models rooted in white supremacy. We are doing a lot of work at really understanding in what ways are the models that we use, not equitable, not inclusive, or representative of all people who face relationship and mental health problems.
Many of us are working actively to change the way we do therapy so that it's not just a white man's world anymore, but really everyone gets a seat at the table.
Industry trends and personal lifeSierra: I love that. The world is changing, and we need to help it get there. The next question is fun. How do you keep up with industry trends? Are there any good podcasts, blogs, or influencers that we should be following?
Maegan: Traditionally, we look to our professional organizations to sort of guide the way places like AASECT, or American Psychological Association. I think that our field is moving away from being organized around professional organizations.
Instead, we're noticing individual people who have something to say we're looking at these businesses through a new lens. Still, we’re at quite a transition point in the field of psychotherapy.
Right now, we're all just keeping our eyes peeled. We're on our toes, seeing where things are changing and shifting. I would say I don't have a recommendation for you yet, but check back with me in a year or two. I think the answer will be very different than traditional professional organizations.
Sierra: Sounds great. What do you do to de-stress and relax?
Maegan: This is my favorite question. I have been drinking more wine since quarantines, so I've got to get that in check.
I like a combination of things. I like trashy television. That's like The Bachelor, Too Hot to Handle, etc. These stupid shows go against every ounce of my professional training and what I do in the world; I soak them up because they're so entertaining.
They feed the part of my brain that gets a little tired of holding space for such significant and heavy issues all the time. My husband and I love watching trashy TV together.
My more evolved self loves things like travel and good food and being out in nature. I live in Oregon, which is a great state to live in. We have mountains. We have oceans. We have rivers. We have every type of beautiful scenery you can imagine as a driving distance. If I need to unplug and get away from the noise for a minute, it's you know all about finding a new place in nature to unwind and relax.
So either trashy TV or meditation in the forest. You can find me doing one of those students.
Sierra: Awesome. I love it. I've watched every TV show on Netflix. I'm sure we could have a great discussion about that. Maegan, you shared some great insights with us today, so thanks so much.
Maegan: You're welcome. Thanks for having me.