Chantelle Otten, Sexologist and Lovehoney Ambassador
I feel so grateful that I have the opportunity to reach so many people with knowledge that they may have never had learned at school or through conversations with others ...
What is a sexologist? For many Australians, topics like sex and sexual wellbeing are typically seen as something taboo or private. In reality, sexual health is intrinsically tied to self-esteem and love – not only of others, but also one’s self. Sexologists like Chantelle Otten look to empower people to feel great about their sexual health by providing support and information through psychosexual therapy. As a leading voice in the realm of psycho-sexology, Chantelle is helping break down long-held stigmas and normalise open and frank discussions around sexual well-being for individuals and couples. We took the opportunity to chat to Chantelle, who is also Lovehoney Australia’s sexual health and wellbeing expert, to dispel a few of the myths surrounding her occupation and offer some advice on improving communication around sex and love.
To start, we’d love to learn more about what drew you to the field of psycho-sexology. Was there any particular impetus that inspired you to make this field a specialty?
You know, I’ve always wanted to work with people, but I’ve also always been fascinated by what happens behind closed doors. I was drawn to sexology because I get to explore a field that is largely untapped. There is so much we don’t know about the sexuality of others and via my private practice and the connection I have with my followers, I get to learn more about sex and relationships and eroticism, and help people along the way.
In your opinion, what’s the best thing about your job?
Making a difference to people. I don’t always get to see the results, because so many people I help are followers, but I feel so grateful that I have the opportunity to reach so many people with knowledge that they may have never had learned at school or through conversations with others. I know that the results I see from my patients are also extremely rewarding, as they give me affirmation that I am doing the right thing persisting with the task of changing the conversation around sexuality.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about the field of sexology and the role sexologists play when it comes to relationship support?
Ohhh, that’s a great one! I think a lot of people think that we touch our patients, which is not true as we do purely conversation therapy. But maybe there is also a misconception about how we can help and why are we different from other types of therapists! Sexologists specifically train in sexuality alongside other modalities of psychology and counselling. Where as psychologists are not specifically trained in sexuality unless they pursue further education. I am lucky to be able to work with a lot of amazing psychologists as we work from a multidisciplinary view when working with patients.
In addition to being Lovehoney Australia’s sexual health and wellbeing expert, you’re also Bumble’s resident sexologist, which means you must have plenty of advice on loving others and loving one’s self. What is one go-to nugget of wisdom that you think most people should live (and love) by?
Aim for pleasure, not a goal of penetration or orgasm. At school we’re taught about the science behind sex for procreation purposes however what we are not taught is about the pleasure side of sex and the benefits this can have on our health and wellbeing. There is so much more to being erotic with someone than just penetration and procreation. Sex shouldn’t be goal orientated and, for me, the focus should be on the journey and experience of sex – the part we should really enjoy.
Taking that one step further, what would you say is the easiest and most comfortable way for people to start learning more about sexual health and how it can benefit their self-esteem and overall wellbeing?
Ask questions, talk about sex with your partner and friends, and do your research. Some great places to start are my book, The Sex Ed You Never Had, and also Lovehoney’s blog – there is a lot of great educational information and advice on there.
As dialogue evolves and research continues around the topic of sexual wellbeing and all of its facets, what practices, conversations and ideas do you hope become normalised, especially when it comes to how we perceive, approach and engage with sexual health and communication?
The conversation around pleasure and that sex (and all the facets of sex) should feel good – pleasure isn’t something we should be ashamed of. Using pleasure products, either alone or with a partner, and enjoying sexual activity is not only acceptable but has many benefits, from improved metal health to a better understanding of your body.
Finally, we’d love to know where you draw inspiration from in your day-to-day life. Is there anything outside of your line of work that you’ve found particularly captivating and stimulating recently, be it creatively, emotionally or philosophically?
Yes! I’ve recently been travelling and have been back to Amsterdam, where I used to live. I really enjoyed seeing the creative side of another culture. Whether that be creative conversation, fashion or art, it all made me reflect on my goals for the next six months. I am working a lot on personal growth at the moment and am really focussed on learning from others around me and their experiences, drawing inspiration from where I can.
You can get more information on Chantelle Otten’s work via her website. Also be sure to check out Lovehoney’s Wall of Empowerment, which features Chantelle and many more inspiring women expressing what being a women means to them in celebration of International Women’s Day.