Over the past twenty years, I have interviewed well over a hundred women and men who have approached us with their interest in becoming a surrogate partner. Of those, I have trained forty and twenty of those have qualified as Surrogate Partners within our team. The International Professional Surrogates Association has been conducting training for surrogate partners for over thirty-five years and there are no more than twenty-five IPSA trained surrogate partners currently practising in the entire United States of America. There are women who claim to be ‘sex surrogates’, particularly on the East coast of the US and an increasing number in London. Many of these are simply offering sexual services; some with good intent and the right motives, but with scant understanding, infrastructure and without training. In such cases, there is little emotional, mental or physical protection for the client.
It is extremely important to distinguish between ‘sex surrogates’ and Sexual Surrogate Partners. The very distinction in terms is central to the distinction in their work and the outcome for the client. Of Surrogate Partner Therapy, Barbara M. Roberts, US Sex Therapist said in a landmark lecture on the Use of Surrogate Partners in Sex Therapy “…sexuality may be at the heart of it, but sex is the least of it”.
This is not to say that the client will not ultimately engage in the full range and scope of intimate sexuality, including lovemaking. The important distinction in Surrogate Partner Therapy is the authenticity of the Client-Surrogate Partner relationship. ‘Sex surrogacy’ is primarily a sexual service, while Surrogate Partner Therapy is a structured programme of sex therapy, designed to heal sexual wounds, anxieties, fears, phobias and dysfunctions. The two should not be confused.
Cheryl Alkon, a highly successful and experienced surrogate partner in the United States: “Although there are no specific academic degrees required of a surrogate partner, there are certain qualities and life experiences which seem to provide valuable background to surrogate work. These include comfort with one’s own body and sexuality, warmth, concern, empathy and trust, non-judgemental attitudes towards choice of lifestyle, sexual activity, and sexual partners, is also important”.
Vena Blanchard, President of the International Professional Surrogates Association says: “It’s about creating a safe place to do learning and exploring. I could see the great benefit of knowledge. It just made sense to me – I knew I had the capacity to love more than one person at a time…the truth is, it felt like a calling.”