Everything You Need to Know Before You Attend a Sex Workshop

Updated 04/13/19
Credit: izusek. Getty Images

Are you in a tired relationship and looking to bring the spark back to your intimacy? Maybe you are just now ready to put yourself out there after taking a break from dating, but you're not sure if your bedroom prowess has suffered at all in the interim. Or maybe your current relationship is particularly adventurous and you are looking broaden your horizons. For any and all of these scenarios, a sex workshop can be a fun place to learn something new.

There are many different kinds of sex workshops and the differences between them depends on several factors. Read on to choose the right workshop for you. 

Knowledge and Experience of the Workshop Facilitator(s)

Some sex workshop facilitators will be trained in human sexuality and have years of teaching or group facilitation experience. Others will have no experience beyond selling sex toys or wanting to hear themselves speak. The success of a workshop depends largely on the person leading it and you should see if you can get a referral from a friend or a trusted source to a good workshop facilitator.

Organization or Business Hosting the Workshop

If the workshop is being held at a sex shop you can expect some element of selling to be involved, but it should be secondary to the educational experience. If you know the sex shop hosting the workshop, it’s a good idea to do some searching around about them: you could ask friends if they’ve ever attended a workshop there, for example. The politics and clientele of the shop may give you some idea of what the workshop will be like. If it a company that only holds workshops like this you should speak to someone from the company first and ask questions about who usually attends, are there any restrictions to who can attend (based on age, gender, sexual orientation or identity).

Searching online is an easy way to do some research.

Workshop Goals

A workshop that offers to teach you 10 tips for giving a great blow job will be very different than one that is designed for people who have experienced sexual abuse and want to build a healthy sex life for themselves. Knowing as many details about what the workshop offers is one way to prevent disappointment. Asking about the level of participation expected and whether or not it will be easy to bow out of participating in an exercise can be helpful. Once you know the goals of the workshop you can decide if its right for you.

If you’re looking for straightforward tips and techniques from a teacher or for an opportunity to share your experiences and learn with a group you may want very different workshops.

Workshop Length

What you’ll get from an hour and a half workshop will be very different from an all day or weekend retreat. It’s a generalization but you can probably expect less depth and sometimes more of a sales pitch from any workshop that’s an hour or less, particularly if it’s happening in a sex shop. Be sure you’re comfortable with the cost of the workshop given the length of time it is. Otherwise you may leave feeling unhappy and ripped off.

Workshop Cost

The price should depend on the length of time the workshop runs, the experience of the facilitator, and the location. A workshop that’s 90 minutes to two-and-a-half hours will usually cost between $20-$35. Full day and weekend workshop retreats will cost in the hundreds of dollars (costs may depend on whether room and board are included if the workshop is more than one day). If you are unemployed or underemployed it’s reasonable to ask if there is a sliding scale in the fee. Good sexuality information and education shouldn’t be only accessible to people with a lot of disposable income and, hopefully, progressive sex positive organizations will agree.

What Should You Expect from a Sex Workshop?

Most of the short workshops held in sex-positive storefronts are clothes-on. Some will involve hands-on exercises, although usually these aren’t explicitly sexual. Others will be based around a Q&A with the facilitator, and in these cases it’s important to get up the nerve to ask your questions lest the whole workshop be taken up with one talkative person asking what’s only important to them. Sometimes the best part of a sex workshop is what happens after you get home. Even if you aren’t wowed by the facilitator or the group, if it gives you a little inspiration or burst of creativity it may have been worth it.

One thing to be aware of is that many, in fact most, sex workshop facilitators have not been formally trained as teachers or group leaders. They probably have an agenda and they may not know how to answer everyone’s questions. Attending workshops at a center or school will often give you a better quality group and educational experience.

Questions to Ask Before Signing Up

Ask about their refund policy. If you are not satisfied with the workshop but attend the whole workshop, will they offer anything?

Ask about their policies around discrimination. If the facilitator or someone attending a workshop makes a comment that is discriminatory, ask how that is dealt with. The last thing you want is to put yourself out there by attending a workshop and then be confronted with other people’s prejudices that are not challenged by the facilitator. Some might say that it is always our responsibility to speak for ourselves, but in a group of strangers talking about sex it can be difficult to interrupt and explain why something someone said is making you feel unsafe or not welcome at the workshop.

Ask about who the workshop is geared to. Is it for a certain gender or orientation? Are there any restrictions on who is allowed to attend?

Ask about the range of topics. If you know you don’t want to hear about a certain topic, or definitely want to hear about it, ask if it’s likely to be included.

Where Can I Find Sex Workshops?

There are a few organizations and schools in the U.S. that have an ongoing schedule of high quality workshops run by seasoned facilitators. More and more sex-positive shops host sex workshops after hours in their retail stores. Your best bet is to do some research yourself on what is available in your town, keeping in mind all of the above before you attend. Avoid any awkwardness when you are well-armed with hat you are getting yourself into. 

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