"Welcome to Atlanta!" Michael Sytsma, one of the Christian sex therapists I'd flown in to interview, greeted me at the airport, holding out a small, white paper bag.
"Thanks," I said, noticing that wrapped delicately within the folds of fire-engine red tissue paper was a white feather.
"That's for you and your husband," he continued.
Uh-oh, I thought, almost afraid to unveil the other contents. Let it just be chocolates. I had no idea what to expect. This was a sex therapist, after all.
Indeed, there were mini Hershey bars and heart-shaped goodies …. along with two tea lights, the feather, and five packets of lubricant gel. "I think you'll like the warming one. But the mango orange is nice, too," Michael told me nonchalantly. "There's even one that's sugar free."
"Whew, that's good, since I'm on the South Beach diet," I said, trying to sound just as casual, even though I was mentally wide-eyed. Right then I knew this would be no ordinary interview.
You never know what to expect when you get in a room with sex therapists. One thing is certain—you're going to talk about sex. But in the case of these four profound and deeply committed Christians, you're also going to talk a whole lot about God. Combine the two topics, and you get one fascinating dialogue.
In the mid-1990s Doug Rosenau, Michael Sytsma, Christopher McCluskey, and Debra Taylor—each working in private practice across the country—found one another. Realizing the need to stick together in a field that had few Christian sex therapists ("We could just about count them on two hands!" Debra says), they founded Sexual Wholeness, Inc. (SWI), a multi-functional organization devoted to training and certifying professional Christian therapists in the area of sexual healing.1