What Is Sensate Focus and How Does It Work?

Sensate focus is a technique used to improve intimacy and communication between partners around sex, reduce sexual performance anxiety, and shift away from ingrained, goal-oriented sexual patterns that may not be serving a couple.


The technique, developed by Dr. William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson in the 1960s, consists of a series of touching exercises that a couple completes in a sequence. A major aim of the exercise is for the partners to let go of their expectations and judgements of mutual touching, and instead focus solely on the sensory aspects of touch like temperature, texture, and pressure. The idea behind sensate focus is that it allows the couple to relax and be mindful of the sensual touching experience, without being weighed down by preconceived ideas of what “should” happen. Sensate focus has also been described as mindful touching, or non-orgasm/non-arousal focused touch. Read the article here.