Therapy or Sex Work?

Alternative Sensual Therapies

A range of therapeutic practices can look very similar to sex work. They include: 

  • Sexological bodywork
  • Yoni mapping
  • Tantric massage
  • Sex or Partner surrogate
  • Sacred intimate
  • Cuddle Therapy
  • Somatic therapist

This work may or may not involve genital touching. Practitioners of these therapies describe their work as educational, healing, coaching or pleasure-based. 

What is the Purpose of Alternative Sensual Therapy?

Alternative somatic therapies claim to improve the wellbeing of a person, focussing on the spiritual, sensual, relational, sexual and/or physical aspects of the individual experience.

How It Works

A prospective client contacts the practitioner and discusses the nature of the services, including discussion around consent and personal boundaries. The client (or clients) then meet the practitioner in person.

Most sessions last 90-120 minutes and take place in a studio, the practitioner’s home or the client’s home. Sessions may involve an individual, a couple or a group.

Where sexual stimulation of either the practitioner’s or the client’s genitals occurs, by either party, the service is legally classified as sex work. 

How Do Alternative Sensual Therapies Differ from Massage? 

Rather than on relaxation or a remedial effect, alternative sensual therapies are intended to focus on an individual’s spiritual and/or sexual exploration.

How Do Alternative Sensual Therapies Differ from Sex Work?

The main difference lies in how the worker identifies. Most alternative sensual therapists tend not to identify as sex workers, although according to the legal definition, the sexual aspect of their services is classified as sex work. Qualifications associated with alternative sensual therapies are generally not state or federally recognised. 


Alternative sensual therapists advertise in similar ways to sex workers, i.e. online, on social media and on websites.

How Many Alternative Sensual Therapists Are There?

The number of alternative sensual therapists is small. They are usually self-employed. Some of these practitioners combine alternative sensual therapy with sex work.

Jeremy Shubb
Jeremy Shubb is a Melbourne-based sexological bodyworker

Last updated: 12 August 2020