Dr. Zoya Simakhodskaya, an EFT trainer, runs her practice in Chelsea, New York. At the EFT World Summit, she will share her experiences in working with a couple dealing with sexual trauma.

Negative sexual experiences profoundly affect our self-perception and our perception of others, explains Dr. Zoya Simakhodskaya. “Trauma, in general, often brings a profound sense of isolation. Individuals may express feelings of being alone during the traumatic event, lacking the skills to process it, or having no one to turn to for support. Many have experienced a sense of existential threat.”

Zoya holds a PhD in clinical psychology and runs her own practice in Chelsea, NY, where she works with adults, couples, and families, specializing in cross-cultural and bilingual (Russian/English) populations. Additionally, she is one of the founding members and currently serves on the Board of Directors for NYCEFT.


Open up

At the summit, Zoya will delve into the sensitive topic of sexual trauma within the context of EFT couple’s therapy. “When faced with trauma, our instinct is often to protect ourselves and our relationships. We may internalize the belief that the world is unsafe, viewing all similar situations as threatening. Additionally, individuals may develop a sense of personal inadequacy, feeling broken or overly sexualized. These beliefs can permeate other aspects of life, leading to shame and a disregard for personal boundaries.”

While individuals may excel in other areas of life, such as parenting or work, they may struggle in the realm of sexuality. Reviving the sexual aspect of a relationship is one of the most challenging tasks for both couples and therapists. “Sexual intimacy requires vulnerability, even after emotional healing has taken place. Despite progress in the emotional bond, barriers may still exist in the sexual realm. One partner may avoid the topic altogether, while the other may reluctantly engage, fearing rejection. Alternatively, attempts at intimacy may fail, leading to further discord.”



As a therapist, you’ll encounter couples facing various challenges with sex, whether it’s due to emotional disconnection, physical issues, or conflicts centered around intimacy. However, Zoya emphasizes that couples dealing with sexual trauma require a different approach. “I still apply EFT principles, avoiding pathologizing their issues and focusing on emotional cues. However, the process is more delicate. For survivors of sexual trauma, maintaining control is paramount, so I approach their journey with sensitivity.”

Zoya underscores Sue’s perspective on respecting clients’ boundaries regarding sexual interactions. “There’s no predetermined endpoint. While sexual pleasure may come naturally to many, if a client expresses a lack of desire, it’s crucial to believe and respect their wishes. However, if there’s a desire for more intimacy and a willingness to explore, we proceed, always prioritizing their need for safety.”

Navigating this journey may be lengthy, but it offers valuable opportunities for growth and learning. Zoya advises fellow therapists to prioritize building a strong therapeutic alliance, remaining attuned to clients’ needs, and reframing past experiences. “Flexibility and creativity are essential when working with such clients, allowing for adaptive approaches tailored to their unique circumstances.”