Dr. Juliana Morris Interview

Dr. Juliana Morris Interview

Dr. Juliana Morris: Disney star to (S)expert!

Internationally renowned (S)expert and councilor with a passion to make a difference when it comes to communication surrounding sex, and all that it brings.

With a keen focus on engaging males in the #METOO conversation and providing women with the tools (and confidence_ to speak up, Dr Juliana has carved a very successful career on talking about the taboo and normalizing conversation surrounding sex and intimacy.

As a Canadian citizen, a mother of 3 and a Texas resident, Dr Juliana doesn't fit the mold when it comes to her choice of career and personal path. It is perhaps her juxtaposition of what one might expect when they think about a therapist or councilor and what the reality is, that peaks her appeal even more.

Dr Juliana, whom not only comes with her own entertainment industry experience boasting 13 leading roles in Disney adverts under her belt. But also an ivy league (William & Mary) PHD in Counselling Education Therapy. Not your usual combination.

Why the contrast in experience you may ask? Well at age 30 and despite having been married with a child at this point she realised she simply couldn't act out as an empowered sexual woman suffering with the "good girl complex". That, coupled with the rapidly unfolding ageism in the entertainment industry. So she went on her own journey which led her to over a decade worth of experience as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, alongside many other related avenues.

The Mother of a teenage boy (19) and a daughter (3) Dr Juliana also talks openly how she feels a commitment to teach a new paradigm around sexual consent and empowerment for today's generation.

It's Spring 2018 and Dr Juliana is in a chic hotel in Kentucky going through magazines shouting "look!" with outrage at the #metoo campaign and misguidance towards the conversation found in the media. It's at that point she reflects on why she's so called to speak up for not just women but men in this media attracting this provocative conversation.

One career highlight the Doctor speaks of fondly is back in 2005-2009 when she was Clinical Director of Counselling at Christopher Newport University. She worked with a football team on consent, coercion and assault. It was game-changer for her. A couple of guys came out as a gay.

Other areas Dr Juliana is not only passionate about but had first-hand experience of changing people's lives with is Planned Parenthood, sex positive programmes, sexual abuse programmes, family therapy. Always offering humour with a big dose of education and experience.

The Canadian-born sexuality expert currently resides in Kentucky with her 2-children where she's currently writing her 1st book(due out 2019) whilst running a successful sexuality and relationships counselling practise. Helping individuals, couples and families all over the world lead happier, healthier connected lives.

It's Dr Juliana's next mission to lead the #metoo campaign as the media's sexuality expert. Bridging the gap between Hollywood to home life to allowing everyone to have a voice in the conversation.

To find out more about Dr Juliana - visit her website here: http://drjulianamorris.com/about/

Interview with Dr. Juliana Morris

Question: What inspired you to become a (s)expert?

Dr. Juliana Morris: I found that I was always more curious about sex and sexuality than others while growing up. I asked about it, I talked about it and I thought it should be normal and something that wasn't hush hush. Even while completing my PhD in Counseling I realized I was still drawn to matters of sexuality and thought it was crucial in self-development. In fact, I came to believe that exploring your sexuality was the final frontier in self-development and could end up being the most critical aspect ourselves as we strive to fully understand ourselves and how we connect to others.

Our sex education is abysmal. We are not being taught that sexuality is a deep part of who we are. If we received any sort of sex education, it is typically fear based and prevention focused. I wanted to change this. Especially when it became clear that sexuality is our essence. When you can learn about your sexuality and learn how to navigate this world, it bleeds into all areas of your life, We yearn to know ourselves and to connect with others. Sexuality is the pathway to both.

People want to be asked, women are hungry. Men are desperate. Both hungry and desperate in the best of ways. People want to be seen. Heard. Appreciated. For their stories. For their strengths.

People need to heal from past traumas and mis-education or non-existent education. People need to have a safe space to ask questions and get non-judgmental and factually correct answers. People are craving a deeper more meaningful view of sexuality individually, in their relationships and culturally.

I wanted to be a part of this powerful exploration"personally, with others and be a part of changing our worldview of sexuality.

I also found that in my counseling, sex and sexuality were always an element. What happens inside the bedroom happens outside of the bedroom and vice versa so I wanted to be a clinician that was comfortable asking those uncomfortable questions related to sex and sexuality and to be a person who was safe for others to ask questions without feeling judged.

Question: What's a typical day like, for you?

Dr. Juliana Morris: Short answer: A juggling act of kids, clients, writing, interviews, finding my joy and supporting others in their journey to find theirs.

Longer answer: If it is a full workday, I do several client session via video calls. Some days I start with a female client from Sydney then my next session is with a male in Scotland and I'll round it out with a couple in British Columbia. I tend to follow the time zones with my clinical hours. Occasionally I will see local clients as well.

If I have a live, group going I will take fewer one on one clients and will devote lots of time to each client within the group as well as the group itself. In between all of those sessions, I am usually answering interviews, new client inquiries, posting on social media and connecting with colleagues.

I love conducting interviews too. Currently I am interviewing about 20 men to get a inside look into the journey of becoming a man through the eyes of every day men. It is such a joy to hear someone's story.

I love having a varied day and feel so honored that I get to work with people all over the world and hold space for them as they learn and grow.

Question: What type of issues do you help women and couples overcome?

Dr. Juliana Morris: (I also work with men, trans individuals and non-binary individuals)

What happens inside the bedroom often happens outside the bedroom so when I work with someone or a couple, I spend an equal amount of time exploring relationship dynamics, work stressor, family dynamics, as well as sexuality problems or areas of interests.

I love that the topics are always so varied. It is also a fascinating pattern that what someone or a couple starts with as their area of focus in our work together often is not where the true issues lies. It is so exciting when we uncover the deeper that can bring healing, hope and transformation.

Examples of topics: fertility matters (IVF proofing your marriage), after affects of a miscarriage or infant death, erectile dysfunction, mismatched libido, unhappiness with the dating scene of on line dating, life after divorce, life while going through a divorce, taking charge of mental and physical health, going through menopause (medically induced or naturally), on the verge of divorce, fear of sexual interests, lack of libido, navigating a healthy relationship with kids, life with young children, never experienced an orgasm, how to talk with children about sex and sexuality, porn addiction-self or of partner, infidelity (self or partner) and sexual trauma.

Question: How can we make it easier to talk about sex with friends and our partner?

Dr. Juliana Morris: First, just start talking. If your group doesn't do it or do it often, be the one to start it. Don't care if you are clunky or awkward about it. Let yourself feel uncomfortable and own it as such if you do. But start talking. Asking. Share your experiences and fears and questions. Share positive things and share negative things. Create a judgment free community. Keep what is shared sacred.

If your group does talk about it but it is superficial, bring up deeper topics, stretch out of your comfort zone, model for the group it is okay to take a risk in sharing or asking. Directly declare you want to have the group talk about these things and you are someone who they can talk to.

It is okay to have some friends you say 'this' to but can't 'share THAT with' but you can share 'THAT with this one'. You probably are in those categories for others too. Don't get hung up on it, just find the people who are safe and compassionate and supportive. And share and ask and be someone others can share and ask with.

I have helped groups start with a monthly meeting that get together to share their lives, their challenges, their successes and their dreams. Sex and sexuality are always a topic within them. In fact they are a crucial element of it.

In talking with your partner, I find it really important to know your timing, know what you concretely want to change or get more of, and come at all discussions with the demeanor that you are a team and want to grow and expand together.

In talking with your partner, I find it really important to know your timing, know what you concretely want to change or get more of, and come at all discussions with the demeanor that you are a team and want to grow and expand together.

Know when is the best time to bring up the topic of sex with your partner. For some it is the car, for others it is after dinner once the kids are asleep or a planned lunch date. Know when you are your best selves.

I recommend not being tired and doing the best you can to be distraction free.

I also think some of these conversations can be spontaneous and light and free. And short.

Know what you concretely want to change or get more of.

There is a time and place for venting or just being heard and seen. But mostly, I recommend going into the conversation knowing what you are wanting changed. Be specific. The conversation should include appreciation for your partner, backed with 'we are a team and have each other's back' mentality and clear about what you want changed/more of/less of/something new and how that change may look. Make sure to give your partner an equal say in the change and a voice in the situation. Communicate that you are speaking from your perspective, want to hear your partner's thoughts/perspective and that you together will come up with a plan/new rule/new perspective. It is also okay to not arrive at an answer to give you both time to research or think it through and to revisit at a later time. End it with a focus on the partnership being important and appreciation for being heard and for each other.

Question: Why is it never too late to learn about sex-education and open the discussion?

Dr. Juliana Morris: Because sexuality is so intertwined with our essence, it is always changing. Due to our experiences, our relationships, our exposure, so must our education about the topic. We just don't have a world that supports this view. Yet. But most people I talk with have this underlying interest in learning more. For some it is learning basic anatomy that was never taught for health reasons, to know your own personal body better or to understand a partner's body better. I love it when learning anatomy better helps someone connect to a deeper experience with pleasure-self and partnered. Learning body parts, names and basic functions is critical but understanding truly how these parts work, work together and relate to sexual pleasure truly takes a person's sexuality to another level.

It is also important because sexual contentment is a component of mental and physical health.

We grow, we learn more of who we are, what we want and what we don't want. We have greater complexities within us and see it within the world but we aren't given tools and skills and a space to really understand this and synthesize it into our personal life and sexual lives.

Our bodies are always changing too so we need to continue to learn about what that means. How many people are taught about ED or menopause in middle school? First of all, not many. But for those who did, how closely did you pay attention? The answer…you didn't give to flips (care at all). And you aren't taught to, unless or until it affects you personally. Then you want to know. It all. But where do you go? Dr. Google? Your best friend? Squeeze it into your really medical appointment in the last 2 minutes of your yearly?

We need on going, age appropriate, safe, information packed, sex positive, affirming, normalizing, deep, meaningful and fun sex education.

It is our birthright. It is on going and to me that is the good news!

Question: How do you hope to lead the #METOO campaign?

Dr. Juliana Morris: I am so passionate about #metoo. I have experienced personally what this movement focuses on and I have taught and counseled hundreds of women who have been affected by the topics of #metoo. Harassment, power dynamics, sexual assault and coercion are real, have debilitating effects on women and our society and have got to be changed. Now.

Where I hope to come into the conversation falls in two points.

One, I believe wholeheartedly that more advanced and meaningful sex education can radically change sexual climate and culture for all genders. It is imperative and an obvious and clear player as we search for solutions for this very complicated and intersected issue. I know my classes, my courses and my way of teaching about sex education have created powerful transformations in individuals, in families and in ripple affects communities. I want to take it global now.

Second, my work started with a focus on women. And I still work with women a great deal. But what I saw with my courses was that the women I worked with were having incredible changes in their inner lives but when they went back to romantic relationships, their families and society as a whole, those elements in their lives weren't changing along with them. And it was a disconnect. A mighty one. A devastating one for some.

So I realised I need to reach men. And I did. They took my classes. I sought them out. I worked with athletes and fraternities and CEO's.

And I discovered this. Women were hungry to talk about sex and sexuality but men were desperate.

Not a pathetic kind of desperate but a quiet one. I found that men wanted to be asked too. But they were afraid to ask the wrong questions or say something offensive. Actually they were more afraid of how someone would react if they said something that was offensive-the shut down, the insult, the criticism, the judgment would scare them off. Shut them down. And not leave them any better educated beyond 'not worth getting involved with'. Which means they don't learn. They don't change. They don't grow. Which means as a society we don't.

I want to be a voice reminding us if we want #metoo to enact and invoke the change we want and need it to, we need men at the table. Invited. Respected and understood. I want men inspired by #metoo not threatened by it. I want to have all genders included and welcomed-to ask, to share, to be experts, to play devils advocate, to provide opportunities and to genuinely understand why this movement formed, how it became such a powerful vehicle and what important role they have within it.

Question: What's the main message we should take from the #METOO movement?

Dr. Juliana Morris: It means different things to different people and I think that is okay. In general, it is about creating empathy but understanding the enormity of scope and prevalence of sexual assault and harassment. To me the take away is this…. The culture of sexuality and the role of sexuality in our every day lives as well as in our work environment and culture must evolve. Change. Grow. Deepen. The conversation must be authentic, unafraid and ready to enact change. Healthy change. Lasting change. That benefits us all. All of us. We must look at healing past traumas through education and acknowledgement. We must be preventative through progressive education, legislation and micro and macro levels and we must persist. Persist in moving forward for equality, for safety and for an evolving and enlightened sexual culture that allows safety and support for all.

Question: Why is it so important that men join in on the conversation surrounding the #METOO movement, even though this might be uncomfortable for them?

Dr. Juliana Morris: Men MUST be in the conversation about #metoo. Must. We need to have their questions, their voice, their perspective. We need their buy in. We need their problem solving ideas, their support, and their resources. We also need to know what they need changed, what education is lacking, where the confusing aspects reside for them and what is off putting to them. We need to not be afraid of the different come from and we need to allow men to ask questions that may feel offensive, may seem wrong or off base so that we can meet them where they are starting from instead of shutting them down and closing the door to them.

I think true power lies within men who used to be the type of man who was a perpetrator of harassment and assault and perpetuated the attitude and environment the #metoo is fighting against but wants to make the change. Typically he doesn't know how, says a lot of 'wrong' things but is a doer and influencer and ones he 'gets it' will get it BIG. I also find a lot of hope in men who are evolving….they were around those types of men but not really one of them but still don't totally get it and are afraid to get into the conversation. These are the men fighting with us, the men who are saying 'those men do NOT represent us as men' and want to make the world better for their wives, sisters, daughters, friends and frankly, for themselves too.

Question: What's the most important piece of relationship advice you've learnt?

Dr. Juliana Morris: People want to feel wanted, seen and appreciated. If you feel these things by another, it is a pivotal relationship. If you feel these things as well as a mixture of being enough, feeling understood and being worthy, your relationship is of great soul value. Protect it. Keep it sacred. Bask in gratefulness.

The order of importance and the details of how each is expressed varies from person to person and changes with each relationship but knowing these factors and caring about giving these elements to another and examining how someone is giving or not giving them to you is the blueprint to relationship and soul bliss.

And my advice to others? Learn that above and Kiss. More.

Forehead kisses, passionate kisses, love pecks, familiar hellos and goodbyes, tops of hand kisses, neck kisses, all the kisses. It is a crucial sexual connection and communication that is overlooked.

All the kisses. It the start and ending.

Question: Can you tell us about your Podcast?

Dr. Juliana Morris: My podcast is called Be Your Own (S)expert. It is a mixture of group interviews with people in the field of sexuality or related to sexuality talking about sexuality in general or individuals who have a unique perspective about sex and sexuality. It is fun, informative, inspiration and gets real about real questions and topics want to know about but are afraid to ask.

I am also working on two other concepts"Sex Drives

I get in a car with a guy and we both bring up a topic about sex that we don't know the other is going to ask about and we give our perspectives of it while getting lost or going somewhere. I've recorded about 5 drives already and they are so funny. Will be quite controversial I think! We definitely don't always agree!

The other is a concept of showing how couples therapy works. People are so curious about what topics are covered in a therapy session and how you can gain insight with the premise that what happens inside the bedroom happens outside the bedroom.

Last….I am doing a mini interview series about men. The focus is on what it means to be a man, the journey of becoming a man and each man's individual perspective and experience within it. They have been SO interesting and inspiration. The men I've interviewed come from all walks of life and have such a beautiful story to share. I capped it at 20 and can't wait to release them.

Interview by Brooke Hunter