Simon Halford Counselling and Psychosexual Therapy
Portsmouth & Southampton / Central London

Temperature Reading

Temperature Reading

The temperature reading is a communication tool that has been used with groups of people who have regular contact, to enhance contact and encourage communication. These may be training groups, work teams, committees, etc.


Much of the time we hear about what is wrong with us - the world tells us and we tell ourselves all the time; we are usually our own worst critics. This is an opportunity to tell another person something you appreciate them for.

Hearing appreciations regularly is an important element in our self-esteem. Self-esteem should not come only from outside ourselves but we do need to feel appreciated, valued and accepted by others. It is also important to know what we are appreciated for and to learn to accept appreciation. Many of us have a conditioned response of pushing compliments away - "It was nothing", or "Oh this old thing."

New Information

So much of what goes wrong in relationships is because we are not given the information we need to understand what is going on and there is too much room left for assumptions. When we know what is happening for our partner or colleague it keeps us updated and encourages more satisfying relationships. Eg. "I finally got that new contact," "There's a good article in the Guardian I think you would enjoy."


This is an opportunity to ask for clarification eg. "Why did you seem so edgy this morning?"

Complaints With Recommendations

This should not be blaming or judgemental. You can request a fair fight for change if you really think you need the structure, or you can simply say, "This thing happened that bothered me and I would feel better if you do this other thing instead." When you state your complaint, be specific about which behaviour displeases you and state which behaviour you are asking for instead.

Information, puzzles and complaints are all part of problem solving.

Wishes, Expectations and Action Points

If your expectations are dissimilar from mine it merely illustrates the fact that we are all different and in being different we have different expectations. The more we can bring these expectations into our awareness and talk about them, the more possibility there is we will reach some accord. If we have rules that say we should not let ourselves know what we are thinking or feeling or wanting, much less to let another person know, then it is almost impossible to work in a comfortable close relationship. Our hopes are integral, vital parts of who and what we are, if we do not share them as information, we deprive others of an important part of ourselves.

Action points give a clear statement of what is expected by whom and when.

The temperature reading is a nourishing way of keeping each other informed. At first it may feel awkward and clumsy to use and at other times our own low self esteem may leave us feeling less than eager to make time for this communication. Positive relationships do not happen by accident, time needs to be invested in keeping them open and effective and the temperature reading can act as insurance policy for this in relationships when we are willing to make and take the time.

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Non Genital Sensate Focus

This exercise is called 'sensate focus' because the aim is to focus on the sensations that are produced by touching and being touched by your partner. It is important that you both agree that this exercise should not lead to sex as it is more about intimacy, and you both need to feel 'safe' enough to relax and enjoy it without any expectations.

Make sure that you allow enough time to do this exercise without being rushed or interrupted. Set the scene for example dimmed lighting and perhaps both have a warm bath or shower before you begin.

You can wear as many or as few clothes as you wish. The important thing is that you feel comfortable.

This exercise is called non genital, because it is not about genital stimulation but focuses on other 'safe' areas of the body. All genital areas and breasts are therefore no-go areas.

If you wish you can use massage oils but remember that this is about touching and not massage. Massage tends to be something that one person does to another and this is supposed to be something that you do together.

Partner A starts by touching B's neck, thinking about what the skin feels like - the different textures etc. Partner B should feed back how this feels, perhaps using 'hot' and 'cold' so that A learns what feels good to their partner. After a few minutes swap around so that B touches A's neck.

Then move onto another area of the body, for example arms, legs, back or face etc, taking it in turns and continuing to feedback on how it feels.

This sounds like a really easy exercise to do, but many couples find it difficult for a variety of reasons. Do not worry if it feels a bit contrived and artificial. After a few times it will feel more relaxed and enjoyable. Some couples find that the less serious you are when doing it the better.

It is supposed to be enjoyable rather than a task, so enjoy it.

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Genital Sensate Focus

Instructions for genital sensate focus.

Carry out previous instructions for Non Genital Sensate Focus with any variations you have both enjoyed. For the next stage you will need some sort of lubrication - massage oil, KY Jelly or ideally a lubricant such as "Senselle".

Spend 5 minutes woman touching mans breasts and nipples, then 5 minutes man touching the woman in the same way.

Spend about 5 minutes each touching genital areas. As before feedback on what feels good.

The man should then stimulate the woman with her guiding / instructions. Stimulate the outer vagina and clitoris very gently at first and then increase the speed of stimulation. Pause for a few moments and then repeat. Continue with this teasing technique. If she wants to continue to orgasm that is fine but not essential.

The man should show the woman how to rub his penis, testicles or thighs to help the development of an erection. Then pause and allow the erection to fade, then stimulate again. Repeat this teasing technique, varying the vigour and speed of stimulation. If he wishes to continue to orgasm that is fine but not essential.

Do not worry if erections or orgasms don't happen. This exercise is aimed at intimacy and communication. enjoy your sessions together and try to make them fun!

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