A sex surrogate is someone who works with a therapist or other type of psychological professional to help people with disabilities or mental conditions that are primarily sexual in nature. The surrogate works with a client on a personal level, through communication and touching, to help the client overcome whatever condition he or she is afflicted by. These can be physical or psychological conditions, and the sex surrogate often acts as a person with whom a client can communicate and work with to develop healthy sexual behaviors and lifestyle. This treatment may involve physical touching and potentially include sexual intercourse, though this is not always the case and depends on what the client needs.
Unlike prostitution, sexual surrogacy is not typically illegal and does not focus on the sexual desires of a client, such as allowing the client to do whatever is desired for sexual release. Sexual satisfaction through orgasm is not the ultimate goal of a sex surrogate; the goal instead is the ensured health and well being of a client. Clients who consult a sex surrogate often do so at the recommendation of a therapist or psychological professional, and the meetings are often conducted as a form of extended therapy. The services of a sex surrogate can often be used to help a person dealing with physical sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and difficulties due to physical disabilities, or with psychological problems like intimacy issues, dating anxiety, or difficulties communicating with potential partners.
To help a client, the sex surrogate acts as a partner to the client, but one with therapeutic training and experience in how to help the person learn to communicate or overcome disabilities. According to some sex surrogates, as much as 90% of time spent with a client does not involve any direct sexual contact, but instead focuses on communication and understanding. For someone suffering from dating anxiety, a sex surrogate may provide dating practice in the form of a person who will not reject the client and allow him or her to overcome the anxiety.
In situations of physical disability, the surrogate can help the client learn to overcome the disability or find other avenues of developing sexual relationships with potential partners. The United States has few laws regulating the activities of sex surrogates, so there are few established requirements for someone looking to become one. Private organizations, such as the International Professional Surrogates Association, have been established to help self-regulate and certify sex surrogates in an effort to ensure ethical standards and professional behavior.