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“I, of course, was so happy because my couple was cured. I couldn’t wait to go back to class to share my victory. When I told them, they were all very irate with me, saying- why didn’t I call the police or the battered women shelter? They didn’t see that he never meant to hurt her. This was a consensual behavior between two adults. I started reading up on this and delving more and more into it. So much so that before I finished my masters, I had already applied for my doctorate. Now I’m a clinical sex therapist.”
So instead of just $200 a paycheck, she gets to charge $200 an hour, right? “Not exactly. My fees are on a sliding scale. It depends on how much the person can afford. The usual fee is $125 an hour.”
Dr. Charley holds one-on one sessions in her brand new beautiful offices located in Staten Island, New York, as well as telephone therapy for out-of-state clients, as well as workshops, that cover a range of topics from: Making It Hot and Finding the Big O to Dream Interpretations to How to Talk to Our Children. She also writes comprehensive books on the subject. Like the much acclaimed Latina Kama Sutra, which is so much than a book on sexuality, complete with pictorial positions, but it is also covers spirituality, dating, macho-ism. It talks about who should pay for dinner to why sex is such a taboo subject.
“It’s amazing to me how parents can sit with their children and watch violent acts, such as people getting shot and killed and getting their heads cut off, but if there is any show of affection, they run to cover their kids’ eyes. What is that saying to our children? That it is OK to be violent and hurt others, but it’s not okay to show affection and emotion, warmth and love.”
So what does her family have to say about her chosen career?
“They used to say, ‘Tu solo quiere ser presentá and all into people’s business. That’s private stuff.’ But now they understand and it’s funny- they sometimes even ask me for some advice. Claro, a little shy about it, but they do.”
What is the biggest mistake women make in relationships? What advice would she give Latinas?
“The biggest mistake that women and men make is not communicate with each other. Tell him what you need. How you feel. Don’t slam him and say, ‘That was awful!’ Be gentle. There are different ways to communicate. You can write it down if you have to, but the important thing is to share that information with your partner.”
What exactly do you say to your partner? What exactly should you do? Well, that would require a whole session with Dr. Charley!
Dr. Charley Ferrer is a clinical psychologist who specializes in sex therapy, like the “Latina Dr. Ruth”. ‘That’ being a taboo subject in the Latino culture, I ask if she serves the Latino community.
“About half my clients are Latino. The difference between my Latino clientele and my American clientele, I would say, is that Americans have had their sexual revolution. It is now Latinos who, I say, are having a sexual awakening. The difference I see between the men and the women is that women usually are interested in fixing their relationship. Men seem to be more interested in the more physical, how to perform and the like. My role is not to judge, but to give information, to teach about options, to make you more satisfied in your life.”
I’m still not convinced how a Latina would just walk into her office and say – ummmmm I need help with…ummm. She explains,
“A woman may say, ‘Dr. Charley I have a question about my relationship’. We start talking about that and about the weather, about shopping – I make them feel very comfortable. When they understand that they can trust me they’ll say something along the lines of ‘by the way, I have another question…’”
How did Dr. Charley, a Puerto Rican from Ponce get involved in such a ‘touchy-feely’ type of career? It all started with $200.
“I was working in the health industry, with insurance claims and I wanted to move up and make more money. Turns out that they said I couldn’t make anymore money until I got my bachelors then I can get $200 more dollars in my paycheck. So, I enrolled in school. With just 6 months to graduation, the business program I was in changed classes so that I could not graduate in 6 months. Well, I wanted those $200 dollars in 6 months! The only way to do that was to switch gears and finish my bachelors in psychology. So I got my degree in psychology.”
“Within the first few weeks of the first course I feel in love! I just knew that this is what I wanted to do. As soon as I graduated I applied to the master’s program. One of the professors that I really looked up to and took all her classes was teaching a sex therapy course so I signed up for it. We were all assigned a couple for the duration of the class. The problem with the couple I got was that suddenly the man could no longer perform. So I simply asked him directly, ‘Why can’t you perform?’ He was really frank with me and said, ‘Because I want to spank my girlfriend.' That was the root of the problem. He didn’t want to hurt her in anyway just spank. Turns out when the girlfriend found out, she didn’t mind that at all. So off they went.”
by Jennese Torres
with Dr. Charley Ferrer
Best TV Talk Show 2007
See it now on
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