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A Peek behind the Door at Sex Surrogates

getty(BOCA RATON, Fla.) -- Barbara Krakower, a sex therapist from Boca Raton, Fla., sometimes relies on individuals called sex surrogates to treat her patients.

Some of these patients include: a 54-year-old virgin whose mother had taught him that women are no good, a wheelchair-bound man fearful of initiating a new relationship post-divorce, and a 32-year-old whose first lover berated him when he couldn’t sustain an erection.

In each case, Krakower offered to call in a surrogate, someone who is paid to consult with the therapist to get to the root of the patient's phobia or inhibition and then ultimately work it out between the sheets if necessary.

Sex surrogacy may be the oldest or the newest profession in the world. In the past, French fathers initiated their adolescent sons by introducing them to their mistresses. In other cultures, a young virgin is given physical guidance before consummation of the marriage.

Today, at least in Florida, the state neither officially bans nor condones it.

Sex surrogacy as a counseling practice emerged in the 1970s, according to sex expert Pepper Schwartz, who is a professor of sociology at the University of Washington.

"The problem has always been the link between prostitution and surrogacy," Schwartz said. "But they are trained to work with the therapist so they are not just having sex.

"Usually, you are dealing with people who have some pretty strong problems," she said.

The surrogates are credentialed and trained by the International Professional Surrogates Association (IPSA) and can be either male or female.

Therapists say more men than women use surrogates because they tend to have more performance anxiety than women.

Legality issues have not been problematic, mostly because surrogates don't advertise their skills and are usually referred by licensed therapists.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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