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Charles Holland met Virginia Johnson in the late 1970s and later became a sex therapist.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Roanoke Valley doctor Charles Holland was studying to be a sex educator in the late 1970s until he met Virginia Johnson and William Masters. After seeing the work they were doing in sexual therapy, he decided on a different career path.
Today, Holland is an accredited sex therapist in Roanoke, and he still uses the same methods he learned under Masters and Johnson, who have been called pioneers of the sexual revolution.
Johnson died Wednesday of complications from several illnesses in St. Louis. She was 88.
Her death was personal for Holland, who said their work "terrifically" influenced the way he practices now.
He also ran into Johnson and Masters in seminars, even after he left St. Louis.
Holland said Johnson was a very open and gentle person and provided a softer side to the groundbreaking scientific duo.
"She was very human," said Holland. "She really was more interested in the humanist side in human sexuality whereas Masters was more interested in the scientific side."
Johnson was a secretary in the medical school at Washington University in St. Louis where she met Masters, an obstetrician-gynecologist who hired her as his assistant for his research into human sexuality. The two were married in 1971.
Holland met Johnson and Masters in the late 1970s when he studied under them in St. Louis when he was planning to become an educator on human sexuality.
"Before I studied with them I knew nothing of sex therapy. I had never done any kind of sex therapy at all," Holland said. He was impressed by how many people benefited from the research and changed his line of thinking.
"When I saw what they were doing, I changed and became a sex therapist," Holland said.
Decades later Holland still practices with the same methods he was taught there.
"I use their model pretty much exclusively," said Holland.
Sex therapy, as he was taught, can be a serious investment of time. Johnson often insisted on getting a sexual history of each person she met and many people seeking help would stay at the research facility in St. Louis for two weeks at a time.
Holland said he asks people seeking therapy to divulge their complete sexual history starting from birth, which can take six to eight hours.
In Roanoke, Holland mostly works with couples and spends a lot of time with clients, clearing up sexual presumptions and providing them with new exercises to work on. He said he works with couples of all ages, from their mid-20s to their mid-70s.
Johnson was heralded for changing the way sexuality was perceived and helped to conduct one of the largest human sexuality experiments in the U.S. during a time when talking about sex was taboo.
"They really were groundbreakers," Holland said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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