Let’s start at the end….

At the end of our evening, whilst tidying up – someone walked up to Silva and said – I’ve never heard love mentioned in a talk – it’s really lovely to hear that.

I think this sums up the approach and ethos that Silva brings to not only his talks but also the manner in which he approaches the work he is so passionate about.

Bravery is the other word that comes to mind when I listen to Silva.  Often subjects like sex, gender identity and sexuality can feel like taboo subjects.  When clients come to see us – these often form an integral part of their story.  How do we know what’s key and important in a client’s story – whether they come to our rooms as a couple or an individual.

We ask – ask all the questions they may never have had the freedom to ask…. But what do we ask…

  • Are you monogamous?
  • How do you identify?

Whether a client is fully aware, exploring their sexuality/identity,/relationship diversity or still in the curious phase, this opens up the conversations to allow freedom.  We all know that clients are regularly braver in the counselling room, allowing room for discussion that may not normally be explored.

So where does the heteronormative bias (assuming everyone is straight and monogamous) stem from…. Or how did we live before these messages came through from society?  If you had the joy of scrolling through Silva’s powerpoints – you’ll have seen many images from many older (pre Christian) cultures.  Sexuality was not only normalised in these art works (some would be deemed X-rated today…why?) but they also show that many lived in Silva’s words a more ‘queerish’ life.  No particular lines or definitions, a more fluid way of living.

Finding the balance in exploring these areas so there is freedom of discussion and not overly focussing so it doesn’t dominate the work, when it’s not a key issue.

Differences also exist in terms of erotism – whilst this diversity might include venturing into relationship diversity – it can also exist within the realms of any monogamous relationship.  Terms such as Kink and fetish might be familiar to some/many – whilst vanilla refers to (in general) as fitting into societal ‘norms’ of relationship expectations.  Asking clarifies where a couple is at – and allows them to open up once again to have freedom to explore – especially if there is unmatched desires in a relationship.

Within relationships – whether heterosexual or queer – diversity is vast.  Obviously some people subscribe to monogamy – many will have a lot or a little diversity.  For example some couples may have an open relationship that gives them full freedom sexually – others may go on separate holidays once a year – having complete autonomy during that time as to what they wish to engage in (monogamish).  Polyamory  exists in many formats too – from a thruple (3 people) to a V relationship – where 1 person (bottom of the V) has 2 different partners, who don’t engage together.

Later Silva branched into looking at all kinds of relationships in our world – where love exists – often less focussed on – romantic/sexual relationships often flagged as key by society/Hollywood messages.  These include – friendships, acquaintances, location-based relationships (neighbours/village life), work colleagues, teacher-student, online and pets.  We can love and enjoy the company of lots of people at the same time as a healthy normal part of living.

Silva is always a joy to learn from and listen to – no doubt he’ll be back with us again soon.

By Sinead Mitchell