For Schnarch, sexual dysfunction in the marital relationship is related to core issues of intimacy. Facing anxiety rather than averting it is a part of the transformation that takes place in the crucible. Since intimacy must be experienced, the presence of anxiety is inherent. The sexual crucible allows for the presence of this anxiety with attempts to modulate it. Anxiety is part of growth; this major component is accommodated and viewed as a strength for reaching potential.
A crucible is defined as a vessel in which metamorphic processes occur; the therapeutic crucible is a means of therapeutic solution. The goal of this modality is to help the couple go through the drama rather than to end or avoid it; therapy is the crucible containing the couple's drama with the marriage dynamics fueling the crucible. The sexual aspect focuses on ways couples act out individual, dyadic, and family dynamics in the sexual dimension of the marital relationship (p. xv). A crucible participates in the metamorphosis by containing the reaction so changes can occur; the nonreactive therapist and the therapeutic alliance function as the nonreactive container as the patient transforms (pp. 159-160).
Schnarch, D. M. (1991). Constructing the sexual crucible. An integration of sexual and marital therapy. New York: W.W. Norton.
Behavior-modification paradigms in sex therapy focus on anxiety-desensitization; the reduction or absence of anxiety is important rather than the presence of pleasure. Prescriptions are presumed to reduce anxiety, yet commonly have the opposite effect. Most people do not experience pleasure anxiety until they have developed high levels of intimacy, sexual arousal, and eroticism. Treatment with the sexual crucible addresses these issues rather than simply prescribing techniques. Isomorphic cross-modality intervention applies systems theory to sex therapy. Assumptions erroneously imply that interventions in either the sexual or nonsexual syste