IMDb > Private Practices: The Story of a Sex Surrogate (1986)

Private Practices: The Story of a Sex Surrogate (1986) More at IMDbPro »

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Down 15% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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Release Date:
26 September 1986 (USA) See more »
You'll Want to Meet This "Doctor"! [VHS]
In this cult doc from 1985, director Kirby Dick (This Film Is Not Yet Rated) weaves a fascinating study... See more » | Add synopsis »
2 wins See more »
User Reviews:
The Practice of Love See more (2 total) »


  (in credits order)
Maureen Sullivan ... Herself
Warren Robert Jason ... Himself
Noreen Hennesey ... Herself - Narration

Kirby Dick ... Himself - Interviewer
Catherine Coulson ... Herself - Interviewer
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jorga Caye ... Visitor (uncredited)

Directed by
Kirby Dick 
Produced by
Kirby Dick .... producer
Barbara Zheutlin .... associate producer
Film Editing by
Lois Freeman-Fox 
Sound Department
Alan Barker .... sound mixer
David Brownlow .... sound
Charle Thompson .... re-recording mix
Camera and Electrical Department
Alan Barker .... video technician
Christine Burrill .... camera operator
Catherine E. Coulson .... camera operator (as Catherine Coulson)
John Jebb .... video technician
Editorial Department
Patrick Gregston .... post production consultant
Linda Tadic .... assistant editor
Other crew
Dwight Adair .... additional assistance
Barbara Bloom .... production assistant
Uri Raicon .... additional assistance
Deborah Roetman .... production associate
Lori Seligman .... additional assistance
Mark Sirinsky .... production assistant
Tommie Smith .... production assistant
Tom Tyson .... additional assistance
Rita Valencia .... titles
Cathy Zheutlin .... additional assistance


Additional Details

75 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:M | Canada:R (Ontario) (video rating) | USA:Unrated

Did You Know?

Maureen Sullivan:I will tell you what I do. I work with men who have sexual dysfunctions as their partner. And I practice sex with them and I practice social skills and I practice communicating and I practice teaching them how to love people.See more »


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37 out of 40 people found the following review useful.
The Practice of Love, 7 June 2002
Author: tom_jones2 from Studio City, CA

Okay, here goes...

The first thing I should say is that this film is NOT porno, it is NOT exploitative, and it is NOT Jerry Springer; don't let the cover fool you.

All the same, how you react to this film depends very highly on your attitudes regarding the use of a sex partner in psychotherapy. If you can suspend your judgement(eg: reasoning such as, "she's being paid to have sex with these people, therefore she's a _____ and this is all California bull____ psychobabble."), you may be in for a nice thought-provoking documentary.

At the time this film was made, Maureen Sullivan was a professional sex partner. Meaning that she was referred to, and paid by, psychotherapists to have sexual interactions with different men who have different sexual dysfunctions. In the course of this film, we see her in therapy sessions with "Kipper," a 25-year-old man who is a virgin, and is terrified of even looking at a woman, nevermind touching one. The opening session, where she just takes his hand and looks him in the eye, is truly moving to watch as he works through his fear of physical love.

At the same time, Maureen is also going through sex therapy with a man named "John," a 45-year-old divorced father who is going through self-esteem problems(understandably).

What makes this film work is that these are not your usual reality-show nitwits with a limited vocabulary. Maureen, Kipper, John, and the peripheral people in the movie are all thoughtful, sensitive, and articulate. Plus, besides dealing with Kipper's and John's problems with sexual intimacy, we also deal with several emotional issues related to this. What does Maureen's neighbors and family think of the work she does? What happens if one of Maureen's patients falls in love with her? (John does) How does she keep her distance from him without destroying his self-esteem? And is there a reason why the only sexual and emotional relationships Maureen has with men are when they are her patients, where after a limited amount of time, the relationship is over? Does she have a problem with committing to one man?

All of these are questions that get raised from watching this film, and none of these are taken lightly.

On a side note, being a 35-year-old virgin male, it would be good for me to know if this practice is still being taken in the field of psychiatry. I identified very strongly with what Kipper was going through with her.

Not your usual diversion on a Friday night, but a very strong educational film regarding the practice of love. 9 out of 10.

One more note: this film is out of print, so you have to really look hard to find it.

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