Leandie Buys Realtionship Therapist & Clinical Sexologist

On the couch with Leandie – How I became a sexologist

11 years ago, a conservative Afrikaans woman told her father, “I’m going to study sexual health to become a sexologist.”

Needless to say, he was shocked! “You can’t do that to the family,” he said. “What will people say?!”

Thankfully, my 81-year-old dad has come around, and now realises exactly what a sexologist is, and the value of the work that I do. But, initially, he responded just like so many other people do.

I get a range of reactions when I tell people what I do for a living including;

  • “Are you one of those kinky chicks?”
  • “Are you a sex worker?”
  • “Your husband must be the happiest guy on Earth!”

Men think that I will teach their partners to swing from chandeliers, and be “ready for action” at all times. One guy even phoned to ask me if I would come to his house to watch him and his wife having sex!

I have had countless phone calls from people asking if I offer “that kind of service”. And the occasional one where I just hear heavy breathing on the other side!

The truth is that I’m just an ordinary girl

My friends will tell you “sy is maar koekig!” which simply means, “she’s so conservative!”

In the past, I used to get upset by peoples’ reactions as they made me feel ‘cheap’ and misunderstood. However, I’ve learned not to take this so personally anymore.

I have walked a challenging road to get to this point. When I set up my original practice in Cape Road in Port Elizabeth, I knew my huge purple signboard would cause heads to turn. Unfortunately it also meant that some of my patients were very wary of being seen there. Since I shared the premises with the pharmacy, I said they could just use a ‘visit to the pharmacy’ as an excuse if their friends ever asked.

Soon after setting up the practice, I was approached by AlgoaFm to host a radio show called Sensually Speaking. This weekly show lasted a couple of years during which I gave advice to callers about various relationship and sexual health topics.

I also wrote a regular column in the Weekend Post. Once or twice my column would cause public outrage because I was very open about certain topics, and I “called a spade a spade”. In a relatively conservative city, this was often not accepted by some members of the public! Sometimes the comments would get so personal that my mom would phone me and warn me not to buy the paper that week! But although the comments were hurtful, they only encouraged me to continue doing what I was doing. The only way to battle ignorance is with information, so I pressed on with my mission to educate the public about relationships and sexual health issues.

In 2012, I decided to take the practice on a new journey. I moved my consulting offices to a specially-built section of my home to create more privacy and comfort for my clients. Being in a residential area, and without a huge billboard makes people feel more relaxed. Unfortunately there is still a stigma associated with seeking help for relationship and sexual health issues, so the more privacy I can offer my clients the better.

So what happens in my practice?

Well it’s none of that ‘kinky stuff’ I can assure you! I am a qualified relationship counsellor and clinical sexologist, so the majority of my patients are couples, or individuals who are experiencing relationship issues.

Issues include:

When it comes to relationship counselling and sex therapy, I talk about building a relationship using bricks. The bricks are the qualities that you expect in a relationship, like loyalty, respect, communication and trust. Those bricks are kept together by the ‘cement’ which is sex. You can’t build a solid ‘house’ or relationship without having strong bricks and cement.

Sex therapy only takes place once the couple has become emotionally connected again. There is a lot of relationship therapy and healing which has to take place before sex is even mentioned.

I do become very emotionally involved in my patients’ recovery. I can’t count how many times I have cried with my patients because I’m so touched by their life stories and the things that they have gone through. I am so encouraged when I see relationships being rebuilt and people being emotionally restored. I feel so blessed to be part of their healing process and so blessed that they feel safe to tell me about their past.

Sex addiction

My first qualification as a sex therapist was obtained in Australia. However, for the past two years I have been working with sex addicts and building my expertise in sex addiction therapy. This is a very un-explored field in South Africa, and the understanding around sex addiction and its origins is still being built on constantly.

That is why I’ve invested in an international certification through the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction. I travelled to Amsterdam four times in the past two years in order to attend lectures, and I am still participating in sessions with a supervisor in Arizona. I am only the third South African with this qualification, but I know that the investment has been worthwhile because I now have the tools to help people deal with this traumatic and stigmatised disease.

My field has kept me in isolation in South Africa as there are just a few qualified sexologists in this country, but being in constant contact with my colleagues in Australia and America keeps me ahead of the latest research and treatment options available.

My practice is built on support

I have valued the support that I’ve received from the public over the years. Building a practice, and seeing the successes has helped me to continue to pursue my passion for helping couples in crisis, and individuals experiencing sexual issues.

I have met so many incredible people that I’ve learned so much from and each has left their fingerprints in my life. Although most of my patients don’t contact me after counselling ends, I do get the occasional phone call or email to say “we are doing well, and if it weren’t for you, we would never have made it”, and it is these words of encouragement that keep me going.

I hope that you have learned a bit more about me, and have a clearer idea of what it is like to have a counselling session with ‘Leandie Buys’. I hope that you realise that I’m just an ordinary woman, and my job is to help anyone experiencing relationship or sexual health issues. There are no weird ‘surprises’ or ‘kinky’ things taking place – it’s just therapy!