Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicoletta von Heidegger.
Nicoletta, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up between Los Angeles and New York, as my parents owned a cosmetics company based out of New York (Kiehl’s). My parents were pretty open with me from an early age in regard to sexual discussions, and they gave me a lot of space to be myself and to be proud of myself and my body. At the age of 12, I started seeing a therapist (Dr. Jenn Mann) whom I still see today. In addition to that, my sister had a baby sitter who taught me that she would not sleep with anyone until they were willing to get STI tested. So, starting in high school, I followed suit and was one of the first in my friend group to have safer sex conversations with partners. I became the person that everyone seemed to feel comfortable to come to with sex and relationship questions. By the time I got to college at Stanford University, I ended up working at the Sexual Health Peer Resource Center and Bridge Peer Counseling.
By my senior year, I became the school’s mascot (The Tree- I was the first female-identifying Tree in about a decade) and was recruited to write a weekly sex column called Sex Talk with the Tree. With all of those inspirations and intersections, I graduated with a BA in psychology and then decided to pursue my first master’s in clinical psychology. I graduated in 2015 with an MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, the first step on my path to becoming a licensed therapist. I knew that I wanted to specialize in something sex-related, and it turns out that therapists only get one (if any!) class on human sexuality. I decided to begin a second master’s program and in 2017, I graduated with a MEd in Human Sexuality from Widener University. I am currently in the all but dissertation phase for my PhD from Widener. I began seeing therapy clients as an intern/ associate in 2014, and have since become licensed as Marriage and Family Therapist (#110256) and started my own private practice. I work with a variety of amazing clients, but most folks come to me with a sex-specific struggle.
When I am not seeing clients, I host a podcast called Sluts and Scholars, a sex-positive, shame-free educational podcast that helps folks talk smart and f*ck smarter. The podcast has featured folks including Dita von Teese, Amber Heard, ALOK, Liz Goldwyn, and Nina Hartley. I also lead trainings and educational opportunities in human sexuality, including for social workers at the department of children and family services (DCFS). My hope is to help others claim their pleasure as a human right and to eliminate sexual shame (unless it’s being used in a fun, kinky way!).
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I have had many privileges due to my race, class, and opportunities afforded to me. One main struggle, however, that I often discuss on my podcast is the shame surrounding sexuality, sexual freedom, and mental health. As a woman, I have been surrounded by a cultural narrative that I can either be taken seriously as a professional or have a sexuality. I am determined to show that it is OK to own one’s sexuality and to be a proud sexual person while also being whatever else I want to be! I am also a survivor of sexual assault and I have had my own mental health struggles- every good therapist needs a good therapist!
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am lucky to currently have a regularly full private practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#110256) specializing in sex therapy. I see couples, non-monogamous groups, and individuals. A few topics and communities that I work with include:
– Folks who have never had an orgasm
– People looking to spice up their sex life
– People with pelvic pain
– Couples whose libidos don’t line up (aka most couples 🙂 )
– Sexual trauma
– Trans and nonbinary folx
– Kinky and BDSM practitioners
– Erectile/ orgasmic difficulties
– Cultural and religious sexuality struggles
– Sex workers
– Folks with culturally taboo and/or illegal sexual desires (i.e., pedophilia)
I am proud to work with diverse folks to help them maintain (sex) lives that feel authentic, consensual, and pleasure-filled. Sadly, most therapists get little to no sexuality training; I often get referrals from folks who have a general therapist that they have not been able to talk about sex with. In my opinion, this is unacceptable for our field, but far too common. I offer a personally tailored approach based on what folks need, and because sex is a mind-body-spirit complexity, I also am very proud of my referral list of other adjacent practitioners who help adjunct the work that I do (including pelvic therapists, somatic workers, and more). For many of my clients, this is the first time they have ever talked about sex with another person; it is an honor to bear witness to their stories.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t believe in luck per se; I believe in the intersection of privilege and hard work.
- I work on a sliding scale ranging from 125-200 based on what folks can afford (I also reserve a few spots for low fee folks)
- Address: 566 S. San Vicente Blvd #101
- Website: nicolettavheidegger.com AND slutsandscholars.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @slutsandscholars
The black and white photos need to credit Mark Dektor http://www.markdektor.com/