Simon Yaffe finds out how Emma Ziff became an expert in her chosen field
PEOPLE have always been willing to discuss their problems with Emma Ziff.
From a young age they opened up to her. And it is her warm attitude and personable nature that has seen Emma become a well-known specialist in all aspects of sexual and intimacy issues.
"I have always got on with people of all ages and backgrounds," the sexpert told the Jewish Telegraph.
"They feel comfortable with me and that they could trust me."
Described as having the knowledge of Dr Ruth Westheimer and the humour of Joan Rivers, her clients come to her with the most confidential of problems.
"I have the ability to empathise and connect, which makes it easy for people with problems to open their hearts to me," Emma added.
But she never intended to become a sexpert.
Born in London, her Swedish-born mother Britt and father Neville divided their time between Marbella, Spain, and England.
Emma went to school in Spain before the family headed to America, where Neville founded the Boca Raton Orthodox Synagogue in Florida, together with three other families.
One of three daughters and two sons, Emma returned to the UK to attend Badminton boarding school in Bristol.
She went on to study hotel and restaurant management at Thames Valley University and later financial accountancy, before her Damascene moment.
Emma worked as a project manager, with creative and financial responsibility for the re-branding of some of the leading UK hotel and beverage industry venues.
But it was the death of her father 11 years ago which made her realise that she was committed to working with people.
It also prompted Emma to further her education in complimentary medicine and she gained many qualifications in the subject which led her to work with clients who have physical concerns.
Since then, she has lectured and spoken worldwide on complimentary medicine as well as owning a business specialising in essential oils
"In the meantime I had a lot of people talk to me about their relationships and issues, particularly when it came to sexual and intimacy issues," Emma recalled.
"From there I started to study more about sex and relationships and took coaching courses in sexology, aromatherapy, nutrition and hypnotherapy."
She also returned to America to study with life coaches, such as Anthony Robbins, who is a household name in the States.
But is this really a suitable job for a nice Jewish girl?
"When people ask my mum what I do, she tells them," London-based Emma explained.
"But if I bring it up with her, she sweeps it under the carpet and likes to talk about something else."
Emma also has a startling take on Jews and sex.
"Jewish men have a higher sex drive than non-Jewish men," she claimed. "I am talking as a general rule.
"Jewish men are quite highly strung around work because there is so much pressure on them to perform and therefore they need a release."
Emma also believes that Jewish men have a lot of issues they have to deal with: mainly guilt and having to live up to certain family expectations.
"They have to perform in all areas - financially, family and sexually."
But, she added, Jews have always been good-humoured when it comes to sex.
"Jews, generally, are always cautious about 'what the neighbours will think', but, at the same time, we are also big yentas," Emma continued.
The big difference between men and women, she explained, is the way in which they communicate.
That is something Emma helps couples with.
"People may go to a friend for advice on their relationship, but that friend may have been divorced five times," she said.
"Women are much better at communicating, but men seem to be open with me too"
Emma also works with doctors when men come to her with problems.
Her expertise has led to her presenting radio shows across Europe and she had her own show on the Jewish radio station JNET Radio.
Emma has also appeared on various television shows discussing sex and relationships.
"Human beings are human beings - we have a need to be happy," she explained.
"It is not a sin to be happy and to have a great marriage and a wonderful sex life.
"I think it is now a lot more acceptable for couples to speak to an expert to jazz up their sex life."
One section of the Jewish community which Emma is reaching out to is the ultra-Orthodox in north London.
She said that wife beating is a big problem within that community.
Emma explained: "There are a high proportion of homes for Jewish battered wives in the area.
"I have started to work and talk with the women who have been on the receiving end of it.
"It is normally a don't-talk-about-it issue, not unless they are absolutely desperate."
Being an expert in a particular field does have its pitfalls, however.
Her friends do ask her advice on sex and relationships.
"If you are an accountant, then your friends are going to come to you with money issues," Emma, who has a partner, added.
"I do wish I could sometimes charge them, though."
As well as her radio shows and sexpertise, Emma is currently writing a book concentrating on men's sexual issues and helping to clarify men's understanding of women and sex.
She is also collaborating with a colleague and friend to write a sitcom around sex and dating.
"If you don't have love, you don't have a loving life," Emma enthused.
"Love is the most important thing - more than anything else."