Category: Sexual Functioning
Keywords: Sexuality | Professional Development
Presentation Type: Mini Workshop
Level of Familiarity: Basic
Our patients' sexual well-being is often tightly associated with their mental and behavioral health and overall functioning. Poor sexual functioning may be a symptom of mental health problems such as depression, a side effect of psychotropic medications, the result of difficult interpersonal relationships, or a harbinger of future medical problems. Further, sexual difficulties are often a cause of poor overall satisfaction and happiness. Despite this, many CBT therapists avoid inquiring about their patients' sex lives. Research from other fields shows that when health professionals (i.e., ob-gyn providers) systematically inquired about sexual problems, the reported rate of these difficulties by their patients increased six-fold. Thus, many patients may be waiting for us to initiate this conversation. The overall goal of this mini-workshop is not to provide in-depth training on sex assessment and therapy. Rather, it is to increase participants' awareness of how they may be overlooking an important area of their patients' functioning and to develop participants' comfort and self-efficacy in beginning to inquire about sexual satisfaction and well-being with their patients. This session is geared toward therapists who see patients with a range of mental and behavioral health problems but who don't commonly inquire about sexual health.
In this mini-workshop, we will first briefly review the literature making the case for the importance of learning more about our patients' sexual behavior and satisfaction. Participants will then engage in exercises designed to explore their individual reasons for avoiding asking their patients about sex. They will examine the impact of their own learning histories and the behavior modeled by their families and health providers on their comfort in inquiring about sex. In order to get the most from this learning session, participants will be encouraged to share their thoughts and/or experiences, but no one will be pressured to do so. Practical information will then be given, including potential scripts and tips for how to open the conversation with patients, important follow-up questions, and discussion of which behaviors and problems may likely require further assessment and/or a referral.
Recommended Reading: Wincze, J.P., & Weisberg, R.B. (2015). Sexual dysfunction: A guide for assessment and treatment (3rd edition). New York: Guilford.
McCabe, M.P., Sharlip, I.D., Lewis, R., Atalle, E., Balon, R., Fisher, A., ... Segraves, R. (2015). Risk factors for sexual dysfunction among women and men: a consensus statement from the fourth international consultation on sexual medicine. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 13(2),153-67.
Althof, S.E., Rosen, R.C., Perelman, M.A., & Rubio-Aurioles, E. (2012). Standard operating procedures for taking a sexual history. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10, 26-35.
Assistant Chief of Psychology / Professor
VA Boston Healthcare System / Boston University School of Medicine
Friday, November 17
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Saturday, November 18
10:15 AM – 11:45 AM
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