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Promoting Sexual Health and Sex Positive AttitudesAs a sex therapist, I am also a sex educator and mental health professional. It’s one of the many aspects I love about what I do. As an educator, I am frustrated at what I saw at the NBC 4 Your Health and Fitness Expo, where I was an exhibitor. I was saddened not only by how many people had no idea about what I do, but also about how many people neglect their sex lives and health. However, what really got me upset was that I was the only sex therapist there.

Sexual health needs to be promoted like any other health problem because people are suffering with no idea how to get help and are feeling helpless. We need to a better job spreading a sex positive message to all communities. Events like the NBC 4 Your Health and Fitness Expo gives us a great opportunity to spread that message to people who normally would not hear sex positive messages.

 

Why Sexual Health Matters

Sexual health is a serious issue that if not kept in balance, can cause real unhappiness and emotional trauma.

I remember a few months ago I heard a report on the radio about a hearing on the search for the “female Viagra”. A woman spoke and as she spoke she broke down and sobbed uncontrollably. She was describing how she felt, like she was failing her husband because she could not provide for his sexual needs, which is a story I hear from just about every client I see with a sexual issue in a relationship.

People with sexual issues are hurting and often feel uncomfortable talking about the issue or are unaware of where to find help.

Limited Knowledge Around Sexual Health

The lack of knowledge over sexual disorders is due to the lack of numbers of sex therapists, educators, and easily accessible literature. We are the only people trained in all dynamics of human sexuality and there are only a few of us.

When I was in graduate school learning about psychology and the art of therapy, sex came up only once in a 15-minute presentation in a marriage therapy class. I was not required to take nor was I offered a class in basic human sexuality at a graduate level. Not only that, it was not required for my state license either. It was not even a requirement for being a school counselor! It seems the mental health community as whole has closed their eyes to the dynamics of human sexual behavior. So beside us sex therapists and educators, where are people to turn?

Sexual issues are clearly not at all a priority in the counseling field. This is a field mostly founded by a man who saw sex as the key drive in human behavior. Sex is an uncomfortable topic for many, but if you cannot handle uncomfortable topics, perhaps therapy is not a good vocational choice. Sex needs to be taught to all mental health professionals at least at a basic graduate level. Otherwise, we are just spreading the same old common myths, ignorance and misconceptions as everyone else to people looking for different answers. A class in human sexuality would also inspire more people to become sex therapists and educators allowing for more people to get the help they need.

Being less vocal about the importance of a safe and healthy sex life also contributes to the problem. We cannot reach everyone, but as a group working to bring positive change in sexual attitudes, education, freedoms, and health, especially groups who advocate for those things, we need to be more vocal at public events like NBC 4 Health and Fitness Expo. We live in a heavily progressive population here in DC, a place ripe with understanding and open-mindedness. We need more opportunities for factual education about important taboo topics like sex. I saw that on most of the people’s faces I saw and spoke to at the Expo.

David Fishman