SEXUAL HEALTH: ONGOING PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION FOR THE PSYCHOTHERAPIST
Trinity College Dublin (IRELAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Page: 3413 (abstract only)
Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain
A proposal to include Hypersexual Disorder into the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) is currently under review. Hypersexuality Disorder is understood in terms of an individual experiencing an increase in intensity and frequency of normal sexual activity which results in negative consequences. Individuals who encounter hypersexuality frequently seek psychotherapy to address their behaviour.
The aim of this research is to examine the concept of continuous professional education for psychotherapists who work with those who experience hypersexuality.
Adopting a primarily phenomenological approach, a literature review was undertaken followed by a pilot study, focus groups, questionnaires and interviews. 45 treatment providers working in clinical practice in the area of sexual health took part in individual face to face interviews. Interviews are recorded, later transcribed and electronically stored. Ethical approval was obtained from the schools’ ethics committee and consent was given by the participants. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, (IPA), and Thematic Analysis (TA) are used for data analysis.
In clinical practice psychotherapists report dealing with the general range of counselling related issues including sexually related issues. Despite the continuing controversy regarding the validity of the concept of hypersexuality there is a growing increase in the number of individuals who seek therapeutic help. The psychotherapists report varying degrees of knowledge, competence and skill regarding the concept of hypersexuality. Some have sought to improve their clinical skills and therapeutic strategies through additional training. Educational courses have ranged from a one day information workshop to a one year course on a part time basis.
Participants report a lack of scientific and diagnostic agreement pertaining to what constitutes hypersexuality. Consequently specific assessment material and procedures remain underdeveloped. Data reveals a lack of clarity among some regarding therapeutic resources available for those who seek support. An insufficient number of specifically trained health professionals are available for referral purposes.
Participants state that there is an increase in resistance among their colleagues to deal with problematic sexual behaviour. Among those who are content to provide therapeutic support in the area of sexuality there is a heightened level of anxiety pertaining to ethical concerns and legal issues.
Continuous professional education equips the psychotherapist to increase their knowledge, skill and competence to effectively deal with the evolving clinical phenomena of hypersexuality.
Keywords: Psychotherapy, Continuing Professional Development, Education, Sexual Health, Hypersexuality.