The Impact of Counsellors’ Sexual Attitudes and Graduate Education on Therapeutic Discussions of Sexuality
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The aim of this study was to investigate whether the variables of counselling professionals’ attitudes towards sexuality and their graduate level education on the topic, were related to the frequency of their sex-related discussions in the therapeutic context. One hundred and nine participants were recruited from a counselling directory website. They completed an online survey consisting of the Sexual Attitude Scale (SAS) (Hudson et. al, 1983) and the Therapeutic Discussions of Sexuality Scale (TDOS). These measures were then correlated with the frequency of sex-related discussions and analyzed with demographic variables. The results found a significant relationship between both variables and the frequency of sex-related discussions. Professionals with more conservative sexual attitudes and those who have not received graduate level education on the topic were less likely to engage in sex-related conversations with clients. Practitioners with more liberal sexual attitudes and those who have received graduate education on the topic were more likely to frequently have discussions with clients on a wide variety of sexual topics. Participants with no religious beliefs were more likely to hold liberal sexual attitudes while those with Christian beliefs had more conservative attitudes. Professionals that identified as Christian still held discussions around sexuality as frequently as those with no religious background. Finally, those with more years of experience were more likely to discuss sexuality than those with less experience in the counselling profession. The results highlight the importance of counselling professionals being aware of their personal attitudes and the necessity of adequate graduate school training to produce counsellors who have sufficient comfort and capability to work with clients’ sexual concerns responsibly.