1st Edition

Sex, Social Justice, and Intimacy in Mental Health Practice Incorporating Sexual Health in Approaches to Wellness

By Erin Martinez-Gilliard Copyright 2023
    254 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    254 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book aims to equip mental health professionals to integrate discussions of sexual identity, health, wellness, and intimacy into the scope of their client’s mental health, ensuring they are well-prepared to incorporate sexual functioning into core assessment, interventions, and treatment.

    We exist in societies that are scared to discuss sexual health, identity, and relationships, and the stigma surrounding these topics saturates our mental health professions. Sex, intimacy, and sexual identity have historically been relegated as “specialized” topics when training new clinicians, which has led to professionals feeling unable and unskilled to speak about a core part of their client’s psychological, biological, physical, and relational health. Viewing this as a social justice issue, this book addresses a movement in the counseling field to incorporate sexual health into therapy as well as providing new ways of foundational teaching. Chapters begin exploring the history of sex therapy and the problems that have previously been addressed as concerns for the sex therapy field only, before discussing issues surrounding transference and countertransference. Encouraging self-reflection regarding values, bias, and attitudes related to topics of sexuality, the book moves to discussing strategies and integrative approaches to co-occurring conditions, such as trauma, diagnosis of sexual difficulties, stigma and societal messages, biopsychosocial treatment, networking, and coordination of care and spiritual health and healing.

    Including journaling exercises, assessment tools and case studies of how to weave approaches addressing sexual concerns into practice, this book will provide graduate courses and continuing education instructors with the core material to assist the training and development of future and established professionals.

    1. The Social Injustice of Specialization 2. Make Room for Yourself 3. Introducing the Topic with Teenagers and Families: Boundaries and Ethical Considerations 4. What Could Go Wrong? 5. Collaborative Assessment Strategies 6. Trauma and Sexual Difficulties 7. Diagnosis and Sexual Difficulties 8. Guiding Clients to Good Enough Intimacy: Medical Difficulties/Diagnosis, Disabilities and Sexuality 9. Stigma, Societal Messages and Sexual Difficulty 10. Helping Create a New Normal: Addiction, Substance Use and Sex 11. Biopsychosocial Treatment Approaches 12. Honoring the Diversity of Sexual Expression 13. Aging and Sexual Transition 14. Networking, Resources, Referrals, and Coordination of Care 15. The Road Forward


    Erin Martinez-Gilliard is a certified sex therapist, clinical social worker and lecturer at the University of Michigan, School of Social Work. She is dedicated to increasing access to sex therapy and trauma-informed treatment in mental health services.

    "Sex, Social Justice, and Intimacy in Mental Health Practice identifies the lack of sexual health education in graduate school training programs as a social justice issue. The author challenges the mental health field to create greater access to sexual health services, services that have historically been reserved only for the privileged. Sharing information, cases, and activities from her years of work as both a clinician/sex therapist and an educator, Martinez-Gilliard offers a comprehensive guide to sexual health competency that is a must for any training program wanting to prepare its students to meet the holistic needs of clients and to create a healthier society."

    Prem Pahwa, LMSW, CST; Director of The University of Michigan Sexual Health Certificate Program

    "In a world where mental health is often seen as completely separate from sexuality, this book opens to the door, welcoming mental health professionals towards recognizing sexuality and supportive treatment of such as a crucial part of practice. Bridging previous work across sexuality, psychology, social work, and other allied fields, Erin Martinez-Gilliard offers an intentional and compassionate guide to everything from building rapport that allows for talk about sexuality to diagnosing sexual challenges, plus a bevy of potential tools and intervention options alongside case studies to support a deeper understanding of how to utilize them."

    Shanna K. Kattari, PhD, MEd, CSE, ACS; Associate Professor, University of Michigan; Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs