Katherine M. Hertlein, Gerald R. Weeks, and Nancy Gambescia, co-authors of Systemic Sex Therapy: 2nd Edition, are the Routledge Mental Health Authors of the Month for April 2015. Katherine M. Hertlein, PhD, is an associate professor and Program Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gerald R. Weeks, PhD, ABPP, is a certified sex therapist with 30 years of practice experience, and is a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Nancy Gambescia, PhD, is a certified sex therapist with 35 years of practice experience, and is the Director of the postgraduate sex therapy program at Council for Relationships in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In The Author's Words
Why did you decide to write this book?
Our objective in writing this book was to present a comprehensive text that promotes understanding of the etiology and treatment of sexual problems from a systemic perspective. The book is unique in the field of sex therapy. In traditional sex therapy, the focus was on the individual from a cognitive- behavioral perspective. In the Intersystem Approach, the individual presenting with the symptom is no longer the unit of treatment. The Intersystem Approach encompasses the simultaneous consideration of the individual-biological/medical, individual-psychological, couple dyad, family-of origin and larger contextual factors such as religion, culture, etc. This metaframework of approaching sexual problems means a variety of different therapeutic modalities and distinct approaches to therapy can be systematically integrated in order to fit the therapy to the client rather than the client to the therapy. The most distinguishing feature of the approach is the integration of sex and couple therapy. We do not believe you can practice one without the other.
In sum, we believed the field was long overdue for a theoretical evolution. We propose the next step is the application of the Intersystem Approach in changing the field’s current paradigm.
What’s the one thing you hope readers take away from your book?
We hope the readers will be able to embrace a broader theoretical framework which demonstrates that sexual problems are more complex than described in previous, behaviorally-oriented texts. Viewing sexual disorders from the Intersystem Approach will increase our understanding about how sexual disorders develop and are maintained as well as give the reader a way to integrate multiple modalities and techniques in treatment.
Is there anything you would like to highlight about this topic or your book in particular?
The approach consistently emphasizes the integration of couple and sex therapy. Sexual problems sometimes stem from relational problem and relational problems sometimes stem from sexual problems. In many cases, couples presenting for sex therapy are experiencing problems in both areas but most sex therapists lack comprehensive training in couple therapy. Whatever the case, the couple is the unit of treatment. The partner is no longer seen as just a source of information and surrogate therapist at home for the homework assignments. Couples form an interlocking pattern of behavior that must be considered irrespective of the presenting problem.
What’s a common misconception about this topic that you would like to clear up?
The most common problem in the field of sex therapy is inadequate training in couple therapy. Couple therapy is probably the most difficult of all therapeutic modalities and requires extensive and intensive training. The standards for becoming a sex therapist do not emphasize training in couple therapy enough, the major books in the field do not emphasize couple therapy, and some clinicians are not aware of or desire to learn couple therapy from a systemic perspective. We do not believe sex therapy can be comprehensively conducted without the clinician being well versed in the different theories of individual, couple, and family therapy.
About the Authors
Katherine M. Hertlein, PhD, is an associate professor and Program Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She has published over 50 articles, 6 books, and 25 book chapters over the course of her career. She presents nationally and internationally on sex, technology, and couples.
Gerald R. Weeks, PhD, ABPP, is a certified sex therapist with 30 years of practice experience, and is a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is among a handful of individuals to be given the “Outstanding Contribution to Marriage and Family Therapy” award in 2009 from the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, and was named the “2010 Family Psychologist of the Year.” He has published over 20 books in the fields of individual, couple, family, and sex therapy.
Nancy Gambescia, PhD, is a certified sex therapist with 35 years of practice experience, and is the Director of the postgraduate sex therapy program at Council for Relationships in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She also maintains a private practice specializing in relationship and sex therapy in Rosemont, PA. Dr. Gambescia has published numerous book chapters, journal articles, and 5 books in couple and sex therapy.
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