The definition of a counselor depends on who is doing the defining. In general, the term counselor implies listening and advice-giving and is not specific to mental health practitioners. Lawyers, medical doctors, chaplains, physical therapists (my own professional orientation) all counsel. The content and intent of the counseling differs, but counseling is the cornerstone of many helping professions.
Similarly, the definition of a sexuality counselors depends on who is doing the defining and their own professional bias and intent behind the definition. A general definition of sexuality counselors that I currently use (with recognized limits): individuals with a bachelorette, master’s, or doctorate degree in medicine or a related field with additional training in sexuality, including anatomy, pleasure, disorders, gender, and sexual expression and lifestyle diversity. They provide one on one or group sessions, utilizing education, problem-solving and communication skills, and specific exercises where needed (i.e. sexuality counseling).
As a licensed physical therapist (PT) with additional certification in sexual health, sexual wellness is a part of my scope of practice; however, PT professional education does not cover much sexual health information (Sengupta and Sakellariou 2009) so this is not the case with most PTs. In the PT client/healthcare population, sexuality can play a big role – in terms of relationship to one’s body and self-esteem and partner(s), different physical functioning, and/or pain following an illness or disability. Seeing this gap in care in the clinic inspired me, in part, to pursue sexuality counseling. Unlike other physical therapists that often find their way to sexual well-being as a modality, I do not specialize in pelvic floor physical therapy; instead, I recognize how sexuality is an inherent part of our human experience beyond the pelvic floor and can impact the whole person and, vice versa with the whole person impacting sexuality. Basic PT tools like bed mobility and improved physical fitness can assist many physical therapy clients interested in sexual wellness.
Sexual well-being can extend beyond PT and into the community. In my other professional offerings like our new moon meditation circles and yoga classes, discussions about relationship and sexuality would come up, hesitantly. I knew from these yogis and circlers, as well as from my friends and my clients, people were starved for information and reliable answers and wanted a safe person and supportive environment in which to talk about sexuality. I was often that approachable, non-assuming person for these discussions and that quality of mine traces back to my teen years. I have served my community as a sexuality counselor for decades, but only explicitly and professional for several years (informally since 2012).
If you are interested in learning more about my offerings or this service in particular, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on our new moon circles, see https://ignitewell-being.com/new-moon-circles-naperville/
- Sengupta S and Sakellariou D. Sexuality and health care: Are we training physical therapy professionals to address their clients’ sexuality needs? PTJ 2009; 89: 101-2.