The construction of sex and sexuality within clinical psychology training and practice

Rennie, C. (2018) The construction of sex and sexuality within clinical psychology training and practice. D.Clin.Psychol. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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Background: Literature to date claims that sex and sexuality are a core aspect of individuals’ psychological wellbeing. Literature also claims that Clinical Psychologists are not engaging in talking about these issues in their practice or training. Sex and sexuality are complex topics and argued to be impacted by social, cultural, historical and political discourses. Looking at the discourses within the profession may provide helpful insight in understanding current practice.

Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate how sex and sexuality was constructed by clinical psychologist and trainees when discussing training and practice.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were completed with 6 practicing CP’s and 4 trainees CP’s, 2 focus groups were also completed with trainees from 2 different universities. A Foucauldian Discourse Analysis (FDA) approach was used to explore professional and trainee’s discourses around the topics of sex and sexuality.

Results: Six discourses were identified during the analysis consisting of ‘Let’s not talk about sex’; ‘Dangerous for Clients, Professionals and Society’; ‘Social and Political Movements’ and ‘Culture and Contextual Discourses.’ Two counter discourses also emerged: ‘Let’s talk about sex’ and ‘Sex and Sexuality are Positive and Healthy’.

Conclusions: Various wider discourses can be seen to be impacting on clinical psychologist’s decision making when talking about sex and sexuality within practice and training. Constructions of what is expected from clinical psychologists in the therapy room appear to be reinforced by dominant social, political and cultural discourses. Counter discourses were present; bringing these alternatives more into the forefront could be beneficial for clients.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sex; sexuality; discourse analysis; clinical psychologist; trainee
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0636 Applied psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology > Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Miss Rosemary Cox
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2018 16:48
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2019 16:15

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00