Overcoming our blocks
“We have endless meetings discussing our clients’ sexual deprivation
but nothing ever improves in practice“
Isabel, Rainbows Hospice
Here are some suggestions of how to overcome any blocks to talking about sex with clients:
If you feel embarrassed… Try reading about sexual health topics to become more comfortable, then discussing those topics with colleagues. If the whole issue still feels uncomfortable, find out who else in the practice is at ease with the subject and refer clients on.
If you feel there’s no time… remember that talking things through may well save consultation and treatment time in the long run. Research by Outsiders suggests that, when discussed, the average length of time spent on sexual problems is three minutes.
If you feel wary of offending the client… be aware that almost always, the client will be relieved that the topic’s been raised. If you are still worried, use one of the gentle Opening Lines we suggest.
If you are worried that a sexual conversation might be misconstrued… think about asking the client if they would mind having a chaperone in the room or the conversation being recorded. For other guidance on legal issues, see our helpful page on Sex and the Law.
If you don’t believe there’s a solution to the client’s problem… know that there almost always is. In any case, very often just talking through sexual questions will help. If more help is needed, there are now a number of medical and therapeutic solutions available to which you can refer the client.
If you feel you lack knowledge… be reassured that there’s no need to know all the answers. The Resources section on this website contains a list of useful resources for health professionals and clients. Our Hand-Out suggests resources for clients, with space for you to add your own local contacts. (It’s always a good idea to get to know local sex therapists and relevant experts, so you feel you can signpost or refer on with confidence.)
If you feel that the client should start the conversation… remember that the client may need youl to take the initiative. If the client does not want to talk about sexual issues you can give them the Hand-Out so that they have the information even though you and they have not talked. Remember that not starting the conversation may mean missing a key opportunity to improve client health.
For comprehensive resources to support your work, click here