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Ought, for example, social work students be taught about the human sexual response?


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How much ought social workers know about human sexuality? Should topics such as those teaching about physical, social and cognitive development exclusively deal with sexuality? Should sexuality and knowledge about different sexual identities be included within topics that explore social work with diversity?

Or, should sexuality be a compulsory, stand alone topic? Moving away from seeing sexuality as being locatable within particular areas of practice and more towards seeing everyday sexuality as traversing across differing client groups and practice specialisms calls for a pedagogical model that fits with such a conceptualisation. This is because current social work curricula and professional values do not reflect a similar attitude towards sexuality as another key aspect of identity, culture.

The PLISSIT Annon model provides an interface between social work student learning needs about sexuality and everyday sexuality needs manifest in practice.

Gender and Sexuality

Further, using the PLISSIT model for social work education about sexuality would enable educators to build in teaching that elicits and challenges existing values about sexuality. The majority of clients are said to be at the P level of interaction, with the IT section having the least amount of clients associated with it and categories in between are ordered from the highest level to the lowest level accordingly. Thus, doctors and nurses training in sexual health are likely to come across this model.

The PLISSIT model could easily be absorbed into mainstream social work curricula, particularly within knowledge-based and values exploration educational tasks. A brief description of the PLISSIT model follows and contributions this model makes to everyday sexuality being located within social work are highlighted.

Put simply, this level involves the practitioner, in this case the social worker, being perceived as someone to whom clients can talk to about issues related to sexuality. Thus the client is seen as having permission to talk to a social worker about sexual concerns.

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To reframe this level using a social work lexicon, we might describe it as one where needs arising from everyday sexuality are normalised. Additionally it has been argued that the proliferation of sexuality within specialised fields of practice has contributed to sexuality being viewed as relevant in some areas and not in others, unlike its co-identity marker, culture. Given these factors, normalising conversations about sexuality would only be able to occur if the social work profession had a clearly stated value base from which everyday sexuality could be placed.

This would contribute to providing a foundation whereupon clients could feel able to bring issues of sexuality to a social work practitioner educated to a level whereby sexual concerns were seen as a relevant part of everyday life.

Similarly, another outcome of social work education about sexuality is that this knowledge about sexuality would be legitimised within social work. Having made everyday sexuality pertinent to social work education and practice formalises this knowledge. Social workers could draw from their knowledge about everyday sexuality at the next levels of client interaction, where limited information and specific suggestions about sexuality needs are provided.

This involves the practitioner giving the client enough information for them to perhaps alter their perception of a sexual concern. The practitioner, drawing from their formal learning about human sexuality, would provide limited information if the concern could be resolved by the social worker reporting on the literature relating to this aspect of sexual behaviour for example, see King ; Kinsey ; Kinsey ; Masters and Johnson ; Plummer, ; Weiner-Davis ; Zilbergeld In social work, such an approach fits with brief therapy, or task centred approaches such as described by Doel and Marsh As with the LI level, there are less clients whose needs fit in to this more intense level of intervention.

It is not intended that the social worker becomes or is expected to be an expert in sexuality. The final level conceptualised in the PLISSIT model recognises that a very small number of clients will need to be referred on for intensive therapy from a specialist in sexual problems which could be, for example, a sex therapist or sexual health counsellor.

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This paper has argued that the area of sexuality needs to receive formalised attention across a range of social work activities, most notably, within practice and education. This proposed location is distinguishable from approaches that depict sexuality as relevant to sexual minorities. Such a conceptualisation reflects a broader division within the discipline where practice population-based specialisms dominate. These specialisms resonate throughout social work literature and education.

Date: 20 Mar 12222

Alternatively, this paper has proposed that human rights-based frameworks as well as the approach taken toward another aspect of identity, that of culture, provide a counter to such compartmentalisation. Sexuality has been positioned as a central dimension of the self and the notion of everyday sexuality has been argued to be a way to conceptualise the needs of all clients as opposed to particular populations or client settings. Given social and individual changes characteristic of late-modernity, social work is at a pivotal time to address what role sexuality will play in the ongoing development of a discipline so intrinsically connected to what it means to be human.

The author thanks Dr Brad West, Markella Bouidioni, and the anonymous reviewers, all of whom provided critical feedback on earlier drafts of this paper. Annon, J. Honolulu: Enabling Systems Inc. Banks, S. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Barrett, G.

Human Sexuality and Social Work

Basson, R. Bauman, Z. Cambridge: Polity Press. Bywater, J. Exeter: Learning Matters Ltd. Cervantes-Carson, A. American Sociological Association: San Francisco. Cort, E. Doel, M. Aldershot: Ahsgate. Dominelli, L. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Duyan, V. Giddens, A. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Gott, M.

Buckingham: Open University Press. Hawkes, G. Perspectives in Human Sexuality.

South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. Hicks, S. Hugman, R. Ife, J. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kalichman, S. While the marginalization and oppression of sexual minorities are important considerations, the focus of our project has been everyday social relations, particularly those that are normative and acceptable to those involved.

Social Work and Sexuality | SpringerLink

We think that an ADP approach has a number of problematic consequences, and it is these that we raised and discussed in our Stockholm paper. First, it tends to focus only on the problems experienced by LGBT people — there is little if any analysis of heteronormativity or heterosexuality, and negative problems, rather than a range of experiences, are emphasized. Second, we argue that ADP writing and teaching sometimes sounds rather sanctimonious as though there are correct and incorrect sets of values, and easy answers to what are actually complex questions of power and privilege.

This homogenizes what are very diverse groups and seems to suggest that, as long as social workers understand LGBT culture, then they will be able to meet social welfare needs. ADP individualizes these questions and also turns them into psychological issues, so that the notion of individual values seems to dominate. Perhaps we should put this slightly differently — we agree that social work ought to challenge prejudice against LGBT people and question the promotion of heteronorms. We accept that talking about ways to do this in practice is an important part of teaching, but we also think that all of us need to be reflexive about our own contribution to the dynamics of gender and sexual norms.