Harvard University Sexual Issues in MFT Discussion and Responses


Based on the week’s readings (see attached), comment on an aspect of the topic that was interesting or important to you. Be as reflective as possible in your remark, from both a scholarly and personal perspective. Include your own personal reactions in addition to an academically based (bio-, psycho- and/or social) perspective.

In addition to your comment on the reading, provide a reference and brief discussion of either:

  1. A current news story related to sexuality (reproduction, gender, sexual orientation, sexual politics etc.)—because this topic is based on the week’s news, it does not have to be directly relevant to the class topic for the week …or…
  2. A resource (website, article, book, film, video, etc.) that IS related to something in this week’s topic/readings, with brief discussion that is clinically useful/relevant.

Please respond to two peers:

1. The chapter that stuck out to me most in this week’s Buehler reading was Chapter15 Sexuality and Medical Problems. Buehler writes, “even a minor flu can change a relationship dynamic.” It’s true that even something as common as a cold or temporary stomach ache can be hard to manage in a relationship. I know I can annoy my partner when I’m not feeling good for a day, so I could only imagine how experiencing chronic illness or serious medical problems could deeply impact relationship dynamics. I was surprised to learn that 88% of women with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) report experiencing sexual problems, and it made me think about how this is such a taboo topic, yet so many women are dealing with similar problems. What makes it even more of a complex issues is a lot of the medication given to women to alleviate symptoms of CFS contributes to low sexual desire. This puts people who want relief in a difficult position, and I’m sure can be extremely frustrating, As medicine progresses, so do options for improving the sex lives of people dealing with medical problems. The book does good work by diving deep into this critical issue.

2. In this week’s reading of Buehler, I was both saddened and disgusted by the chapter on sexuality and illness and the chapter on STIs. It is amazing to me how health care providers do not address sexual issues when illness is present. They must know the effects, why are they so hesitant to talk about it? If even the doctors do not talk about these issues, it creates further stigma about sex and patients might never ask and continue to suffer in silence. It is important to talk about these things but this is the reality for people suffering from an illness.

The chapter on sexually transmitted infections was thought provoking. I was not disgusted in the sense of being turned off by the thought of a sexual partner having an infection/disease, but rather how terrible it must be to live with untreatable sexual diseases. Because of the tremendous effects such diseases can have on body image and self esteem, psychotherapy should be a place to address those concerns and form a life with better coping skills. As clinicians, we have the responsibility of creating an environment where clients can be accepted as they are and feel comfortable talking about their sexual concerns.

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