What Lead Me to Study Psychotherapy, and Sexology Specifically?
As a Clinical Sexologist, I get questions as to what it is that I do. Sometimes I have a difficult time answering that question. I have difficulty in delivering an answer that is to the point within all the things that I do as a psychotherapist, so I typically answer by saying that I help people explore their mental patterns (thoughts), emotions, behaviors and how those aspects affect their lives. I help people explore the psychological aspects dealing with difficulties that they may be having with regards to their sexuality and explore ways to tackle these problems through psychotherapy.
Image courtesy of anankkml at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In creating my blog and web page I’ve had the challenge of capturing the essence of my training as a psychotherapist with a specialization in Sexology and being certified to provide sex therapy. I have worked with people who suffer from severe mental illness and I have also worked with people who would not fall under that category. I have also worked in the school setting, provided in home services and have also worked in outpatient practice so I have experience in providing mental health services to various people with different needs.
What made me interested in studying Family Therapy and Clinical Sexology was really a result from my upbringing. I grew up in a conservative Hispanic family and I went to private school, which I really enjoyed, and yet when it came to sex and sexuality in the environments I grew up in it was considered sinful if it occurred in a context outside of marriage. I always would ask questions such as: why are there no dinosaurs in the bible? I can remember that as a child I would ask adults these and other similar questions only to be left with what I felt were incomplete answers. Looking back now I appreciate that the adults in my life were supportive in my critical thinking and were patient in answering my inquiries.
One thing I do not take for granted about my childhood was the promotion of education. I remember being nominated in middle school into a think tank of students called future problem solvers. I firmly believe that was a huge turning point in my life as it was the beginning of my training in asking questions geared at thinking outside the box and seeing and appreciating things from different perspectives. The goal was at working together with others to come up with solutions to problems with respect to the different outlooks. Later in my graduate studies I learned that this was called empathy. My love for science and the quest for truth began then and there.
I would have to say that I was greatly influenced in my life path due to my experiences within my family as well. I grew up in a house where both of my parents were divorced prior to marrying each other and I knew firsthand the power of family and differing dynamics within it. My family went to family therapy during a tough time and it managed to help us, so I was always curious about the healing aspects of therapy early on and I had a knack for wanting to help others in times of difficulty because I knew what it was like to need help and be fortunate enough to get it. Knowing that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from a what can be diagnosed as a mental illness, in a given year it is very unfortunate that to this day there are still stigmas associated with treatment, but I would have to say that awareness on the importance and need is getting better.
Another experience in my life which led me to an interest related to the field of Sexology was because of some my family members who I witnessed being marginalized due to their sexual orientation. I always thought it strange that family can treat each other as outsiders all because of the stigmas associated with anything other than the “normal” heterosexual, monogamous cultural narrative. I grew up in the Hispanic culture, which has a history of promoting machismo and paternalism over more egalitarian and inclusive fluid gender roles. I’m not here to say what is right and wrong, but I can relay my observations of the suffering that my family members experience because of the societies they find themselves in. Unfortunately, the prejudices people suffer are due to ignorance and this is what drives me to help people who feel bad about themselves because of who they are.
Also, I know what it is like to suffer from anxiety, panic, and fear myself, and have gotten the help I’ve needed in doing my own work, which is never ending. I know that therapy and mental health are the most important aspects of life that unfortunately we as a country and society just do not know how to value. I wonder why we lack compassion as a species at times, but I’ve experienced that compassion begins in learning how to truly accept oneself. Self-compassion is necessary for other-compassion.
I feel that stigma and prejudice is fear based and fear can only be eradicated with education and in having open and honest conversations, albeit difficult.
In my years of study and the things I’ve learned in my love of science I realize that as humans we are much more similar than dissimilar. We all struggle and suffer in comparable ways and we also have the capacities for joy and happiness. It doesn’t matter if you live in Africa, China, Australia, Central, South or North America we all have the capacity to: think, communicate, feel and behave.
I have to restate my primary goal, which is to help people understand how their own thinking leads to how they feel, which in turn leads to what they do. That’s pretty much it. I think that we can all learn how our own thoughts influence us. We can also learn how to relate differently to our thinking and create the needed distance between our thinking and our actions so we can live in choosing how to respond to any given situation rather than reacting to life and circumstances.
In this blog, I’ll be covering different topics related to psychotherapy in general and Clinical Sexology specifically. If you have any questions or comments regarding anything I write about or want me to cover anything specifically, inbox me. I’m always open to learn and I appreciate that my perspective and frames of reality are relative to me in my journey so I know that I am limited in that sense. With over 7 billion perspectives on this planet, it’s a gift to know that I will be able to continue to grow in my experiences with the people that I cross paths with and be able to share what I gather.
One of my favorite quotes goes like this:
“I think all kinds of meanings in life transcend yourself. They're linked to other generations of people around us, to our children and our family. We're passing on something of ourselves to others. I feel that's what makes our life full of meaning.” ~ Irvin D. Yalom