Starting in the Fall of 2023, our Counseling Psychology doctoral program will offer a new Sex Therapy Cognate. Below is a conversation with the Director of the new cognate, Dr. Alexander Tatum.

What first interested you in sexual and gender minority (SGM) psychology?

Growing up I observed nothing but animosity toward queer people. Reasons why same-sex marriage is immoral, reasons why queer people need conversion therapy, reasons that justify violence toward queer people (they “deserved” it, usually), etc. Today, mass shootings of queer people are usually met by the general masses with ambivalence (“thoughts and prayers”). We are also witnessing an increase in abusive legislation that aims to harm trans children by blocking access to life-saving medication, which will in turn increase the already-staggering suicide rate of these kids. All of this behavior is deeply dehumanizing and traumatizing for a queer person to observe, let alone personally experience. So my interest in SGM psychology stemmed from a desire to improve the health and well-being for queer people living in a world that currently does not care about their lives.

Can you describe what the new cognate is? What will it look like for students who pursue this cognate?

The new 24-hour sex therapy cognate serves as a specialization for students who are in our counseling psychology doctoral program. This cognate will be ideal for students who want to provide sex-positive and affirming counseling to clients who present to therapy with concerns related to sexuality, gender, and/or relationships. There are four required classes that expose students to core knowledge areas of human sexuality and empirically-supported interventions. Students can also cater the cognate to subspecialty areas of interest by selecting four elective courses on topics that are adjacent to sex therapy.

Do you have any recommendations and/or resources for students and alumni who are interested in SGM psychology?

Yes! The following organizations provide recommendations and resources for learning more about SGM psychology:

  • Division 44 of the American Psychological Association: Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity
  • American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT)
  • Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR)
  • The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS or “Quad S”)

Additionally, the following journals publish research on SGM psychology:

  • Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity (APA’s Division 44 journal)
  • Archives of Sexual Behavior
  • International Journal of Transgender Health
  • Journal of Bisexuality
  • Journal of Homosexuality
  • Journal of Lesbian Studies
  • Journal of LGBT Youth
  • LGBT Health
  • Psychology & Sexuality

What are you most looking forward to regarding this new cognate?

I am most excited by the enthusiasm, passion, and curiosity that students bring to class. Learning is a group effort and it is truly rewarding to have discussions that examine sources of social stigma around sexuality and reasons why our society continues to perpetrate stigma. It is also incredibly humbling to have intimate conversations about our own biases, sources of our biases, and strategies to challenge our biases with the intention of promoting the common good.