Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Nadya Fouad

Committee Members

Marie Sandy, Stephen Wester, Marty Sapp


competency, counseling psychology, sex-positive, sexual health


This study explored the lived experiences of counseling psychologists in assisting their clients with sexual health needs. Special attention was given to their understanding and feelings of competency in using a sex-positive framework to assist clients with their sexual health. The study used a phenomenological data analysis method to qualitatively study 5 semi-structured interviews of licensed counseling psychologists. Interview questions addressed counseling psychologists’ experiences in assisting clients with their sexual health and focused on the following areas: (a) counseling psychology values, (b) professional experiences with sexual health, (c) graduate training experiences in sexual health, and (d) value influences related to sexual health. Ten noteworthy superordinate themes emerged from analysis of the data. All of the participants acknowledged an absence of sexual health training in their graduate training. The need for sexual health training was recognized to be influential in their feelings of competency and comfort in addressing sexual health needs of clients. Further, the connectedness of a sex-positive framework to counseling psychology values highlighted the relevancy of sexual health to the field of counseling psychology. This study serves to suggest the need and benefit for sexual health competency to be integrated into graduate training programs. Thus, providing counseling psychologists with a secure educational framework to gain sexual health competency to provide appropriate support for client sexual health needs.