Session: Negotiating and Communicating Sexuality: Multiple Methodologies; Diverse Inquiries (Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference - Grand Challenges for Social Work: Setting a Research Agenda for the Future)

240 Negotiating and Communicating Sexuality: Multiple Methodologies; Diverse Inquiries

Sunday, January 17, 2016: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Meeting Room Level-Meeting Room 16 (Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel)
Cluster: Health and Disability
Symposium Organizer:
Virginia L. Ramseyer Winter, PhD, University of Missouri-Columbia
Richard Brandon-Friedman, MSW, LCSW, LCAC, Indiana University
Human sexuality is an integral part of the lives of individuals and is a substantive area of inquiry that lends itself to investigation by multiple and mixed research methods.  When clients’ sexual health and sexuality are incorporated into social work practice, practitioners have an increased opportunity to access clients’ personal strengths and resources, while addressing the clients’ overall needs. With that, social workers are responsible for engaging clients in evidence-based and evidence-supported conversations about their sexual health and sexuality, including the substantive areas of body image, preventative sexual health behaviors, sexual orientation, and sexual communication and negotiation. To do so, the significant gap in this area of social work research must be addressed.

Working within a strengths perspective, the papers in this symposium identify ways in which sexual health, sexuality, and sexual consequences are enacted in the lives of individuals and the importance of social workers inquiring about and addressing them.

Paper 1: Grounded in objectification and relational-cultural theories, the first study used structural equation modeling to explore interactions between objectification, body image, relationship quality, and preventative sexual health behaviors in a diverse sample of women.  In so doing, it provides a nuanced understanding of the ways in which improving women’s body appreciation can contribute to larger scale positive effects for their relational and sexual health.

Paper 2: The second study utilized a phenomenological methodology to focus on sexual partner and sexual identity negotiations among individuals with disabilities. By exploring how people with disabilities, sexual/gender minorities and individuals with non-traditional sexual interests construct a dialogue around their sexual actions and desires, this study advances knowledge about the ways in which individual identity profiles can be incorporated into practice.

Paper 3: Turning more directly to identifying how social workers engage in discursive development about sexuality, the third study sought to examine the relationship between attitudes relating to sexuality and abortion. By making explicit how social workers’ myriad sexual beliefs affect how these topics are navigated in the classroom, and integrated into coursework and professional practice, this study suggests the imperative to further expand this dialogue into other realms such as research.

Taken together, these studies form a new research platform for identifying components of sexual health across diverse populations.  With unintended pregnancies and STIs disproportionately impacting the lives of the most vulnerable Americans, the importance of addressing these concerns within research and practice is clear. In order to effectively develop and implement evidence-based interventions relating to individual sexuality and sexual health, social workers require a greater understanding of the research surrounding how sexuality impacts diverse individuals. Additionally, social workers must understand the process through which this knowledge is constructed and understood. Altogether, this symposium will create a space in which this long overlooked area of focused practice can be examined.

* noted as presenting author
Sexual Objectification, Body Image, and Sexual Health: An SEM Test of a Relational Model
Virginia L. Ramseyer Winter, PhD, University of Missouri-Columbia
Attitudes Regarding Sexuality and Abortion Among Social Work Students
Kimberly McKay, PhD, Widener University; Shanna K. Kattari, MEd, University of Denver; Stephanie Begun, MSW, University of Denver; Virginia L. Ramseyer Winter, PhD, University of Missouri-Columbia
See more of: Symposia