How Should Healthcare Providers Raise the Issues of Sexuality and Intimacy Post-TBI?


How should healthcare providers raise the issues of sexuality and intimacy post-TBI?


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[Glenn Parkinson] A challenge for me personally is that I've been doing this work on and off for a long time, and I have a fairly high comfort level talking about some things that a lot of people don't. And so it's really important when you broach these topics to be very sensitive to the comfort level and the culture of the person you're speaking to. So again I mention that—drop the hint and let it go. It's really important to let it go. It's a very important part of it because what you do is you open the door again, and you wait for them to walk through it. A lot of times people have very conservative upbringings, and their parents don't talk to them about sex. They learn about—I learned about sex from my older brother. And so you don't really know where people are coming from in terms of what feels comfortable to them, what feels intrusive to them, and what they're open to. Sometimes even just saying the word "sex" out loud to a stranger feels very uncomfortable, so you have to be ready for the conversation. You have to be able also to gauge what information would be helpful to a person and what might be overwhelming to them—or feel like it's— you don't want to close the door once it's been opened. You don't want to turn someone off. You don't want them to feel uncomfortable with you. So you have to gauge it pretty sensitively, but that's part of the work—working with the people and getting a sense of where they're coming from and what they're open to.
Posted on BrainLine May 13, 2013.

About the author: Glenn Parkinson

Glenn Parkinson, MSW, MA works as the psychotherapist on the Traumatic Brain Injury service at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. She works with active duty and retired military personnel and their families specializing in combat-related injuries.

Glenn Parkinson

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Erica Queen, BrainLine.