Archive for Sexology
In the spring of 1975, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued its Report "Education and Treatment in Human Sexuality: The Training of Health Professionals". It offered the following definition of sexual health:
This definition has, on occassion, been criticized as naive and ideological, and there is no question that it incorporates certain values and ideas held by the educated middle classes in Western industrialized countries. In that sense, the WHO definition cannot claim to be universally valid. In the present pragmatic context, however, there is no need to get involved in this philosophical discussion.
In any case, the WHO text listed the following three basic elements of sexual health:
Following this detailed definition, the Report then logically arrived at conclusions about the meaning of sexual health care:
This, in turn, also defined the role of professionals in promoting or restoring sexual health, and from the clarification of this role again followed recommendations for professional training. In short, the WHO Report was the first international blueprint for the organization of sexology in the service of Public Health.
As a matter of fact, and as our world-wide directory "Sexology World-wide" makes clear, some of the WHO recommendations have since been followed in a number of countries, at least up to a point. For example, the WHO had called for the establishment of regional sexological resource centers:
These centers, it was hoped, would help in creating a standard terminology along with international professional standards. Indeed, they were expected to cooperate to the point of organizing an international institute.
The WHO Report realized that this would also require the development of sexology as a field of study in its own right:
These two proposals, that for resource centers and that for sexology as a special field of study, have indeed been put into practice in some countries: There are now several sexological resource centers which, although still small, isolated and uncoordinated, might form the basis for a comprehensive information- and documentation service in sexology.
Similarly, several Latin American, North American, and European universities now offer academic training programs in sexology leading to certificates, diplomas or various academic degrees. Again, uncoordinated as they are, these programs could serve as starting points for the coming discussion about minimum levels of knowledge and skill in sex research, sex education, sexual medicine and non-medical sex therapy. This discussion is unavoidable, at least in Europe, because the member countries of the European Union will mutually recognize each other's academic degrees and then allow for the unrestricted movement of all citizens within its borders. Thus, it becomes imperative that European sexologists should arrive at a consensus about the standards in their own field. First of all, it will be necessary to become aware of the history of sexology as well as of the theoretical foundations of sexology. On this basis one then has to take note of the various sexological programs already in existence. (For details see "Sexology - A Worldwide Overview".)
Once sexologists have taken note of the facts, they will be able to begin a much closer cooperation on several urgent matters:
Needless to say, since the present directory is the first of its kind, it cannot but be incomplete. We are certain that there are many centers, programs, institutions and organizations that, for various reasons, have not been included. Some have, in spite of our best efforts, simply remained unknown to us, others have not answered our inquiries, and still others have returned incomplete answers that could not be amended in time. All of them are cordially and urgently invited to make themselves known to us so that they can be included in future editions of this directory. The simplest and best way of doing this is to fill out our online questionnaire.
We hope that our readers, whoever they are, will realize that the various sexological professionals working in the world today (sex researchers, sex therapists, and sex educators), represent an enormous, hitherto largely untapped source of competence in the business of Public Health. It is a source waiting to be used.
In the meantime, these WHO recommendations have been followed in a number of countries. Sexological resource centers exist in the USA (Kinsey Institute) and in the Netherlands (NISSO). Graduate training programs in sexology leading to legitimate academic degrees have been created in the USA, Canada, Latin America, and Europe. Of the countries within the European Union, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Great Britain and Sweden offer sexological graduate training in sex education, medical and nonmedical sex therapy. Depending on the university in question, these programs lead to diplomas, Master's and/or Doctor's degrees. The accelerating process of European integration will make it necessary to arrive at some common academic and professional standards and, indeed, to develop some basic sexological curriculum as a minimum requirement for all health professionals dealing with human sexuality. However, this can be achieved only, if the history of sexology and its theoretical foundations are well understood, and if the various, already existing programs are made available to all interested parties for comparison.
Note: Our directories depend on the input of interested readers. For corrections, additions, and suggestions, please contact: HaeberleE@web.de