University of Rhode Island
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
HDF 505 Human Sexuality and Counseling (SPG, 2015)
Tuesdays, 12:30-3:15 PM
Multicultural Center 005

Instructor: Dr. Tiffani S. Kisler
Office: Transition Center 209
Phone: Office Phone: 874-2403
Office Hours:Thursday 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM and by appointment.

Catalog Description:
Historical, cultural, and developmental issues in human sexuality and counseling. Implications for self and client understanding through personal exploration and desensitization to sensitive topics.

This course offers students the opportunity to explore the social and cultural contexts of diverse expressions of human sexuality, especially as they inform therapy practice. Using a systemic framework, students will learn a variety of approaches for assisting individuals, couples and families with sexual and intimacy dilemmas. The course examines specific topics likely to be encountered in couple and family therapy practice including problems related to the primary categories of sexual functioning. Students are encouraged to challenge their own beliefs about sexuality and to expand their levels of comfort in engaging with the wide range of sexual concerns clients present. Students are also invited to develop a critical perspective on portrayals of human sexuality in academic and popular press, particularly as they impact clinical practice and their own lives. This course prepares students to begin to work knowledgeably and effectively as brief, systemic therapists in the diverse arena of human sexuality.
Overall Course Objectives:

A. Gaining factual knowledge (terminology, classifications, methods, trends)
B. Developing specific skills, competencies, and points of view needed by professionals in the field most closely related to this course.

Specific Learning Objectives:

1) Students will be able to conceptualize issues of human sexuality within historical, cultural, and systemic contexts.

2) Students will increase their ability to talk about and work with sexual topics foreign to their own beliefs, culture, or family background.

3) Students will become familiar with the categories of major sexual dysfunctions (problems with sexual functioning) and how they impact family relationships

4) Students will explore the relationship between intimacy and communication and recognize the impact of these concepts on the expression of sexuality.

5) Students will become familiar with factors that contribute to a healthy sexual relationship.

Course Format
This course utilizes lecture, exercises, group projects and, where available, DVD illustration. Student reflection, participation, and discussion are central to how successful these methods will be to the overall learning environment of the class. It is critical that students read all assignments prior to class and be prepared for thoughtful and relevant discussion.

Confidentiality and Sensitivity Standards
Sexuality is a core aspect of who we are as individuals. Sharing qualities of our own or others’ sexuality can potentially lead to increased vulnerability of ourselves and others. I expect students to respect the privacy of the seminar members by keeping personal revelations made in class confidential, and by disguising the identity of others when sharing these, if individuals have not given permission for you to do so. In the same vein, I expect seminar members to be sensitive to the comments made by others in the class and understand the risks they may be taking by revealing personal information. Failure to adhere to these standards will result in expulsion from the seminar.

Required Texts

Tiefer, L. (2004). Sex is not a natural act & other essays. San Francisco: Westview.
Binik, Y.M., & Hall, K.S. (Eds.) (2014). Principles and practice of sex therapy. 5th Edition, New York: Guilford Press.

*Additional Readings Available on Sakai
Recommended Books

Baucom, D., Snyder, D, & Coop Gordon, K. (2009). Helping couples get past the affair. New York: Guilford Press.
Glass, S. P., & Coppock Staeheli, J. (2003). Not “just friends”: Rebuilding trust and recovering your sanity after infidelity. New York: Free Press.
Green, S. K., & Flemons, D. (Eds.) (2004). Quickies: The handbook of brief sex therapies. New York: W. W. Norton.
Levine, S. B., Risen, C.B., & Althof, S. E. (2010). (Eds.) Handbook of clinical sexuality for mental health professionals, (2nd ed). New York: Routledge.
McCarthy, B., & McCarthy, E. (2003). Rekindling desire: A step by step program to help lowsex and no-sex marriages. New York: Brunner-Routledge.
O’Hanlon, W. H., & Bertolino, R. (2002). Even from a broken web: Brief, respectful solution oriented therapy for sexual abuse and trauma. New York: Norton.
Rosen, R. C. & Leiblum, S. R. (1995). Case studies in sex therapy. New York: Guilford Press.
Savin-Williams, R. C. (2001). Mom, Dad, I’m Gay: How Families Negotiate Coming Out. Washington, DC:American Psychological Association.

Schnarch, D.M. (1991). Constructing the sexual crucible: An integration of sexual and marital therapy. New York: Norton.

Schnarch, D. (2011). Intimacy and desire: Awaken the passion in your relationship. New York: Beaufort Books.

Schnarch, D. (1997). Passionate marriage: Sex, love and intimacy in emotionally committed relationships. New York: Henry Holt & Company.

Schover, L. R., & Jensen, S.B. (1988). Sexuality and chronic illness: A comprehensive approach. New York: Guildford Press.

Wincze, J.P. & Carey, M. P. (2001). Sexual dysfunction: A guide for assessment and treatment. 2nd Edition, New York: Guilford Press

About Assignments and Written Work

This class is part of the training students receive to become professionals in their respective areas of specialization. Part of being a professional is being able to speak to and lead groups and to express ideas clearly and verbally in front of professionals and in writing. Therefore, speaking will be judged not only on content but also on clarity of expression, adequacy of the volume, and pacing of the voice, and engaging presence. Written work will be judged not only on its content, but also on how well it is written (including good composition and grammar) and presented. Assignments (other than the small group demonstration project) are to be the students' own individual thinking and work; plagiarizing will result in a failing grade for the semester.Further, the final product should appear professional, neat, and with correct spelling. To assist in impartiality regarding grading, please use only your student ID numbers to identify your assignments when they are turned in.

Course Requirements:

1. Complete all assigned readings priortoclass,actively contribute to class meetings by initiating questions and comments, and participate enthusiastically in class role-plays, demonstrations, and discussions.

2. Attend all classes and be punctual. If you must be absent from class for some legitimate reason, you are required to notify the instructor in advance and make alternate arrangements (in consultation with the instructor) for any activities for which you are responsible.You are allowed one unexcused absence. More than one unexcused absence will result in a full letter grade reduction. A student may not receive an Incomplete except under extraordinary circumstances.

3. Students will have the option to complete: one take-home examination, create a sexual health game or write an empirically supported sexual health book.

4. Students will work in groups of 3-4 members and craft a treatment video and presentation for a special topic related to human sexuality and counseling (i.e. sexual abuse, infidelity, sexual desire disorders…). To prepare, students should complete a thorough literature review on their special topic of choice. The literature review and implications for clinical treatment and intervention should be put together in a psychoeducational PowerPoint to be presented before the class. Within the presentation each group member should perform role plays to depict different aspects of therapeutic intervention as it relates to the chosen topic. The role plays are intended to function as stimulus material for practice in application. The entire presentation should be approximately 45 minutes. Further details and grading criteria will be handed out in class.

5. Students will be responsible for developing a course wiki page for their treatment video special topic.

6. Students will complete several in-class and outside-of-class application assignments. Students should prepare for in-class assignments by carefully reading the assigned material.

7. Students will choose one of the two options: (1) Participate in 3 field experience activities with written reflection or (2) 15-20 page clinical research paper on special topic of choice (must be different than your group project topic).

8. Students are to complete weekly blog entries as it relates to the group wiki pages, weekly readings, class discussion and topic of study for that week.


The final course grade will be calculated on the basis of the following percentage breakdown:

Treatment Video/Presentation/Wiki 30%
Final Take Home Exam, Game Development, or Book 25%
Field Experience Activities or Research Paper 10%
Weekly Blog 10%
Class Participation/In & Out of Class Assignments 25%
(i.e. discussion questions, in-class contributions,
role plays, reflection papers, Elder interview…)

Grades will be determined as follows:
A (94-100%)
A- (90-93%)
B+ (87-89%)
B (84-86%)
B - (80-83%)
C+ (77-79%)
C (74-76%)
C- (70-73%)
D (60-69%)
F (59% or less)

Tentative Class Schedule
Topics/Assigned Readings (to be read before class listed)

Jan 27: Introduction: Kinsey Film

Review course expectation and assignments. Kinsey film.

Feb 3: Sexuality Contexts

Perspectives of human sexuality in clinical practice; a historical view of notions of normality, abnormality, health and treatment in the realm of sexual functioning and intimacy; social constructions of human sexuality; being a therapist.

DUE: Kinsey Reflection

Tiefer, L. (2004). Part 1 & 2. In: Sex is not a natural act & other essays. San Francisco: Westview.
Feb 10: Approaches to Assessment *CLASS ONLINE, No meeting this week
Assessment of sexual difficulties/problems; Quantum model of function/dysfunction; biopsychosocial assessment interview
DUE: Letter to your sexual self

*Schnarch, D.M. (1991). Chapters 2, 4 & 5. In: Constructing the sexual crucible: An integration of sexual and marital therapy. New York: Norton

*Wincze, J. P. & Carey, M. P. (2001). Ch. 6. Sexual dysfunction: A guide for assessment and treatment, second edition. New York: Guildford.

Feb 17: Critical Perspectives
Feminism and sexuality, the medicalization of sexuality; the creation of FSD.
DUE: Biopsychosocial interview, and discussion questions

Tiefer, L. (2004). Part 3-5. In: Sex is not a natural act & other essays. San Francisco: Westview.

Feb 24: Sexual functioning
Desire and arousal disorders

Binik, Y.M., & Hall, K.S. (Eds.) (2014). Principles and practice of sex therapy. 5th Edition, New York: Guilford Press. Chapter 1-3

Mar 3: Sexual functioning
Desire and arousal disorders continued: orgasm disorders

Binik, Y.M., & Hall, K.S. (Eds.) (2014). Principles and practice of sex therapy. 5th Edition, New York: Guilford Press. Chapter 4-6

March 10: Sexual functioning

Orgasm disorders continued; sexual pain disorders

Binik, Y.M., & Hall, K.S. (Eds.) (2014). Principles and practice of sex therapy. 5th Edition, New York: Guilford Press. Chapters 7 & 8
Mar 24: Medical problems and sexual functioning
DUE: Field Experiences of Research Paper
Infertility; chronic illness; sex and disability; sexually transmitted infections
Binik, Y.M., & Hall, K.S. (Eds.) (2014). Principles and practice of sex therapy. 5th Edition, New York: Guilford Press. Chapters 19-22
Mar 31: Other sexual disorders
Paraphillias and non-paraphillic hypersexuality
Binik, Y.M., & Hall, K.S. (Eds.) (2014). Principles and practice of sex therapy. 5th Edition, New York: Guilford Press. Chapter 9 & 13
Apr 7: Sexual Diversity
Minority, gay/lesbian, and transgender issues; intersections of gender and sexual orientation; therapy with LGBTQ clients
Binik, Y.M., & Hall, K.S. (Eds.) (2014). Principles and practice of sex therapy. 5th Edition, New York: Guilford Press. Chapter 11 & 14
* Additional Readings Available on Sakai
Apr 14: Lifespan challenges
Sexual problems in adolescents and young adults; sexuality and aging
DUE: Elder interview
Binik, Y.M., & Hall, K.S. (Eds.) (2014). Principles and practice of sex therapy. 5th Edition, New York: Guilford Press. Chapters 23 & 24
Apr 21: Body image and sexuality; survivors of sex abuse
Effects of sexual victimization on sexual functioning and therapeutic interventions
Binik, Y.M., & Hall, K.S. (Eds.) (2014). Principles and practice of sex therapy. 5th Edition, New York: Guilford Press. Chapter 16 & 17
*Additional Readings on Sakai
Apr 28: Culturally sensitive sex therapy and conclusion; LAST DAY OF CLASS
DUE: Final Exam, Game and Book Presentations
Binik, Y.M., & Hall, K.S. (Eds.) (2014). Principles and practice of sex therapy. 5th Edition, New York: Guilford Press. Chapter 15 & pages 541-558


Professional Organizations for the Study of Sexuality:

American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists

Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality

American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy

The Society for Sex Therapy and Research

The Medicalization of Sex

Discovery Health: Sexual Health Center

Mayo Clinic on Female Sexual Dysfunction


The "New View" of Womens' Sexual Problems

National Sexuality Resource Center

General Sex Related Sites:

Sex Health Guru

Go Ask Alice

Scarleteen "Sex-ed for the real world" -

The Female Genital Cutting Education and Networking Project

National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers

Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility

Please note student responsibilities in regards to academic integrity, as quoted from the URI University Manual:

8.27.10 Cheating and Plagiarism. Students are expected to be honest in all academic work. Cheating is the claiming of credit for work not done independently without giving credit for aid received, or any unauthorized communication during examinations.

8.27.11 A student's name on any written exercise (theme, report, notebook, paper, examination) shall be regarded as assurance that the work is the result of the student's own thought and study, stated in the student's own words and produced without assistance, except as quotation marks, references and footnotes acknowledge the use of other sources of assistance. Occasionally, students may be authorized to work jointly, but such effort must be indicated as joint on the work submitted. Submitting the same paper for more than one course is considered a breach of academic integrity unless prior approval is given by the instructors.

8.27.12 In preparing papers or themes, a student often needs or is required to employ sources of information or opinion. All such sources used in preparing to write or in writing a paper shall be listed in the bibliography. It is not necessary to give footnote reference for specific facts which are common knowledge and have obtained general agreement. However, facts, observations and opinions which are new discoveries or are debatable shall be identified with correct footnote references even when restated in the student's own words. Material taken word for word from the written or oral statement of another person must be enclosed in quotation marks or otherwise clearly distinguished from the body of the text and the source cited. Paraphrasing or summarizing the contents of another's work usually is acceptable if the source is clearly identified but does not constitute independent work and may be rejected by the instructor.

8.27.13 Notebooks, homework and reports of investigations or experiments shall meet the same standards as all other written work. If any work is done jointly or if any part of an experiment or analysis is made by someone other than the writer, acknowledgment of this fact shall be made in the report submitted. Obviously, it is dishonest to falsify or invent data.

8.27.14 Written work presented as personal creation is assumed to involve no assistance other than incidental criticism from others. A student shall not knowingly employ story material, wording or dialogue taken from published work, motion pictures, radio, television, lectures or similar sources.

In addition to the above, students are expected to familiarize themselves with and abide by guidelines regarding the ethics of scientific publication as described in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6thEdition.

Students with disabilities may need special accommodations in order to meet the requirements of this course.You are encouraged to make arrangements with the Disability Services for Students, Office of Student Life, 330 Memorial Union, 874-2098 and the Academic Enhancement Center to take advantage of the services they provide. Please let me know as early as possible what reasonable modifications may be needed to support your success in thiscourse.