The process of becoming OK or comfortable with one’s own sexuality has been seen and made to be an impossible thing or achievement for women with disabilities. This has been made so by the society in which they are born, raised and are living. The worst of them all is that the family, being the basic unit has played a big role in politicizing the sexuality of women with disabilities. Sexuality of any human being is characterized by; the capacity of sexual feelings, a person’s sexual orientation or the sexual activity. And there is no compromise that women with disabilities possess all these characteristics.
When it comes to counseling for clients with disabilities, the therapist requires the additional step of exploring one’s feelings and attitudes about disability, perhaps by seeking out disabled friends of whom to ask questions as well as share feelings. These steps are seen to be very crucial trainings of any therapist who aims at working with clients with disabilities. In a counseling setting, it is of equal importance that we provide validation that each individual is a unique sexual being. Although the word “validation” itself may have been over used, we continue to be impressed with the potential for healing when a person’s difficult life experiences are shared with and understood by another. But in real life counseling, healing, coping/managing is achieved when both the client and the therapist come to an understanding of the difficult situation.
Counseling psychologist attempt to convey the spirit of the word “validation by emphasizing the importance of listening to our clients and asking them to describe their own experiences and feelings.
The aspect of paying attention and keenly listening to someone describe her sexual concerns conveys a message of acknowledgment that the person is indeed a sexual being.
Reassurance that it is natural and understandable at times to feel anxious about one’s sexuality is also an aspect of validating. This basic skill of providing validation and reassurance is a possession of counseling psychologists. This has given them the professional advantage of feeling secure talking with a disabled clients about sexuality as well as looking into the medical history of the client from reading and interacting with disabled persons on descriptions of the disability and its ramifications for sexual functioning.
Without negating the value of acquiring information about various disabilities or medical conditions as they relate to sexuality, counseling psychologists are well trained on handling clients from special and minority groups. This therefore opens the door to counseling for women with disabilities. It does not have to be a fellow woman with disability, proper training given to counseling psychologists endows them with the ability to properly handle issues of sexuality as affecting women with disabilities.
Counseling psychologist, after their rigorous training and a long filed practice, can cautiously, critically, and without generalizing the information to any particular individual address issues of sexuality facing women with disabilities.
One main approach used by counseling psychologist is the fact that we are each uniquely sexual, and a physical disability may or may not affect a person’s sexuality or may affect it quite differently than the literature would lead one to believe. This is as opposed to the tendency to make assumptions and generalizations by some professionals about sexual functioning based on literature information. This, in a big way is seen to be a hindrance and may also discourage a particular disabled woman from exploring and experimenting to discover what she is able to enjoy sexually. In counseling psychology, any sexuality related diagnosis does not dictate sexual functioning of an individual.
We are unique all unique and we experience the same problem in our own unique ways. We ought not to sit back and suffer in silence, we have professionals who have our best interests at heart and are well trained to listen to us and journey with us to success.