Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Herbert Exum

Co-Major Professor

Debra S. Osborn


counseling supervisory support, sexuality counseling, sexuality countertransference, sexuality discomfort, sexuality in counseling supervision



Sexual issues are common among the general population; therefore it is likely that clients suffer with them whether or not they are presenting issues. Because unresolved sexual issues may contribute to harm, counselors have an ethical obligation to ensure these issues are addressed during therapy. Yet, many fail to do so for a variety of reasons. Because clinical supervisors are in a unique position to nurture and mentor novice counselors, their influence is salient to this issue.

Although some research has been done to address this issue, results are inconclusive and somewhat contradictory. This study attempts to fill in the missing data and to address some of the discrepancies by exploring how counselors perceive addressing sexual issues, identifying some of the influencing factors that allow this issue to persist, and exploring how clinical supervisors can be supportive.

Sixty-three mental health professionals from the state of Florida participated in a survey where they were asked about both their experiences as clinicians and as interns under supervision. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected, and descriptive statistics, as well as chi-square test of independence were calculated. The degree to which counselors reported being very comfortable with addressing clients' sexual issues did not align with the reported frequency of initiation of the topic nor the reported levels of discomfort on specific sexual topics. Comfort levels related to discussing sexual issues were found to be positively associated with frequency of

initiation, and in couples cases, female counselors raised the topic significantly more often than male counselors. Other findings are analyzed and discussed, conclusions are drawn, and recommendations for future study and implications for the field are included.