An exploratory study of the features and outcomes of a post-graduate human sexuality course for marital and family therapist trainees

Thomas Henry Hallam, University of Pennsylvania


This study explored the impact of a post-graduate course in human sexuality on marital and family therapists who participated in the course as trainees. The study was aimed at discovering what features and outcomes characterized the course and what impact the course had upon the participants themselves with regard to values, self-esteem, understanding of self, reduction in fear of sex-related activities, interaction skills, and sex therapy knowledge and skills. Perceptions of instructors and former students were explored. The subjects in this study consisted of 26 graduates of a program in marital and family therapy offered at a medical school affiliated training center who participated in the course 2 to 4 years prior to the study and their three instructors. A triangulation approach was used in the study combining quantitative and qualitative methods. Participants were asked to complete three instruments: (1) A Features and Outcomes Inventory; (2) A Sex Therapy Knowledge and Skill Inventory; and (3) A Student Information Form. Instrument responses were quantitatively analyzed and compared to responses emerging from semi-structured, open-ended interviews, which served to verify, clarity, deepen, and expand the understanding of the quantitative data. This study found that participants perceived the human sexuality course to promote personal growth as well as knowledge and skill development. It suggests that the level of sex therapy knowledge and skill is related to the number of hours doing sex therapy as a trainee and the number of hours doing clinical work in sex therapy after graduation. It suggests that the gender of instructors may have an impact on learning and that males may be more anxious than females in learning about sexuality. It also suggests that ethnic and minority issues, spirituality, homosexuality, self-disclosure, and integration of a sexuality course into the overall curriculum need to be more fully addressed in the sexuality education of marital and family therapist trainees. The study emphasizes the need for further evaluation in human sexuality, which uses qualitative methods and draws on the experiences of participants to discover actual features and outcomes.

Subject Area

Higher education|Health education

Recommended Citation

Hallam, Thomas Henry, "An exploratory study of the features and outcomes of a post-graduate human sexuality course for marital and family therapist trainees" (2000). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9976431.