NSEC Workshop Title: A Trauma Informed Approach for Adolescent Sexual Health
NSEC Workshop Description: Life experiences greatly influence choices about sexual health and well-being. Trauma greatly impacts decisions young people make about sexual expression and adolescent sexual decision-making is not always determined by sex education. This workshop provides a research-based trauma informed approach for engaging youth in successful exploration of optimal sexual decision-making.
- What about your workshop excites you most?
JS: I get really excited to let sex educators know about the neuroscience of trauma and how it impacts sexual decision-making. It’s also fun to do so in a way that does not scare people off the subject. I think of it as neuroscience made easy.
- Whom do you hope will attend your workshop?
JS: Educators, administrators, and policy makers. I hope these people come because, as I often say, “education does not equal change.” We can provide medically accurate sex education to young people who have experienced trauma and it may not make a difference for a variety or reasons relating to the neuroscience of trauma and it’s impact on sexual decision-making. This presentation explains these challenges.
- Can you tell us a little about who you work with, and what issues you are most interested in?
JS: I work with a lot of people all over the country. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist and the founder and executive director of Resources for Resolving Violence, Inc., a private licensed trauma-informed mental health agency in Maine. In addition to intensive home-based therapy, I provide extensive consultation, program development and evaluation, clinical supervision, staff development, and training. All of my work focuses on empirically-based services to address positive youth development, sexual health, trauma, violence prevention, problem sexual behavior, and teen pregnancy prevention. My work has just been awarded a five-year federal grant from the Office of Adolescent Health to study the effectiveness of a Trauma-Informed Approach for Adolescent Sexual Health.
- When you meet someone new how do you describe what you do?
JS: When I meet someone new I tell them I’m a prevention specialist. As a prevention specialist I focus on all elements of sexual health and well-being. While I’m interested in preventing unplanned and unwanted pregnancy and STI/HIV, I also focus a great deal on any sexual harm to self and/or others.