Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - NLU Access

Degree Name

Psy.D. Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Academic Discipline

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Leah Horvath, PhD

Second Advisor

Rachael Sytsma, PsyD


Though sex and sexuality have long been central aspects of the human experience, there is little exclusive focus within many graduate programs in clinical psychology on these topics, as these courses are infrequently offered and many programs do not offer them at all. Some studies have shown clinicians on internship (i.e., no longer taking courses) who have had training and experience with discussing sex and sexuality with clients under supportive supervision feel more comfortable and confident focusing on sex and sexuality. Clinicians are rarely asked to examine their own sexual identity and identity development and consider how they may influence the therapeutic relationship. This study was designed to examine how many graduate psychology students had taken specific courses on sex and sexual identity development, level of awareness of their own sexuality, and level of comfort discussing sex and sexuality with clients. The Brief Sexual Attitudes Scale (BSAS) and Sexual Awareness Questionnaire (SAQ) were used to assess participants’ attitudes toward the behaviors of others and their own awareness, respectively. They were also given two vignettes and asked to provide “gut” reactions to the clients. Results indicate very few students had taken courses specific to sexual identity development or sexuality (15%); though there was a negative correlation between the BSAS and SAQ, results should be interpreted with caution due to a low sample size. Responses to the vignettes revealed a more overall negative view of the homosexual female client and a negative view of the homosexual client by heterosexual men, heterosexual women, and one queer female participant. Results support the need for more research on the importance of focusing specifically on discussing sex and sexual identity development in graduate training.