Every Wednesday The CSPH highlights a Sexuality Professional you should keep your eye on. Their backgrounds are very diverse in order to bring attention to the wide variety of amazing people working in the field. This week we bring you Laurie Mintz!
1. What do you do in the field of sexuality?
I teach, write, research, and counsel people about sexuality.
I teach undergraduate and graduate students about sexuality, and give lectures to a wide-range of lay audiences. I have given speeches to mother’s groups, women’s groups, and adult education groups, to name just a few. At the University of Missouri, where I spent 21 years as Professor in the Counseling Psychology program, I taught a graduate-level course on Sex Therapy. I relocated to the University of Florida as a Professor of Psychology in October 2011, and have continued to provide seminars on sex therapy for counseling psychology trainees. To my great excitement, this Fall 2012, I began teaching a class on Human Sexuality for approximately 150 undergraduate students.
I also have the honor of writing about sex for the lay public. I write a Psychology Today blog (Sex and Stress). The goal of this blog is to provide readers with tried and true psychological strategies, based in scientific research, to decrease their stress levels and to enhance their sexual knowledge, satisfaction, and functioning.
I have written a self-help book for women with low sexual desire, A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex (Adams Media, 2009).
I am also a researcher. Concerned that the vast majority of self-help books are published without evidence of their effectiveness, I conducted a study to evaluate my book. This study, which appeared in the July 2012 issue of the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Counseling Psychology, demonstrated that women who read A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex increased their sexual desire, sexual arousal, sexual satisfaction and overall sexual functioning—and that the gains in sexual desire were maintained at 7-week follow up. I have additional studies underway. One compares my book to another self-help book, and the other compares my book to a placebo pill. Currently, I am working on my second book, which will be on sexual satisfaction. I also plan to study this book’s effectiveness.
Finally, I provide counseling to individuals and couples dealing with sexual concerns. During my 21 years in Missouri, I had a small private practice. I am in the process of setting up my practice in Florida, where I will specialize in assisting individuals with sexual concerns.
2. Where are you based out of?
Gainesville, Florida (although I recently moved here, after 21 years in Columbia, Missouri).
3. What is your focus? What do you do?
The focus of my undergraduate teaching, my public speaking, and my popular press writing (i.e., my self-help book and my blog) is on translating scientific information on sexuality for the lay public. The focus of my graduate teaching is on training counselors to provide sound, empirically-based assistance to clients with sexual concerns. The focus of my research is on evaluating the efficacy of self-help materials for sexual concerns. Finally, the focus of my practice is on helping clients enhance their life satisfaction and sexual functioning.
4. What are your particular goals and passions in the field?
My passion is helping individuals, particularly women, enhance their sexual functioning. I am dedicated to providing easily accessible information that is accurate and grounded in science (e.g., basing the techniques in my book on research, summarizing the latest sexuality research in my blog). Likewise, I am firmly committed to making sure that any self-help book that I write is itself subject to empirical evaluation. If I publish a book that it aimed at helping people, I want to make sure that it truly does so!
I am also very passionate about teaching counselors-in-training to work effectively with clients who have sexual concerns. To me, this is akin to “paying it forward” for future generations of psychologists and their clients.
Finally, I relish having open and informative conversations about sex. I love talking to people (students, clients, readers, friends, colleagues) about sex in a matter-of-fact manner. I strive to assist others in increasing their comfort in seeking and sharing sexual knowledge and information.
5. Why did you choose to work in this field?
As long as I can remember, I have been very comfortable talking about sex, as well as very curious and interested in sexuality and sexual functioning. As a psychologist, I routinely ask clients if they have any concerns regarding sexuality. Quite often, clients reveal that they do have concerns and tell me that they weren’t planning to bring the topic up unless I did. Related, I have observed that psychologists-in-training with whom I work are hungry for information on how to work with clients on sexual concerns, yet such information is often lacking in academic training programs. These experiences, and my related experiences researching, speaking, and writing about sexuality, have convinced me that there is lack of accurate information on sexuality available in our culture, as well as continued shame and embarrassment about discussing sexual issues. I want to be one of the people who provides accurate information, debunks myths, and increases our culture’s comfort in frank, open sexual discussions.
6. Where did you go for school/training?
I graduated with a BS in Psychology from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. and received both a master’s and doctoral degree in counseling psychology from Ohio State University.
7. Do you have any literature out (websites, articles)?
Yes, I have a book, A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex. I also have a Psychology Today Blog, Sex and Stress. You can also learn more about my work on both my University of Florida faculty webpage, and on my personal webpage.
8. What would you recommend to future professionals attempting to get into the field?
The identical advice I would give to any aspiring professional in any field: 1) Do what you love and follow your dreams and passions; 2) Don’t expect to do everything all at once–your career can evolve over time; 3) Know that you will have many successes as well as many disappointments, so celebrate your successes and persevere and learn from your disappointments; and finally, 4) Remember that work is only one aspect of your life—strive for life balance (e.g., spend time with friends and family, enjoy hobbies, exercise, etc.).
9. What is the most challenging aspect for you working in this career?
There is never enough time to do all I want to do and to simultaneously keep a life balance—which is important for my own stress level and sexual functioning!
10. One must read-what would you recommend? Why?
I Love Female Orgasm. It is full of informative, sex-positive information and has helped many women to gain comfort and understanding of their sexuality (and to achieve the “Big-O”).