Alexzandria BakerMind-Body Medicine Student
Alexzandria Baker, a masters student in the College of Mind-Body Medicine, undertook a Master’s Project to develop a group model that offers basic education in mind-body skills and human sexuality to an adult population for the purpose of improving sexual wellness through adequate and informed self-care.
The need for direct talk about sexual health is great: Sexual dysfunction is highly prevalent in today’s society, impacting 31% of men and 43% of women, according to one study conducted by Laumann, Paik, and Rosen (1999). Sexual dysfunction is also more common in persons with poor physical and emotional health and is closely associated with negative experiences in sexual relationships and overall well-being.
There are many new treatments, but often they go in the wrong direction: With the advent of new drug therapies and surgical options for the treatment of sexual dysfunction, sexual health is becoming increasingly medicalized, resulting in a lack of adult sexuality education available outside of the medical setting. What little information does come through is often pathology-based, focused on "treating" dysfunction rather than supporting sexual health. The medical community charged with providing treatment seems unprepared and undereducated for the task thus opening the potential for prescribing ineffective or extreme treatments for symptom reduction rather than addressing root causes or offering patient-centered approaches.
Alexzandria's project resulted in a facilitation manual with step-by-step instructions, scripts, and exercises for leading a Sexual Wellness Enhancement and Enrichment Training (SWEET), an integrated mind-body skills and sexuality education group model based on the Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s Mind-Body Skills Groups (MBSG) and drawing on relevant models of adult sexuality from tantra to couples therapy. In order to determine the appropriateness of a mind-body skills approach to sexual wellness, a four phase literature review was conducted examining research related to group models in general and mind-body skills groups (MBSG) in particular, the relationship between stress and sexual behavior, the effectiveness of individual modalities employed by the MBSG format, and connections between the proposed model and existing sex therapy and coaching models. This literature review was included in the final project.
Alexzandria hopes to test the effectiveness of this model for her doctoral dissertation. Alexzandria completed her Master’s of Science degree in the Summer 2012 term and begins her PhD work in Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook University in the Fall 2012 term.