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Existential perspectives on sexuality: issues of culture, ethics and the practice of psychotherapy

Existential perspectives on sexuality: issues of culture, ethics and the practice of psychotherapy

As psychotherapists know, there is often a significant difference between the way an individual experiences sexuality and the way in which our wider families, communities, cultures and nations respond to sexuality. Indeed, we see some cultures demonising and pathologising it to this day. Psychotherapy itself has had a complicated relationship with sexuality and how it formulates the various understandings, forms, identities, practices and relationship structures. Some forms of psychotherapy have been accused of problematizing sexuality and other forms of psychotherapy have offered a more compassionate, phenomenological understanding. While sexuality is a topic that evokes confusion and complexity across the world, recent events in Africa has shown that it remains as powerful and complex in Africa as it does anywhere else.

This paper will briefly look at these understandings across the world; it will outline a contribution that existential phenomenological psychotherapy can offer to our clients (a more ethical and attuned experience in therapy);the paper will also consider the way in which these understandings might be useful in helping us contribute to the wider socio-political discussions as well.