CQUniversity Bundaberg's sexuality researcher Dr Cathy O'Mullan said she believes sex is human nature and occupational therapists could play an important part in addressing concerns with clients.
CQUniversity Bundaberg's sexuality researcher Dr Cathy O'Mullan said she believes sex is human nature and occupational therapists could play an important part in addressing concerns with clients.

TAKING OUT TABOO: Researcher urges therapists to talk sex

 A Bundaberg-based researcher is encouraging health professionals to discuss the topic of sex with clients who live with disabilities.

CQUniversity sexuality researcher Dr Cathy O’Mullan said she believes sex is human nature and occupational therapists could play an important part in addressing concerns with clients.

“Sexuality and relationships are part of human nature and a fundamental human right, regardless of a person‘s physical, cognitive, or emotional state,” said Dr O’Mullan.

“While most healthcare professionals recognise the importance of addressing sexuality, the topic is often neglected.

“However, occupational therapists are well placed to discuss sexuality with clients and it should be part of their professional toolkit.”

Dr O’Mullan recently co-authored a research paper with CQUniversity occupational therapy course academics Dr Maria O’Reilly and Professor Pamela Meredith.

CQUniversity Bundaberg's sexuality researcher Dr Cathy O'Mullan said she believes sex is human nature and occupational therapists could play an important part in addressing concerns with clients.
CQUniversity Bundaberg's sexuality researcher Dr Cathy O'Mullan said she believes sex is human nature and occupational therapists could play an important part in addressing concerns with clients.

The paper called Bringing Sexuality out of the closet: What can we learn from occupational therapists who successfully address the area of sexuality in everyday practice? shows that having the conversations will enhance the self-esteem and quality of life of clients.

“Our research looked at how many occupational therapists are successfully addressing such issues with clients, instead of focusing on the barriers to discussing sexuality in a health care setting,” Dr O’Mullan said.

Senior lecturer in occupational therapy Dr O’Reilly said the research also explored experiences of occupational therapists who felt comfortable with addressing sex through holistic client practices.

“With clear personal and professional boundaries, occupational therapists can address topics within routine practice, utilising core occupational therapy skills, such as communication, collaborative problem solving, pacing, positional and adaptive equipment,” Dr O’Reilly said.

“It’s starts with commitment and the motivation to find a way.”

The research paper was published earlier this week and can be accessed online.