Sexual Health Principles
We continually help people gain clarity about their high-risk behaviors, sexual boundaries, and vision of sexual health according to six fundamental sexual health principles:
When we speak about the sexual health principle of consent, we are explicitly talking about verbal permission to have intimate, physical, and or sexual contact with another person or persons. Consent provides the safety that allows sexual partners to experience mutual pleasure free from violation or coercion. Consent can be violated when a partner does not seek permission before taking specific actions that they assume are permissible because of unspoken or implicit agreements. We help people develop explicit agreements that are clearly articulated and are guided by an understanding of one’s own values.
Exploitation involves leveraging power and control to gain sexual gratification or pleasure. Exploitation can take many forms. It is inherent in relationships where one partner makes unilateral changes in the sexual agreements without the knowledge of the other partner. People who seek our services often engage in one set of behaviors despite agreeing to a different set of behaviors. What they often don't realize is that being out of integrity with their actions and their agreements is exploitative of the partner who is being misled. When people begin to align themselves with non-exploitive ways of being, they start to live closer to their vision of sexual health.
Embodying sexual health consists of honesty with oneself and one’s partners. Honesty allows for open communication between partners about sexual health, gender and relationship/sexual diversity. As people move toward practices of honesty, they align with their values and principles. Additionally, they understand the principles and values of their sexual partners. Through honest communication, people free themselves from the bind of having to manage deception. They are also able to live in integrity with their words and their actions.
Protection from HIV, STI, and unwanted pregnancy
Physical health and safety are paramount to sexual health. When people understand their relationship to HIV, STIs, and unwanted pregnancy, they can break the silence that arises from embarrassment and/or shame. We believe that access to accurate medical information about sexually transmitted infections and reproductive health is vital. Once people clearly articulate their relationship to HIV, STIs, and unwanted pregnancy, they develop an understanding with their partner(s) to effectively minimize risk.
People develop strong connections to their intimate and sexual partners when they can understand and speak about the reasons why they enjoy sex and intimacy.
Sexual pleasure, solo or partnered, is highly valued in our individual and group work. Fostering curiosity in sexual pleasure gives people the opportunity to explore a range of feelings (i.e., pride, joy, embarrassment, shame, disgust) about their sexual behavior. In their work with us, people learn to integrate pleasure into their own vision of sexual health that honors their autonomy and values their sexual and erotic maps.