Sexual Health in Recovery: A Professional Counselor’s Manual, by Douglas Braun-Harvey, MFT, CGP, Springer Publishing Company: New York, NY, 2011, 297 pages, $49.00.
Sexual Health in Recovery: A Professional Counselor’s Manual is a welcomed addition to the fields of addiction, sexology, sexual health, and sexual addiction. This book adds new knowledge and language to the discourse on sexual health and addiction. Doug Braun-Harvey utilizes the term sex/drug linked behaviors to describe clients who have drug and alcohol addictions and struggle with sexual behavior and sexual health issues that affect recovery. This book takes a holistic approach to recovery from drug and alcohol dependence that incorporates a sex positive lens to treatment that can focus on shame-based sex negative treatment and relapse prevention. Braun-Harvey also uses James Prochaska’s work on behavior change to help reluctant clinicians and clients make the transitions to incorporate the sex positive approach to addiction interventions.
This book is divided into three sections. Section I, Counselor Readiness, focuses on elements such as the definition of sexual health; what sexual health looks like as a part of recovery; and understanding the counselor’s values, attitudes, and beliefs about sexual health. Section 2, Sexual Health in Recovery Assessment, focuses on how to utilize the Sexual Health in Recovery Assessment Instrument, the instrument’s limitations, and how to use it with clients to provide feedback. Section 3, Sexual Health in Recovery Counseling Skills, deals with skills counselors need to effectively help clients from a sex-positive paradigm.
As a clinician, sexologist, sex addictions therapist, and faculty member, I believe this book is truly a manual for all mental health practitioners who are interested in incorporating a sex positive approach into treatment of clients with high sex/drug linked behaviors. It allows the reader to examine and explore personal biases that they bring to this work and offers tools to make necessary change to help clients address their addictions from a holistic affirming paradigm. It does a thorough job of giving voice to what most counselors and therapists witness in practice working in drug and alcohol treatment centers—that is, how do we address addictions and sexual health in treatment? I would definitely recommend this book to students, faculty, and practitioners.
Reviewed by Latoya Brooks, Ph.D., LCSW, CSAT-S, Assistant Professor, University of Mississippi.