Magazine article Contemporary Sexuality , Vol. 47, No. 3
Each month we sit down (virtually) with AASECT members to find out about how they came to their work, what their current passions are in the field of human sexuality, and what they love most about being a sexuality professional. If you are interested in being profiled in a future Contemporary Sexuality let us know!
Whether she is working with sex therapy clients, running groups for young people in her role as a mental health counselor at The County Alternative High School in Media, PA, or exploring the meaning and construction of identity among Latina women who have sex with women for her doctoral research, which she completed this year, Jayleen Galarza says that her work is always either implicitly or explicitly about social justice. Jayleen has been an AASECT member since 2010, and her workshop at the 45th annual conference in Miami is titled Borderland Queer: Increasing Sexological Inclusivity of Queer Latinas.
CS: When you meet someone new, how do you describe what you do?
JG: I generally say that I'm a clinical social worker who specializes in sexuality issues. I feel that encompasses everything I value about my work. There are times I mention that I am a certified sex therapist, which seems to confuse, disturb, or impress folks. It is pretty funny to see the different reactions from people when I tell them I've chosen sexuality as a profession.
CS: Tell us a little about your work.
JG: I provide therapy to adolescents and young adults who are referred by their home districts for a variety of emotional and behavioral concerns. I'm a part of a team charged with providing weekly individual and group therapy to those youth while also interfacing with school staff, policies, and procedures.
As part of my work I developed and facilitate a psycho-educational sexuality group for clients, called Connections. In the Connections group we address multiple aspects of sexuality such as sexual and gender identity, orientation, love, relationships, trauma, abuse, and STIs.
The areas of sexuality that I'm most interested in are issues related to the intersections of sexual and gender identities and ethnic identities and experiences. As a self-identified queer, Latina, and sexuality professional, I find it my duty to shed light on this aspect of sexuality.
I love working with adolescents and young adults. It's a challenging time in youths' development, as they navigate tough choices around identity and intimacy. They are trying desperately to figure themselves out in the face of peer pressure, family/cultural expectations, and societal messages around self-image.
CS: What educational, training, and/or life experience brought you to work as a sexuality professional?
JG: My path began as an undergraduate at East Stroudsburg University (ESU). I was an English major and Women's Studies minor, and was heavily involved in ESU's women's center. I helped bring the Vagina Monologues to campus, which produced some of my most proud moments as a performer and co-director. I also tackled sexuality initiatives. I led the LGBT student group, facilitated a Day of Silence on campus, and helped to coordinate Take Back the Night. These experiences fueled my passion for both social justice and sexuality.
I went on to earn both my Masters of Social Work (MSW) and Masters of Education (M.Ed) in Human Sexuality at Widener University. I completed my PhD in Human Sexuality at Widener University in 2013.
CS: What's the biggest challenge you are struggling with right now professionally?
JG: One thing I am struggling with professionally is navigating some of the challenges in addressing sexuality within a public school setting. Although I am happy to work in an environment in which I get to incorporate my skills as a counselor and educator, there are times when I am limited in the types of activities I can implement.
CS: What do you do when you aren't working? …