Member Spotlight

Article excerpt

Robyn Salisbury, MA

(Palmerston North, New Zealand)

Member Spotlight is a monthly column offering an opportunity for AASECT members to get to know more about each other. Each month, a different member's story will be introduced. If you would like to recommend someone to be interviewed for this column, please contact Hani Miletski, PhD, MSW, Membership Steering Committee chair, at

Robyn Salisbury learned about AASECT while attending the WAS conference in Sydney, Australia in 2007. "I was impressed by the people I met and the direction the organization was heading in," she says.

Salisbury joined AASECT and "set about meeting the criteria for sex therapist certification - not an easy task when you live in another country far from the U.S.," she says. Salisbury was certified later that same year.

Salisbury graduated from Massey University at Palmerston North, New Zealand, with a master's degree and a clinical diploma in clinical psychology in 1992. Her training as a psychotherapist always included specialization in sex therapy "which is rare in my little country," she says.

In the early 1980s, Salisbury started her training at a voluntary counseling agency (then called Marriage Guidance New Zealand) specializing in couples work.

"Fortunately, my first ever supervisor was a sex therapist [Joan Lust], from whom I learned that if I did not ask couples about issues of sexuality I would not discover any sexual problems, but if I did ask, there frequently were problems," she says.

Salisbury soon realized that even as a trainee she was able to make a difference, and "got hooked" on what has become a deeply satisfying career for her.

After nearly 20 years in the field, Salisbury became concerned at how few of her colleagues in the helping professions addressed issues of sexuality, and how poorly the basic professional trainings addressed sexual matters. In 2002, Salisbury founded Sex Therapy New Zealand (STNZ), a training institute for professionals seeking training in sex therapy, and a national referral network with its top graduates serving as staff sex therapists around New Zealand. As STNZ's director, Salisbury has developed and delivered a series of training seminars around New Zealand. To date, over 200 professionals have completed her courses.

Salisbury has been married to Kevin, a wheelchair technician, for 31 years, since she was 19. She says, "While I don't accept his brag that he has taught me all I know about sex, this man has most certainly taught me how to love." They have one son, age 28, who just moved to Australia. …