Disability Culturally Competent Sexual Healthcare

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Abstract

Though cultural competence and inclusion of diverse identities are increasingly emphasized in psychological training and practice, sexual health and well-being among people with disabilities (PWD) continue to be underrecognized areas in which disability cultural competence is needed. The experience of disability is best conceptualized as an interaction between physical, sensory, or cognitive differences and environmental and sociocultural contexts that facilitate or impede adaptive functioning; these complex interactions, coupled with an individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, religious background, and sexual orientation, often inform one’s sexual health and well-being. Disability can be thought of as a minority cultural status—a marginalized and stigmatized identity. Given the imperative that psychologists must be culturally competent and self-aware, as well as the centrality of sexual health and well-being to quality of life including among PWD, assessment of sexuality as a facet of overall well-being among individuals with physical disabilities should be part of routine clinical practice. A discussion of disability cultural competence is offered as a foundation to explore disability sexual health and wellness competence in clinical assessment. The disability and sexuality health care competency model is introduced to address the need for evidence-based sexual health and wellness assessment of PWD. Specific conceptual and behavioral sexuality and disability competencies that correspond to the provision and facilitation of these services are delineated.

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