Talking about Sex as Prevention: A Novel Use of Motivational Interviewing (Webinar Recording)

Talking about Sex as Prevention: A Novel Use of Motivational Interviewing

Julie Tenille, PHD

April 15, 2020, 1-2:15 PM EST



Expression of sexuality and intimacy is not just a human right but fundamentally contributes to overall health and well-being. For persons with behavioral health conditions, sexuality and intimacy are inextricably tied to mental health recovery and quality of life. Unfortunately, the provider workforce (nursing, social work, medicine, among others) is not presently equipped to routinely engage in productive and guiding discussions about sexuality and intimacy with persons living with behavioral health conditions. Missed opportunities have great implications for prevention with a population more likely to be infected with HIV, hepatitis B and C, experience intimate partner violence, and contend with co-morbid substance use disorders. Research suggests brief education programs about sexual issues can result in sustained practice change if skills are integrated more deliberately to the extent that providers gain more confidence to skillfully engage in conversations about sexuality as a part of holistic care. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a recovery-oriented evidence-based practice broadly useful in all health disciplines, applicable in a wide variety of contexts, with a variety of populations, and related to a vast typology of behavioral conversations. In response to research and advocacy, a training toolkit was published that employs the use of MI in experientially teaching providers the skills of MI and the practice of having conversations about sexuality and intimacy. This webinar highlights the contents of this training toolkit and underscores relevant skills for prevention activities.


  1. Describe benefits of sexuality and intimacy for persons with behavioral health conditions.
  2. Explain provider barriers to communication about sexuality and intimacy with persons with behavioral health conditions.
  3. List strategies (informed by MI) for overcoming barriers to communication about sexuality and intimacy.



Julie TennilleDr. Julie Tennille is an Associate Professor at West Chester University in the Graduate Department of Social Work and a member of the international Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers. She has taught across the graduate practice curriculum for over 15 years and presently teaches a 5-day elective course on Motivational Interviewing (MI). Dr. Tennille has worked in direct practice, services research, and administration in public mental health and HIV/AIDS services for over 25 years. She has published several articles on Field Instructors Extending EBP Learning in Dyads (FIELD), an MI infused teaching intervention, aimed at synchronizing evidence based practice competencies among field instructors and their social work students. In collaboration with the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion, Dr. Tennille has developed a training toolkit for mental health providers toward enhancing their ability to have discussions with clients about sexuality, intimacy, and dating.


April 15, 2020
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