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NICoE in the News 


Talking to Patients about Sexual Health and Intimacy after a Brain Injury

NICoE Staff, NICoE


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NICoE Psychotherapist Glenn Parkinson offers advice for clinicians who aren’t sure how to talk to their patients about sexual health and intimacy.

A brain injury can change the way a person experiences and expresses intimacy. The type and severity of the injury, hormonal changes, medications, fatigue and mood changes are just a few of the things that can affect the way a person responds to intimacy after a traumatic brain injury.

Talking about sexual health and intimacy can be uncomfortable for both patients and providers, but it’s crucial for patients and their loved ones to seek professional advice and talk about sexual health after a brain injury.

NICoE Psychotherapist Glenn Parkinson has some advice for clinicians who might be unsure of how to broach the topic with their patients.

·       Open up the conversation and see if the patient has any concerns. “Try to normalize it as much as possible. The patient might be more forthcoming than you expect, and if not, at least he or she will know you’re available to talk if and when the patient feels more comfortable.”

·       Help patients recognize the importance of sexuality. “Sexuality is important to every person in one way or another, and acknowledging this fact can help make patients and providers feel more at ease.”

·       Use your resources. “If this is not your area of expertise, that’s okay. Just let the patient know that resources are available, as well as specialists you can refer them to.”

·       Employ basic clinical skills. “Remember the clinical skills that are essential in every patient-provider encounter, such as reflective listening, being open and staying non-judgmental.”

If you’re a primary care provider and would like to refer a patient to the NICoE, fill out a Patient Referral Form and fax it to: (301) 319-3700. Upon submission, the NICoE’s referral team will make contact to discuss next steps. If you have further questions about our patient referral process, please email us at


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