Being a sexual health trainer is a diverse and varied job that entails learning everything there is to know about a sexual topic and imparting that learning to others. My role is primarily aimed at professionals with the delivery of our Wellbeing in Sexual Health (WISH) training programme which is available to anyone working in Bucks, however I also run lots of other training activities both to the community and the young people. When I tell people outside of work what I do I often get a range of reactions which are quite amusing; a lot of oohs and ahhs mostly, then ensues the sex jokes! I guess in some way though they are true, I essentially get paid to think about sex 35 hours a week.
What kind of person makes a good sexual health trainer?
I think trainers in general have to be very confident communicators and able to get their point across in a subtle but direct way. People may also think you need to be very extroverted, however anyone who knows me well knows that I am a secret introvert and love to spend time on my own before and after delivering training, it helps me to unwind and rest as delivering training uses a lot of energy! Honesty is another key quality in a trainer; we are there to facilitate learning, not to know all of the answers (especially when there isn’t a simple one). I am always honest with the professionals I train and stress that if a question comes up which I don’t know the answer to, I will find out and get back to them. Sexual health is a particularly sensitive topic to approach and teach , so I think open mindedness is a really key quality to delivering this kind of training; rarely in my job is it that I am shocked by what I hear!
What does a typical day’s training involve?
I deliver all my courses in the morning so on a training day I will usually be up at a very early hour, I like to arrive at my training venue extra early to give me enough time to set up and calmly prepare to deliver my course. If being a trainer has taught me anything is that you can never be too prepared for IT issues. I always carry spare projectors and back up copies of my resources/ presentations to account for every IT glitch that may occur! Once training has begun, I always make sure everyone is there for the correct course to ensure that there are no shocks once we start talking about sex (I have had people turn up for diabetes courses by accident!).
Throughout the training I use a range of different activities to suit everyone’s preferred way of learning, we look at case studies; do brainstorming exercises and quizzes as well as having really good conversations about what we have experienced previously in our working lives. One thing I really have to manage is the group agreement which I set at the beginning and sets the ground rules and boundaries for all professionals to abide by throughout the training. Talking about sexual health can be quite a sensitive topic and can evoke strong emotional and personal opinions amongst attendees. I’ve had a few situations where someone has made a challenging remark or people have got into a debate, resulting in the volume of conversation rising and creating tension during the training. To manage this I have to use my ‘youth work’ voice to bring the room back together and remind professionals to respect each others personal opinions, whilst maintaining non-judgemental attitudes when working with young people.
When I get back to the office…
Outside of the training environment, there is a constant process of developing and updating lesson plans, resources and activities to keep them current and relevant to the professionals in Buckinghamshire. Within the world of working with young people, we can continuously feel like we are chasing to keep up with the latest technology, trends and changes to the law. This results in me spending a large amount of time researching things like the top ten most searched porn categories, the impact of stealthing and what happens when you use oil based lube with a condom! All I can say is that I hope IT don’t monitor my google search history too much!
The beauty of my role is that it’s so diverse and I am always learning new things, and am able to equip professionals to support young people in Bucks to have healthier, safe and more pleasurable sex lives.