Author

Serena Wong

Publication Date

2009

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department

School for Social Work

Keywords

Prostitutes-Psychology, Prostitutes-Mental health services, Prostitutes-Attitudes, Prostitutes-Counseling of, Psychotherapist and patient, Self-disclosure, Autonomy (Psychology), Sex work, Mental health, Therapy, Disclosure, Stigma (Social psychology), Female sex workers

Abstract

This study asked the following question: What are the mental health help seeking behaviors of female sex workers? The study examined: (1) the mental health help seeking behaviors of female sex workers; (2) sex workers perception of the efficacy of talking to professionals (counselors, psychologists, social workers) and non-professionals about emotional issues and; (3) experiences and feelings related to the disclosure of their sex work status to their therapist. Fifty-eight women who were currently sex workers or had worked within the last year responded to a mixed methods survey questionnaire. The survey covered a range of issues in regards to the experience of seeking help for emotional issues. The issues included their reasons for seeking professional and nonprofessional help and their perceptions of the efficacy of talking to professionals or nonprofessionals. Those who had been in therapy were asked if they disclosed their sex work status to therapists, how comfortable they felt doing so, their perceptions of the impact this disclosure had on their treatment, and what they would suggest to clinicians working with sex workers. The major findings were that most sex workers had been in therapy, found it to be a helpful experience, and felt comfortable disclosing their sex work status to their therapists. Suggestions to clinicians working with sex workers can be grouped into the following themes: (1) Practice non-judgment (2) Respect a client's right to selfdetermination in regards to her sex work, and (3) Increase their sensitivity and competence working with sex workers through self-reflection and education.

Language

English

Comments

iv, 68 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 49-51)