Working with boys and young men: relationships, sex and identity

Oliver B O’Donohoe
METRO Charity, UK

From briefly exploring a host of issues pertinent to working professionally with boys and young men (BYM) in any number of contexts, this article will discuss the benefits of working holistically with BYM within a sexual health environment. A holistic approach aims to consider the cause and effect of physical, psychological, social, cultural, and existential factors on the individual, in addition to a sensitivity towards the impact of social stigma, mental health problems, drug and alcohol misuse and any history of sexual abuse [1]. These factors play out and are best understood in cooperative examination of, and in tandem with: the individual, their relationships, sexual lives and their conveyed sense of self.
How do our preconceptions of masculine behaviours and attitudes trigger unconscious bias, misleading our abilities as professionals to be objective? And what impact does this dynamic have on the style of communication we might employ with BYM, affecting the quality of care they receive? This article aims to answer these questions by considering the intangible ‘space between’ BYM’s stereotypical defensive selfpresentation and the professional’s potentially biased perception of them through the eyes of the ‘gender lens’. Read more…