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The Central Role of Sexuality in Overall Mental Health

A man and woman walking down a wooded path

Gabrielle Thome

Gabrielle Thome believes that “that there is no physical health without mental health, and that there’s no mental health without sexual health.” She views sexual well-being as not just important but foundational to the physical and psychological health of every human being. For that reason, Gabrielle feels that comprehensive human sexuality training is essential to becoming an effective clinician.

Always Asking Why

Gabrielle Thome

Gabrielle, who studied psychology as an undergraduate, has always been curious about and interested in understanding people. “I'm one of those people who's quite analytical in the way that I think,” she says. “I've always been fascinated with why people do the things they do, and as I get older, like so many others, I also want to better understand myself.”

After completing the Human Sexuality Graduate Certificate, Gabrielle began her master’s in psychology at Harvard’s Extension School. “Everything I do,” she says, “every assignment that I have, every paper that I write, I try to find a sexual health aspect or an angle.”

Her studies included the field of neuroscience as it applies to psychology and led her to want to better understand this aspect of human sexuality. “I feel like that's the beginning, when we're talking about anything that is the human experience, including sexuality.”

She intends to work with men, especially those who have survived prostate cancer, a focus that she describes as “a passion-driven purpose” and at the core of her future work.

Breaking Down Social Norms

Gabrielle currently lives in Canada and is originally from the Czech Republic. “I came here years ago,” she says. “And the reason that matters is that along the way I have learned that men in my culture, in many cultures, are often socialized very differently than women. I am specifically drawn to the field of male mental health, because I feel that as a result, men can have unique and often overlooked ways of navigating distress than women.”

"I was so thrilled to have discovered this program and to have the ability to complete it online.”

“And when the disease of prostate cancer collides with some of the socialization effects” she adds, “it can lead to great distress and often devastating impact to mental health for a lot of men.” In addition, research has provided evidence that men respond better to different types of therapy styles and strategies than women do.

Online and On Point

The Human Sexuality Certificate is, and was always intended to be, delivered entirely online, a format that was a perfect fit for Gabrielle. “I am just so impressed with the University of Minnesota,” she says. “I am so immensely grateful that they first created this program and that they chose to offer it this way.”

Woman's hands holding coffee cup and working on laptop

She found that while there is a lot of research going on in Canada in human sexuality, there isn't really a formal and structured environment where one could be trained in this field.

For her, online delivery was “the most ideal way” to gain the knowledge she was seeking, because she didn’t have to travel and could attend class from her home and on her own schedule.

“I have spent well over two years just trying to figure out how I can learn about human sexuality, and there just wasn’t anything. So I was so thrilled to have discovered this program and to have the ability to complete it online.”

Memorable Classes

Foundations of Human Sexuality with Dr. Jennifer Vencill

“I think about Dr. Vencill and the things that I learned from her almost on a daily basis. Both because of what I'm working on for my thesis and because of what I have chosen to focus on for my future work.”

Dimensions of Sexual Functioning with Dr. Leonardo Candelario-Perez

“Another great professor who has had a big impact on me and who was always available for extra questions. We had some great conversations.”