Intimacy, Sexuality and Sex After Brain Injury

Intimacy, Sexuality and Sex After Brain Injury

Taryn Marie Stejskal, Ph.D., LMFT
Intimacy, sexuality and sex change after a brain injury. This tip card helps survivors of brain injury, families, couples, caregivers and counselors talk about intimacy, sexuality and sex and learn what is “normal” and communicate more openly. It provides practical tips about sex, sexuality and intimacy after a brain injury.

Read an interview with  Taryn Marie Stejskal.

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Full Description

After brain injury there are a lot of changes that can affect intimacy and sex for survivors and their partners. This tip card helps improve awareness about sexual difficulties and offers tips for couples on the many ways to express intimacy. Since it is possible that your old relationship may not return to where it was before the brain injury, there are suggestions for adjusting to your new lives. Whether you’re a married caregiver or a single person who has sustained a brain injury, there are tips for moving forward in an intimate and fulfilling relationship.
Pages 8
Year 2011


Taryn Marie Stejskal, Ph.D., LMFT

Dr. Stejskal is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in the state of Indiana and the founder and president of Wellness Strategies, P.C.; a private practice specifically developed to meet the unique needs of individuals, couples, and families after one person has sustained a neurological injury. Dr. Stejskal received both her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) and her doctoral degree in Family Science, with a focus on health and relationships, from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). Specifically, her interests rest in family and couple relationships after brain injury and in applying a systems perspective to recovery from trauma and significant illness. She has written numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters, and newsletter articles about the impact of brain injury on couple and family relationships. Dr. Stejskal is in private practice in Indianapolis, a research consultant for Purdue Uversity's Military Family Research Institute (MFRI), and is a frequent presenter at regional, national, and international conferences



Let's Talk About Sex

How Do Intimacy, Sexuality and Sex Change after a Brain Injury?

  • What's the difference between sexuality and intimacy?
  • Difficulties with sex after a brain injury
  • What happens after a brain injury?
  • What can I do to get my relationship and sex life back on track?

Tips for couples:

  • Recognize you may not get your old relationship back.

Tips for spouses and partners providing care:

  • The injury happened to you too.

Tips for singles: A disability does not mean the end of your sexual intimate life




Let's Talk About Sex

Many professionals, caregivers, family members, couples, and survivors are not comfortable talking about sexuality and sexual intercourse. After a brain injury, the physical ability to be sexual often changes for survivors. Yet, for some, it stays the same. Survivors of brain injury are more likely to report physiological, physical, and emotional difficulties with sex compared to “healthy” individuals.

Professionals have their own approaches to sexuality. Many are not comfortable talking about it, preferring to employ something like a “don't ask, don't tell policy.” Patients or clients may interpret this avoidance as an indication that these issues are unhealthy, unrealistic, or unimportant. Just the opposite is true. Sexual health is a critical part of rehabilitation after brain injury.

What's the difference between sexuality and intimacy?

Intimacy is described as a close personal relationship that involves emotional and/or physical closeness. Emotional intimacy means a deep sharing of one's self, communication, and a feeling of connectedness. Intimate relationships are often friendships and spiritual relationships, as well as dating and marital relationships. Physical intimacy is defined as romantic attachment, love, or sexuality. It is important to note that physical intimacy does not require sexual expression or intercourse. Sexuality is comprised of a person's sexual orientation, thoughts and desires, erotic fantasies, preferences for sexual touch, and personal expression.

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