Horny and Hormonal by Nick Luxmoore describes and explains young people’s many anxieties about sex and sexuality and suggests ways of working supportively to diminish those anxieties. I asked Nick, a school counsellor, trainer, supervisor and UKCP registered psychotherapist, a few questions to give a bit of an insight into the book and what you might get out of reading it.
The book is aimed at counsellors and psychotherapists, teachers, teaching assistants, learning mentors, youth workers and social workers and can be bought via Amazon or Jessica Kingsley Publishing (where you’ll get a 10% discount if you quote Y16)
How did you come up with this idea?
I wrote a long piece about girls being expected to be all things to all people, and as part of that, I found myself inevitably writing about sex and sexuality. Also, for 12 years I’d been running sex education in a school and co-running a health clinic for young people, so I wanted to write something about that to help other professionals understand the sort of things that young people worry and talk about. Then I started to realise that there’s relatively little written about counselling and sex and nothing about young people, counselling and sex. So by now the book was beginning to form….
What problem is this book solving?
Most young people won’t talk about sex unless they’re asked and most adults are too anxious to ask. This book opens up the subject as something underpinning everything. It gives adults more confidence to anticipate and understand young people’s inevitable anxieties.
What is the most important lesson people will learn from reading this book?
That sexuality is everywhere and, denied, will simply emerge in unfortunate ways; that most young people would love to talk about their anxieties if only they could find someone suitably understanding and unafraid.
What was the hardest thing about developing the content?
It’s always hard weaving the theory in with the stories. And it’s also hard imagining what other professional know and don’t know; judging how didactic to be without patronising anyone.
How do you imagine the book being used?
I hope it will give professionals confidence and permission to be more proactive, daring to ask rather than just hoping to be told.
What did you learn whilst you were writing it?
I learned that sexuality is such a slippery subject (as it were!), encompassing everything and going off in every direction, making it hard to pin down and write about.
What are you most pleased with?
I’ve tried to weave together real-life stories with appropriate theory. Theory is so important, but the challenge is to present it accessibly. I think I’m good at doing this, and then, if I can tell the stories with honesty and compassion and sometimes humour, then I’ll have done a good job. I think the book is a combination of all these things and I’m proud of that. I think most young people would say, “Yeah, that’s what it’s like!”
How did you decide which topics needed to be covered?
I never plan out a book in advance. I start writing free-standing pieces and then see if they cohere. And what I write comes directly out of my day-to-day work with young people, comes from what I’m feeling strongly about, or suddenly realising, or getting stuck with. For years I’ve always had caseloads of about 50 young people which means that a huge range of issues are always coming up.
Did you road test the content? How?
For the last couple of years I’ve been reading bits as part of training sessions, mainly to see whether they resonate with other professionals and make sense. Reading stuff aloud also helps you to hear the grammatical and verbal glitches.
The cover looks like a sex shop window! What do you think of it?
It does look like a sex shop window! I like it because it’s bold, not apologetic. I suggested black and the designers came up with this cover. If it suggests something pornographic, well, that’s appropriate, given how much porn young people watch, partly in their attempts to get information about sex and partly for the traditional reasons!
Tell us a story!
When I was a youth worker, I remember clearing up after a rock concert late one night. All the young people had left, going off into the night in their various combinations. Suddenly the door banged open and, rather touchingly, a boy hurried back into the youth centre, flushed and anxiously clutching in his hand a freshly filled, warm condom, wanting me to check that there weren’t any holes in it!
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I supervise lots of counsellors who work with young people and I run lots of training for professionals working with young people. Other than that, I agonise about Newcastle United, stroke the cat, watch violent box sets, go to cricket and rugby matches, buy CDs, visit my daughters and feel tired. I don’t do anything worthy!
I’ve started writing a book of supervision stories. (I run three supervision groups for school staff and continue to supervise lots of counsellors who work with young people.) There are plenty of books already about theories of supervision, so my book isn’t another one. But I think we’re always curious about what actually goes on in other people’s supervision sessions. What gets talked about? What sort of things does the supervisor say? How personal does it get? What’s the supervisor really thinking? What goes wrong? I’m also aware of certain clinical themes recurring in supervision and I want to highlight these because I think they shed light on how best to work with young people. Of course, whether this book will ever be published is another matter. I’ve got to write it first and see!
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