Advanced Training Program in Transgender Mental Health

Transgender, gender non-binary and gender expansive children, youth, and adults are finding their voices and seeking support to live authentically. Many will seek out a therapist or counselor to provide support in addressing a spectrum of life challenges and promote their health and well-being. Few, if any, master’s and/or PhD counseling programs offer information and training specific to supporting the needs of transgender individuals.

Please visit our web page for more information.

ISRC Receives Grant

Sharing this update from a Widener news release:

The Interdisciplinary Sexuality Research Collaborative (ISRC) in the Center for Human Sexuality Studies has received a grant for $350,000 from ViiV Healthcare, a global specialist HIV company dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV. The award is for the first of two years that the ISRC will develop community education and outreach programming in Baltimore and Jackson, Mississippi.

The outreach program is aligned with the national HIV/AIDS strategy. ViiV Healthcare’s ACCELERATE! program is a four-year, $10 million commitment to fund innovative projects that support the health and well-being of black gay men in the cities with the highest rate of those infected with HIV.

“HIV rates are increasing among black gay men,” said Dr. Justin Sitron, associate dean in the School of Human Service Professions, director of the ISRC and the Center for Human Sexuality Studies. “The majority of new HIV infections are among black gay men. While HIV prevention and treatment communities have worked to reduce infections among white gay men, there are systemic inequities in the healthcare and community engagement systems that create barriers for black gay men. Our program aims to train providers and support men to foster their sexual well-being.”

Through the ACCELERATE! program, ViiV will provide communities with education and resources to increase awareness of the current HIV treatment guidelines and standards of care in the United States. Currently, one in three black gay men live with HIV in the U.S. The efforts of the ISRC will be to develop sexuality education tools so that providers and community organizations are better equipped to provide services that meet the needs of the men they aim to serve.

“This is one of the world’s wicked problems,” Sitron said. “We want to help solve the problem before it gets worse by making sexuality education relevant for black gay men with enhanced content that can be delivered in person and online.”

Widener’s involvement includes a multi-tiered approach, from building partnerships this summer in both Baltimore and Jackson with community-based organizations that serve these communities. A key aspect of the project is developing an online tool that allows community members to connect with one another around health and wellness goals.

“There are many challenges around getting relevant programming to the community, which is why we need to collaborate with community-based organizations from the start,” Sitron said.

Dr. Linda Hawkins, a co-investigator on the grant and an adjunct professor in the Center for Human Sexuality Studies, has worked as a therapist for adolescents that have become HIV infected and understands how to adapt tools to specific communities. She will be working with Sitron and Javontae Williams, an applied research scientist for the ISRC, as well as additional faculty and students on the developing the programming for Baltimore and Jackson.

“We recognize the impact of an approach that empowers and engages the community,” Williams said. “We want providers to understand the stigma some black gay men face so that they can improve the health care environment and become advocates.”

At the end of the program, the ISRC hopes to have three dozen providers trained, evaluation processes in place and a dynamic online community where men can experience social support.

The Center for Human Sexuality Studies, already a leading national training center for sexuality education and sex therapy, established the ISRC to support interdisciplinary research endeavors focused on topics related to human sexuality. The ISRC is comprised of faculty, staff, and both graduate and undergraduate students, and is equipped to execute research projects of various scopes and sizes.

Congratulations Dr. Sitron!

CHSS Community,

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Justin Sitron on his appointment of Director of the Center for Human Sexuality Studies and Associate Dean for the School of Human services Professions.  Dr. Sitron had been acting as Interim Director since January of 2017.

Dr. Sitron started his time at Widener in 2008 as a full time clinical assistant professor for Teacher Education and Human Sexuality Studies.  He started working full-time in Human Sexuality Studies in 2011 and became and associate professor in 2014.  Prior to his time as Interim Director he served as the Human Sexuality Studies PhD Program Director from 2014-2016.  Dr. Sitron co-founded the Interdisciplinary Sexuality Research Collaborative and served as Director.

We are very happy that his appointment has been made permanent and look forward to continuing to work with him in the future.

CHSS Gets Our Own Building!!

The Center for Human Sexuality Studies CHSS) has moved into our own building!  The full-time faculty, two research scientists at the Interdisciplinary Sexuality Research Collaborative (ISRC), two academic secretaries, and seven graduate assistants are all together in one building on Widener’s main campus in Chester, PA.  We also have a conference room for meetings, dissertation defenses, and small classes, with video cameras and a screens for interactive web conferencing.

We are located on the corner of 13th and Potter Streets, right across the street from Lathem Hall.  Feel free to stop by between 9am and 5pm and introduce yourself to the administrative secretaries, Syreita Jackson and Kathy Mitchell.  Just be aware that Widener offices are closed throughout the university on Fridays until August 11.

The Center’s USPS mailing address has stayed the same, as have our phone numbers and emails (remember all emails are now instead of Our new physical address is 501 E 13th street.

Please keep your eye out for an email about an open house we are planning to host in the fall semester.

Introducing our CHSS Blog

Welcome to our CHSS blog. It will feature spotlights on students, alumni and faculty as well as program updates. If you’d like to share your news, please email or go to one of the links below to fill out a short form.