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Psychosexual history-taking in the 21st century: new terminology, new technology and new risks

  • Lisa Gardiner (a1)

Sexual and relationships difficulties are not uncommon among psychiatric patients. A presenting complaint of anxiety or depression may relate to an underlying sexual or relationship difficulty; commonly used psychotropic medications cause sexual side-effects that can have a significant impact quality of life, relationship maintenance and treatment adherence; patients may exhibit unusual or excessive sexual behaviours when acutely unwell, including risky use of apps to meet sexual partners and accessing online pornography in unsafe ways; patients may have used technology such as the internet to harm others or they may be victims of such harm; the internet and social media might even be influencing sexual expression, for example gender identity. Therefore, psychosexual history-taking remains a key competency for psychiatrists. They must also understand the new language used to describe sexuality, sexual behaviours and the use of social media, apps and so on to form relationships. This article outlines the key areas to consider in carrying out a structured psychosexual assessment. It also gives an overview of current sexual terminology, observed influences of the internet on sexuality and sexual behaviour, and its implications for mental health and potential sexual offending.


After reading this article you will be able to:

  • outline a framework for psychosexual history-taking
  • recognise emerging terminology relating to sexual behaviours and identity
  • understand the relevance of the internet, social media and technology-based apps to human relationships, including the use of technology in sexual offending



Corresponding author
Correspondence Dr Lisa Gardiner, Ravenswood House, Mayles Lane, Knowle, Fareham PO17 5NA, UK. Email:
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Psychosexual history-taking in the 21st century: new terminology, new technology and new risks

  • Lisa Gardiner (a1)
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