Interview With a Sex Researcher: Dr. John Beiter
By Dr. Charlie Glickman • Oct 5th, 2009 • Category: Blog
There are a lot of people conducting sex research, but most of us only hear about them when they make headlines. So I decided to take a look behind the scenes so you can hear about sex research from someone who’s actually doing it. Dr. John Beiter has been giving people his test as a way to both gather information and help them discover new things about themselves. But instead of summarizing his work, why don’t I let you hear what he has to say?
Tell us a little about your background and your interest in this area.
My name is John Beiter, Ph.D. and I earned my doctorate in clinical psychology later in life than most. I had been working in the corporate world in treasury & finance and decided after reading Scott Peck’s book The Road Less Traveled that my calling in life was to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a psychologist. After graduating in 2007, I still had not decided what to specialize in until I had a serendipitous encounter with another therapist who inquired about my interest in becoming a certified sex therapist and connected me to Dr. Shirley Kurtz who not only became my supervisor but mentor as well. Anecdotally, my interest in sex therapy goes back to my High School days. In 10th grade I presented a controversial lecture on the school system’s blatant lack of preparing students for sexual relationships concluding with the following attention getter, stating that “as High School students we are going to learn very quickly that there is a lot more to sexual intercourse than a man sticking his penis into a woman’s vagina!” As far as the teacher was concerned my lecture was over and the seeds for the sex therapist were planted.
What prompted you to develop this particular survey? Did you base it on previous research?
I developed this survey in response to my clients’ struggles of finding ways to comfortably discuss their sexuality. Since I grew up in the corporate world and was familiar with many of the instruments available to help individuals improve and develop in many different aspects, especially communications – I naturally looked in this area for ideas. In other words, what communication tools in the corporate world could give me ideas, structures and frameworks to build in the clinical world? One thing that struck me as rather odd was that there was no one ideal instrument out there to apply to my practice, so this motivated me to create the Beiter Sexuality Preference Indicator.
Can you tell us a little about how you’ve found participants? How many people have taken it? Any interesting patterns among the demographics?
I started administering the BSPI to my clients and manually captured the data into a spreadsheet. The client response early on was overwhelmingly positive. One couple was so excited after having taken the instrument that they stated, “I wish you would have had this [BSPI] when we first started seeing you, it would have made our communication around sexuality so easy!” From there it started to grow. Based on those positive comments, I decided to socially administer it to friends and family. Again, I received an incredible amount of positive acceptance. My girlfriend, Renee had been behind me the whole way and decided that we should think about the BSPI in a much larger way. So we decided to create a website devoted to the BSPI and create a logo to brand it.