Monday, January 6, 2014

Lisa’s Story: The Training Centre

The Training Centre at the Calgary Sexual Health Centre provides a number of professional development opportunities for service providers. Our training ensures that professionals have the skills and knowledge to integrate sexual health into their everyday work with clients.

Here's a personal story from one of our Training Centre clients!


When Lisa Seel-Thompson at Calgary Family Services hires new staff for a Spirit or Starburst program, she often sees something missing right off the bat.

“I’ve had staff come in who are amazing youth workers – they love youth and can have every other conversation with them. But when it comes to sexual health they’re frozen. It scares them."
But that quickly changes, says Seel-Thompson, after exposure to the Training Centre workshops from Calgary Sexual Health Centre. She’s worked with the Spirit/Starburst programs, which are aimed at junior high girls, for more than ten years and is a strong advocate for incorporating CSHC’s programs into staff practice.

“For example, a young person might come up to a youth worker and say, ‘I think I’m gay, how do I talk to my parents about this?’” says Seel-Thompson. “These are big life questions and it can be overwhelming for staff when they’re new and they haven’t had to deal with the sexual health part. The relationship with CSHC has allowed us to be mentored around this subject – how to talk to young people and be more comfortable and confident.”

From sessions on creating a safe space for LGBT clients, to helping clients who have had negative sexual experiences, Seel-Thompson says the interactive workshops have a format that works.

“I like that you can just have real, open, honest conversations in the workshops. I’ve had really, really in-depth conversations that I’ve never had in any other training, and that’s reflective of the value of Calgary Sexual Health.”

When asked if she would recommend the training to others, Seel-Thompson maintains that it’s critical.

“I feel very strongly that it’s important for organizations to do this. Young people need to be well-informed and therefore the people who are leading youth need to be informed ­­– they could even do damage if they don’t know what they’re talking about,” she says.

“If you’re working with youth, you should be really well informed about sexual health, since that’s 90% of the conversations we have with youth. It’s such a big part of their decision-making and their lives and trying to figure out who they are.”

And how has it affected the people who really matter – the girls themselves?

“I really see that young people know they can walk into our spaces and it’s a safe place,” says Seel-Thompson. “I think that’s a direct result of me and my staff feeling confident and comfortable because of the information we’ve learned. We feel well-informed and we’re so well supported.”

“We really value that partnership with CSHC, and we’ll continue to rely on it to inform our practice and make sure we stay relevant. We’re just a huge fan of Calgary Sexual Health Centre.”
Talk to us about our upcoming workshop schedule, or to have us deliver a workshop at your organization. Please note that workshops can be customized to meet the particular needs of your staff and the clients you serve.

Each program as a stand-alone can be delivered in approximately half a day, but programs may be combined to create a full day or more, based on agency needs.

To book a training session for your organization, or to discuss customized training, please contact:     

Valerie Barr
Training Centre Manager
403-283-5580 Ext. 317 or