Photo courtesy of Tina Sellers

Former SPU professor runs institute for sex education

Dr. Tina Sellers combats shame in sexuality through Northwest Institute of Intimacy

a woman sitting with a book
Photo courtesy of Tina Sellers

Dr. Tina Sellers, a former professor of marriage and family therapy, has spent the last five years doing a different form of teaching than her work at Seattle Pacific University. Sellers made the transition in 2015 from professor to running her own institution for marriage and sex therapy.

In 2015 Sellers founded the Northwest Institute of Intimacy (NWIOI). She started the institute to not only fight for less shame in individual’s sex lives, but to supply much needed education to those in the clinical field.

“You can go through your grad school education as a psychologist, a psychotherapist, a marriage and family therapist, a physician or a clergy and not get any sex education,” Sellers said. “This is where people go when they have sexual concerns, and they are seeing people who have never had training in that.”

According to NWIOI Executive Assistant Erin Beattie, the institute offers a sexual attitude reassessment course in order to provide the training that the institute feels is essential to properly handle the sexual health of their patients.

It is a four-day intensive course that “helps different professionals come into a seminar and to learn about sexuality, and issues and their bias and recognize that,” she said.

“We also do an advanced clinical sexology course which is a five day intensive, which is less personal and a lot of information that offers a comprehensive sex education — which is totally left out of a lot of programs.” Said Beattie.

Beyond the NWIOI’s commitment to clinical training, the program has a deeper message about sexuality that it wants to portray to people around the world.

“We believe that all people are bio, psycho, social, spiritual, sexual beings and that’s how God made us,” Sellers said.

Regarding messages about human sexuality, SPU has a much different message than Sellers.

“We believe it is in the context of the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman that the full expression of sexuality is to be experienced and celebrated and that such a commitment is part of God’s plan for human flourishing,” the SPU Student Handbook states.

Sellers believes this message is not only hard to enforce, but may be detrimental to the overall quality of life of SPU students.

“I don’t know if it has ever been helpful to just say to a person ‘don’t do something,”’ Sellers said regarding SPU’s policy.

While the scope of knowledge SPU students have on sexuality may be in question, it still is a major issue that affects many students and their personal lives.

“It was always sad to me that while I was at SPU that we weren’t doing more to support student’s health and wellness in their developments of intimacy and the skill sets that you need to thrive in that part of your life — which is so important to your happiness,” Sellers said.

“I think we can look at Jesus and learn so many ways to honor and respect each other … and that includes being in relationship with each other emotionally, spiritually and physically.”


Correction: The NWIOI offers an advanced clinical sexology course, not psychology course.

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