Quick Facts

  • CSHC has trained more than 15,000 professionals since 2009
  • Physicians, nurses, teachers, social workers, and psychologists receive minimal training on sexuality and relationships, even though it often comes up in their day-to-day work
  • Professionals tell us they would like to receive more training in this area
  • For many people, a nurse, youth worker or doctor may be their main source of information and advice, including about sexuality
  • By providing professionals with information, skills, and resources, they can influence change on a large scale with the people they work with

The Training Centre Story

We know that professionals are key to normalizing sexuality. Imagine – if all the professionals in a person’s life had a non-judgmental, holistic view of sexuality and the skills to answer questions, what kind of change would it make?

The Calgary Sexual Health Centre has been providing innovative sexual health programs and services for over 44 years. We began to realize that while our programs were beneficial, we were often with a client group or an individual for a short time, and when we left there was no one who could continue the conversation.

We determined that an additional strategy would be to train professionals who support individuals daily, arming them with information and skills to answer questions and create a safe space for people to ask sexual health questions. As an organization with a long-standing tradition of providing effective programs, we saw an opportunity to deepen our impact and tackle an issue at its root.

The Training Centre officially began in 2009 and has grown exponentially, creating workshops based on the needs in the community and customizing workshops for individual groups. Today the Training Centre at Calgary Sexual Health Centre gives service providers the ability to respond to people who have sexual health questions. Our experienced facilitators lead interactive and engaging workshops that include discussions around normalization, values, boundaries, and resources. Through capacity building with professionals we are dramatically increasing the number of clients that receive sexual health services beyond the scope of our organization.

“Our staff are now more comfortable and equipped to have conversations with the young people in our program around anything concerning sexual health. The training gives you the right information and the right language to use. It becomes more comfortable and you’re more confident.”

-Lisa Seel-Thompson, Calgary Family Services

The Workshops

Training Centre workshops increase the comfort and skill of professionals to talk about sexual health, relationships, gender and sexual diversity. Our workshops help professionals clarify their personal values in regards to these topics and how those values may impact the way we work with clients. Workshops are customized learning sessions that are interactive, engaging, and designed to specifically meet the needs of your group and client serving population. Sessions can be offered in a time and space that is most convenient for your staff.

What will you gain?

  • Increased comfort and skill to discuss relationships, sexuality, gender, bullying, and sexual health
  • Increased safety and comfort for clients and staff to recognize and celebrate diversity
  • Higher rates of staff retention and engagement
  • Staff who feel prepared to deal with the sometimes triggering aspects of sexual health
  • Staff who can respond to all clients’ questions and situations without causing shame or harm
  • Staff who recognize and separate their own personal values from their professional values
  • A common approach to addressing sexuality within a team

All sessions are evaluated and based on research and best practices in the area of adult education and workplace learning. Facilitators are skilled professionals and come with years of experience.

Alberta certified social workers will be granted Alberta Council of Social Workers Category A Level Credits for completing CSHC workshops.

“It was helpful to hear about how diversity can be misjudged and how that can play into addiction. It helped me become more aware of the LGBT community”

-Melisa Piper, Addictions Counselor

Travel & Fees

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 three hours, but programs may be combined to create a full day or more. Fees range based on the length of the workshop.

We are based in Calgary but are able to travel to wherever your staff group is located. Additional fees may be applicable based on how far our educators must travel. To book a training session for your organization, or to discuss customized training, please contact:

Becky Van Tassel, Community Development Manager
403-283-5580 ext 317

Who We Are

Becky Van Tassel has been employed in the non-profit sector since 2001. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of Education specializing in Adult, Community and Higher Education. From her years of academic and professional experience Becky is adept at creating enjoyable, meaningful, and practical educational sessions for adult learners. As a facilitator Becky is skilled at facilitating difficult topics, discussions, and is able to bring a sense of humor to serious issues. Becky is a Community Development Manager at the Calgary Sexual Health Centre.

Chelsea Kelba has a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree from the University of Calgary, specializing in Health and Society. Her previous work experience has been in the areas of suicide prevention, crisis intervention, mental health, teenage pregnancy and parenting, and employment assistance. Chelsea started at the Calgary Sexual Health Centre over 3 years ago, delivering education programs to youth and adults of diverse backgrounds and experiences from a sex-positive perspective.

Invest in Your Staff

We often assume that professionals we deal with in our day-to-day lives – doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers – have been trained to ask the right questions and give the right information when it comes to sexual health. Unfortunately this topic is often neglected in post-secondary curriculum, and professionals are often left feeling unprepared for the questions that come from their patients, clients, and students.

Training professionals means that Calgary Sexual Health Centre is having a deeper impact than ever before. By sharing our message of healthy bodies, healthy relationships, and healthy communities to groups of people who touch lives every day, we ensure that more people will benefit from our work.

When you invest in the Training Centre, you invest in a healthier future for all Albertans.

Building Comfort and Skill: Integrating Sexual Health Into Your Practice

In this training session participants will define sexuality in a broad context, explore their own attitudes about sexuality, and receive practical suggestions for engaging clients and patients in conversations about their sexual health and well-being. This program helps professionals set boundaries around what is appropriate for discussion, and familiarizes participants with resources in the community.

Supporting Sexuality in Older Adults

Information about sexual health is often inaccessible for seniors as attitudes towards sexuality are often ones of embarrassment. This leads to seniors’ isolation from valuable information. Having current information and engaging seniors in conversations about sexual health will provide them with the tools to continue to live healthy active lives.

In this workshop participants will define sexuality in a broad context, explore their own attitudes about sexuality, and increase their confidence and comfort in talking with older adults about their concerns and needs. We will explore specific issues that older adults may be experiencing, such as questions of consent, as well as working with the whole family. Participants will practice responding to situations and will leave with practical tools and strategies to address sexuality in their work.

No Longer Silent: LGBTQ Older Adults

In this workshop, participants explore the reality of heterosexism in our society and its impact on LGBT individuals as they age. Myths, language and definitions are clarified and strategies to create safe and supportive environments for LGBT older adults are practiced.

Working with Sexually and Gender Diverse Youth and their Natural Supports

For the last 4 years, we’ve been learning about the importance of natural supports in the lives of youth, in particular for youth who are sexually and gender diverse. This workshop will increase participants’ understanding and awareness of sexual and gender diversity and the issues sexually and gender diverse (S&GD) youth face. We will discuss key strategies for working with S&GD youth, such as language use, how to find and work with their natural supports, and how to begin developing LGBTQ-positive practices and programs. We will also discuss what it takes to create safer spaces that are LGBTQ youth inclusive, and how to provide LGBTQ-appropriate referrals.

Creating a Culture of Respect for Gender and Sexual Diversity

Building on the anti-homophobia work that Calgary Sexual Health Centre has been doing since the 1990s, this workshop defines and examines the differences between sex, gender, and sexual orientation. We discuss the root causes of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and heterosexism, while looking at both media messaging and our culturally constructed views of gender and the impact this can have on clients and coworkers. Participants will leave with practical strategies for creating a safer, more inclusive and respectful work environment. They will also learn about additional community resources and referrals.

Supporting Sexuality in People with Developmental Disabilities

Research has shown that people with developmental disabilities can have unique challenges when it comes to creating healthy relationships, boundaries, and exploring sexuality. We also know that people with developmental disabilities are at an increased risk to experience sexual assault (PHAC, 2011). Participants will define sexuality in a broad context, explore their own attitudes about sexuality and receive practical suggestions for engaging clients in conversations about their sexual health and wellbeing. This workshop will also help professionals to set boundaries around what is appropriate behavior, clarify age of consent guidelines and make referrals to community resources

Sexuality and Boundaries: Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

This workshop is based on research and best practices in the area of sexual harassment prevention and response in the workplace. This workshop is unique because it approaches this issue by exploring the negative cultural constructions of sexuality. Through interactive discussions and activities, participants learn about not only the personal impacts of workplace harassment, but also understand how this can lead to unhealthy work environments. Participants leave with tools to address conflict, clarify boundaries, and understand the role that bystanders can play.

*This workshop is also appropriate for bars, music festivals and entertainment venues.

Becoming An Ally: Being an Active Bystander

This workshop provides participants with a deeper understanding of the roots of homophobic and sexual bullying and harassment. We explore strategies to address bullying, prevent harassment, and highlight the roles of bystanders. Participants leave prepared and confident to address this issue in a way that empowers the person experiencing harassment, while providing teachable moments to those engaging in it.

*This workshop is also appropriate for bars, music festivals and entertainment venues.

Supporting Healthy Relationships and Sexual Decision Making

In this workshop, participants will gain the knowledge and tools to help youth navigate the challenges of making healthy sexual decisions in today’s world. Current issues in teens and sexuality will be discussed, as well as examining the research surround what youth want to know and how they want to learn it. Participants will also clarify how values and boundaries influence the health of relationships. Participants practice techniques for facilitating healthy boundary setting and proactive sexual decision making with youth.

Youth, Sexuality, and New Media

This fun and engaging workshop will explore current mediums that people are using to learn about, express, and engage in sexuality. The focus of this workshop is placed on how messaging from mainstream media sources is creating challenges in sexual identity, sexual decision making, and a skewed perception of healthy sexuality. Participants will learn to teach youth and adults media literacy skills. Participants can expect to leave with increased comfort and tools to assist them in discussing sexting, social media, and how to make informed decisions regarding their engagement with these mediums. This workshop can be tailored to both youth and adult populations.

Sexuality after Trauma: Trauma Informed Sexuality Counselling

Unfortunately, many people have experienced sex and sexuality in a negative way, through harmful cultural messages or abuse. In this workshop, participants will examine the impact of trauma on the sexual response cycle and explore a framework for healthy sex. As well, participants will learn strategies and tools to help clients reframe sex and sexuality and experience sexual wellbeing.

Sexuality and People Experiencing Homelessness (full day)

Staff who work with clients experiencing homelessness have complex jobs that require a high degree of comfort and skill in discussing a variety of topics. However, sexuality and the impact of sexual trauma on a person’s sexual well-being is one area that staff receive little to no training on how to address. In this workshop we will explore the concept of healthy sexuality and what that means for our clients.  We will discuss negative influences on sexuality, the sexual response cycle, and how we can support individuals in reclaiming their sexuality. Participants will get a chance to explore their own values and assumptions about how people experiencing homelessness interact with their sexuality, and to discuss appropriate boundaries and how to reaffirm those boundaries. Specific tools and strategies we can employ to discuss and support sexuality with our clients will be used and participants will get a chance to practice these tools using scenarios.

Helping Guys Be Wise

Often neglected in sexual health messages and education, men require unique approaches in order to encourage healthy sexuality. In this training session participants will increase their comfort and skill communicating with men and boys about sexual health. Participants will explore current issues in male sexual health, myths, the role of pornography, consent and relationships. Participants will receive practical strategies, tips and resources to help their male clients be sexually healthy.

Exploring Stigma and Sexually Transmitted Blood-Borne Infections (STBBIs)

During this workshop, we will explore stigma and the impacts of stigma on service users. Participants will be provided with an opportunity to reflect on their individual attitudes and beliefs related to sexuality and substance use, as well as organizational policies and practices that can contribute to stigma. Participants will also be provided with practical strategies and tools that can help create a safer and more inclusive environment for your clients or patients.


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

Becky Van Tassel, Community Development Manager

403-283-5580 ext 317


Understanding the Guidelines: Creating a Culture of respect for Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Gender Expression

A Professional Development Opportunity for Schools in Alberta

This workshop will explore the Government of Alberta’s “Guidelines for Best Practices: Creating Learning Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Gender Expressions” This workshop will assist professionals working in schools to have greater awareness and understanding of gender and sexual diversity. Drawing on the guidelines facilitators work together with participants to identify strategies to create safe and supportive environments for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.

We are very excited to book your school and staff for professional development please contact Becky Van Tassel at bvantassel@calgarysexualhealth.ca to schedule your session during PD days.

We can also support your school in hosting a Gay Straight Alliance, healthy relationship programming, WiseGuyz programming, and sexual health education. Please visit our program pages and workshop listing for more information about our services.


More Info ► www.UnderstandingTheGuidelines.ca