The Sexual Education and Peer Counselling Centre held their first workshop of the year. The “How to Listen” workshop included topics on the basic listening sequence (namely, “open questions, encourager, paraphrase, reflect feelings, normalizing, and summary”), roadblocks to communication, and knowing when to give advice and when to listen.

The workshop was specially designed for students who wanted to learn counselling techniques, but the techniques are also intended to be useful in everyday life.

The workshop was organized and run by James Boutilier, the external education coordinator of SEC.

“We wanted to do something different,” he said. “Healthy relationships and healthy sexuality are about more than condoms and contraceptives; they’re about communication. And we thought a workshop on listening would be a good way to start that conversation.”

After the event, Senka Zahirovic, one of the head coordinators of SEC, said she felt that people had a good time and that they learned a lot. “We want to be able to reach the entire community of the school, and get people to know more about SEC and emphasize the peer counselling component of it,” Zahirovic said.

All of the executives on the team have stated that this year they want to try to include things that appeal to the whole UTM community, instead of focussing on condoms and lubricants.

In addition to the events for which SEC has become known over the years, they hope to add other events that will be educational and informative about other topics.

“It is important that we have events like this that may not necessarily be about sexuality but can help people in a broader sense, since part of the main purposes of SEC is the peer counselling aspect—which does not necessarily involve sexuality at all,” said John Simpson, SEC’s office manager.

This was the first of many workshops and events that SEC has planned for the year. Aleksandra Petkovska, the advertising director of SEC, said they are planning to hold a workshop every month. The next one, entitled “Misconceptions about HIV/AIDS”, is to be held on November 21. This comes a day before their annual World Aids Day event, whose theme this year will be Moulin Rouge.