When therapist Bonnie Young was a teen, the subject of sexuality was for her, “drenched in fear.” And many of us can probably relate. For many Latter-day Saints growing up in a sexually conservative culture and with a strict law of chastity — for all of the goods those things can bring — feelings of anxiety, fear, and shame around sexuality may be more the rule rather than the exception.
Bonnie’s on a mission to change that, and we think she’s done really important work to do so with her new book, Sex Educated: Letters from a Latter-day Saint Therapist to Her Younger Self. As the title implies, the book is structured as a series of letters, from Bonnie, to herself at various ages, starting as young as ten. It serves as a really useful retrospective, to get into our own minds at various stages of development, and helped remind us that there are really good, constructive, healthy ways to talk about sexuality to kids of any age.
That “talk” — the one that can produce so much anxiety among both kids and parents — is one of the main subjects of our conversation with Bonnie. She also had amazing insights around the difference between lust and arousal, about healthy sexual relationships between committed partners, and how this all fits beautifully into the theology of the Restoration.
Bonnie Young is a licensed marriage and family therapist, frequent presenter and podcast guest, and published author of several academic articles and essays on religion and mental health. She is the founder of Azure Counseling, an online mental health clinic focused on treating clients with anxiety, religious OCD / scrupulosity, and sexual disorders. Bonnie holds a bachelor’s degree in history with an emphasis in Mormon women’s history and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, both from Brigham Young University. She’s currently completing her doctoral studies at Utah State University in marriage and family therapy. Her dissertation work explores questions about women’s experience with power dynamics in Latter-day Saint marriages.