Contact Building: Emotional Exchanges Between Counsellees and Counsellors in the Late Socialist Period in Poland

Article Summary by Agnieszka Kościańska

This article focuses on Wiesław Sokoluk, one of the key Polish youth counsellors and sex educators active during the late socialist period (the 1970s and 1980s), looking at his path to becoming a sex educator and youth counsellor as well as his practice in both fields. Sokoluk started his career in the early 1970s at an experimental humanistic psychiatry ward under the supervision of a pioneer of humanistic psychiatry Kazimierz Jankowski. Later, he was an active member of the Polish Planned Parenthood Association, and caused a nationwide scandal in 1987 by writing a highly progressive sex education handbook for high schools that was banned after just two months. Above all, in the 1980s, Sokoluk became one of the major sex educators and youth counsellors in Poland. Admired by young people, he based his practice on the achievements of the Polish school of sexology and developed his therapeutic skills within the context of courses and workshops mainly organized by the Polish Planned Parenthood Association. In this article, I discuss in detail Sokoluk’s path to becoming a sex educator and youth counsellor as well as his practice in both fields. I treat his story as a case study that illustrates the specific development of the related disciplines of sex counselling and education, and I argue that he was the product of a specific approach to both fields that developed in state socialist Poland (1945–1989).


Read the full article on the Medical Humanities journal website.


Portrait photograph of Agnieszka KościańskaAgnieszka Kościańska is an associate professor at the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw and, in 2021 and 2022, she was Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Oxford School of Global and Area Studies. She is the author and (co)editor of several volumes on gender, sexuality, and discrimination, including Go Away: On Polish Racism (in Polish, with Michał Petryk, 2022, Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej), To See a Moose: The History of Polish Sex Education (Berghahn Books 2021, Polish edition 2017, Wydawnictwo Czarne), Gender, Pleasure, and Violence: The Construction of Expert Knowledge of Sexuality in Poland (Indiana University Press 2021, Polish edition 2014, University of Warsaw Press) and An Excessive Instruction, a book long conversation with the sex educator and youth therapist Wiesław Sokoluk (in Polish, Wydawnictwo Czarne 2018). More:

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