AASECT Certified Counselor Spotlight - Phillis Mims-Gillum, M.D., FACOG, CSC

AASECT Certified Counselor,  Phillis Mims-Gillum, M.D., FACOG, CSC, answers a few questions for the Certified Counselor Spotlight: 


1. Can you give me a quick rundown of what keeps you busiest these days?

I am in clinical practice as a Women’s Health Physician in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology with an emphasis on Sexual Health. In addition to  dedicated Sexuality Counseling Services, I provide ongoing patient and provider education to enhance awareness and create safe spaces for open dialogue about Sexuality and Sexual Health within the clinical setting. I am pleased to be teaching faculty for the University of Michigan Certificate Program for Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. I am also active writing, blogging, and speaking publicly on empowerment, health, self-care, intimacy, sexuality, and BEYOND. 

2. Why was it important to you to become AASECT Certified

Being AASECT Certified is as important to me as my Board Certification as a Physician.  It highlights more than my education and training. It exemplifies my commitment to the field of Sexuality and a dedication to maintaining the skillset, knowledge, quality, and professional standards necessary to provide competent care. I understand that the rigorous evaluation process is designed to protect the legitimacy of the field of sexuality and the reputation of its members individually and the organization as a whole. 


3. How do you think being certified will benefit your work?
Certification allows me to show professional colleagues and clients my level of ongoing commitment as I promote Sexual Health as an important part of Total Health Care and Self-Care. It will add validity as I shed light on sexual health issues and concerns while highlighting the multiple opportunities for treatment, collaboration, and referral. As a physician and as a AASECT Certified Sexuality Counselor, I am uniquely positioned to spread the word and to help bridge the gaps between Medicine, Sexual Medicine, and Sexuality Counseling and Therapy. 


4. What are your main areas of interest within the field? What would you consider your special niche?
I am committed to finding proactive ways to introduce/reintroduce health care professionals to the field of Sexuality and create a setting where acceptance, skill, knowledge, and medical training will allow sexual issues to be recognized and openly addressed in the health care setting. A major issue for many providers is not having full knowledge of referral options and resources. I want to educate and inform to help eliminate this roadblock. As a Physician and a Women’s Health Specialist,  my special niche and passion is educating and empowering women to understand, embrace,  and own their sexuality.


5. What has been the most exciting project you've worked on, and why?
I was recently contacted by Dermatology Services to collaborate with them to address sexuality and sexual concerns with/for their patients.  In particular, I was invited to be involved with a support group for individuals affected by Hidradenitis Suppurativa, a chronic skin condition characterized by multiple abscess or boils that commonly affect underarms, groin, thighs, breasts, buttocks. I am over the top excited that my colleagues in Dermatology recognized how sexuality can be impacted by this (and many other conditions) and took the initiative to engage. It affirms for me that health care professionals do want to help and will be great advocates for patients across the spectrum if they know who, where, to whom, and how to refer. It gives me loads of ideas of ways my AASECT family can work to make these important connections possible for all.

6. What is the most challenging issue you face, and why? What helps you get through it?
The most challenging issue I face is time constraints,  not just in a clinical setting, but  also having time to balance personal life  and nurture professional growth and the work I would like to do in the field. I manage this best by remembering that I am not operating in a silo. I embrace collaboration and partnerships that allow a wiser use of resources, manpower, and time to make significant strides in the field of sexuality. I truly believe that adopting that approach will be the secret to our success as an organization. 


7. What do you wish you knew when you were starting out in this field that you know now?
When I started in this field, I knew there was so much I did not know and needed to learn. It is an ongoing process and I commit to it every day. I wish I had an awareness of ASSECT and that I knew more about the field of sexuality way earlier in my medical career. There are so many people that could have been helped. Now that I know, I’ll be working double time. 

8. Is there anything additional you would like to share with AASECT members?

Lucille Clifton says it best…”It is nice to find your tribe, or actually, what happens is, your tribe finds you; and you are so happy.” 

I am honored to be a certified member of the AASECT tribe. Now let’s keep it moving, we have more work to do. 

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