Dr. Sandra Byers, a professor based in New Brunswick, has received national recognition from the Royal Society of Canada for her research work in sexual dysfunction. Dr. Byers is the chairperson of the University of New Brunswick (UNB) and doubles up as a clinical psychologist. Rather than focusing on treating sexual problems that cause dysfunction, the professor narrowed her research down to factors that promote sexual satisfaction between partners. The professor admits that this focus is what made the study stand out from the crowd full of top professors and other academics from Canada, and even abroad.
This research took the practicing clinical psychologist a staggering 40 years to complete. She joined the Psychology Department of the UNB in the late 1970s, at a time when few people would openly talk about human sex and related problems. Her first assignment involved a local support group for people who had suffered strokes, as she was recruited to talk to its members on matters that revolved around sex. The then-young academic was not yet specialized in human sexuality, but still gave a perfect delivery during the lectures. The lack of, and the increasing need for, sexual psychologists is what pushed her to pursue this career.
Most of the scholars who do similar studies focus on sexual dysfunction, and Byers thought that it would be helpful to change course and focus on satisfaction, which many people yearn for. She says that sexual problems don’t equal up to sexual satisfaction, and people would rather know how to satisfy their needs than just knowing the problems. The down-to-earth doctor, who has authored multiple books and journal articles, is happy that her work is posing a challenge to colleagues, but maintains that her main purpose is to impact people’s lives. In the early 2000s, the doctor researched the sexual attitudes of people in New Brunswick to help the provincial authorities to draft sex education curriculum for public schools.