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Contact building: emotional exchanges between counsellees and counsellors in the late socialist period in Poland
  1. Agnieszka Kościańska
  1. Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
  1. Correspondence to Professor Agnieszka Kościańska, Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw, ul. Żurawia 4, 00-503 Warszawa, Poland; akoscianska{at}


In Poland after World War II, the related fields of sexology, sex education and sex counselling developed a distinctive model of communication between counsellees and counsellors. 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. It treats his story as a case study that illustrates the distinctive development of the related disciplines of sex counselling and education. It specifically focuses on the communication between Sokoluk and his counsellees, school pupils, correspondents and readership. It shows how the distinctive methods underpinning emotion-driven communication between counsellor and counsellee developed, while presenting them as products of particular economic, political and religious conditions of late socialism, including state-funded education and healthcare as well as the relative sexual openness resulting from the struggle between the state and the Catholic Church.

  • Gender studies
  • Sexual medicine
  • cultural history
  • medical anthropology

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Data are available upon reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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  • Contributors AK is the sole author of this article. AK designed and conducted the research and is responsible for the overall content as the guarantor.

  • Funding Writing this paper was possible thanks to a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, the University of Oxford (OSGA), and an OSGA research allowance. Collecting materials for this article was supported by the Department of Ethology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Participants gave informed consent to participate in the study before taking part.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.