In January and February, I am getting EMDR training. EMDR is a tool for increased resolution of trauma, including sexual trauma, and sleep disturbance. Here is a 2-minute video that briefly outlines SOME of the mechanics involved in EMDR treatment.
I’ve been reading Woman on Fire: 9 Elements to Wake up your Erotic Energy, Personal Power, and Sexual Intelligence. The 9 elements are: Voice, Release, Emotion, Body, Desire, Permission, Play, Home, and Fire. Amy Jo Goddard offers worksheets and exercises in each chapter to help individual women explore their sexual stories while identifying any stuck-ness, growth edges, preferred experiences, and experiments. I may refer to some of Goddard’s activities and resources as tools to bolster therapy.
I participated in a two-day couple’s workshop in Tantric Sexuality lead by Dr. Sally Valentine. Tantra is a special practice due to it’s concurrent engagement of the mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Tantra emphasizes a person’s internal body consciousness and self-love as a foundation for connection with a loved one. This foundation & specific practices facilitate a neural synchronicity between lovers with heightened non-verbal communication. I learned at least 12 non-verbal practices and 6 verbal practices for increased relational intimacy. I’d be happy to share these techniques with you!
I attended a sexual health annual conference again this year & added these trainings to my resume:
- Latin@ Bisexuality at the Intersections of the Erotic, the Exotic, and the Dangers of Colorblind Racism
- Tantric Meditation
- Sex on Film: A Research-Education-Filmaking Collaboration
- Embracing Your Discomfort: Cultivating Mindfulness in Sexual Health and Social Justice
- Ourselves as Context: the Ethics of Personal Disclosure in Therapy and in Educational Settings
- Bedpost Confessions [[–my FAVORITE experience. It was like the Vagina Monologues & Moth Story Hour for all genders and orientations with audience participation!]]
- Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape
- Pushing Boundaries: Teaching Diverse and “Taboo” Sexuality in Higher Education Settings
- Sexualizing Cancer
- Complexity of Couples, Sexual Desire, and Clinician Values
- Sexual Healing Heals More than Sex: an Embodied Relational Approach to Transformative Intimacy
- Narrative Conversations: Helping Clients Reconstruct Taboo
- Finding Pleasure and Intimacy When Sex is (Undesirably) Painful: Working Clinically with Pelvic Pain Diagnoses
- Interracial Open Relationships: How to Manage Jealousy and Promote Racial Sensitivity
I used to work in a university Career Services center. There, I learned that one of the toughest job interview questions was, “How do you define success?” It’s time I answer that question myself.
From my experience, productive counseling meetings incorporate three main therapeutic skills:
- I provide concentrated attention: capacity to listen, presence, and track the main points from our prior conversations
- I help someone expand their story: exposing & exploring additional layers
- I offer concrete options, alternative actions, and resources
I returned from another week of sex education. I took courses titled the Exceptional Sex Therapist (3 days); Resolving Trauma Through Somatic Experiencing, and Sexuality & Culture. Surprisingly, my favorite course was Introduction to Tantra. Before this course I thought Tanta was having sex for 24 hours at a time, which seemed kind of like a waste of time, honestly. I learned, instead, that tantra is a way of experiencing the eroticism in everyday life, sometimes without any specifically sexual encounters. Tantra is welcoming inter-connection while maintaining a primary connection with oneself. Eroticism bigger than sex—sensory and intellectual pleasure of many types and more of an attitude than particular events. Since March 17th, I keep going back to the 8 Principles of Tantra so I will briefly describe them here.
- Everything is an Experiment: Beginners mind, openness to experience, observation, willingness to gather data
- As Within, so Without: what happens in the world affects our individual experience; we need to prioritize and reset our bodies; we can offer our balance to the world
- Tapas and Spanda: in a concrete visual form, these are the eyes in the yin and yang that reflect the healthy healthy “masculine” energy within “feminine” energy and the healthy “feminine” energy within “masculine” energy. The tapas is about patient, non-attached willpower and the spanda is about a sense of wonderment, thrill, and joy.
- Inner Marriage: the healthy interconnection of dual, or contrasting energies within oneself. A well-integrated person is able to be consistently present in the world.
- Multiple Realms of Consciousness: everyday waking consciousness, mythical consciousness (symbols, projections), magical consciousness (big energy, transformation), and integral consciousness (all levels of consciousness simultaneous)
- Ascending and Descending Currents: chakras
- Transformational Healing Power of Pleasure: this may be my favorite principle–that pleasure can heal! As a trauma therapist and human being, I know that people can get stuck in trauma, vigilance, and guardedness. True pleasure is the opposite! True pleasure can restore our bodies and clear our minds. While sometimes pleasure can invite trauma processing (for example, someone can remember a painful event while laying on the beach) it also provides a welcome, stabilizing context for healing. It’s important to differentiate impulse and addictions from pleasure.
- Love: love, like pleasure, heals. It also connects people and connects humans to their surroundings.
I took a recent training with Yudit Maros called “Brief, Solution-Oriented Trauma Resolution.” This training specifically focused on troubling sensations in the body that may periodically resurface after the trauma. The BSOTR protocol helps a client attend to and correct the aftershock disturbances in the nervous system and one’s negative self-identity. Here are the most basic steps:
First, the therapist helps the client identify and practice a resource state called grounding. I can guide you through a visualization exercise that depersonalizes the pain and provides more comforting imagery, which tends to regulate the nervous system. We identify and develop comfortable imagery that helps you reset. Then, I ask you to scan your life history for anything that feels pleasurable and safe. We detail key components of the experience and you practice re-experiencing the positive experience and people. Later, we scan your life history again for an unpleasant or traumatic experience. I interview about what you would have preferred to experience. Then, I facilitate your current, grounded self attending to and taking care of your younger, distressed self through a series of self-care invitations, visualizations, and self-dialogue. When it appears that you have been a loving guide to your younger self and you have nothing left unattended about the chosen difficult experience, I invite you back to the here and now of the therapy room.
If you are interested in experiencing this BSOTR process or have any questions, please let me know.
I took a webinar with Brene Brown called Shame Shields. Dr. Brown is mostly known for her research on shame, worthiness, and healthy vulnerability. Her research reveals these core tenants about shame:
- We all have it
- No one wants to talk about it
- The less you talk about it, the more you have it
- Moving away — Avoiding, leaving the room, spacing out, daydreaming, distraction
- Moving towards — Hyper-appeasing, over-flattery, buttering up, sucking up
- Moving against — Attacking other people, inducing shame in other people
If you’re feeling distant from a partner or loved one and want to reconnect–you may need to:
- look at your partner with beginner’s mind
- do the scary work of emotional vulnerability
36 Questions is structure that can help you with these common sense, yet often elusive practices. These questions were developed and tested by psychologists. The results? A pair of strangers fell in love.
I purchased a subscription to SexSmartFilms.com, a collection of hundreds of educational and therapeutic videos for common sex therapy concerns. I look forward to providing customized video recommendations to clients. Without a subscription, each video can be viewed one time for about $1.00.