Beliefs about Growth & Change

Here are the nuts and bolts–what I think I know about change and resilience

  • The capacity to fully experience both pleasant and unpleasant experiences is key. A wide Window of Tolerance is healthy.
    • Avoidance and denial are only useful short-term survival strategies. Are you able to fully experience and express your unpleasant experiences in real time? Or the soonest appropriate time? This is what grief processing is all about. Grief work is not about recurring thought-cycles from the past; however, it includes honoring the deep emotional truth you feel presently. If the pain is not honored, it may be waiting in the wings to surprise you and project itself into even more situations down the road. Take your devastation seriously (yet don’t act impulsively). Acceptance and meaning develop out of emotional truth (both pleasant and unpleasant truths).
    • Less discussed is Positive Affect Tolerance. Positive affect tolerance is the ability to fully embrace pleasant experiences (love, joy, success, etc). Many folks harbor unconscious fear when a pleasant experience presents itself because they are bracing themselves from future disappointment and pain. They would rather control their experience than ride the emotional highs and lows. This emotional numbing is an understandable strategy yet ultimately limits internal and external connections.
  • Grief is a part of life. If you want to possibly skip the expense of therapy in your healing journey, you may want a grief processing strategy. Here’s one option and another
  • Identify the emotional longing underneath your disappointments, frustrations, and desires. What are you truly longing for? It may not be in line with your initial words or assumptions. For example, if you’re overtly wanting sex, you might be longing to play, be cherished, or to connect. Once you clearly identify your deep emotional longing, you can generate additional approaches.
  • When magic happens in therapy, it’s usually around a Corrective Emotional Experience. If a client is repeating any unconscious patterns, assumptions, and solicitations, I do my best to respond in a way that is helpful, yet goes off-script from the pattern. Relational dynamics that are experienced earlier in life sometimes become expected, maybe even facilitated, unconsciously. The corrective emotional experience can open doors that may increase relational options outside of therapy. This kind of exploration is a huge part of what makes therapy different from other relationships, like friendships or colleagues.
  • Projections. There are a million things I could say about projections. They can wreck havoc on relationships or, if brought to awareness, can be useful in self-development. Recognizing projections can lead to healthy vulnerability and communication. Everyone makes projection errors. When we recognize projections, we can practice self-compassion and repair.
  • Inner child. Self-parenting is cheesy but real, valid, and often necessary. Neglect is gradually healed by taking the inner child seriously and responding with appropriate, consistent self-care (and community-care if you can find it). Our younger selves can be attended to in the here & now.

2022 & 2023 Continuing Education

Here’s a quick list of my studies the last couple years…I love my job!

(My year with the Integrative Psychiatry Institute is included in prior posts, skipping it here)

SUPERVISION

  • Clinical Supervision: Ethics & Effective Practice*
  • Ethical Frameworks for Multiple (Dual) Relationships

SEXUALITY

  • Issues & Clinical Implications around BDSM/Kink and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury*
  • Sex & Consent in Contemporary Youth Culture
  • Minimizing STI Stigma with Inclusive Education
  • Building Queer Families: Conception, Emotional & Legal Issues, and Resources^
  • Sex Positivity: what it is and isn’t
  • Decolonizing Mental Health & Sexuality through Irreverent Comedy
  • Sex after Sexual Assault
  • Pelvic Floor Health and Vitality: from Pain to Pleasure*
  • Trauma-Informed Assessment of LGBTQ+ Youth^
  • Emerging Trans: Therapists’ Role in Supporting TNB Young People^
  • LGBTQ+ Older Adults: Strategies and Recommendations^
  • Non-Monogamy/Polyamory Panel^
  • Rewiring Trauma through Kink^
  • Age Play Theory
  • Gender-Affirming Letter Writing for Clinicians^
  • Play Therapy with LGBTQ+ Youth: Caring for the Child, Collaborating with the Parent^

EMDR

  • Easy Ego State Interventions*
  • EMDR & Mindfulness*

OTHER

  • Ethics of Self-Disclosure
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Grief & Bereavement in LGBTQ+ Communities^
  • Borders & Walls: Facing the Other*
  • Differential Diagnosis with DSM 5*

*Longer events, ranging from 4 hours through 4 days

^Events I volunteer organized speakers for the Queer Affirming Therapists Guild

2021 Continuing Education

I attended and organized many programs this year. LMK if you would like to discuss!

I attended:

  • Sexual Development and Attitudes of African American Women
  • Sex and Sexuality in the Muslim Community
  • More than Medicine: Alternative Treatments for ADHD
  • Sex Therapy with Religiously Conservative Clients
  • Inter-generational Transmission of Trauma on Adult Sexual Intimacy
  • Couples After Pregnancy: Intimacy & Sexuality
  • Racial Literacy: Racial Stress in Therapeutic Relationships

I also organized events through the LGBT Affirmative Therapists Guild. I facilitated the event & discussion and other professionals presented on the following topics:

  • Hormone Therapy with Transgender Clients (medical provider panel)
  • Weight Stigma
  • HIV+: What Therapists Need to Know
  • Lesbian-Affirming Client Care
  • Reflections from LGBTQ Community Members

2020 Continuing Education

Here are some workshops I attended since my last update:

  • Pros/cons of forgiveness after trauma
  • treatment planning
  • suicide assessment
  • treating dissociation with EMDR (with Dolores Mosquera)
  • restoring sexual development via body-based therapies (with Dr. Nan Wise)
  • practicing during Covid-19: ethical & risk management
  • Black & White therapeutic dyads (with Dr. Laurie Paul)
  • developmental impact of shame
  • negotiating racial stress within a therapeutic relationship (with Dr. Howard C. Stevenson)
  • roots of self-sabotage
  • religious trauma: negative effects of purity culture
  • gender expansive & Non-Binary clients
  • sexual taboos within the Black community (with Christina Wright, MPH)
  • intimacy & sexuality after pregnancy (with Dr. Stephanie Buehler)

I also started a new EMDR Certification process through EMDR-specific supervision

On Fire

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.

Tantra Sexuality & Sacred Intimacy

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!

Decentering the Norm

I attended a 3-day workshop titled “Decentering the Norm: Social Justice Transformations in Sex Therapy, Counseling, and Sex Education.” Some highlights included:

  • sex tools that enhance or enable pleasure for people with disabilities
  • connecting pleasure with personal power and agency (rather than, for example workaholism)
  • a discussion of “sanism” and introduction to Mad Studies
  • how queer theory intersects and modifies attachment theory

Conference Summary

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

“Under the Influence” & Ethics Training

I just completed two additional trainings:

  • Sex Under the Influence: Substance Abuse and Sexuality
  • Ethical Code for certified sexuality therapists

I appreciated the substance abuse & sexuality training because oftentimes these issues are artificially segregated. For example, many substance abuse treatment programs avoid inquiry and topics related to sexual shame, sexual abuse, body image, and sexual orientation dilemmas that contribute to people’s addictive patterns.

The ethics training was mostly review–but important stuff. Anyone can view the Ethical Code. I also adhere to the American Counseling Association ethical code. If you have any questions about either of these topics, feel free to contact me.