So, here is the spirit of this trip. All serious to learn yet have plenty of fun! The picture you see is of the outgoing President of AASECT, the incredibly talented, smart and dedicated Michele Sugg who has ably led AASECT for the past two years and whose caring and positive personality shine wherever she goes…Speaking of shining, here’s yours truly in a fast photo bomb. We were having an elite lunch with past AASECT leaders at the beautiful Nepenthe in Big Sur, California. We are seated in front of the famous Phoenix statue. Woo Hooo!
Here are my highlights from the weekend annual conference of AASECT, held in gorgeous Monterey, California. Yes, there were a few moments of warm sunshine to break the notorious drifting banks of fog. I had to buy a new jacket. Brrrr. But it was a delight for me to be there to share with old and new friends and good colleagues and to revisit one of my fave places on planet Earth.
- Opening Plenary with Paul Joannides: “I Wish My Clitoris Was Bigger, So My Boyfriend Could Find It”
Our opening talk was presented by Paul Joannides, author of the acclaimed book used worldwide as the primary text on sex, The Guide to Getting It On: A book about the wonders of sex. If you have never read it, it’s time! This is the single most comprehensive book on sex/uality ever written for a lay and professional audience. It is the Holy Grail of sex books, with clever cartoonish imagery and brilliant and often funny prose. Think “in your face”, “no holds barred”, “the whole enchilada on sex” and this is the book. His talk was to show us what’s going on in the minds and groins of college age youth– particularly the males on campus. His mission was to inspire/teach us as the group of sexuality pros (educators like myself, counselors and therapists, students and other members who attend to promote their projects or fill in as vendors or volunteers). He did just that. It was upbeat, entertaining and informative about how much porn usage influences young men’s perception of women, sex and themselves. Boy, we sure have a lot of work to do in educating men about the sexual truth and weaning them off porn into real relationships with what are known as humans.
- Pre conference workshop with Reid Mihalko/ “Sex Positive Professional 3.0: Upgrading Your Business and Community”
I had the sheer pleasure of being enrolled in a half day seminar with the uber-smart and charmingly entertaining Reid Mihalko, founder of the Sex Geek Movement and host of an upcoming Sex Geek Summer Camp in the hills of West Virginia that should be a hoot and a transformational journey into your own learning for self improvement as a successful sex educator. I really liked his teaching style of well constructed and creative power point slides and good discussion promoters for group dynamics. Although it was a very small attendance, those who participated enjoyed the bonding we shared and I’ll bet the ranch we all walked out of there with a greater sense of what makes for good business practices and how to ramp up our brand. I learned about Red Ocean vs. Blue Ocean models of business that inspired me to keep up my own preaching to friends and colleagues, that there is plenty for everybody in the sexology field/business and that being a generous collaborator not a competitor is the new model. I am reminded of the Youngbloods’ song lyric, “Come on, everybody get together, try to love one another right now….”
- “Introduction to Transgender Affirmative Psychodynamic/Depth Theory and Practice” with Cadyn Cathers:
Because I lead SAR training programs around the world, I love having people share from their “Lived Experience”. One of those is a well regarded LA-based graduate school instructor, clinician at the Los Angeles Gender Center, and an educator who has shared his own “trans”-ition with me along the way. He is one of the smartest trans educators and speakers. This session was no exception for its brilliant portrayal of therapeutic issues, calling us to be sensitive to trans language issues, self identification issues, and how to address or approach working with trans clients in the sexology world.
- “Global Perspectives: Sexual Diversity through the Lens of Erotic Art”, by myself and Robert Dunlap.
Sometimes it’s harder to toot your own horn (no, I don’t mean masturbation!) than to promote the wealth of others’ contributions. Robert spent over 500 hours editing and assembling a fine array of depictions of sexuality expression and eroticism from our trips around the globe. We talked about the four themes: These 4 dominant themes contained in the art documentary and narrative are:
1. Sexual empowerment
2. Outlet for repression or suppression: political, cultural, religious, emotional
3. Revealing cultural and/or historical values, norms and messages
4. Spiritual pathways for sexual ecstasy
Our images were culled from street art, museums, artifacts and collections in China, Hong Kong, Czech Republic, Belgium, USA, Netherlands, and more….to find out in person what’s hot in erotic art, come to our presentations at both Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit and CatalystCon West this year.
- “Emerging Frameworks and Innovative Approaches to Mending a Broken Heart”: by Carol Cassell. Another highlight was Dr. Carol Cassell’s presentation on this topic of relationships, intimacy and romantic love lost and found. What I found fascinating was that few scholars have studied or written about this topic in the academic literature but oh so many have written volumes about it in our popular literature. OMG, can this presenter rock the room! Check out her site.
- “Future Sex: Innovation, Digital Natives, and the Changing Experience of Sexuality” by Brad Perry. I loved this guy; fresh and poised he presented an overview of where youth are at today vis a vis technology. I guess the best thing I learned is that for many youth today they are dubbed “digital natives” (DNs) , and for them the use of technological devices is nature not something to be learned. In fact my take away was that most of us “seniors” learn to use technology in the world around us. For the DNs technology IS their world. Their access to sexual information abounds since the onset of the Internet, their playground and schoolground. We as sexologists need to find our comfort zone within burgeoning aspects of technology and understand how to reach our own target audiences as educators and clinicians in new ways, by adopting how advertising, public health and behavioral economics might address the new digital world. I found this so scary and refreshing at the same time, to acknowledge just how digital our lives have become and to be prepared for the tsunami of growth ahead of us in the digital age.
- Awards: I so enjoyed my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Gina Ogden receiving the 2014 AASECT Book Award for her book, Expanding the Practice of Sex Therapy. Gina and I both created holistic multi-part models of assessment and action (treatment) plans to assist our clients along their path to sexual self realization. Her model, termed ISIS (yes, this is the ISIS that brings healing and light to our planet, not hatred, murder and violence) and integrates the spirituality of our human selves when it comes to sex. Take a look at our newly formed ISIS Network and sign up for the news. My own model, MEBES also integrates the elements of our spirit/uality and uses Energy to drive the wheel of change. Kudos, Gina!!
- Scientific Plenary: “Women’s Sexual Health: Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going”. I so enjoyed the presentation by two amazing sexual scientists, Dr. Beverly Whipple (known for her research especially on the female GSpot and female prostate) and Nan Wise for her doctoral work on neuroscience and women’s orgasmic response. Now this is cool science if there ever was some!
- Last panel presentation: “Re-Visioning Ourselves as Change Agents: Transformative Models of Sexual Healing” with Gina Ogden, Linda Savage, Chelsea Wakefield and yours truly: In this workshop we presented four systems and alternatives to the mental health/medical model for facilitating sexual growth, healing and change. To learn more visit their websites. Linda Savage. Chelsea Wakefield. Gina Ogden. My book, The Art of Sex Coaching and my online trainings at SexCoachU.com both teach my own healing modality and how to implement that for your clients and/or yourself.
Hope you enjoyed my highlights. To learn more about AASECT stop by the website.
xo, Dr. Patti