Austin, Texas was the host city this year for the fantabulous AASECT annual conference, with just about 500 sexperts gathering to share new trends, cutting edge information, networking, and joining in the community of qualified professionals: Sexuality educators, counselors and therapists.

This is my “home” organization, where from 2006-2008 I was reigning president. What a great time we had. Click above to learn about the highlights and what I took away:

First, what I love about this group is the sense of love and community. Here I am with my luminary friends at a dinner: Linda Savage, Gina Ogden, and yours truly, being photographed by the incoming AASECT President, P. Michele Sugg….

Highlights in learning, cutting edge new trends and aha moments:

1. Paths to Sexual Healing: Extraordinary Techniques to Expand Your Expertise and Grow Your Practice (panel): Gina Ogden, Patti Britton, Linda Savage, Chelsea Wakefield. This was one of the most popular sessions, with four of us presenting our unique models for helping clients to reboot desire, overcome sexual difficulties, find zest and remove obstacles in a holistic paradigm, moving far from the medical model and uplifting our clients and ourselves in the process. Ogden described her well researched ISIS model, using a medicine wheel approach that allows an interactive and participatory engagement with mind/body/spirit; Britton presented her MEBES model, integrative, integral, whole-person centered and based on a holistic approach using clinical sexology as the “what” and coaching as the “how” to assist clients in resolving over 46 different sexual concerns; Savage talked about the 7 chakras and using energy sites in the system to let couples move past stuck places to ascend into ecstasy; and Wakefield shared her use of Jungian archetypes to discover the ‘inner cast of characters” inside a person, some of whom help and others of whom hinder finding sexual satisfaction. It was riveting, fun and transformational for some of our attendees.
2. Sexual Pharmacology, by Larry and Ricky Siegel: This was one of my faves as these two brothers showed us the internal workings of the human endocrine system and the brain. And they really scolded the roomful of sex therapists about not thinking that they are trained medical experts; rather they cautioned that no one really fully understands how the drugs that are used for the treatment of anxiety/depression, etc. work which have negative sexual side effects in most cases; nor does science fully understand the human side of drug interactions. Their rubric was clear: Stay off the side of medical advice and stick to what you do: Sex counseling or therapy. The science is too young and unclear to be sure about what works, how it works, and what to do about the plethora of RX and herbals that people take and their overall impact on sexual health, functioning and pleasure. So there!
3. Blogging About Sex to Attract Clients and Media. By Joan Price. Joan is a fairly new person to the field of sexology, yet she has two well-selling books designed for senior sexploration. Her newest book Naked at Our Age won the book award this year, and her session was on how to have a snappy, snazzy and active presence in the blogosphere. Way to go, Joan! (And this peppy senior teaches line dancing!)
4. What’s New In Transgender Health? Walter Bockting, U of Minnesota professor and researcher was the esteemed speaker on Trans Health issues. Walter is a great presenter, leading researcher and thinker about trans health issues. His speech covered the “good news” that the Standards of Care for the treatment of Gender Identity issues has now shifted to a pro-patient/client perspective and away from clinicians being the sole gatekeepers of a trans person’s life. WPATH is the organization that governs these standards and they can be downloaded if this interests you.
5. “Trans” the movie was another AASECT award winner, a documentary made by two well respected colleagues and dear friends, Mark Schoen and Chris Arnold; and this film brings to life the world of living as a trans person in its many dimensions. It is touching, informative and educational, and shows the diversity among the trans communities. I especially was deeply moved by the footage of the little “girl” whose parents supported her journey into the gender of her authentic self. Don’t miss seeing this one.
6. Synergy In Couples and Sex Therapy: What Motor Neurons, Neuroplasticity, and the Psychology of Flourishing Can Tell Us About Sex and Sexual Enhancement. By Stella Resnick, author of the new must-read book, The Heart of Desire: Keys To the Pleasures of Love…overcoming the lust-love dilemma. This presentation was one of my favorites, citing the new research of positive psychology, (including theories on the science of flourishing), the critical aspects of attachment theory and styles, breathing as a key to emotional healing, neuroscience, and the ultimate and brilliant combination of new directions in the field of therapy for couples who’ve lost their mutual sexual connection over time.
7. Sexuality and Religion: What’s Race Got to Do With It? by Bishop Yvette Flunder. Well, talk about a rousing conclusion to a mind-expanding weekend, this was the 10 on the 10 scale. Not only was Bishop Flunder one of the professional singers of the Gospel and Motown eras, but she is one powerful speaker and an out Lesbian and prominent voice for African Americans. We heard her “sermon” late on the last day (Sunday) of our conference. Her magical, empowering, inspiring words to rally the need to speak out against “isms” landed smack in the bulls eye of the need for openness, tolerance and acceptance of sexual and racial diversity. Her message for community inclusiveness and that as she said at her finale, “You need me; I need you” left our group in tears and shouts. In this era of political winds that want to shut down many of our sexual health needs and other sexual freedoms, this was just the medicine we all were seeking to be re-energized to go out and fight for what is right for our clients, our students, our friends and ourselves as sexual beings. Rock on, Bishop! And if you are lucky enough, you can catch her live at U.C.C. Church in San Francisco where she presides with dignity and strength each week. And to experience her magnetic presence yourself, click here [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7ra2VBMpGw[/youtube].

That is just a sampling of what happened in Austin at the AASECT annual conference. If this interests you, join AASECT. Come to the next annual conference, June in Miami, Florida.

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