I was in the middle of writing another post, this time about the intersection of Buddhist psychology and sexuality, but then I figured, you know it’s the holidays and the end of the year, I got so much other news to share, so why not save it for the New Year. So, with that thought process in mind, I’ve decided to hold back on that post and others, and instead share it with you in the coming months. In the meanwhile, there’s a ton other stuff going on, so let’s try to prioritize for a moment, and start at the top.
First, I’m finally finished with my book! Well, at least the first draft. But my editor has already gotten back to me with her comments on the first half of the book, all with mostly positive feedback, so I think it’s safe to say we’re coming down the home stretch. I still think we have a few rounds of technical edits and then picking out the cover and title, etc., but the main ideas are there, the chapters with the possibility of some tweaks are on the page in black and white. Looks like we are headed to a late 2016 launch, so I’ll keep everyone posted. Be sure to sign up for the mailing list on the right sidebar to keep updated about the book’s release date.
Next, I’m putting together a conference on alternative sexuality, the first of its kind in NYC, with my colleague therapist Dulcinea Pitagora on April 22, 2016. Here’s a quick rundown of the sessions below and if you’re interested in learning more, please go to our website at www.altsexnycconference.org and register or put yourself on the mailing list:
NYC AltSex Conference Agenda–April 22, 2016 8:15AM-5:30PM
- 8:15am: Welcome Address, Michael Aaron, PhD, LCSW and Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW
- 8:30am: Keynote Address Margaret Nichols, PhD “Kink is Good: BDSM in the Context of New Models of Sex and Gender Variance”
- 10:00am: 5 min Break
- 10:05am Workshop #1 Zhana Vrangalova, PhD, “Myths and Realities of Consensual Non-Monogamy”
- 11:05am Workshop #2 Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW, “The Kink-Poly Confluence: Community Intersections and Clinical Approaches”
- 12:05-1:20pm Lunch
- 1:20pm Workshop #3 Michael Aaron, PhD, “Facing Your Shadow: The Healing Potential of Psychological Edge Play”
- 2:20pm Workshop #4 Rosalyn Dischiavo, EdD, “Metamorphosis: Braving Transitions in Polyamorous Relationships”
- 3:20pm 10min Break
- 3:30pm Workshop #5 David Ortmann LCSW, “Age Play: Eros, Practicality, and Walking the Edge”
- 4:30-5:30pm Panel Discussion and Final Words (not seeking CEs for this panel
Last but not least, I spent six months organizing and leading a work group within the Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) to draft a position statement denouncing any therapies that seek to pathologize non-normative sexualities and sexual minorities. The genesis of this statement and group have a very interesting history, which I promise I’ll get to in a future blog article, but for now let me leave you with the entirety of the statement for your perusal:
AASECT Position Statement November 2015
Sexual Expression including Orientation and Identity: Treatment and Education Foundations
It is the position of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists that we oppose any and all therapy models and interventions as well as any educational programs and curricula that seek to pathologize, dictate, or prescribe a person’s sexual orientation, identity, and/or consensual, sexual expression, whether or not it is conventional or atypical. Regardless of how such clinical interventions or educational programs are labeled or named, AASECT recommends all helping and educating professionals to utilize best practices and culturally relevant resources for foundation and reference.
Furthermore: AASECT affirms that sexuality is central to the human experience and sexual rights must be honored in order for sexual health and overall well-being to be obtained. Informed by the best empirical research, AASECT recognizes human sexual experiences as diverse and supports the acceptance of sexual diversity while embracing consensual sexual expression within the framework of human rights and social justice.
AASECT accepts the evidence that human sexual experience includes a vast spectrum of sexual expression, orientation, and identities. These sexualities, between consenting adults when agreed upon, with permission, and assenting, are typically not psychopathological behaviors. Indeed, recent peer-reviewed research on these sexual experiences shows no correlation to pathology.
AASECT further asserts that all people seeking treatment and education about consensual sexual behavior, identity, or orientation deserve accurate information. AASECT accepts that the empirical evidence is reasonably complete on reparative and conversion therapies that attempt to change sexual orientation or identity and shows that these techniques are experimental at best and overwhelmingly ineffective, with harmful consequences for clients widely documented.
AASECT takes the position that social justice plays an essential and foundational role in the organization’s mission. Individuals have the right to be free as possible from undue constraints (e.g. discrimination, stigmatization, oppression and violence) along with the freedom to consensual sexual expression. Destigmatizing human sexual expression and experiences as well as creating and maintaining safe space for those who have been traditionally marginalized are essential practices for AASECT members who are predominately mental health practitioners and educators. This overarching goal compels AASECT to disavow any therapeutic and educational effort that, even if unwittingly, violates or impinges on AASECT’s vision of human rights and social justice.
Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! And here’s to a great 2016! Oh, and happy Sex!