As I’ve written about in numerous other places on this blog, one of the more common situations I see in my practice is when a couple has been destabilized or thrown into crisis due to a new revelation from one of the partners about their sexuality. Some years ago, the most common type of revelation involved orientation, in which typically the male partner would be discovered or would initiate disclosure that he was gay. This was more common back before the kind of social acceptance that we are privy to now, but I certainly still do work with a number of men that still struggle in their coming out process.

Nonetheless, these days I’m seeing more of a trend of “coming out” issues revolving around sexual interests such as kink/BDSM and nonmonogamy. Just as social mores around orientation have evolved, so has this social awareness affected other forms of sexuality, such as BDSM, polyamory, swinging, and other forms of non-traditional relationships. As part of this process, media, in the form of magazines, books, and television and film have shed light or even popularized such “alternative” types of relationships. With 50 Shades of Grey selling more than 125 million book copies and the movie version grossing more than $500 million at the box office, it is no surprise that a growing number of people are becoming more aware, less judgmental, and more curious to explore new sexual behaviors within their own lives. Much of my own work, including my book Modern Sexuality and my Psychology Today column, has been in the service of helping individuals process and integrate new understandings of sexuality into their own lives and relationships

However, with all of these social changes afoot, mental health clinicians such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers still do not get enough training in sexuality, let alone alternative forms of sexuality. With this in mind, I have worked to establish training programs to assist clinicians that recognize they may need additional continuing education in working with patients/clients that bring up sexuality concerns in session. The Alt Sex NYC Conference, held every spring in midtown Manhattan and the Sexuality Speaker Series, which I both co-founded with sexologist Dulcinea Pitagora, offers live training.

But not everybody can make it to NYC, and many more need an extended, comprehensive program that provides a deeper dive than any one conference alone can provide. So, after many months of discussions and planning, I am happy to announce a new certification program in “Alternative Relationships”, in collaboration with the Modern Sex Therapy Institutes. This 50 credit program provides 20 hours of case consultation and can be taken remotely from home via live or recorded streaming video. I have recruited some of the greatest minds and respected experts in the field and, together, I believe we’ve created one of the finest and most rigorous programs available. I’ve provided a more thorough description of the program below. Also feel free to go directly to the training page to read more about what the program offers.


Modern Sex Therapy Institutes and Michael Aaron, Ph.D. are proud to announce the first ever Alternative Relationships Certification Program!

This 50-hour certification program comes with 20 hours of case consultation with Drs. Michel Aaron, Rachel Needle, and Ricky Siegel. Licensed clinicians can receive continuing education credits. Attend one course or the full program! The courses are all available fully online using our state of the art learning platform making participation convenient for you. Scroll down for more information including a list of courses offered. 

For the upcoming live workshop calendar please visit

Course Presenter Hours
Introduction to Alternative Sexualities and Working with Relational Systems Michael Aaron, Ph.D. 3
Understanding Non-Monogamy Zhana Vrangalova, Ph.D. 2
Working with Relationships Transitioning into Alternative Structures/Expressions Michael Aaron, Ph.D. 3
Introduction to BDSM and Kink Rhoda Lipscomb, Ph.D. 2
Alternative Sexual Expression and Desire Discordance (Working with couples with varying sexual interests) Michael Aaron, Ph.D. 2
Working with Ego-Dystonic Sexual Expressions Michael Aaron, Ph.D. 2
Specific Clinical Issues with Polyamorous & Non-Monogomous Relationships Margie Nichols, Ph.D. 2
Specific Clinical Issues with BDSM/Kink Rhoda Lipscomb, Ph.D. 3
Integrating Kink with Harm Reduction and other Therapeutic Modalities Michael Aaron, Ph.D. 2
Clinical Issues Around Negotiating Consent Emily Prior, M.A. 3
Kink as Normal – Helping clients embrace their authentic Kink desires Galen Fous, MTP 3
Unique Subcultures (Furries, otherkin, vampyres, etc) 40 minutes each Courtney Plante 1
Understanding Sex Work and Sex Workers Emily Prior, M.A. 3
AltSex and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals Lucien Felding, Ph.D. 2
Typical Issues Working w/BDSM & Kink (sex ed) Emily Prior 2
Understanding the Spectrum of Gender Expression Don Dyson, Ph.D. 3
Understanding the Spectrum of Orientation Expression Brent Satterly, Ph.D. 3
Authority-Based Relationships TBD 2
Intro to Polyamory Jim Fleckenstein 2
Poly course on dos and don’ts for therapists on working w/poly relationships Jim Fleckenstein 2
Psychodynamics, Archetypes, the Unconcious and Kink Galen Fous, MTP 3
Psychobiology of BDSM Edwin Perez, M.D. 1