Presented by The Office of Continuing Education and The Association or Counseling Sexology & Sexual Wellness
Pleasure Advocacy: A Sexual Wellness Model
Program offers 2.0 CEs for Psychologists and 2.0 BBS California CEUs for LPCCs, LPSW, and LMFTs
Event recorded via Zoom on May 21, 2021.
Research has shown that sexual well-being is a critical factor in overall health and quality of life (Giami 2002; Higgins et al., 2006; McCabe et al., 2010; Southern & Cade, 2011). According to the World Health Organization (2006) sexual health includes not only physical and biological health related functions but also sexual pleasure and satisfaction. The World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) at the World Congress of Sexual Health in Mexico City in 2019 established the “WAS Declaration on Sexual Pleasure.” This indicated a shift toward recognizing that sexual pleasure was necessary for sexual health and a central factor to overall wellbeing. (WAS, 2019). However, it is not possible to discuss sexual pleasure without also acknowledging the political and cultural influences which often restrict and interfere with access to sexual pleasure and recognition of sexual pleasure as a basic human right.
Historically, the attention on sexual health has been on alleviating suffering and pain. Mental health professionals focus on pathology and dysfunction rather than the absence of disease. Sexual education, when it is provided, stresses disease, death, and all of the potential risks of becoming sexually active. According to the author Adrienne Maree Brown, who wrote the book, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good (2019), pleasure activism is defined as “the work we do to reclaim our whole, happy, and satisfiable selves from the impacts of delusions, and limitations of oppression and/or supremacy.” (p.13). She challenges pleasure activists to cultivate recognition of the restorative richness of pleasure that is available to everyone, in spite of having been socialized to believe that sexual pleasure is only acceptable when experienced by white males. Or that sexual pleasure is in limited supply reserved for those who are young, healthy, and meet society’s definition sexually attractive.
Mental health professionals have an ethical obligation to promote sexual health as an essential aspect of the human experience. This includes acknowledging sexual pleasure as central to sexual wellbeing. Competent clinicians need to obtain education and training in order to work effectively with their client to address sexual issues. This means being able to recognize the complex cultural aspects of sexuality and sexual pleasure which includes race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender and gender expression, values and beliefs, SES, physical abilities as well as current social/political events which work to oppress minoritized groups. The access to and ability to freely engage in “pleasurable and safe sexual experiences free of discrimination, coercion, and violence” as a fundamental human right unfortunately is not available to all people.
This workshop will review the political and societal influences which impact sexual pleasure for oppressed groups in the U.S. Sexual pleasure will be redefined in a way that is more expansive and inclusive. Different tools that have been developed to measure sexual pleasure and satisfaction and their limitations will be examined. The presenters will discuss the WAS Declaration of Sexual Pleasure and the importance of pleasure advocacy as mental health professionals.
After attending this intermediate-level workshop, participants will be able to:
1. Identify the ways in which sexual pleasure is influenced by politics and societal norms.
2. Identify common research tools for measuring pleasure and sexual satisfaction as well as their limitations.
3. Apply pleasure advocacy to their clinical work in order to promote sexual health.
4. Utilize understanding of the historical attempts to oppress sexual pleasure for women and People of Color to inform their social justice work and become pleasure advocates.
Professional Bio of Presenter, Frances McClain, PhD, LCPC, NCC, Director of Clinical Training, Office of Placement & Training, Counseling Psychology, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Frances McClain, PhD, LCPC, NCC is a licensed clinical professional counselor and received her PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and her Master’s in Counseling from Governors State University. She is the Director of Clinical Training in the Office of Placement & Training for the Counseling Psychology department at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, IL. She is the lead instructor for the Practicum/Internship Seminars and Human Sexuality courses in her department. She was the Director of Clinical Services at The Josselyn Center, a community mental health center on the North Shore, for 10 years prior to joining academia. Throughout her career she has worked in a number of different capacities that includes individual, family, and group clinical work, clinical and administrative supervision, grant writing, program development and implementation, case management, psychosocial rehabilitation, community liaison work with both private and state psychiatric hospitals, and consultation with mental health centers around program development and accreditation preparation. Her career journey has taken her from the far south suburbs, to DuPage County to Chicago and the North Shore. She has a limited private practice working with clients on a pro bono basis. She specializes in working with individuals with co-occurring illnesses, trauma, crisis and disaster response, and sexually related issues, LGBTQ+ and other sexual minoritized communities. She has spoken at both state and national conferences and workshops on a variety of topics including multiculturalism, professional ethics, working with the LGBTQ+ community, and sexuality. Dr. McClain is the President-Elect and one of the co-founders of the Association of Counseling Sexology & Sexual Wellness (ACSSW), editor of the ACCSW newsletter, and on the editorial board of the Journal of Counseling Sexology and Sexual Wellness: Research, Practice, & Education. Her areas of interest for research include social justice, abolitionist work, human sexuality, participatory action research, counseling sexology and sexual wellness, LBTQIA+ and kink communities, and pleasure advocacy.
Professional Bio of Presenter, Lisa Salvadore, MSW, LCSW, LCPC, CADC, Lecturer, Jane Addams College of Social Work, UIC
Lisa Salvadore, MSW, LCSW, LCPC, CADC, is a licensed clinical social worker and received her Master’s in Social Work from Aurora University. Ms. Salvadore is a full-time lecturer at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). Additionally, she has been an adjunct assistant professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology since 2009. During her tenure teaching at a graduate level she has taught a wide variety of courses which include clinical skills and interventions in practice, corrections, mental health policy, human sexuality, theories, as well as substance use related courses. Between 1994 to 2011 she worked at the DuPage County Behavioral Health Department and was instrumental in the development of the first mental health court in Illinois. Additionally, Ms. Salvadore assisted in the development of the Mental Health Court Professionals Association of Illinois, which was the first in the nation. Since 2006 she has maintained a limited private practice and specializes in working with persons with co-occurring disorders as well as persons with gender identity issues and other sexual minority populations. Ms. Salvadore has presented at state and national conferences and provided trainings on topics related to compassion fatigue, motivational interviewing, working with adult offenders, and human sexuality. Her areas of professional interests include counseling sexology and sexual wellness, social justice, fighting stigma against mental illness, harm reduction advocacy, promoting wellness in the LGBTIA+, Kink and Sexual Minorities Communities.
Program Standards and Goals
This program meets APA’s continuing education standard 1.3: Program content focuses on topics related to psychological practice, education, or research other than application of psychological assessment and/or intervention methods that are supported by contemporary scholarship grounded in established research procedures.
This program meets APA’s continuing education goal 3: Program will allow psychologists to maintain, develop, and increase competencies in order to improve services to the public and enhance contributions to the profession.
Registration and Fees:
ACSSW Members: Free. Click here to register to access ACSSW Member courses. Please note, you will need the password provided to you by ACSSW.
General Admission: $40.00
TCSPP Staff/Faculty: Free
TCSPP Faculty and Staff can access this program for free by registering here
TCSPP Students: Free
Current TCSPP Students, with school email address, can access this program for free by registering here
TCSPP Alumni: $20.00
Brown, A. M. (2019). Pleasure activism: The politics of feeling good. AK Press.
Ford, J. V., Corona Vargas, E., Finotelli Jr, I., Fortenberry, J. D., Kismödi Eszter, Philpott, A., …Coleman, E. (2019). Why pleasure matters: its global relevance for sexual health, sexual rights and wellbeing. International Journal of Sexual Health, 31(3), 217–230. https://doi.org/10.1080/19317611.2019.1654587
Jolly, S., Cornwall, A., & Hawkins, K. (2012). Women, sexuality, and the political power of pleasure. Zed Books.
Landers, S., & Kapadia, F. (2020). The public health of pleasure: going beyond disease prevention. American Journal of Public Health, 110(2), 140–141. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2019.305495