The mission of ACSSW is to promote sexuality as a central aspect of being human that includes the intersection of interpersonal and intrapersonal influences on sexual expression and identities inclusive of age, race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender and gender expression, physical and mental health and abilities, and socioeconomic status.
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Upcoming ACSSW Live Webinars:
An Inclusive Approach to Sexuality and Disability
Presented byAmanda Tashjian, Pd.D., CRC, CLP, LPCP
Friday, October 15, 2021
8:00AM-10:00AM PDT/ 10:00AM-12:00PM CST/11:00PM-1:00PM EST
Deconstructing Sex Education: The Whole Truth & Nothing but The Truth
Presented by: Tanisha Sapp, Ed.D, LPC, CST, ACS, CPCS, and Cheryl D. Walker, MA, NCC, APC
Friday, Novemebr 19, 2021
8:00AM-10:00AM PDT/ 10:00AM-12:00PM CST/11:00PM-1:00PM EST
ACSSW Courses Available for Homestudy
This session presents both developmental and consequential sexuality issues associated with substance abuse and chemical dependency, many of which have been historically neglected both in treatment and recovery. Beginning with a “timeline” of the development of chemical dependency, sexuality issues are identified in early drug use, addiction, detox, rehab and treatment, early recovery, and long-term recovery. An overview of the effects of each of the major categories of “drugs of abuse” and a discussion of sexual identity follows, identifying important considerations for recovery. Finally, strategies for relapse prevention are discussed, particularly around those sexuality issues that have typically not been considered in treatment planning and 12-Step recovery programs. The session is presented as a lecture, illustrated throughout with rich case histories from the presenter’s more than 25 years experience as a psychotherapist, sexologist and addictions professional, as well as findings from the presenter’s dissertation research on the topic. The session will also present useful advice for practitioners to better incorporate sexuality and sexual health into treatment plans for their chemically dependent and recovering patients.
Intersectionality continues to be taken up across several healthcare disciplines as an interdisciplinary enterprise (Bowleg, 2021; Chan et al., 2018; Hankivsky et al., 2014). Drawing from its social justice ethos (Collins, 2019; Collins & Bilge, 2020) and roots in Black feminism (Cole, 2020; Combahee River Collective, 1977/1995; Crenshaw, 1989; Lorde, 1984), intersectionality provides a platform for merging theory, research, and clinical practice and tackling power inequities that shape culture, barriers, and access (Buchanan & Wiklund, 2021). Notably, intersectionality builds upon a central analysis of power and determines the cultural and political implications of sexology and sexuality (Bowleg et al., 2015; Bowleg & Bauer, 2016). Due to its larger analysis of culture, politics, and policy, intersectionality offers opportunities to reinforce a sex-positive approach for a number of historically marginalized communities, especially multiply-marginalized communities (Hargons et al., 2020; Semlyen et al., 2018). To connect intersectionality’s core tenets, the presentation will draw from an extensive theoretical base to responsibly use intersectionality (Collins & Bilge, 2020; Grzanka, 2020) and describe the richness and genealogy of the theory (Hancock, 2016). The presentation will integrate an overview of key exemplars of extant research that synthesize intersectionality, sexology, and sexuality. To bridge theory with practice, the presenter will illustrate multiple takeaways for clinical practice and systemic interventions for dismantling inequities in sexology and sexuality. The presenter will also involve a case example to foreground future possibilities for clinical practice.
The Ethics of Sexual Issues in Therapy
Sexual health and wellness topics in therapy are often ignored, deprioritized, or even pathologized by clinicians. Sexual issues are one of the few issues still considered to be so taboo that they can only be treated by specialists (e.g., sex therapists). Though, of course, sex therapists may be able to provide more specialized treatment of sex-related presenting issues, it is often unnecessary for clients to see a sex therapist for sex-related issues that are only tertiary components of a clinical presentation. Nonetheless, mental health clinicians continue to avoid sexual topics during their care, sometimes missing important components of the issue’s history, etiology, and/or symptomatology. One of the largest barriers to clinicians broaching the topic of sex is the ethical concerns of professionals. There are fundamental misunderstandings of the ethics of treating sexual issues in clinical practice. This program will provide information related to these ethical considerations, including models for arriving at appropriate ethical decisions related to treatment of sexual issues.
Although sexuality is part of the human experience, it is often disregarded in counselor training, in clinical practice, and professional counseling literature. With so few formal resources and training opportunities, students and counselors alike are left to explore human sexuality on their own – if they do it at all. More often than not, the mental health field as a whole, simply leave human sexual concerns to the “specialists”. Considering the wide variety of mental health concerns that are intertwined with the human sexual experience, it is imperative for counselors to receive a foundational training in human sexuality. Aligning with counselor identity and the wellness approach to mental health, this program will address the differences between a wellness model versus medical model approach to sexual concerns; explore the differences between sexuality counseling and the specialty field of sex therapy; and examine values, biases, and assumptions associated with personal sexual scripts by engaging audience members to examine their own beliefs about sexuality. Lastly, the audience will receive information on how to incorporate a sex positive framework that is guided by radical respect and approached from an intersectional lens.
The Association for Counseling Sexology and Sexual Wellness sent out a descriptive survey to counseling professionals using both CES-NET and ACA Connect Sexuality Interest Network to gauge the experiences in the knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy about sexuality and sexual wellness in counseling. Nineteen questions were created by one member of the board utilizing current textbooks and research regarding sexuality training, and were reviewed and approved by the remaining members of the board. The survey was sent out two times to get as many responses as possible, and had 178 responses. This presentation will focus on presenting the findings of this survey, and providing implications for counselors and counselor educators (as well as other mental health fields) around what this means for the helping professions in both training and professional practice. Sexuality is a part of the human experience which cannot be ignored, especially in a counseling environment, and represents a call to action for counselors to address this at the systemic level to provide the necessary education and training to help counselors be prepared in session.
Relational Cultural Theory (RCT) is a feminist approach to counseling that emphasizes human development through relational connection, explores the impact of culture and social systems on emotional and psychological development, and (Jordan, 2010; Walker, 2008), and underscores how development and relationships with others cannot be understood separately from how those connections have been “raced, engendered, sexualized, and situated along dimensions of class, physical ability, religion or whatever constructions carry ontological significance in the culture” (Walker, 2008, p. 90). Wellness, therefore, is fostered through relationships that encourage empathy, authenticity and empowerment wherein individuals can realize their relational competence and create relationships that can sustain disruption and relational injury (Jordan, 2010). When counseling cisgender women in same-sex relationships, maintaining an RCT approach will allow the clinician to review and examine how clients have been impacted by heteronormative societal messages of what it means to be female, to be sexual as a woman, and how to perform in relationships.
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.