Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy (LIIST)

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John’s Take-Away Messages From A Sexuality Conference

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LIIST staff therapist, John Mutziger, attended the 2019 AASECT Conference. So we decided to interview him about his experience.  

What is AASECT?

AASECT is a culture of inclusion, empowerment, and compassion.

Having an organization that promotes a sexually happy world certainly lends itself to an environment that is inclusive, empowering, and compassionate! These are also characteristics that John possesses as an excellent therapist—it makes sense that he would gravitate to these aspects of AASECT.

What did you hope to learn at the AASECT conference this year?

Attending an AASECT conference is a wonderful experience. Sexuality professionals have an opportunity to teach others about a topic they are expert in, to learn from other professionals, to meet their idols, and to forge new professional relationships.

I hoped to gain new perspectives from experienced academics and clinical providers as well as learn new skills to help me grow as a counselor.

What were one or two powerful moments during the conference? When was your heart reached, or your mind changed?

My heart was reached as I learned more about bi-erasure (when an individual experiences feelings of invisibility due to their bisexual orientation). Feeling invisible, especially within the queer community, is a heartbreaking experience. It was powerful to learn that people within the largest sexual minority group experience feelings of invisibility. This resonated with me as a counselor because it provides me with an opportunity to validate and empower those who feel unappreciated by their peers, friends, or family.

woman kissing another woman
Photo by Tallie Robinson on Unsplash

My mind was most changed with regard to my perspective of minor-attracted persons. Admittedly, my initial reaction to the subject was negative and my mind began to open as the lecture moved forward. This subject resonated with me as a counselor because this paraphilia is marginalized by the mental health community due to the uncomfortable nature of pedophilia. Sexual health is a human right and access to help without fear of shame or stigma is inherent to that right.

As the director of LIIST does not have any training or expertise in working with minor-attracted indviduals, this is not an issue any of the therapists at LIIST currently work with. If you or someone you know is dealing with minor attractions as an adult, we can refer them to other therapists and organizations who might be able to help.

Who did you see or interact with during the conference that you really admire? Why do you admire them, and/or what knowledge did you gain from them?

I met a surrogate partner therapist while at the conference. I learned how surrogate partner therapy is a collaborative process, with the client, surrogate and sex therapist all working together with a treatment plan. I admired the surrogate partner therapist’s ability to facilitate deep and transformative connections with their clients.

wheelchair signage
Photo by marianne bos on Unsplash

Surrogate partner therapy exists in a legal grey area in NY State. In some places, this profound work is illegal. In some states, like California and Florida, there are professional organizations that have exceptionally high standards for surrogate partner therapists to achieve and maintain. Their work has often been crucial for the effectiveness of sex therapy throughout its relatively short history. Without surrogate partner therapists, sex therapy often fails to be effective, especially for individuals without a sexual partner.

What are one or two nuggets of new information or insight that you will use your practice immediately?

I immediately went back to the office prepared to discuss how sexual satisfaction is more than just feeling good about one’s sexual self, it’s about being sexually energized by connection.

The concept that healing does not mean that the damage never existed stuck with me. Instead of healing negating the damage, healing means that the damage no longer controls one’s life.

How can someone contact you to schedule an appointment?

smiling man, with short hair parted to the side, wearing a button down shirt
John Mutziger – headshot

I am part of an amazing team at The Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy. Thanks to conferences and other growth opportunities, our therapists are some of the best and brightest on the block. If you think I might be able to help you or your relationship, feel free to reach out to us. Our phone number is 516-690-6779, (you can even text us there!) and you can email us at Info@LISexTherapy.com. If you’re curious to about me, you can learn more at www.SexTherapyLongIsland.com/About-John

What Dr. T took from the AASECT conference that will improve her work as a sex therapist

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What is AASECT? What did you hope to learn at the AASECT conference this year?

AASECT is the American Association of Sexuality Counselors and Therapists. It’s an organization dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and best practices for professionals who help people dealing with sexuality-related issues.

Philadelphia skyline
Philadelphia skyline

This year’s conference theme was “Let the Body Rejoice.” As such, I most enjoyed the focus on consensual pleasure. Heading down to Philadelphia, I hoped to learn more about working with difficult issues around polyamory (such as opening up a monogamous relationship or repairing from broken trust) and about managing the secrets we end up holding as therapists.

What were one or two powerful moments during the conference? When was your heart reached, or your mind changed?

I thoroughly enjoyed a presentation by a former student of mine, Carly Goodkin, and her two colleagues, Katy Pacino and Diana Lozoya, about utilizing the Cartoon Network TV show Steven Universe to educate children about gender, sexual orientation, and bodily autonomy. As a sexuality educator, and someone who is often guiding parents through these conversations, I will certainly be using these ideas.

Kate Bornstein presented to almost 800 people about sexuality, gender, and the political act of being. She crystalized a series of thoughts I’ve been considering for some time– there is nothing wrong about believing whatever you need in order to reduce your own human suffering, it is, however, wrong to impose these beliefs on others.

Who did you see or interact with during the conference that you really admire? Why do you admire them, and/or what knowledge did you gain from them?

Quite by accident, I sat next to Samantha Manewitz during lunch. Samantha had just presented about the transformative power of kink, especially with regard to healing from trauma. Samantha is someone I’ve admired for a few years, after hearing her speak at the AltSex Conference in NYC.

I’ve been in the field for many years now, so some of the “big wigs” are my mentors, colleagues, and friends. I enjoyed reuniting with Sabitha Pillai-Friedman, Chris Fariello, Michelle Marsh, Rachel Needle, Ricky Siegel, Leticia Brown, Juan Camarena, Jane Fleishman, and Jayleen Galarza. I also got to fangirl a bit upon meeting Beverly Whipple, Arlene Lev, and Joe Kort.

What are one or two nuggets of new information or insight that you will use your practice immediately?

Martha Kauppi guided a generous conversation about the focus of a relationship therapist as guiding clients through self-regulation and co-regulation by promoting honest speaking up, active listening, and empathic connection. I am excited to rededicate my focus on relationship therapy as a balance between symbiosis and differentiation.

I also developed a new professional crush on Linda Weiner. Her work is prolific and she is a magnificent person! We have used her work explaining and normalizing sex therapy at LIIST for a while so it was a wonderful opportunity to meet her and hear her speak.

Dr. Torrisi Smiling with Dr. Weiner
Dr. Torrisi Smiling with Dr. Weiner

Can you explain more about what that means? What do you mean by symbiosis and differentiation?

Symbiosis is when we do things in a relationship to maintain the status quo, to maintain the relative calm. Differentiation can also be calm, but it often requires moments of relationship upheaval in order to find relationship growth.

What’s the best way to find out more about this, or to schedule a consultation?

We have an amazing team at LIIST. Thanks to conferences and other growth opportunities, our therapists are some of the best and brightest on the block. If you think we might be able to help you or your relationship, feel free to reach out to us. Our phone number is 516-690-6779, (you can even text us there!) and you can email us at Info@LISexTherapy.com. If you’re curious about who the 7 of us are, you can learn more at www.SexTherapyLongIsland.com/Our-Team

LIIST Logo
LIIST Logo

About Dr. Torrisi

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Rosara_013Dr. Rosara Torrisi, LCSWR, MEd, CST, PhD

You can feel confident knowing you’re working with an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist. Dr. Torrisi has experience discussing diverse sexuality topics including aging, pregnancy, male & female sexual dysfunction, cancer, autism and relationships, and sexual minority relationships.

Dr. Torrisi is a licensed clinical social worker with a specialization in Sex Therapy. Dr. Torrisi has considerable experience in sexual dysfunctions, low desire, erectile difficulties, orgasmic dysfunctions, depression, anxiety, divorce, pre-marital assessments, sexual orientation issues, gender identity issues, sexual minority individuals and families, adoption and foster care, trauma, chronic illness, life transitions, and the effects of these on individuals and families of all types.  Dr. Torrisi works with individuals, couples, relationships, and families. Dr. Torrisi has received Our Whole Lives comprehensive sexuality education training from the Unitarian Universalist Association for youth, young adults, and adults. She has also achieved Level 1 of the Gottman Couples Therapy Method.

Dr. Torrisi is an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master of Science in Social Work and earned a Master of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University where she also earned her PhD in Human Sexuality. She is an Adjunct Professor at Widener University and guest lecturer around the county, teaching courses about sexuality, sex therapy, and disabilities.

Dr. Torrisi is a member in good standing of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), the Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR), and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Dr. Torrisi is both a member and presenter on behalf of the Sexuality and Aging Consortium. Dr. Torrisi is recognized as a welcoming and kink-aware therapist by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and is also a recommended therapist by the Long Island LGBT Network.

Gender pronouns and titles: She/Her/Hers, Ms., Dr.

 

¡Hola, Wildilisa!

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Wildilisa Silverman

Wildilisa Silverman, LMFT

Wildilisa Silverman is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who received her MFT from Hofstra University. She is passionate about helping others live the life they deserve. Her practice focuses on the various needs of her clients–through individual, couples, relationship and family therapy.

Wildilisa’s clinical work is solution-focused in nature, but her style encompasses a more eclectic approach, with a concentration on sexuality-related issues. You will learn to effectively implement coping skills that you will be able to apply across all areas of your life. Wildilisa is particularly interested in supporting clients through issues with work, marriage, social relationships, and raising children.

She is also a native Spanish-speaker and has experience working with unique cultural backgrounds. She is in the process of getting her Level 1 training of the Gottman Couples Therapy Method, which can help couples learn how to manage conflict and rekindle fondness and admiration.

Wildilisa is a member in good standing of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

Gender pronouns and titles: She/Her/Hers, Mrs.

Wildilisa is currently in the office on Fridays from 11 am to 7 pm.

Para clientes que hablan español, llame a Wildilisa directamente al 631-552-5686.

Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Bondage by Mistress Couple

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book cover for the ultimate guide to bondageReview of The Ultimate Guide to Bondage: Creating Intimacy Through the Art of Restraint. By Mistress Couple, Jersey City, NJ, Cleis Press, 2018. 294 pp. $ 16.95 (softcover). ISBN: 978-1-62778-274-6

Dr. Rosara Torrisi, LCSW, MEd, CST, PhD

The Ultimate Guide to Bondage is exquisitely written, from nose to tail. With Mistress Couple’s writing style, it is easy to be right there with her. This book is encompassing of all the information necessary to become a rising bondage practitioner. If you find yourself struggling against Mistress Couple’s instruction throughout this book, consider what this might say about your own relationship to dominance and submission. It is not feasible, however, for 294 pages to make up for real-world experiences. As a sex therapist and educator, I recommend that you make note of where you have questions, meet up with respected bondage experts in your area, and learn more.

The introduction follows Mistress Couple’s journey to bondage and is the beginning of a thoughtful examination. This primer underscores the quality of her training and expertise as a Mistress. She is honest, cautious with her reader, and tenderly nudges as she engages the reader on this journey. Her expert advice is evident, as she effortlessly speaks to the novice and the professional alike.

As a researcher and professor, I appreciate that Mistress Couple gives credit where it is due. The historical contexts are part of the cultural sensitivity needed when appropriating techniques. It is an act of privilege to disregard the historical implications of what one might be using for play. Although my academic background would have done this differently, I do appreciate that Mistress Couple’s footnotes link to sources that are not in scientific journals. This means the resources are more readily available to any reader.

Mistress Couple utilizes recognizable educational pathways to instruct her readers. There is a well-rounded definition of terms used throughout the book. These definitions allow everyone to understand her vocabulary the way she intends to use the words. She also uses accessible examples for complex ideas. The flow chart provides a structure for readers to absorb how bondage techniques crystalize or bifurcate. The number/color system of pain/pleasure considers multiple dimensions to quickly convey receptivity. The overview of the most common materials used in bondage is outstanding. There are also valuable pictures, drawings, and first-person-account essays. She also provides a quick overview of prevailing ideas within the mental health community about the origins of fetishes.

I agree with Mistress Couple’s connections of bondage to birth, trauma, consent, intimacy, and finding the authentic self. The Ultimate Guide to Bondage persistently reminds the reader to enact emotional and physical safety measures. More than sexual tension is released through sexual connection, so trauma-informed bondage is crucial. The conversation about how to receive and give consent is refreshing and woven throughout the book. It would be wonderful for everyone to understand consent so well, regardless of involvement in BDSM. I find Mistress Couple’s assessment of restraint as a method of returning to the universal experience of being in a womb, and the release of traumas such as birth, to be quite interesting. Developmental, trauma and attachment therapists will recognize their theories echoed in these pages.71MQJ8rUA9L

The Ultimate Guide to Bondage is comprehensive for those personally and professionally interested in bondage. There are some areas of BDSM in general that are not discussed in this book. For example, further exploration is needed for anyone interested in learning more about anatomy and physiology, role play, specific fetishes, penetrative play, impact play, and non-monogamy. This book could easily be used in an academic course, along with scientific journal articles and supporting primary documents.

‘Sex Education’ on Netflix

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Dr. T mostly liked the new Netflix series. It does miss the mark in a few ways, mostly because it’s made for entertainment. One of the areas but discussed in this article is the lack of racial and ethnic representation. Read more about her thoughts in this article by SELF magazine.