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

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