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with Ann Pellegrini PhD
Queer theory and psychoanalysis: it’s complicated.
On the one hand, queer theory shares with psychoanalysis an interest in the limits of identity: the way lived experience so often exceeds our capacity to name—let alone classify—desires, pleasures, relations, embodiments. On the other, queer theory, as influenced by French critical theorist and historian Michel Foucault, has shown us how psychoanalysis has historically functioned to control and “normalize” individuals. From its earliest moments, and especially in light of Freud’s “scientific” aspirations for it, psychoanalysis was a practice of knowledge whereby individuals (in order to be legible subjects in the world) were incited to identify sexuality as the deep truth of themselves. The issue here is not whether psychoanalysis has historically been homophobic or LGBTQ-affirming, though this surely matters to individual patients and to the wider culture, too. The point is rather that, however we identify sexually, we are called by culture to “be” a sex and “have” a sexuality.
This workshop asks what queer theory might have to contribute to: (1) psychoanalytic understandings of gender, sexuality, and embodiment in general (as if there is any such thing as embodiment “in general”) and (2) psychoanalytic ways of talking, listening, being, and becoming in the consulting room and out.
The workshop will be structured around an opening presentation by the workshop leader, close engagement with excerpts from key texts in queer theory (including but not limited to: Foucault, Judith Butler, José Muñoz, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick), and interactive discussion with and among the workshop participants. Readings will be made available in advance, and participants are encouraged to bring in clinical materials for group discussion.
About the Presenter:
Ann Pellegrini, Ph.D., is Professor of Performance Studies and Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University, where she also directs the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. Her books include Performance Anxieties: Staging Psychoanalysis, Staging Race; Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance (coauthored with Janet R. Jakobsen); and Queer Theory and the Jewish Question (coedited with Daniel Boyarin and Daniel Itzkovitz). She coedits the “Sexual Cultures” series at New York University Press and is a contributing editor to the journal Studies in Gender and Sexuality. In 2007, she was the Freud-Fulbright Visiting Scholar of Psychoanalysis at the Freud Museum in Vienna and the University of Vienna. She’s currently a candidate in the 4-year analytic training program at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy in New York City.
with Joanne Clark LCSW
This four week module provided an exploration of the intersections of race, class and size within the LGBTQ population. Special attention was paid to to countertransferential issues in therapy with clients who are ‘other’ e.g. of a different race, ethnicity, culture, class or size than the therapist. Racism, xenophobia as it relates to immigrants (legal or undocumented), sizeism are oppressive subjects that are rarely acknowledged or discussed in our work with LGBTQ clients.
Our clients do not want to talk about these subjects either because they are shameful, taboo and shame inducing. The clinician has to be prepared to be uncomfortable in these spaces and aware of the levels of privilege that they embody as they encounter their clients’ differences and intersectionality.
Offering a mix of theory and experiential exercises, clinicians were guided in a safe space to explore issues of race, size and immigration.
with Suzanne Iasenza PhD
When couples come to therapy with sexual problems patients and therapists often fall into the trap of thinking of them as somehow broken and in need of fixing. Integrating psychodynamic, systems, and cognitive behavioral approaches this series will demonstrate how to shift couples from a state of sexual disconnection to a process of sexual discovery. Emphasis will be on how to conduct a therapeutic sexual/relational history to identify sexual scripts and attachment wounds, develop a balanced treatment plan, and construct behavioral interventions that help couples transform sexual narratives and find a path toward sexual pleasure and connection. A live role-play of sexual history-taking will be included as well as case examples and explicit video to examine countertransference in working with sexuality issues.
with Joanne Mackie
Kink can be confusing and overwhelming for therapists when confronted with it in conversation with clients. Therapists’ prejudices are common when first confronted with a client’s kinky fantasies and behavior, and they can become a serious problem in therapy. Knowledge about s/m and kink can make the therapist more comfortable and better able to respond to the client’s particular needs. Joanne Mackie is a psychology student and Dominant with 18 years in the lifestyle. In this workshop, she discussed terminology, different kinds of play, safety and risks, and the very important matter of consent.
with Crystal DeBoise, LCSW
This workshop explored what it means to provide excellent clinical and social services to individuals who have been involved in the sex industry. Issues discussed included defining what sex work is and the complex and nuanced realities of sex workers’ lives. This course also explored coercion into the sex work industry (human trafficking) and how clinicians can assess for and best serve clients with those experiences. Best practices for sex workers and survivors of human trafficking were taught in an interactive and lively format.
with Margie Nichols PhD and Suzanne Iasenza PhD
Being a ‘gay affirmative’ psychotherapist in the 21st century means being knowledgeable about a lot more than same sex relationships. Increasingly the gay community has expanded and become home to bisexual people, transgender people, people who practice BDSM, people who identify as polyamorous/nonmonogamous- in short, all those whose sexual or gender expression is nonstandard. Moreover, these populations overlap and intersect – in other words, it is not uncommon to find someone who is bi, trans, poly, and kinky. Intersectionality in turns fosters new identities – pansexual, genderqueer- that call into question our late 20th century category systems. This lecture challenged definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity and outlined some assumptions of a new theory of sex and gender variance. Implications for clinical work were discussed. At the conclusion of this lecture, participants were able to: explain the importance of the age cohort effect in understanding LGBTQ identities and behaviors, explain and understand the breakdown of both the gender binary and the sexual orientation triparte systems, describe the ways nonmonogamy and BDSM have become integrated in queer culture, and understand the ways these cultural-contextual changes impact process, goals and technique of clinical work. This included considering countertransferential issues raised by clients’ unfamiliar sexual practices; learning to explore clients’ statements about sex and gender identity in depth; distinguishing between clients’ unconventional sexual practices and harmful ones; working with patients to better understand and deal with intimate relationships that include three or more people.
with Suzanne Iasenza PhD
Whether presenting with an open relationship or desiring our help to construct one, couples increasingly are using psychotherapy to explore and manage polyamory. Given the silence on the topic in graduate and postgraduate training, psychotherapists often feel unsure how to proceed. Countertransference can be a challenge for therapist and patient alike. Using case material, this course offered theoretical frames and clinical techniques in working with polyamory in couple treatment. It illustrated the integration of psychodynamic, systems, and cognitive behavioral approaches. This module payed special attention to the therapist’s use of self, including how to learn from and utilize countertransference.
with Julie Mencher, MSW
While uncomfortable feelings – confusion, sadness, fear, inadequacy, protectiveness, envy, disgust, sexual attraction, anger, impatience, frustration, identification — may feel challenging in non-clinical relationships, in therapy we often welcome them for the crucial data they contribute to understanding our clients’ inner worlds. However, well-meaning cisgender clinicians, even those fortunate enough to be well-trained in trans*-affirmative therapy, may suffer unusual discomfort with the more ‘negative’ countertransference reactions we have to our gender-nonconforming clients. This workshop established a safe, open climate for dialogue about the many countertransference challenges faced by non-trans clinicians in working with this population. A didactic presentation was followed by case conferencing, in which participants brought their most difficult moments to the light of day to brainstorm together how to recognize, work through, and utilize so-called negative countertransference reactions in work with these clients.
with Ian Kerner PhD, LMFT
This workshop surveyed the history of sex therapy through an LGBTQ lens and delineated models of human sexual response; it addressed therapist self-location when dealing with LGBTQ sexual issues and covered assessment of sexual concerns and case formulation: how to take a sexual history, conduct a sex-script analysis and use validated scales and measures to diagnose sex issues. Therapeutic interventions were covered, including cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, psychoeducational, and pharmacological approaches. This module addressed common sex problems, including desire, arousal and orgasm issues, in addition to problematic sexual behaviors including excessive porn use, hyper-sexuality and distress-causing paraphilias, Other topics related to LGBTQ patients were covered, including the effects of internalized shame and trauma, sex “under the influence,” sex script rigidity, safer sex, non-complementary sexual response between partners, trans sexual function and relational issues such as non-monogamy and polyamory.
with Daniel Chiarilli PhD
This workshop reviewed the persistence of disproportionately high rates of HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) and encouraged participants to think about ways to address risk taking and risk reduction with clients. Although the fear of HIV looms large for MSM, many do not take effective preventive measures. The workshop surveyed relevant data about condom use and shared information about attitudes toward condoms that participants had gleaned from their work and their own lives. This course also discussed the use of Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a potentially game-changing HIV prevention tool that has stirred up controversy and about which individual men who have sex with men are sometimes ambivalent.
Topics covered along the way included HIV 101 info on transmission and prevention, including the risks associated with specific sexual behaviors, and getting a relevant sexual risk history without jumping through hoops. Information on access to testing and PrEP for un- and under-insured clients were also shared.
with Amelia Pope LCSW and Kyle Suchomel LMSW
This course gave a historical overview of the LGBT experience in contemporary times, owning the progress of what has come to pass, while exploring what continues to be a challenge to different generations of LGBT identified individuals. While the AIDS epidemic shaped the experience of LGBT identified baby boomers, how is Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) impacting millennial youth who are coming out now? Has there been a generational loss of information now that the Zeitgeist is greater acceptance and rights for the LGBT community, and if so, how does it and will it impact future generations? These questions and more were addressed over the course of 6 weeks, through a combination of readings and discussions. Presenters and participants addreseds issues such as identity formation, shame, micro-aggressions, coming out, and internalized homophobia across different generations and their clinical implications in the consulting room.