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Workshop Descriptions

(in order of appearance)



Quiet Connections: Strengthening Attachment Without Talking It To Death

Jeff Lutes, LPC, QTAP

Every self-help book in print preaches the importance of clear communication and conflict resolution in growing and maintaining a healthy relationship. Most of these books, based on heteronormative relationship models, focus on the differences between genders and say little-to-nothing about the communication patterns operating in same-sex relationships.Talking about their relationship doesn’t always bring partners together. In fact, it sometimes drives them further apart. One partner’s anxiety makes them pull closer, while the other’s shame makes them respond with distance and avoidance. Neither nagging nor stonewalling improves a relationship, but sometimes couples find love beyond words. In this brief plenary session, we will quickly examine how couples might get closer in ways that do not require long conversations or deep archeological digs into their psyches or families of origin. Attendees will:

  • Learn why talking about the problem often backfires

  • Examine the reason connection is ultimately more important than communication

  • Explore at least three strategies for improving your relationship without overtalking

Practice-Based Evidence: LGBTQ + Client Recommendations for the Adaptation of Emotionally Focused Therapy

Caitlin Edwards, MA, LMFT, LPC, NCC

There is a dearth of research on the cultural adaptation of evidence-based practices for LGBTQ + romantic relationships (Spengler et al., 2020). Emotionally Focused Therapy is an attachment-based empirically supported treatment for relationship distress that engages underlying systemic processes to increase relationship satisfaction and attachment security (Johnson, 2019). This presentation will report on the findings and clinical recommendations generated from the fist study of cultural adaptation using theater testing in the couple and family therapy field. Specifically this presentation will discuss therapist foundational knowledge for working with LGBTQ + populations, client therapeutic preferences when considering intersectional identities, and how therapists can best work with lived experiences of oppression. After this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Name two reasons for adapting EFT with LGBTQ + relationships

  • Describe three cultural adaptations to EFT that therapists can make when working with LGBTQ + romantic relationships

  • Identify one component of self of the therapist work I can consider when working with LGBTQ + romantic relationships

Who’s on Top? Social Constructs of Power and Their Influences on Queer Intimate Partnerships

Emily Stone, PhD, LCSW-S, QTAP

This workshop presentation will review Social Emotional Relational Therapy, a feminist approach to couples therapy originally developed by Dr. Carmen Knudsen-Martin. Social and Cultural constructs of power will be explored and their influence on queer intimate partnerships will be discussed. Issues related to micro-aggressions, macro-aggressions, and trauma will be examined as well as their role in the wellbeing of queer relationships. This seminar will include a didactic PowerPoint presentation, a case study, and time for dialogue. By the end of the presentation the participant will be able to:


  • Identify the fundamentals of Social Emotional Relational Therapy (SERT)

  • Name key considerations for working with queer couples using SERT

  • Discuss the influences of societal and cultural power constructs on queer relationships

"boys"- Film Screening and Discussion

Donald C. Shorter and Ty David Lerman, PhD, LPC-S, CST, QTAP, CHt

"boys" is a short documentary that features leather boys giving personal accounts of how this form of identity has lead to a spiritual awakening and radical self acceptance. The film features boy Cole, boy Donald, boy Mikey, boy Nick, DARKQWOLF, LTHR PIPE DADDY, and Ty David Lerman. At the screening you will meet Donald C. Shorter (Producer/Director/Cinematographer/Editor) and the discussion, facilitated by Dr. Ty David Lerman, will help attendees:

  • Identity what a leather boy is

  • Gain an understanding of the power exchange relationship of Daddy/boy

  • Gain clearer understanding as to how leather identity positively effects individuals 

NeuroQueering Relationships: When Divergence Collides

Jamie L. Goodwin, PhD & Julia Macey

Neurodivergent individuals (those with ADHD, Learning Disorders, or who are autistic) are disproportionately non-heterosexual and/or non-cisgender. Possessing these intersecting, often “invisible” identities may create special challenges in accessing appropriate recognition, validation, support, and care while also navigating a heteronormative and neurotypical society. Neuroqueering, as a verb, is the act of subverting social expectations of typicality that are expected by our culture. This talk will discuss the factors connecting neurodivergence and queerness, as well as how the intersection impacts characteristics, development, and community interactions. Therapeutic implications when working with neuroqueer individuals or relationships will also be discussed. Participants will learn:


  • Research findings relating to the overlap of neurodivergent and queer experiences and identities

  • How stigma and stereotypes related to disability and minority status influence the neuroqueer experience

  • How mental health professionals can assist in the process of accepting, embracing, and celebrating a neuroqueer identity

You, Me and Them - Effective Ethical Non Monogamy

Sarah Boesger, MSW, LSW

More folx than ever before are embarking on creating alternative relationship dynamics, including the polycule formed by ethical non monogamy or ENM. Social sciences have historically underserved and misunderstood the ENM community, but polycules deserve informed, sensitive and empathetic care through every part of their relationship. In this space, we will learn the vocabulary of ENM, discuss the patterns of both healthy and unhealthy polycules, and examine the best practices developed for work with ENM clients. Post attendance, attendees will learn:

  • The vocabulary of ENM

  • The structure of a healthy polycule vs an unhealthy polycule

  • Best practices for treating ENM clients in both individual and couples counseling

Queer Beyond the Choir: The Invisibility of Queerness in the Black Church

Whitney Williams-Coble, MAT, and Naomi Brown, LCSW

The culture of the Black church is an undeniable pillar within the Black LGBTQ+ identity spectrum. Regardless if you were an active participant in the culture or in distant relation, the remnants of this particular culture have left an impression upon many lives within the Black LGBTQ+ community. Yet, there’s a disconnect, in some cases a flat-out refusal by the Black Church to embrace the existence and contributions of LGBTQ+ people within the space. During this session, we will explore the origins of this disconnection and investigate what narratives in the scriptures validate this thinking. Other discussion topics include demystifying the correlation of LGBTQ+ and the concept of “sin” along with deconstructing the stereotypes that fuel homophobia within the Black community. This session will allow attendees to:


  • Analyze the historical and biblical context used to justify homophobia in the Black Church

  • Develop restorative justice practices that cultivate a safe space for LGBTQ+ people in the Black Church

  • Interrogate the microaggressions and stereotypes that shape the perception of Black LGBTQ+ community

The Matrix of Envy in Our Social & Sexual Lives

Rahim Thawer, MSW, QTAP

While most people can express their own experience of jealousy, distinguishing it from, and understanding our responses to, envy is more complex. Envy is a feeling that's directed at a person who possesses something desirable that we want. Envy triggers a sense of personal inferiority and can spark ill-will towards others. We engage with this experience by activating a web of affective orientations such as shame, counter-identification, grief, motivation, greed, grandiosity, and/or gratitude. In this presentation, we will


  • Explore how early experiences of envy as queer/trans people might shape our self-concept

  • Examine the ways envy surfaces in our queer and straight relationships, including its cultural manifestation in body ideals

  • Speculate about how a queer subculture, at times soaked in alcohol, might function as a way to mitigate envy

  • Consider how aware we are when we're the object of someone else's envy and how we respond

Embracing Queer Joy: Movement, Mediation, Mindfulness, Breath, Dance and Yoga as Therapeutic Treatment Tools

Naomi Brown LCSW-S QTAP

Intentionally change your breathing pattern - move, bend, stretch, breathe imagine and add music. These techniques can be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety, depression, PTSD sleepiness, and pain management. Breath can help us process emotions and heal emotional pain and trauma. These forms of therapy, according to the research, help develop or increase self-awareness. Movement and breathwork alone have been shown to improve relationships, increase confidence and self-image, and can be used in treating dysphoria. The additional benefits of these modalities are that they reduce stress and anxiety levels. Research supports the concrete physiological effects of yoga, explaining why it helps with mental health and emotional regulation. Yoga can increase heart rate variability. Increased HRV calms the autonomic nervous system, where the body stores trauma. By the end of this session, participants will:


  • Examine breath work, mindful movement, meditation yoga, and dance and how they connect clients with their bodies

  • Empower clients to embrace Queer Joy allowing them to embrace play and creative movement to enhance mental health

       and alleviate and mitigate stress

  • Use self-expression as a tool to a self-empowering mind-body approach to treatment

  • Learn how nonverbal emotional expression offered through movement to be incredibly therapeutic – especially when clients are experiencing significant anxiety and depression and have 3 specific techniques you can use to begin to offer alternatives to traditional talk therapy especially with queer youth


Promoting Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health via Healthy Romantic Relationships

Sarah W. Whitton, PhD, Emily Devlin, MA, & Charlie Giraud

First, we will present results from multiple longitudinal studies of sexual and gender minority (SGM) adolescents and young adults that indicate the importance of healthy romantic relationships for mental health. In particular, in two samples of SGM young people assessed across multiple years, we found that participants had better mental health at times when they were romantically partnered than at times when they were single. Interestingly, though, this was not always the case for bisexual and pansexual individuals, suggesting that romantic involvement may not benefit SGM youth attracted to more than one gender. In addition, among romantically partnered SGM young people, higher relationship quality was associated with better mental health and less problematic substance use at the within- and between-persons levels. Further, high relationship quality buffered participants against the negative mental health effects of minority stress. We will describe how these findings suggest that efforts to promote healthy romantic relationships among SGM young people may be one avenue to reducing the mental health disparities they face. Then, we will describe how we developed and empirically tested relationship education programs tailored specifically for SGM couples. Participants will:


  • Understand how romantic involvement is associated with mental health among SGM young people

  • Learn how romantic relationship quality may promote and protect SGM mental health

  • Have knowledge about culturally tailored relationship interventions for SGM couples

At Home in Our Bodies

Erin MacDonald, LCSW-S

One's relationship to their body is a relationship that folks spend their entire life navigating. We receive many messages--daily, hourly, about the "right" way to have a body, to look, to belong. The LGBTQ+ community has a higher incident rate of eating disorders, body dissatisfaction, and body dysmorphia than their heterosexual peers. In this session we will explore biases, media feedback, queer culture, and how these messages are internalized. There will be space for participants to reflect on their own values and learn strategies to combat this messaging and challenge these norms. Participants will:


  • Learn about the increased risks the LBGTQ+ community faces regarding body image and mental health

  • Learn foundational skills for combating negative body image

  • Reflect, evaluate, and discuss their values in relation to bodies, physical and mental health

What Can Kink Do For You?

Adam Maurer, LMFT, LPC, QTAP

Kink is much more than dungeons and handcuffs. Take a deep dive into the healing pools of pleasure! Baby, this workshop is gonna offer frameworks to better understand kink; as well as provide new ways to talk about kink with clients and/or partners. You’ll learn:


  • Pleasure focused perspectives and communication tools

  • A snapshot of the expansive nature of kink

  • Stigma busting reframes of common talking points

  • Ways that kink can help support work with trauma, communication skills, self-refection, and community building

  • Guidance in supporting clients exploring kink for the first time as well as ways to support kinksters who have been in practice for years

Beyond Labels: Navigating Identity and Connection in LGBTQ+ Relationships

Danielle Culpepper, LPC

This presentation explores the complexities of identity and connection within LGBTQ+ relationships, transcending heteronormative labels to create a more stable and secure sense of self. Focusing on the evolving landscape of dating and relationships within the LGBTQ+ community, the session will address the impact of societal expectations, evolving gender norms, and the intersectionality of identities on the dynamics of partnerships. By examining both the challenges and opportunities presented by a diverse spectrum of identities, the presentation aims to foster a deeper understanding of the unique experiences within LGBTQ+ relationships. Attendees will gain insights into building healthier connections, navigating differences, and creating supportive environments that celebrate the rich diversity within the LGBTQ+ community. Objectives of this workshop include:


  • Examine the impact of evolving societal expectations and changing gender norms

  • Gain practical insights on navigating identity complexities within relationships

  • Acquire actionable strategies for building healthier relationships

Advisory Board & Committee Information Session:

Opportunities to Serve the Contemporary Relationships Conference and the Queer & Trans Affirming Certification Program
Christine Hatchard, PsyD, QTAP

Join us and learn how you can be part of the teams that organize this conference (CRC) and our certification program (QTAP). Facilitated by an Executive Committee member, we will review the history of CRC and QTAP, and outline three new opportunities to get involved:

  • Conference (CRC) Committee - helps secure a venue, issue an Call for Presenters, review submitted proposals and select presenters, assist in securing adequate volunteers, and creating materials such as name badges, printed programs, signs, etc, for the annual conference

  • Certification (QTAP) Committee - oversees the creation and implementation of the QTAP certification program to ensure the program meets the highest standards of quality: including Pre-Recorded Courses, Online Summits, Anti-Racism Training, and Individual and Group Consultation

  • Community Outreach Committee - promotes interest and knowledge about the conference (CRC) and the certification program (QTAP) and oversees and develops the website, marketing emails, print materials, social media, and sponsorships to grow participation

  • Advisory Board (consists of the Executive Committee, plus the chairs of the Conference, Certification, and Community Outreach Committees) - charged with providing oversight, policy, and planning for CRC/QTAP, including recommendations to the Executive Board for action

Little Prickle, Mostly Peach: Oh Hi ... An Introduction to Flirting and Body Language

Hannah Wilson, PhD, LCPC, CST

Flirting is universal, while common it can be described as confusing, allusive, and nerve wracking. So let's take the anxiety out of it a bit. Leaning into the science of body language, power of connection and conversation, role of our senses, active listening and so much more. Getting uncomfortable allows for us to get silly and let down our guard to allow others in. Inviting warmth, playfulness and a sprinkle of positivity we can lean into these first meets, flirting via text or as simple as keeping the spark alive in long term relationships. Join us for an interactive and informative discussion. We will:

  • Identify and interpret body language associated with flirtation

  • Assess and demonstrate active listening skills in building connections

  • Examine the role of warmth and playfulness in initial meetings

  • Applying trends of flirting

Polyamorous Emotions: New research on Jealousy, Envy, Compersion & Implications for Clinical Practice

Michelle D. Vaughan, PhD

Integrating recent research into emotion-focused practice with polyamorous clients in practice, this presentation will provide a critical review of compersion (positive emotions towards a partner’s other relationships/relationship partners) and implications and recommendations for clinical practice with individuals, dyads, and networks with respect to compersion, jealousy and envy. Drawing on the author's research, we will explore the dimensions of compersion and how they may be expressed as well as common misconceptions around jealousy, envy and compersion. Data on the relationship between compersion and related constructs ( jealousy, emotional contagion, general positive mood, empathy) as well as outcomes (relationship satisfaction) will also be explored. Debunking myths about the nature of compersion, jealousy and relational outcomes, this presentation will shed new light on individual, dyadic & metamour factors and related interventions likely to be useful in facilitating compersion (based in positive psychology/strengths-based practice at the for clients interested in better understanding and developing individual and relational skills to cope with these emotions and foster compersion. Participants will be able to:


  • Identify the three subtypes of compersion identified in recent research and examples of each relevant to clinical practice

  • Identify predictors of compersion in polyamorous clients

  • Recognize specific interventions that may foster compersion in polyamorous clients

Introducing the Black Transgender Child

Uchenna Lizmay Umeh, MD, aka "Dr. Lulu"

In this enlightening presentation, Dr. Lulu, a dedicated pediatrician and mother, invites attendees to explore the unique experiences and challenges faced by Black transgender children. Drawing on her expertise in pediatric care and her personal journey as a mother of a Black transgender young adult, Dr. Lulu delves into the vital topic of understanding and supporting Black transgender youth within the context of contemporary relationships. The interactive talk offers valuable insights into the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of Black transgender children and their families. Dr. Lulu discusses the importance of inclusive and affirming homes and communities and highlights the critical role parents and healthcare providers play in the lives of these young individuals. Dr. Lulu draws from over five decades of personal experiences as a #proudlyBi+ person, mother, and physician, offering a compassionate perspective on the intersection of parenthood, identity, and acceptance. Join us for this thought-provoking discussion that advocates for a more inclusive and empathetic approach to nurturing the well-being of Black transgender children in contemporary society. Attendees will:


  • Gain a deeper understanding of the unique challenges faced by Black transgender children

  • Understand the importance of providing inclusive and affirming healthcare for Black transgender children to ensure their physical and emotional well-being

  • Gain insights into the challenges and joys of parenting a Black transgender child from a mother who has navigated this journey personally

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