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Workshop Descriptions

Cultural Safety And Countertransference: Working In Communities You Belong To

(optional Ethics Pre-Conference Institute = 2 CE Credits)

Rahim Thawer, MSW

Why did you become a human service practitioner? Whether in social work or psychology, the common response is, "I wanted to support and work with people who struggled in a similar way that I did." There's nothing wrong with this motivation. However, it can be tricky to work in a community you belong to. This presentation will explore case scenarios of working in multiple service settings and will attempt to make sense of the strong reactions of the practitioner toward their clients where they have a similar history or shared community. We will consider what the practitioner needs to be aware of to take care of themselves and optimally care for the client. This presentation will be relevant to therapists and clinical supervisors. In this workshop, we will:

  • Discuss the common desire to work in a community to which you belong.

  • Explore the concepts of cultural and emotional safety – where they originate and how they get taken up .

  • Examine case scenarios where practitioners experience strong reactions toward their clients where they have a similar history or shared community

  • Consider what the practitioner needs to be aware of to take care of themselves and optimally care for the client (reflections useful for the practitioner and clinical supervisor).

Family Work: Homophobia, Hope, and Healing in the Parent-Child Relationship
Jeff Lutes, LPC, QTAP

Anti-LGBTQ beliefs are often embedded in the parent-child relationship, as many fathers and mothers view their child’s sexual or gender-identity as a threat to their heteronormative dreams for the future. Research indicates that these conflicts, which sometimes lead to estrangement, can result in poor mental health outcomes for LGBTQ+ persons. However, research also demonstrates that most LGBTQ+ persons choose to stay in the parent-child relationship despite the intergenerational conflict about their identity. This presentation, based partly on the work of Rin Reczek and Emily Bosley-Smith, will review the ways LGBTQ+ persons manage this conflict to maintain connection, sometimes at the expense of their own needs. Attendees will:

  • Understand the deeply ingrained resilience in the parent-child relationship.

  • Learn the types of conflict work LGBTQ+ persons employ with their parents.

  • Examine strategies for assisting LGBTQ+ clients who have been rejected by their parents.


Rebuilding After Infidelity In LGBTQ Relationships


In a relationship, people dedicate their trust, feeling, and time to their spouse; thus, the relationship is an investment. Therefore, when romantic partners betray us, we become infidelity victims, which significantly damages our ego and self-worth (Pramudito & Minza, 2021). It is essential to preserve and repair your self-worth as you go through the complicated process of grief and analysis. One should remember that infidelity doe not always mean the end of a relationship, and it is possible to heal and rebuild yourself and build the relationship (Alcocer, 2021). Three main points will help a victim of infidelity to heal. They will help the individual recover from the infidelity and improve their mental well-being during the grieving process. Learning objectives:


  • Understand the various forms of infidelity and its impact on relationships.

  • Analyze the common causes and contributing factors of infidelity.

  • Gain insight into the psychological and emotional effects of infidelity on partners and the relationship.

  • Identify healthy coping mechanisms and strategies for overcoming infidelity and rebuilding trust in a relationship.

Black Queer Women's Sexual Pleasure

Shemeka Thorpe, PhD


The historical narrative that dominates discussions about Black female sexualities fails to address the possibilities of Black queer1 sexualities and pleasure. Instead, most discourse adopts a deficit-based and narrow view (e.g., disease, dysfunction, and risk behaviors) of Black women that reinforces oppressive messages, beliefs, and stereotypes about who they are as sexual beings. ). Consequently, few studies center Black queer women’s sexual desires, fantasies, and pleasure. The absence of comprehensive literature on Black queer women’s sexual pleasure is concerning given pleasure’s association with sexual health and liberation. This presentation summarizes the existing literature on Black queer women’s sexual pleasure using Thorpe et al. (2022) Pleasure Mountain as a framework. Developed from the lived experiences of Black women, the pleasure mountain model details foundational dimensions and facilitators of sexual pleasure. We will present conceptual and empirical research based on the four facilitators of peak pleasure: orgasm, partnered interactions, mind-body-soul awareness, and liberation. The presentation will:


  • Provide examples of pleasure-based literature written by Black queer women.

  • Summarize research on Black queer women's sexualities using the Pleasure Mountain framework.

  • Identify future directions for research, education, and practice that will benefit and celebrate Black queer women's sexualities and pleasure.

Empowered Accountability- A Necessary Shift In How To Work With Couples

Jeni Wahlig, PhD, LMFT

As a couples therapist with a PhD in couple and family therapy, I thought I was well-equipped to create a healthy and happy relationship with my soulmate, Calvin. Turns out, I wasn’t. In this presentation, I share the epic story of our relationship transformation, highlighting what was missing from what I’d learned in my training and the solution we discovered that ultimately saved our relationship—Empowered Accountability. Empowered accountability is a radical and necessary shift in how partners think about themselves in relationships that allows for attention to their own self-work, power and privilege dynamics, and how to make more conscious and loving choices that honor both one’s own and their partner’s needs, truths, and healing journeys. I will share why supporting couples with this one skill is so important to their success and, using a case study, explore what it looks like in practice.


  • The risk of harm in dominant narratives and approaches to “healthy” relationships.

  • How power and privilege dynamics may show up in LGBTQ+ couples.

  • What Empowered Accountability is, why it’s important, and what it looks like in affirmative work with LGBTQ+ couples.

Puppy Play In Gay Culture As A Coping Skill And Path To Empowerment

Nicholas Maio-Aether, MAMFT, MSPSY, LBA, CSC, BCBA

Of the academic articles that are published about the LGBTQIA+ community, many approach general issues and concerns, such as fatherhood for gay male couples, challenges faced by queer families, best practice for treatment of gender dysphoria – the list does indeed go on and this could definitely be viewed as a sign of progress, though it is reported that academic literature totals in at around 6% total with a queer focus, and that is disproportionately low. Something not often explored is the subset of the gay kink community, which is larger than many might think, and which factors heavily into the actual application of the concept of family of choice (Weston, 1991) within many queer persons’ lives. This work will focus particularly on the largest and fastest growing kink in gay culture (Lawson & Langdridge, 2019; Wignall & McCormack, 2017), Puppy Play (PP), which often involves total submission and permeates many aspects of the puppies’ existences, creating a framework clinicians must recognize has power to harm or heal (Langdridge & Lawson, 2019). Attendees will:


  • Review current kink and queer research, determining for themselves the validity of claims that immersive kink lifestyles can be therapeutic.

  • Compare Puppy Play dynamics against Contextual and Collaborative Therapy methods and indicate the overlaps that do exist.

  • Acknowledge common strategies employable for Puppies and Handlers facing addictions and anxieties.

Affirming Considerations For Intercultural Non-monogamies In Therapy

José Avilés-Acosta, PsyD and Javier Robledo Rivera, PsyD

Presenters will outline guiding principles to consider when working with non-monogamous relational dynamics while acknowledging intercultural differences between therapist's positionalities and client positionalities and how these interact with the therapeutic process. Emphasis will be given in ways to maintain curiosity, accompany clients, acknowledge power differentials, build critical thinking skills and integrate client lived experience in goal-setting. Lastly, a brief overview of ethical considerations when working with non-monogamous clients will be provided. Participants will:

  • Understand how to apply the principles of positionality in their work with non-monogamous clients.

  • Acquire necessary skills to engage in exploratory inquiries relating to relational histories while highlighting their own relational positionalities and how these interact with non-monogamous clients.

  • Learn critical thinking skills needed to understand nuances in ethical considerations when working with non-monogamous clients.

Aspiring To Be An Ally To LGBTQ+ People

Kyle May, M.Ed, LPCC-S and Corabelle Hall, M.S.


Are you interested in learning how to show love and support to LGBTQ+ people? Are you a parent who is raising an LGBTQ+ child? Do you believe that your work environment could be more affirming for LGBTQ+ employees, clients, or customers? Well, we have news for you! We are here to teach you how and empower you to be an effective ally to LGBTQ+ people. We will provide you with useful tips, feedback, resources, and a chance to ask openly LGBTQ+ professionals for advice about the subject. Join us for a chance to enhance your confidence to advocate for, affirm, and support LGBTQ+ people while being the greatest ally you can be. Participants will:


  • Learn and understand the necessary qualities to be an effective ally.

  • Gain knowledge of LGBTQ+ affirming resources and tips about advocating for and how to best show love and support to the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Learn how to foster a safe space for LGBTQ+ people and how to effectively communicate that they are an ally.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy And Sexual And Gender Minority Stress:

3 Skills To Navigate A Heterosexist, Cis-Gender World

Konrad Bresin, PhD, Michalea Ahrenholz, Mackenzie Brown, Rowan Hunt, Ani Keshishian, and Julia Nicholas

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an empirically supported intervention that merges dialectical theory with behavioral reinforcement. Recent theory suggests that DBT may be an effective framework for understanding the impact of minority stress on LGBTQ+ individuals and couples, as well as addressing the psychological distress caused by those experiences of minority stress. Moreover, the specific skills of DBT, which are organized into four categories (mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness), can be used by LGBTQ+ individuals to cope with and buffer the effects of sexual and gender minority stress. In this presentation, we will describe three DBT skills: clarifying objective (an interpersonal effectiveness skill), accumulating positive events (an emotion regulation skill), and radical acceptance (a distress tolerance skill), and show how these skills can be implemented by LGBTQ+ individuals to mitigate sexual and gender minority stress and facilitate well-being. We will also show how these skills can be used in relationships to facilitate relationship satisfaction and buffer against the effects of sexual and gender minority stress. By the end of the session, the participant will learn the following:


  • The theoretical background of DBT.

  • How DBT can be used to understand and address sexual and gender minority stress.

  • How to implement three skills (clarifying objective, accumulating positive events, and radical acceptance).

AI Ain't All Right! "And It's Still Alright"

Monica Ross, PhD


Technology is a tool with a touchpoint on so many aspects of our lives. Recent developments in AI have led to discussions around impact. Scientists are developing new tools before we fully understand their utility. We live in a diverse community with concerns for privacy and discrimination. Alternatively, some embrace the potential in these scientific breakthroughs imagining the possibilities to harness technology for the social good. In this workshop we will explore technological advancements and shortcomings. As a group we will articulate social justice and ethics related challenges not only in keeping up with advancements in technology, but in employing AI to better serve those in nontraditional and sometimes complex relationship dynamics. We will share experiences with AI which pose a challenge and identify ways in which technology could be more user friendly. We will also engage in a discussion about the ways in which we can all be more ethical and inclusive–encouraging creativity and innovation while at the same time mitigating risk. Let’s explore the ways to bridge the gap to better address the concerns while taking advantage of scientific advancements. Participants will learn:


  • The impact AI has on digital health.

  • How bias can enter the system and affect quality of care in LGBT+ communities.

  • To apply these key insights to enhance treatment with LGBTQ+ clients.

The Intersection Of Queer Youth And Human Trafficking

Casey Bayer, BSN, RN, and Lauren Bayer MS, LPC

A literature review of studies which focus on unique challenges to LGBT+ people, specifically youth, and how these challenges increase their risk of human trafficking. Discussion topics include: debunking of common human trafficking myths and the realities of what human trafficking is discerning how and when to screen for possible trafficking and deciding who to screen, and the incorporation of multiple disciplines to address the specific needs of LGBT+ youth. Participants will:


  • Learn the realities of human trafficking.

  • Recognize vulnerabilities within the LGBT+ population.

  • Formulate strategies to recognize and intervene for at-risk and trafficked LGBT+ youth.

Consensual Non-Monogamy Sensitivity For Professionals

Marla Schreiber MSW, RSW


Polyamorous and other consensually non-monogamous (CNM) lifestyles and identities are on the rise in North America. As more people endeavor to shift away from the paradigm of monogamy, it is essential that helping professionals, such as therapists, educators, and medical practitioners become aware and sensitized to these relationship structures. This specialized education is necessary in order to provide adequate support that minimizes potential stigma and harm. In this workshop, participants will be invited to unpack the paradigm of mononormativity (the assumption and expectation of monogamy as the standard partnership structure), and to explore their own biases toward those engaged in CNM. Participants will also receive an introduction to CNM language and structures as a way to develop the skills and tools necessary to understand and engage with people practicing CNM in professional settings. This relational and interactive workshop will allow participants to:


  • Understand the urgent need for culturally sensitive services for those practicing CNM.

  • Investigate mononormativity and one’s own biases, in order to cultivate new attitudes toward CNM.

  • Build empathy through awareness: Learn important language and practices of CNM dynamics to better support members of these communities.

  • Gain practical tools for working with those practicing CNM.

Reclaiming Spiritual Well-being Via Spiritual Coaching

Rev. Alison Young, M.Div., and Ty David Lerman, MA, LPC-S, CST, QTAP

While the importance of spirituality and/or religion for psychological well-being has been widely documented in the literature, a healthy working partnership between the disciplines of psychology and spirituality is much less widely practiced. This is particularly unfortunate for the LGBTQ+ community, as religious and LGBTQ+ identity conflict demonstrably results in higher-than-average rates of depression, suicidal ideation, and even suicide attempts for this community, not to mention generally decreased wellbeing. Informed, intentional working partnerships between practitioners of psychology and practitioners of spirituality/religion can powerfully and synergistically deepen and expedite the rectification and healing of such ingrained, foundational, and complex belief patterns, thus providing the patient with the tools and containers necessary for moving towards higher levels of well-being. Such interdisciplinary partnerships can be potent, and while they may contain untapped resources for profound healing, must also be carefully entered into with care and discernment. In this presentation, we will:


  • Explore the importance of a sound and integrated spiritual life for one’s overall wellbeing.

  • Review some of the largest spiritual/religious barriers to a healthy psychology, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Understand ways a qualified spiritual authority can assist in psychological healing and consider best practices for forging such relationships.

Asexuality And What It Teaches Us About Desire

Hannah Wilson, LCPS, CST


Have you ever been hungry but unsure of what you want to eat? Hunger is similar to sex drive, while knowing what to eat is like attraction. We know from Kinsey’s original research, that our orientation and behavior don’t always align. When we introduce the idea and understanding of the sexual orientation of asexuality, it is thought that asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction, desire, libido or behavior. However, how does one express and explain the experience they do not know personally? Let’s take a dive into the difference in sexual orientation versus sexual desire to understand our own intertwined sexuality through the lens of asexuality. Participants will explore:


  • Differences between sexual behavior, sexual desire, sexual orientation, libido, physical arousal and sex drive.

  • The influences of compulsory sexuality.

  • Misconceptions of the asexual experience.

  • Personal challenges to understanding our own sexuality.

Safe, Sane, And Consensual: Introduction To Working With Clients With Alternative Sexualities

Eli Trumpy, LISW, LCSW


Kink, Leather, fetish, and BDSM are stepping out of their closets into mainstream media but there is little training on what everyday people engaged in these lifestyles are doing behind closed doors. When a client describes their relationships and bedroom activities with words and ideas that sound like they are from a Stephen King novel not "The Joy of Sex" you will need to respond professionally and meet them where they are. Clients who engage in sexual activities and fetish based relationships that fall outside of mainstream culturally 'normal' sexuality have a realistic fear of being judged and shamed even in a therapeutic space. Beyond avoiding kink-shaming, working effectively with this marginalized population ethically requires cultural competence to parse the difference between controlling abusive narcissistic behaviors and healthy consensual BDSM when a client describes kink-inspired protocols and rituals they engage in with their partner(s). In this presentation participants learn to:


  • Understand common terms and interpersonal norms found in these communities.

  • Examine case scenarios that might evoke activation in the therapist toward clients and be better prepared to meet the client where they are.

  • Increase differential diagnosis skills for working with clients with uncommon relationship dynamics.

Ally Parenting And Teaching In An Alphabet World

Tania Andrews, MA, LMFT-A

The presenter will discuss her personal experiences about her shifting paradigm with parenting a child who identifies as pansexual, teaching students who are all letters in the alphabet soup, the changing labels in our world and how we can continue to show up for those we care so deeply about. Attendees can expect to learn:


  • Better ways to connect with their children/students about their experience of growing and learning to be an ally.

  • How to empathize and connect with younger people who are growing with you and teaching you as you teach them.

  • What is expected of you in a rapidly changing millennial and gen-z world and how you can feel "successful."

Beyond Sex Positivity: Best Practices Of Modern Sex Ed

Nicole Stalnaker, MA, and Ty Lerman, MA, LPC-S, CST, QTAP, CHt

This presentation will cover the overall impact of the lack of sex ed in the United States with a focus on attitudes, STI's, pregnancy, shame, and self understanding. It will include empirical evidence along with anecdotal evidence based on 5 years teaching undergraduate Human Sexuality. Additionally, this presentation will discuss how a comprehensive sex ed program can teach more than just anatomy, physiology, and vocabulary, but can lead to a deeper understanding of human sexuality and go beyond sex positivity to reaching self acceptance. This information/education is specifically relevant for the GSRM community. Objectives include:


  • Instilling the importance of early sex ed.

  • Understanding the consequences of the lack of sex ed, specifically shame.

  • Best practices for a positive approach to sex education and self-positivity.

Therapy With Queer Black And Brown Folx: Tools For Assessing Queer Racial Trauma

Naomi Brown LCSW, and Lex Loro MS MFT

Through lecture and interactive group work participants will disseminate and discuss microaggressions, theories and interventions in working with queer Black and Brown folx, both in the therapy room and in community. All participants will begin working on their own anti-racist journals for working with queer Black and Brown folx . This journal will be used to begin their own personal journey in doing the work. By the end of the session, they will have outlines for the first five pages of their journals and have 10 questions that may be helpful in assessing queer racial trauma. Participants will:


  • Recognize the challenges that affect Black and Brown LGBTQ+ people and families’ mental and overall health and well being, including the impacts of racism and homo/bi/transphobia.

  • Characterize how systemic and institutional racism can interrupt or prevent the development of a strong personal identity as a thriving queer Black or Brown person.

  • Begin working on creating a trauma informed queer racism trauma journal using it to recognize personal biases and the role they play in the provision of care for BIPOC LGBTQ+ people and identify areas for personal and collective growth.

Looking For Comfort: Minority Stress, Substance Abuse And Relationships In The Queer Community

Emily Stone, PhD, LMFT-S and Aaron Brown, PhD, LCSW


This workshop presentation will name and define queer minority stress followed by exploring the consequences of minority stress on queer individuals alongside of ways the queer persons learn to cope. These coping strategies often include the use of substances such as alcohol and narcotics. The effects of both minority stress and substance abuse on queer intimate relationships will be highlighted. Research findings by the presenters in addition to expertise from their clinical experience as well as practical application will be emphasized. By the end of the presentation the participant will be able to:


  • Describe how queer minority stress shows up in and affects the life of someone who identifies as queer.

  • Identify statistics and trends in substance abuse as coping strategies among the queer community.

  • Explain how minority stress and substance abuse affects intimate relationships in the queer community.

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