Alt Sex Conference — Research & Therapy for KinkstersJul 2nd, 2012 | By Alt Sex Therapist | Category: Alt Sex Therapist, Columns, Contributors
There aren’t a lot of therapists that specialize in Alternative Sexuality (it is the best name we currently have for the grouping of kink, fetish, power dynamics, poly,open, and LGBTQIA communities). In fact, most people don’t even know that there is research being done for this community and that there are therapists and other professionals that are totally open to helping people who express sexually in non-standardized forms.
This is where CARAS comes in. The Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS) looks to bring a spotlight to alt-sex in the most positive way by encouraging professionals in the field to talk about research and therapy as a means to better support the communities they serve. It is really kind of outstanding if you think about. There is a whole conference for people to educate, inspire, and connect with one another with the dedicated purpose of focusing on uplifting the alt-sex community in every way possible.
So imagine my delight when my co-therapist, Awen Therapist, and I were asked to present our “Strength Based Approach To Working With Alt Sex Clients” to a whole group of people who wouldn’t flinch at the idea, but instead would embrace it fully. I was overjoyed.
Now to find our way back into the conference review. The first person I saw was Race Bannon. He is someone whom I have long admired, and his work throughout the community is legendary. Getting to talk about how we can combine our efforts with NCFS and move forward on a larger scale is exciting! Next I met with Dr. Richard Sprott, he is the director of CARAS Richard is the man with the vision to see that research and clinicians needed to band together and provide the alt-sex community with information, support, and accepting professionals.
I specifically wanted to meet Dr. David J. Ley. He had been stirring the pot in all the right directions with his recent book that challenges the idea that there is such a thing as sex addiction. It felt like he was the perfect person to give the keynote address..I’ll tell you what… Ley did not disappoint.
I could go on about all the details that he presented, but overall it comes down to is that there is no research that supports that there is sex addiction and no research on a cure for sex addiction. Read the book, it spells it all out. This is the sort of thing that gets a lot of press in our culture, yet there isn’t support that sex addiction is even a real thing.
Next up were the various panel discussions on alt-sex paradigms. Dr. David Rodemaker is someone I have known for a few years and continues to impress me with his ability to push boundaries in the most tactful of ways. He was able to get a packed room full of alt-sex professionals to reconsider the notions of consent. What he is trying to get across about how the nature of consent is constructed is an important matter for the BDSM community.
There was of course my presentation about clinical approaches to working with alt-sex clients from a strength based perspective. My co-therapist and I really believe in empowering people to use what they have and springboard into something that helps them reach their goals. It doesn’t seem so revolutionary but considering there is almost no one talking about this stuff, it feels pretty great to be on the forefront of supporting a community that I so deeply care about.
The conference came to an end with a discussion on the future of how to best move research and clients along with more acceptance. Dr. Braden Berkey and his panel looked at how researchers and clinicians work together in the coming years to create an approach that alt-sex is about diversity not a pathology. It is imperative that academia, researchers, and clinicians look into how to best support people in their exploration of themselves.
I had the awesome pleasure of spending hours talking with colleagues including the wonderful Kali from Kink Academy fame. It is astonishing how much drive this woman has for positive sexual expression. When she comes back to the Midwest, I would highly recommend taking some time out to meet her if you haven’t already.
There you have it. I managed to stay up for almost two days straight with colleagues, researchers, community members, and influential people within alternative sexuality. It was terrific and yet almost all I can think of is how excited I am for next year’s conference in San Francisco. I want to go and experience all the brain power, support, and innovation within this field.