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Guest Blog: Gaining Certification as Supervisor of Sex Therapy

on Wednesday, 19 February 2014. Hits 125

By Dr. Neil Cannon


To obtain licensure as a mental health professional, virtually all clinicians go through a process referred to as “supervision.” Having a supervisor is best described as a formal mentoring process requiring hundreds of hours of observation, training and coaching. One problem faced by the kink community is a shortage of therapists that have clinical awareness in basic sexuality, let alone advanced expertise in fetishes, cross-dressing, gender-variance, BDSM and open relationships. For clinicians seeking certification as a sex therapist, finding a supervisor is no easy trick.

One reason NCSF has made such a large commitment to Kink Aware Professionals (KAP) over the years is to facilitate the process for those in the kinky village to locate qualified professionals quickly during a time of need. That’s why I’m a long-time member of KAP, so I can help make a difference.

And that’s one reason why, a few months ago, I became Certified as a Supervisor of Sex Therapy by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors & Therapists (AASECT). Now, along with being a Certified Sex Therapist, I can supervisor other mental health professionals seeking certification as a sex therapist anywhere in the world via Skype.

Most therapists are kind people with the best of intentions. However similar to physicians, most therapists lack training in the vast nuances of human sexuality. Nothing breaks my heart more than when people tell me they were made to feel bad by their very own therapist who judged them or lacked skill in the way they dealt with the delicate subtleties of sexuality. By supervising the next generation of sex therapists, I really do get to bring sex positive methods of therapy to individuals, couples, families, and villages across the globe.

I first became involved with the NCSF in 2001 when the NCSF filed suit along-side famed fetish photographer, Barbara Nitke, in a case involving censorship and the Supreme Court. I recall feeling deep admiration and respect that a gifted lone artist (Barbara Nitke) and a small but incredibly determined non-profit (NCSF), who stood fast in their values to take on the Attorney General of the United States. It was a stand to keep government out of our bedrooms and although we didn’t win the case, Barbara and the NCSF made a difference. I’ve had a special fondness and affinity for the NCSF ever since.

###

Neil is in private practice as a Certified Sex Therapist in Denver, Colorado.  He is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Professor of Marriage & Family Therapy.  In addition to a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, Neil has post-graduate certification in treating LGBT Family Systems.  Neil teaches and donates his time lecturing to graduate level counseling students at virtually every leading college and university throughout Colorado.  He takes great delight in helping graduate students to embrace sexual diversity rather than be intimidated by it. http://doctorcannon.com/

 

"A Beautiful House In Brooklyn Is Secretly Being Used For Upscale Sex Parties"

on Sunday, 16 February 2014. Hits 158

Business Insider

by Megan Rose Dickey

 

When you first walk in, you'll be amazed by just how gorgeous the home is. Hardwood floors, modern-day appliances, black granite countertops, and a beautiful outdoor patio with a hot tub for up to several people.

You may also be amazed by how many naked people there are.

"Mr. Sparks" — whose real name Business Insider agreed to conceal — organizes sex parties for up to 150 people at this house in Brooklyn, New York, about once a month.

Although the idea of a gigantic orgy of more than 100 people might seem intimidating, it's more likely that you'll feel right at home once you get there. The dingy stereotype of New York swingers' clubs — Plato's Retreat, the infamous 1970s swingers' club, was held in a basement — is swept away by the tasteful interior of this brick row house.

Sparks started throwing the parties about four years ago, after attending one in Manhattan. He loved the concept, but says the execution was severely lacking. He felt the dancers were terrible, and didn't like the way the hosts made fun of some the guests.

Luckily for him, he had a wealthy friend who wanted to help him with a new venture, and offered up his house to host the parties. The pair live in apartments above the main living area of the house.

Plenty of parties to choose from.

In Brooklyn alone, there are now a slew of different sex parties for the adventurous to choose from.

Submit, for example, is a sex party for women and trans-gender people in Park Slope. That means no "cisgendered" men (men who identify with the male gender) are allowed. Chemistry, on the other hand, is only for single women and couples.

People who come to the Sparks house either come alone or with like-minded friends. This isn't your average swingers party, where couples come to find a third — or fourth — lover. They come for a fun night of conversation and usually sex, but are not required to participate. Sometimes, people go simply to make new friends.

Unlike other sometimes gender- or sexuality-exclusive sex parties, Sparks says, there are people who may identify as gay, straight, bisexual, queer, or even "awesomesexual."

There's also a mix of professionals who attend, like lawyers, doctors, and teachers. Everyone is accepted, as long as you're at least 18 years old.

"We're a bunch of adults and we've come together because we're all slutty and want to rub our genitals against each other in as many extreme ways as possible," Sparks says. "That's funny. You get to laugh about it. If you can't laugh at sex, you're missing out. Sex should not be hyper-serious. It's real funny." ...



"Sex, love and dating: the Brown alternatives"

on Sunday, 16 February 2014. Hits 125

Despite taboos, some students delve into kink, group sex, polyamory or open relationships

The Brown Daily Herald

By Emily Wooldridge

Lynne could not decide what color to wear to the stoplight party. An open relationship doesn’t come in colors red, yellow or green.

“Do I wear green because I can hook up with people or yellow because maybe I can’t?” she asked herself. Lynne is a female undergraduate whose name, like those of several other students interviewed for this story, has been changed to maintain confidentiality.

For the multitudes of alternative relationships and sexual practices on campus — including group sex, kink, open relationships and polyamory — there is no cruise control. These practices can be difficult to navigate or understand, because every experience is different.

“There is no such thing as normal sex,” said Anica Green ’17.

Instead of worrying about what color to wear, “why don’t you ask him?” Lynne’s friend suggested.

 

Great sexpectations

“Gossip Girl” warns, “Inside every threesome there is a twosome and a onesome,” but what about a fivesome?

In a dorm room, there are 10 condoms on the floor. When first-years walk by, they ask, “Is this the room where the orgy happened?”

For Dominic, a male undergraduate, that threesome was “the climax of a term where everyone is having meaningless sex,” he said.

For others, group sex is “the best thing that has happened in their lives,” said Andrew, a male undergraduate, or “their two favorite things at once — boobs and penis,” said Emma, a female undergraduate.

Dominic said the threesome was more relaxed than having sex one-on-one. When the responsibility of pleasure is shared by multiple people, there is not as much individual pressure to perform, he said.

For Emma, the threesome turned into a text message that made its way around campus. By daylight, everyone knew.

Andrew’s date and his friend’s date hit it off at the formal, he said. After the party, the pair of couples took a cab back to Andrew’s room — jazz, flameless candles and an L-shaped futon next to the bed.

“Sometimes you couldn’t tell whose lips were whose,” he said. “We didn’t know how much we could get away with.”

“There was no penetration involved,” Andrew added.

“During one-on-one sex there is clear intention,” Andrew said. During the foursome, “there was neither intention nor destination — you could be more present.”

When Oliver, a male undergraduate, opened a door at a party, he found three girls making out. One of them was his girlfriend.

Oliver and his male friend, whose girlfriend was also participating in the makeout session, decided to join.

While the friend performed cunnilingus on Oliver’s girlfriend, “it was difficult to wrap my head around it,” he said. But having the fivesome did not ruin the chemistry between Oliver and his girlfriend.

“It made our relationship more official, because we were part of (the fivesome) together,” he said. “We can laugh about it.”

 

Kinks and high jinks

In 2012, Harvard recognized Harvard College Munch as an official student organization.

Members of the group gather weekly in dining halls to discuss kink, consent and safe practices over lunch. There are around 70 students on the group’s mailing list and around 25 regular attendees.

“There are no trolls in our dungeon,” said group president Cleo, whose name has been changed for confidentiality. For the most part, the “liberal utopia” of Harvard Square offers students interested in kink “a positive and respectful environment,” she said.

Columbia’s Conversio Virium, which means “exchange of forces” in Latin, was the first kink organization for students recognized by a university. College Hill Kink — a subgroup of Queer Alliance comprised of Brown and Rhode Island School of Design undergraduates — also offers a safe space for students interested in kink. Other colleges in New England and across the country — including Tufts University, Iowa State University and Reed College — have similar organizations.

The New England Leather Alliance  was established in 1991 under a different name, according to the organization’s website. This nonprofit organization strives to raise awareness and create a safe space for those interested in leather, fetish and BDSM, which Cleo defined generally as “bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism.” ...

"Everything you wanted to know about polyamory but were afraid to ask"

on Saturday, 15 February 2014. Hits 125

The Week

By Leslie Turnbull

irst things first: Maintaining intimate emotional and physical relationships with multiple partners is not for everyone.

American cultural norms steer us toward monogamy — a faithful, one-on-one, forsaking-all-others, 'til-death-do-us-part definition of love and intimacy that usually involves marriage. For a lot of us, this works. For others, it doesn't. Hardly a news cycle goes by without the revelation that some celebrity or another has been caught with his (or her) pants down. But cheating isn't reserved for the rich and famous. There's not a community in the country that hasn't experienced the scandal of extracurricular romance between otherwise ordinary people.

All this begs the question: Is there a functional alternative for those who are not by nature monogamous? One that doesn't involve secrets, dissemblance, and emotional betrayal?

There is.

Anywhere from one million to two million Americans are choosing polyamory, a word best defined by its Greek roots meaning "many" and "love." Polyamorists openly love more than one person. The estimated 500,000-plus polyamorous (or "poly") relationships in this country vary in configuration as widely as the people who comprise them, from heterosexual married people who simply date others, to larger, more complex relationship structures that often involve shared living space and raising families. What all truly polyamorous arrangements have in common — and what makes them distinct from secretive infidelity or "cheating" — is a defining characteristic of the practice: transparency. Polyamorists believe that their relationships can thrive only in an environment of complete honesty.

In that spirit, a number of polyamorists agreed to share with me the following pieces of wisdom and advice for those who might be considering "going poly," or those of you who are just curious about the practice.

Polyamorists are just like the rest of us.

Put aside notions of fringe-living religious zealots and commune dwellers: Most poly people are otherwise ordinary Americans who raise families, pay mortgages, and go about their daily routines just like everybody else. If anything, poly people tend to skew a little more intellectual — or "dorky," as one thirty-something biologist describes his poly circle of friends. Perhaps this is because most polyamorists have come to their decision to open their relationships by doing a lot of research.

Interested in doing a little research of your own? Novices and academics alike find Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá to be an accessible, engaging take on human sexuality and behavior that might just open your eyes, if not your marriage.

Polyamory is not just about sex.

"My husband wants me to set up a threesome with my PTA co-chair" is the stuff of mediocre pornography, not polyamory. While polyamorists must by definition be comfortable with less conventional sexuality — and many are aligned with the Sex Positive movement — most bristle at the implication that their desire for multiple relationships is rooted solely in lust.

Unlike the swinging or spouse-swapping so luridly portrayed in popular media, polyamorous relationships are based as much on emotional intimacy and love as they are on the physical. With many polyamorous arrangements lasting years and even decades, all participants eventually develop a deeper personal connection with one another that may or may not have anything to do with who sleeps with whom and when. ...

NCSF at Winter Wickedness!

on Saturday, 15 February 2014. Hits 148

The entire hotel was given over to a weekend Kinkstravaganza for the happy attendees to celebrate the 8th anniversary of Winter Wickedness (Feb 7-9th) in Columbus, Ohio. Susan Wright represented NCSF at the event, discussing NCSF’s recent financial trouble and the steps being taken to insure that NCSF's finances are transparent and sound.

 

NCSF thanks Adventures in Sexuality (AIS) for donating $1,000 to the NCSF-Foundation, and the attendees of Winter Wickedness for raising $286 in the Special Raffle for NCSF. In addition, attendees gave donations totaling $70 at the exhibit table where NCSF literature was available along with Got Consent? T-shirts and swag from the Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio (hotline: (614) 267-7020(614) 267-7020 https://www.ohiohealth.com/sexualassaultresponsenetwork/)

 

Check out AIS’s next conference: COPE 2014 on September 12-14: http://adventuresinsexuality.org/AIS_portal.html Adventures in Sexuality is a Coalition Partner of NCSF.

"Americans Are More Into BDSM Than The Rest of the World"

on Wednesday, 12 February 2014. Hits 204

Not only is BDSM far more common than you might think, it’s also far less of a red-flag when it comes to health and psychology

Smithsonian Magazine

by Rose Eveleth

Would you let somebody you were in a relationship with tie you up? If you said yes, you’re not nearly as unusual as you might think.

It turns out that Americans are actually far more into BDSM than the rest of the world seems to be. According to a 2005 survey by Durex, 36 percent of adults in the United States use masks, blindfolds and bondage tools during sex. Worldwide that number is only 20 percent. Melanie Berliet at Pacific Standard reports that the trend isn’t new, either — a study from 1953 found that 55 percent of women and 50 percent of men liked being bitten, and a 1999 study said that 65 percent of university students dream about being tied up.

Although these preferences are relatively common, people still feel the need to hide them, Beliet reports:

But in spite of the evidence that BDSM is commonplace—normal, even—those who openly adhere to the lifestyle are frequently marginalized. Susan Wright, founder of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, has written at length about the risks of disclosing one’s affiliation with BDSM, including discrimination, violence, job loss, and legal obstacles surrounding child custody. It seems not even the famously progressive Girls creator, Lena Dunham, is immune to stigma’s reach. When discussing 50 Shades in the January 2014 issue of The Believer, Dunham said, “I don’t have an elicit [sic], confused relationship to my sexuality, so I don’t need a book like that right now in my life….”

"Making Consent Cool"

on Tuesday, 11 February 2014. Hits 187

New York Times

by NATALIE KITROEFF

IN 1993, when Antioch College introduced its “ask first” policy — mandating that students solicit permission for every intimate advance, including kissing — the policy was widely derided.

Once the stuff of “Saturday Night Live” parody, “consent” today is proudly emblazoned on T-shirts, underwear and condom wrappers.

Through activism that happens as often on YouTube and Twitter as on the main green, foot soldiers in the consent movement are encouraging fellow classmates to ask first and ask often before engaging in sexual activity. Their mission is to make consent cooler than Antioch did. The movement’s slogan: “Consent is sexy.”

It isn’t always an easy sell. Today, as it was decades ago, the butt of the joke is the awkward formality of the ask. Sayda Morales co-founded All Students for Consent at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., last year. She hears from students: “Do I have to ask if I can move one inch closer? Do I have to ask if I can move my left hand one inch on their buttocks?”

But it doesn’t have to take on the air of a contract signing, she tells them. When she stands in front of the freshman class, she tries to keep the conversation light. “Consent is necessary,” she says, “and it’s fun.”

Getting consent should be just one part of a frank conversation about what is and isn’t O.K. during sex, she says, and can enhance the sexual experience rather than stifle it.

Ms. Morales says she shrugs off student giggles. “At least they’re talking about it,” she says.

Sometimes it pays to play on the mockery. In 2012, Rebecca Nagle and Hannah Brancato created a website advertising a supposedly new line of Victoria’s Secret underwear. True to form, they were frilly, lacy and kaleidoscopic. But instead of “sure thing,” the thongs were decorated with fiats like “no means no” and “ask first.” Before everyone picked up on the prank, the website went viral.

The two activists — through their Baltimore organization, Force: Upsetting Rape Culture — have been at the forefront of a new, edgier tone in consent advocacy. Their group held workshops at 10 colleges last year, educating students on how to spread the anti-rape message. Campus groups are trumpeting their message through “Consent Days,” and sometimes weeks, filled with panels, group discussions and consent-branded T-shirt and condom giveaways. ...

"Rethinking commitment"

on Monday, 10 February 2014. Hits 235

Polyamory and the potential for new ways of loving

The McGill Daily

I always dreaded having to play the game. Soon after coming out I entered a relationship with the first guy I hooked up with, and when we finally broke up almost two years later I felt lost and helpless in a world of single, gay men I knew nothing about. We attempted making our relationship an open one in the last few months we were together, which in hindsight was just a vain attempt to make a failing relationship work. Although he saw a few other guys, causing surges of jealousy for me in a confusing and turbulent time for both of us, I was always afraid to leave the cocoon of our comfortable yet dysfunctional situation.

Now, months later, despite continued qualms about immersing myself in the dating scene, as a single 20-year-old gay male in a city with a large queer population, I know that this is my time to experiment. I need to see what works for me as I figure out what it is I want from my relationships.

The media obsesses over the ways relationships are changing because our generation tends to communicate using social media and texting. We resist labels and commitment, and have a proclivity for casual hook-ups over serious, committed relationships. For queers, the likelihood of experimenting with polyamory adds to the complexity of the dating scene.

Despite having more straight than queer friends, it seems more of my queer friends have experienced, or at least considered, open relationships. It’s probably because the essence of queerness implies challenging, avoiding, and questioning traditional gender norms and social relations. I’m sure straight people engage in polyamory as well, but I personally haven’t met too many who are into that sort of thing.

In some ways, I sometimes feel this invisible pressure that as a queer person in this day and age, a successful polyamorous relationship is the rainbow-covered, glittery, golden peak I should be striving for. Given the benefits of polyamory, I understand why.

I remember a great conversation with a queer friend who has been in a successful, albeit sometimes challenging, open relationship. We discussed how being able to see other people while still having a committed relationship can mean fulfilling different sexual desires and preferences. Different people can provide you with different pleasures and help you discover different sexual practices and preferences. Polyamory can definitely limit the potential for boredom in a relationship, making things more fun and dynamic.

If you’re able to make it work and strike a balance, a successful open relationship can mean a much more interesting and challenging sex life. For a sexual young adult, what could be more attractive than that?

Of course, given the dimensions that seeing other people adds to a relationship, it can mean a lot of hard work and commitment in figuring out what makes you and your partner comfortable. Based on my own experiences, and what I’ve heard and seen from friends, nothing is more pivotal to an open relationship than communication. ...

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